Archive for January, 2009

Our Michaels Giveaway Winner

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

 Thank you to everyone who shared their project ideas and participated in our $25 Michaels gift card giveaway.

There were lots of great ideas, and I had fun checking out the projects and websites that were shared.

After our highly technical random drawing (of my handsome husband picking a number) our winner is Marcy who shared her favorite project of making gingerbread houses…and the frugal tip of buying them on clearance after the holidays for next year.  Great idea, it’s not like you eat them anyway, so who cares if they’re stale!

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

Motivation

Friday, January 30th, 2009

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

I’m reading a book by Zig Ziglar that I had setting on my shelf for at least a year.  Why I didn’t start it sooner falls into the myriad of excuses; we were moving, taking care of two houses, family health issues, blah blah blah.  My bible still gets read each morning, but I certainly can use any other help I can get.

The book is ‘Get Motivated.  Better than Good.  Creating a Life you can’t wait to live’ by Zig Ziglar.   Sounds good, huh?  Who doesn’t want a life that you can’t wait to live? 

I’m about halfway through now, and I think I have to read it again and again so it sinks in and I really practice what Zig talks about.   

I especially like this quote so far. 

“..fear and faith have something in common: each expects something to happen in the future.  We just don’t know what it is.  What we do know is that what you expect is what is likely to happen.” 

What a concept.  If I can just practice having more faith whenever fear pops into my head I’d never worry about anything.

Straight Talk About Direct Sales and Party Plan

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

With the economy in a not so good place, and families looking for ways to cut expenses and/or add additional income to their homes, many women are taking a look at direct sales businesses. 

Direct Sales companies, also known as Party Plan Companies such as Tupperware, Mary Kay, Longaberger and many others have been around for years with women inviting friends into their homes to see and buy products. 

 

Whether you love jewelry, food, home decorating, kids, pets or pottery you can find a direct sales company to fit your interests.  There are literally hundreds of direct sales companies (check out the direct selling association website to see just how many, with every imaginable product, that offer the opportunity for anyone to start making money selling their products asap.

 

Because I have been successful in a direct selling company since 1999 many people have asked me questions regarding the pros and cons and ‘truths’ about making money in this type of business.

Today I thought I would share an honest view of direct sales from my experience as a successful Home and Garden Party designer in case you or someone you know has been looking into this type of income stream.

 

For starters, although each direct sales company offers different products and has different compensation plans, the principles of the business are basically the same.  You will sell a product, generally by showing catalogs and samples, on-line or in-person, and receive a percentage of your sales as a commission.  (The average being about 20-25%).   You can earn additional money by bringing other salespeople into the company and then you will also receive a commission from their sales too. 

 

The bottom line is that if you can be successful in one party plan company you can probably be successful in any party plan company, and the reverse holds true.  There are certain work ethics and skill sets you will have to develop no matter which direct sales company you join.

 

I’ll answer a few of the most common questions about direct selling in party plan companies.

 

First, and foremost.

 

How much money can I make?

Very realistically, anyone with a little time and effort and willingness to learn can make $500 to $1000 a month which can help pay a car or mortgage payment. However, do not think that you will be able to do this by simply putting out a few catalogs or contacting some people on-line.  Party plan is a business and you have to really work at it to be successful.

And yes, it is true that you can make a really good income of $80,000 or more in Party plan.  I know some of these people, and they are extremely talented, and work very hard networking, selling, and managing their teams.  But, truthfully, it is generally extremely difficult to do. 

 

How much time do I have to put into my business to make a certain amount of money?

To make the aforementioned $500 - $1000 a month you would have to put in about 10 -20 hours per week.  This number varies week to week depending on whether you have any in-home parties or events scheduled, if you have a lot of phone calls or emails to return or need to spend time doing ordering or training.  The good news is that most of this work can be done without ever setting foot out of your home.

 

How much does it cost to start?
Most companies will have you purchase a kit to start your business.  The cost of this kit varies greatly depending on the company.  Anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars.   If you keep an eye on a company for a while you will find that many offer special discounted kits or promotions throughout the year, and that would be your best time to join.

 

What is a Kit?

A kit, in party plan is a sample of some of the company’s products that you will be selling.  You will have those products to show as samples and at home parties.  You generally get a choice of several kits and sometimes several price ranges depending on your tastes and financial situation.

 

What do I do as a party plan consultant?

In-home demonstrations are still the primary way to make money in direct sales, although that is changing some in the past several years as companies develop more opportunities through the internet.  There are people who are extremely successful just with a website and online parties but it is not that common and it still takes a lot of work.

Fundraisers are another option to make money in most party plan companies.  They can offer great additional income, but they take a different marketing approach than with parties.

 

How do I learn to do a home party?

Most companies now offer extensive on-line video and phone training that will walk you step by step through this process.  Companies also offer one day or several day conferences or meetings where they offer extensive training by ‘experts’.

 

How Do I get Customers?

I’ve found this to be the most crucial and misunderstood part of having a party plan business.  Thus, it is the reason that many people fail to succeed.

