Calling all reading addicts, start saving money with eBooks.

Do you like to read? I certainly do. I love reading whenever I have the chance. I read on my lunch at work, at the gym and before bed. I was such a die-hard physical book fan until my first baby was born then I was hooked on eBooks. There are a few reasons why I switched.

  1. I can read a book with one hand (super helpful when nursing, or rocking a baby to sleep).
  2. I can have 1000’s of books in my hand, ready to read.
  3. FREE books!!!

I know that third was is really awesome! I found there are a few sites out there that will let you know what books are currently available on Amazon for free or low price. My favorite right now is BookBub. This site allows you to select the type of books you like to read and then they will send you an email to let you know about the books currently at low low prices. I get my emails daily but there are options for once a week or even never. You can always go to their site to see what is available when you are looking for something new to read.

I have found some really good books through this site, and a few that were just ok. Keep in mind that Amazon can change the price at any time so make sure you check the price before buying.

Don’t worry I still love a physical book now and again, but I usually borrow those.

Advertisements

Lights & Sounds Musical Toy Test

I love to test out products and give feedback to the company as well as let all my friends know about the product, good or bad. There are programs that you can sign up for to be a tester, either directly with a company or through a third party. I have a number of these that I am a part of. Some of the third parties offer samples every month and some you have to be selected for a program. I have also signed up for a few with companies directly.

I was recently selected through Infantino for a Test and Tell. I received a free toy for one of my children and I tell them how it goes. As a part of the program I must review the product on their website, but I also want to share my experience with all of you. This is a type of post that I hope to be able to do more and more.

As a part of this program I must state that I have received the Lights & Sounds Musical Touch Pad from Infantino to facilitate my review.

20150819_173723

So this came in the mail just the other day. I was really excited to test it out and see how my 1 year old likes it (OH My, I still can’t believe he just turned 1).

The packaging was simple and you could test the product out in demo mode. It really shows you everything on the toy so there isn’t anything hidden.

There was a simple instruction sticker to get out of demo mode right next to the on button so that was very simple to see and adjust.

The music chosen is really nice for play time and the lights are great. I like the variety of music as it is not the same over and over again, there seems to be enough change. The toy was very light weight but seemed as though it would hold up to a lot of being tossed around.

For the cost of $11.99 (according to the Infantino website) it doesn’t appear to be a bad deal.

That being said I need to go over the items I found to be on the downside of this toy.

  • The volume resets to the highest level after it turns off. This is pretty loud especially when it is not laying flat on the ground.
  • The time out to turn the toy off due to inactivity is pretty short. I was only about 20 seconds before it turned off. (I did not get my stopwatch out to verify but it was definitely less than a full minute)
  • If you press and hold the On button the volume also adjusts. This is a bit of a problem as my little one knows how to turn on smart phones with the Home button at the bottom.

Overall I think this would be a great toy for children who are playing interactively with an adult, I would not recommend for children who can sit and play on their own.

Checking it out.
Checking it out.
A hat of course!
A hat of course!
See I told you, press and hold that button...
See I told you, press and hold that button…
Apparently it needed a good shake.
Apparently it needed a good shake.

Feeling accomplished!

Ok, so I still have a lot of work to do to get my inbox cleaned up (77 unread messages still staring at me…there are more that I have left in there read :/ ), but I am feeling accomplished in any case. I was able to unsubscribe from a large number of emails, so I have the knowledge that not so many more will be pouring in over the next 24 hours. I knew this was not going ot be a quick process but I am very pleased with the dent I have made.

Unsubscribed

I also learned a bit about my sign up habits in this process. I clearly check some things out and then forget about it, just mindlessly deleting the emails as they come in.

With that, on to more fun things to chat about. I am working on finding new ways to save, or spend less. I have recently joined a few online garage sale sites. My original intention was to try to sell some of the items we are no longer using, but of course I have found some items that needed to make their way to our home. Do you ever have that problem? Your intention is to do something to pair down but you end up adding instead?

Toys are always at item I am trying to reorganize and pair down. I like to make sure there is plenty of option but not so many that toys end up just thrown around and not really played with.

With our little guy’s birthday (he is turning 1!!!) tomorrow, I am looking at all the toys we currently have out and trying to figure out what we can move out of the way and make more room. This is always a difficult thing to do because as soon as I start to touch something they are quick to start to play with it as well thinking it is a great toy all of a sudden. I find my self making mental notes of the toys that need to be moved on and then doing a mad dash to toss them to the basement when no one is looking. This tactic causes a bit of an issue down in the basement but at least it is out of sight… right?

Oh the struggles of not enough hours in the day. What do you do to clear the clutter?

