Sunday, December 21, 2014

How to Get a job after 1 year not working

I interviewed at 4 companies while pregnant, all leading to 2nd and sometimes 3rd rounds but no offers.

I stopped looking for jobs 7 months pregnant and when Baby was 4 months I decided to job search again--by then it was 10 months of unemployment.

After two months of commencing the job search, I had interviews with 3 more companies resulting in 2 job offers offering 25% more increase in pay than my previous position.

This is what I did to get a job, no matter how long I had been out of work.

I did not apply for any and all jobs  Primarily because it had to be worth my time and resources going back to work with kids.  I only applied to jobs where I knew I could grow and succeed in the role.  And only to jobs within a 15 minute commute or less---I value my time to what I get paid and did not want to waste 3 hours of my day commuting.

I applied as soon as as I could for interested jobs.  Most of the time, employers need to start looking for someone right away.  I would look at least once week for new postings. is my go-to for job searching and prefer it over  I also looked at company websites and enrolled in email alerts and checked out Craigslist.

I made sure that my resume addressed the items listed on the job description.   Most companies today use programs to pick out key words and employment dates from resumes and rank applicants by best match to the job posting.  On top of downloading a .pdf copy of my resume to my application, I also pasted and copied my work experience in the .txt section of the application.  It takes longer to do but the chance to be picked up by the system to get noticed increases.

I submitted cover letters If the hiring manager does not look at resumes, they look at cover letters.   The goal of a cover letter is to prove why you would be a good fit for the position and request an interview at closing.

I went to a head hunter.   It doesn't cost a thing for job applicants to go to one.  Here's a secret: Head hunters are much better than college career counselors giving feedback on your resume, because they are in the real world and know what works for all sorts of applicants to get noticed by employers.   College career counselors do not.

The head hunter told me to change two things on my resume.  The average resume read is TEN SECONDS before dumping or move on for an interview.  Because of my gap, the head hunter recommended to (1) put skills toward the top of the resume and (2) re-format the chronology of one of my jobs to highlight the promotion, which wasn't apparent at a quick glance from my previous resumes.  Making these changes to my resume, I was able to get more interviews.  In fact, only one interview was from a head hunter referral, the rest I found all on my own.

I used this magic word that helped me while filling my applications, on the part where I need to  explain why I left my previous positions, particularly the one that had a gap.
     First job: internal promotion
     Second: left for external position
     Third: Personal Reasons

People have all sorts of reasons for leaving their jobs and Personal Reasons is one of them.  Plus it sounds better than saying "Had Kids" or "Harassment at Work " or "Death of Loved One" or "Moved for Spouse's Job" or "Was Hospitalized" and anything else that is personal.

It is important during interviews when asked "Why did you Leave Your Job" to say you left for Personal Reasons....AND LEAVE IT AT THAT.  Good managers respect your privacy and more interested in knowing why you're the best person for the job.  Bad managers are the complete opposite and you don't want to work for one!

If you're looking for a job, you need to keep applying when job openings pop up, keep yourself busy during the job search, and accept the reality that you have no control in hiring decisions upon submitting your application.

When you do get a call back for an interview, show up and prove you are the best person for the job.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Interview Warning Signs That You Shouldn't Take the Job

College career centers are good at helping grads out with résumé building, how to dress to impress, how to prepare for common interview questions, basically focus on Just Getting the Job.  

You get drilled on this before graduating college and not much else

but they don't emphasize on how to interview your potential employers and educating entry level job seekers on signs that you shouldn't take the job!

Not just any job will do!

Because once you get into a job and discover your boss Jekyll is actually Hyde, it will be very hard to transfer or get promoted internally, on top of being miserable with your job.

If you want to enter into a job that is free of bullying, harassment, discrimination, office politics, corruption, and bad managers, you need to ask the questions that matter!  

Here are 14 questions you MUST ask at interviews with signs to look out for so you can gain better insight of whether or not you should take the job.

When it's your turn to answer questions, the first question must always be:

Why is this position open?

A great answer would be that it is a new position.  
But that's not enough though, ask: 

Why this new position?  