This is part of the business where you will personally ‘grow’ the most.  You may have to overcome shyness, or a fear of approaching people, or a fear of talking on the phone to strangers.  You will become confident about standing up and talking in front of people and in selling a product that you believe in.

 

Simply put, you have your own business.

 

You have to market and promote your business yourself. 

You will have guidance on how to do this from other consultants and through training, but the bottom line is that you have to do marketing for as long as you want to be in business.

Luckily there are many ways to promote your business, and over time you will most likely try all different approaches to see which work best for you. 

 

 

In the beginning, you will likely start with family, friends and coworkers.  The “I’m starting my own business and could you please help me out by having a party for me”, goes a long way…for a while.  Eventually, be it 3 months or 6 months or a year, those leads will run out.

So then what?

You can try a passive approach of putting up flyers on local bulletin boards and leaving catalogs at dr. offices and Laundromats.  That works sometimes.  But to stay in business you’ll also have to occasionally set up at a local craft show or fair or run an ad in local free paper if you want to keep a steady income.

Your business always depends on you actively marketing it.  If you let down for 6 months because you feel you have plenty of business your income will let down in a few months too.

 

The final point I’ll cover deals with

 

How do I choose a company that is right for me?

Let me start by saying that if you just love love love a certain company or product, then most likely, choose that one.  You will have more success selling something you are passionate about then something that doesn’t excite you. 

If you aren’t partial to any particular product or company than look at the amount of money you can make based on the companies commission plan.  Look at the percentage that you make on your own sales, and then also look at what you would make on anyone that you brought into the business.  Even if you do not plan to ‘share the party plan business’ with anyone, sometimes it just happens and it is great income in addition to your sales.

 

Party Plan companies and direct selling can be a great way to earn some additional income in these difficult times, but remember you have to be ready to put in the time and effort to do so. 

Did you say no to me?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I have been out of sorts lately.

 I’m still adorable and the world continues to revolve around me, so that’s all good; but they’ve begun to say ‘no’ to me. 

 ’No’, to me….I just can’t figure it out.

Like today, I was throwing crayons around the school room at the twins and we were all laughing and having a great time and then mom said, “NO!”  Then she said if I threw more crayons I would have to go in my fenced off play area (it’s a cage, lets just call a spade a spade here folks). 

So I gave her my most adorable grin and threw more crayons.

And do you know what she did! 

She actually put me in my cage. 

And I screamed and screamed and she didn’t take me out.

Something weird is going on here.

Luckily, mammy is not caught up in these strange happenings and she came and saved me after about 5 minutes. 

But still….it was terribly upsetting.

Random Mommy Thoughts

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

 

A shower is not relaxing when there is a 19 month old sobbing and pounding on the door to come in the bathroom to you.

 

My pants are getting tight, and I’m not pregnant, so I guess the dryer must be shrinking them, right?

 

Does a deaf dog really think nobody in the adjoining room can hear her when she’s knocking over a garbage container and rummaging through it.

 

My dad turns 82 tomorrow, and generally we would come visit with the kids for his birthday.  But, now that we live with him I’m thinking the best present might be to take the kids away for the day so he has some peace and quiet.

 

Do not giggle at a man shopping with his son when the 3 year old son is adamantly choosing pink pajamas with strawberries on them instead of the blue ones with trucks.  (I only laughed because Jarod loved pink at that age too…and unfortunately having a twin sister he had ample opportunity to wear her pink cupcake pajamas.  His all time favorite pjs.)

Stuff to Do

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

I really, really, really plan on getting out my sewing machine and doing some sewing this weekend.  Come hell or high water, I am going to sew something. 

 

I would love to say I would get around to making a busy baby book for Alexandra like this fantastic one at Baby Brainstorm.  But I’m not fooling myself.  I won’t even attempt to start it.    I’ll probably stick to something simpler like a skirt or two for myself. 

 

On the knitting homefront, I love this Knitted Bathmat especially since I have been meaning to try knitting with old fabric for months.  This looks like the perfect project at Cocoknits.     But then again, I still need to finish stitching together a dress I knitted for Makenna 7 months ago.

 

To keep the twins busy there are these really cute Edible Bracelets at Lucky Me.  I don’t know what it is about wearing something around your wrist that you can eat, but I remember loving edible jewelry as a kid. 

 

For a snack this weekend I’m really hungry for some good muffins and these Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins from Joy the Baker look like the perfect fit.  Except I don’t have blueberries, I’ll have to test them out with frozen blackberries.

 

Now I just need to pick out some fabric, hunt down my knitting needles and get to the store to buy lifesavers.

Watch Dogs

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Just a warning to any would be robbers.

If you’re thinking of breaking into our home you’re going to have to deal with these highly trained attack dogs.

Or you could just pet Tasha a little bit, and not make any loud noises becuase Nipper is deaf, and then you could make off with all the crayons, stuffed animals or toys that you want.

Cloth Diapers - Easy, Economical and Green!

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

After Alex’s swim class today I overheard a mommy saying, “I’m kinda scared of cloth diapers, the whole old pin thing”, she said.  Another mommy who was putting a cloth diaper on her baby proceeded to tell her all about how easy and economical it is to use cloth diapers today.