My journey of email clean up continued

So this was a very strange day, I checked my email throughout the day but I did not take action on too much. There were a few things that I had gone through last night that I was able to take some action on (mostly I kept to the things I was keeping around). But before I get too far into how that all went I want to go back a bit.

I follow the blogger Crystal Paine (MoneySavingMom.com) and have found that she has been a big inspiration to me in some of the changes I have made over that last few years. I started out following her because of the shopping deals she posted about. She has a great website that drew me right in. Once I started really reading her articles I was so glad to have found her. I read her book (Say Goodbye to Survival Mode) last year and was able to start some transformations. Some of these concepts took a while to develop outwardly but I had a great new way to look at things.

Why am I telling you about another blogger? Well she recently started a Periscope and I was watching her broadcast the last two days. Today she was talking about time block scheduling, I found this very fitting as I was setting myself up for a 20 minute email clean up each night. This was a huge affirmation to me that this system works for other people.

With so much going on this Summer it was difficult to work on some of the things I had planned in my head. First mistake, I didn’t get these things out of my head and on paper. I find that writing something out makes it more real and more likely to happen. Second mistake, still falling in line with not getting out of my head, I didn’t tell my husband what I was thinking. Well I have learned on that one for sure. Don’t get me wrong, we have had an amazing Summer and I wouldn’t change our experiences. I am just planning ahead for what is coming and making sure we are working on scheduling in the things that are important to us as a family as well as individuals.

Ok, back to the Email Chaos. So as I said before it was strange to not really touch my email most of the day. I was really just making mental notes about each item that came in. So when I go through my email for 20 minutes after this post I will already know what to expect. I did this so that I didn’t lose sight of what my goal was. My goal is to clear my email for the future not just the now. I am working on trying to track what I am doing so that it sticks with me a bit more. This is important for me as a reminder to not just sign up for something in the future. I need to make sure that I am able to really make use of whatever it is.

One of the things I noticed today when I did go through my email briefly at lunch, was that there are so many inadvertent sign ups if you are not careful. I clicked through a link on a point program I use and then ended up receiving and email thanking me for signing up for the newsletter. This was not what I was clicking on. Now this is the first time I have seen anything work that quickly for a email setup but I know that if you are checking out a deal somewhere and you enter your information they will use it where they can. So please be careful when providing information, email addresses included.

A second thing I noted is that I receive promotional emails all the time for various stores. I don’t need to see those emails all the time. Sure it is great to see that a sale on certain items is coming, but it is just tempting me to spend money I do not have budgeted for such items. Removing myself from these emails will help my temptation to spend and make me more purposeful in my spending. When I am properly budgeted for an item, in true need I can easily go searching for such things myself.

Going through this exercise last night and today has really helped me see more about my emailing habits as well as some other clean up potentials I have. I am working through cleaning up the apps on my phone that I no longer use, or never really got going with.

I am not quite ready to share the progress I have made on my email clean up just yet as I haven’t worked on my clean up this evening yet. I was asked earlier today about the point programs I use and I thought I would share those, as I know I am keeping a few without a second thought. I have listed my favorites below, please note that these are referral links, so I do receive a reward for people who sign up through my link. I greatly appreciate anyone that joins through my link and you should see no difference in the program no matter how you sign up. These are my favorites because I can be very passive and earn just a few points here and there or I can put more effort in and earn as much as I want. The rewards offered fit with my goals in earning rewards and I generally like the options in earning points. If you have any questions on them please feel free to ask me about them and I will be happy to share what I know and what my experiences have been.

Have any of you started an email clean up? Let me know, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Swagbucks – www.swagbucks.com/refer/rnlynch

MyPoints – Posted the link to my Facebook account, as I do not have a direct link to click.

InboxDollars – http://www.inboxdollars.com/?r=ref17670191

I am sticking with just these three to share for now as I am trying to simplify my email I do not want to end up causing others to sign up for more than they are ready for as well. I will be sure to share more of what I am keeping and what is going away soon.

Overwhelmed and finding a way out…at least I hope.

A while back I had found myself in a position of near boredom and lack of challenge so I kept finding things to add to my time that was challenging and beneficial. So i kept signing up for every survey, point system, product tester site I found. Boy did I sign up for everything! So much so I ended up creating another email account to try to help me manage all of this. I was doing great too, earning lots of points and rewards, gift cards were coming in all the time I was so happy. A new site came across me in a browsing of another blog and I was there to sign right up. I earned so much we were able to buy Christmas presents that way which was so amazing since we were down an income and were looking at a bleak year.

Then the new year hit and changes happened. These were much-needed changes in so much of our lives. I started a new job, my Husband found a new job, things were going great. I was feeling so much less stress about everything. Finally!