 

It reminded me of how many times I was asked about cloth diapers whenever someone saw me changing Alexandra since we have been using Bum Genius  cloth diapers since she was only 3 months old and have loved them.

 

I first started researching cloth diapers because I hated the ‘chemical’ smell that I always noticed when disposable diapers were wet.  (I thank pregnancies for my overly sensitive nose.)  I then discovered Seventh Generation disposable diapers without the chemicals and was happy with those but after reading so many great things about cloth diapers I decided to try them out too.

 

I chose a diaper that is adjustable and fits from 5 pounds to 34 pounds (it was more cost effective) and Alex has been wearing them since she was about 9 pounds and is now 21 pounds.  They have always fit well but did look a bit bulky when she was small.  They have elastic legs and do not leak, but they do not hold as much wetness as a disposable diaper. 

When Alex was about 12 months I started putting her back in the Seventh Generation disposable diapers at night or anytime I knew I would not be changing her for an extended period of time because she would wet through the diaper.

 

We have used only eight cloth diapers for the past 16 months and they are still as good as new.  The Velcro tabs and adjustable snaps have held up well through hundreds of washings.   For cleaning I would soak the diapers in the tub and then rinse them and throw them in the washer and then the dryer.

 

All in all we have loved using Bum Genius cloth diapers and wish I had known how easy and economical they were when I had the twins.  I feel so much better knowing Alexandra has natural material against her skin and we have saved lots of money.  And just as importantly we have done our little part to keep a few hundred disposable diapers out of our landfills. 

 

If you are considering cloth diapers for your little one there are many to choose from and lots of information is available on the web.  Fuzzi Bunz, Bumkins, Swaddlebees  and Thirsties are just a few of the name brands available. 

For more information about cloth diapering you can check out these sites.  Earth EasyCotton Babies and Diaper Pin.

And if you are ambitious (which I thought I was, but I was not when it came to diapers) you can  sew your own cloth diapers using the many patterns and directions available on websites such as Diaper Jungle and Diaper Sewing.

 

 

The Basement

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

This is my winter project.

My biggest one.

Brian refers to it as my Where’s Waldo type game, and says amusing things like, “see if you can find an item dated after 1960.”  Which is totally not applicable, because the house wasn’t built until 1964, so there’s plenty of stuff from the 60’s.  smile.

 

 And alot of this stuff is actually ours from when we moved in.  Brian doesn’t realize that It  took me weeks to clear out dozens of bags of old stuff just to be able to reclutter the basement with our newer things.

It’s actually a super great basement, with lots and lots of space, and I have all sorts of neat plans for it.  There will be an arts and crafts area for the kids, a play area with a road painted on the concrete floor for them to drive their remote control cars around, a nice clean and organized storage area and space to have a train display set up year round.   

Unfortunately right now it’s kinda like a giant cluttered time capsule that will take dozens of hours to clear out.  But that is changing.   I have made some headway in the past few weeks.

My first mini project was to make a space for my dad way way back in the corner where he could go far away to escape the noise of his beloved grandchildren.  

He spends lots and lots of time down there some days, and I’m often tempted to join him.  (and yes, I do believe the desk and chair are from the 40’s.)

 

The basement has also become home and playground to our bunnies.  They seem to like it down there with lots of action when the kids are downstairs, and they are often free to run around and stretch their legs.

I even managed to add some crates on top for extra storage that I’m sure I’ll be filling later this week while trying to clear another section.

 For now I’m content to spend a few hours a week trying to get an area cleared for the kids to set up our old ping pong table and a few other 30 year old games that we had down there when I was a kid. 

And I swear, I will have the entire thing done before Spring.

So what huge home/organizing projects are you working on this winter?

$25 Michaels Crafts Gift Card Giveaway

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

 

The holidays are over,

It’s really cold outside, 

and the kids are bored

so it’s the perfect time for crafting and making homemade gifts.

It seems ironic that the time of year that we have the most time for making homemade gifts is the few months directly after Christmas. But then again, some of the ‘fun’ of the holidays would be lost if we didn’t have to cram crafting in between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all those Christmas gatherings.

And I suppose I should just make Christmas gifts now for December, but truthfully my brain just cannot function that far ahead of the time period that my body is working in.  Besides, if I made Christmas presents in January and February there are two things that would happen before givng the gifts at Christmas.  One, the kids and I would be so excited by how the gift turned out that we couldn’t wait that long to give it, and two….and very likely, I would misplace them and they wouldn’t turn up again until next January.

But since wintertime is prime crafting time I thought now would be the perfect time to have another giveaway of a Michaels $25 Gift Card.  Yeah!

I figure I’m not the only one who has seen lots of great projects on blogs lately that I’m going to try in the next few weeks, and Michael’s is the perfect place for any supplies that we don’t have on hand.

To enter Kidoozy.com’s Michaels Gift Card Giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment telling everyone what your favorite project is that you have done, or will be doing this winter.  Give the web address and name of the project and a brief description so we can all discover some great new crafts to do this winter.

 

You need to leave your comment by 11:59 EST Friday January 30, 2009. 

 

One winner will be chosen at random on January 31, 2009 and will be notified by email.

 

Good Luck!