Then I opened my email…

As I said I ended up with a new email account (or maybe more, let’s be honest there was more) that helped me with all of these new programs I had signed up for to get things flowing. Now they were all piled up. HUNDREDS of unread emails just sitting there that I had not attended to.

STRESS POINT

I love these programs, I love answering surveys, I love earning points and earning gift cards. I love having that extra available. Ok, again at the time it wasn’t actually extra it was what I relied on. Now it seems more like a chore, well some of it anyway.

I have too many to keep up with (and be able to keep my sanity). I am working on my list of ones I find most beneficial, and I will (please someone help me with the accountability here), I will remove myself from the other lists.

Where do I start? Today, emails in my inbox. I am going to be methodical about this, well, it is really the only way I know how to be about a lot of things, but I must be organized or I will just go more crazy over all of this.

So, here is my plan. I am going to take 20 minutes. Yes only 20, I need to make sure I go to bed at a reasonable hour or else I will cause a rift in my delicate schedule. I will open an Excel document and save it to my desktop with the title “EMAIL CHAOS”, this just draws attention to it so that I do not forget.

I will start by entering in the tempting offer emails in to a cell and in the second column I will make a note, unsubscribe or keep. If it is unsubscribe, I will click that link at the bottom of the email. This way I will know what I have already done so I won’t just click on the link 5 times. I will also know when I come back to this again tomorrow and spend my 20 minutes on clean up again.

I am also going to start making folders for all of the “Daily Reads” emails I have signed up for because I have a few blogs I like to follow. This way I can set it up so that they all fall into one area for me to check each day and I am not stumbling over them trying to get to the “Need Action” Emails. I am going to start thinking about how else I can automate my email to keep this even more clean.

Wish me luck, updates to follow on my progress.

When you don’t think you have any Will Power left, dig deep and go for it

This morning when I finished my workout I was feeling pretty good and motivated, I had felt that I could see a difference this morning. I even got up on the scale and saw a (albeit small) decrease in numbers. I was ecstatic. Finally feeling the change was on the way. Then my stomach growled, loudly…I may have worked myself right to starvation the way it sounded. No worries I had a yogurt in my bag to have when I got to work and even had a granola bar to eat on the way if need be.

As I finished getting ready, it hit me, Dunkin Donuts was just across the street. I had time before work. I could easily just jump across the street before heading to work. This would be great.

WAIT!! STOP, I have worked so hard to get progress to start, I can’t just stop and grab something, that could quickly undo my progress.

Ok, back on track heading to work.

Then my vehicle reminded me that I needed to get gas soon, the light had gone off on my way into the gym. The gas station closest, just across the street…with a Dunkin Donuts. OH NO! Not again.

In a quick decision before my mind had a chance to really weigh what my options were I quickly turned to the right, away from the gas station and away from the Dunkin Donuts.

Now I still need to get gas on my way home but I am never tempted to grab anything on my way home so I will be ok.

Why is this such a big deal? One breakfast sandwich really shouldn’t make a difference right. Well it isn’t the one sandwich, or the one drink, or even the one time stop at all. The problem really is in the use of those conveniences available. In order to go to Dunkin Donuts it would make the most sense to load the gift card to use the app so that I could get points towards a free drink. The minimum amount is $10 to be able to add to the card. Again doesn’t appear to be harmful. If you are thinking that, you are not seeing it yet.

Patterns and conveniences can quickly spiral out of control on not only the meal planning that has been worked up but also the budget. Sure I add $10 today but then in a few days (maybe even a bit longer if I am really good) I remember I have some left over and I could stop for something, but I don’t have quite enough left, I will just add a bit more, right. Now I have quickly turned one stop to at least three.

You see the pattern going on now right?

Yeah, I have been there before. I had to remind myself of the goals I was aiming for. The reasons why I wanted to just head straight to work and not stop for the breakfast sandwich I really did not need.

It is so much easier to think in the ‘right now’ the ‘today’, maybe even in the ‘this week’. This was the type of thinking that I am striving to get away from. Planning is really the easier task. Having everything already laid out and no decisions to make for the ‘right now’ is the truly easier choice.

I started down this path to do something for me. It is so easy to get wrapped up in what my kids need, what my husband needs. I forget about myself. What I have found is that I am really getting so much to give back to them now too. I have more energy to play with the boys after work. I am more apt to go out to do something. I have implemented a night routine that has saved time in the morning. I am getting more sleep.

Did you get that last part? MORE SLEEP!

I cannot risk my old patterns coming back. I am not strong enough yet to have that one stop. I am proud of myself for seeing that I had to just keep driving.