If the answer is pretty much to the extent of 

"No one wants to do this task so we will hire someone to do it" 
then that's a red flag! 

You don't want a manager who is just hiring only for the task at hand.  
If so, the manager is being short sighted and not thinking in the best interest of the candidate or his team.  

Hiring is an investment for the manager, his/her team and especially you, the candidate.  

Good managers want someone that not only can do the job but can grow into their job :-) 

If the position is a replacement, ask:

What was the reason 
for the employee leaving?

Great answer is that the employee got promoted internally as a manager like they are.   

It is especially good if that former employee interviews you in the second round because the hiring manager has nothing to hide. 

The employee leaving for an external position is a red flag - because the two reasons to leave a company is (1) the pay sucks or (2) the manager sucks (overwhelming majority of the time).  Do you want to be paid peanuts and/or work for an emotional terrorist?

The employee making a lateral transfer can be a red flag.  They didn't like the job or the manager or  both.  

The employee that received a promotion but didn't interview you in your subsequent interviews is a red flag - he/she got promoted solely because that manager is a jerk and the company didn't want that employee to leave so that employee got promoted in order not to report to that manager. 

But you're not done asking questions to get a better insight whether or not you should take the job. 

How often 
has this position been filled?  

Depending on the scope of the job, turnover can be a red flag and especially if those employees moved on to external positions. 

What is training like?

If the hiring manager tells you they hope you pick up quickly within 6 weeks to 3 months but later in the interview says they don't want you to transfer for a year even though company policy says you can transfer internally in 6 months that is a red flag.  That manager doesn't know how to train and perhaps never did your job you're interviewing for.  

How do you evaluate 
job performance for new hires? 

How do you evaluate your team?  

How is your team evaluated? 

Each manager and company has different standards but pay attention if the hiring manager dances around the question.  You want to look for consistency and equitability for all three questions.  You don't want a manager that plays favorites and you want a manager that takes responsibility and accountability for the performance and welfare of the team they manage.   

How long you've been 
with the company? 

How long you've been 
managing your team for?

Not a red flag if that manager hasn't  been in the role too long but if she/he hadn't given good responses to your other questions - that manager wasn't promoted and/or hired for the right reasons. 

How long have your 
team members worked for you? 

How long they've 
been with the company? 

The longer the better in both questions.  Shows that they like working for that manager and the team they are in.   

*Update 1/6/2014 You may also want to ask this:

Tell me more about your team you manage...what was the number of team members you were responsible for when you became manager and the number of team members you currently manage? 

You want to be wary and find out why if the number decreased.  People quit or request to work under a different manager when a new manager sucks.  The senior manager isn't about to let that manager get demoted because it would prove she/he made a very bad hiring decision and just let that bad manager supervise 2 people instead of the 5 people managed. 

Because the interviewer will be impressed that you had well thought out questions than the other job candidates--good chances you will be invited the second round.  :-D

Ask the same questions above to corroborate your previous responses. Corroboration is so important! Different responses and/or inconsistency to same questions can uncover more red flags.  In addition remember to ask

What is it like 
working for this manager?

You can find out a lot just by asking this question because bad managers and their current employees dance around this important question.  
Good managers are honest about the areas they are constantly working on to improve - not just the areas where they excel.  They care and stand up for their team, not use them and the management position as a springboard for the next promotion. 

What are some qualities you like
 about this manager?

I asked this to two prospective employers in which I got offers from.   Cha-ching!
I accepted the offer that had the best answer.  Good answers came easily with MANY specific examples in which I loved and was sold on.  I was confident going in that I would be working for a wonderful boss who would look out for my best interests as well as my teammates and in turn, we do everything we can to deliver superior service and results.  

The weaker response was "So and so is loyal".  
That's it?

I didn't want to work for a manager whose only good quality is being "loyal".  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back at Work after Baby

I'm late in announcing...I'm Back At work!  I returned to full time employment when Baby was 6 months old.  I stayed home 11 months. 

FAQ (aka Questions by Me and Answered by Me in my blog)

Which is harder - Stay at home mom or working mom? I think both are super hard if you don't have your husband to help you out at home.  Caring for young children is a full time job with very little to no flexibility for breaks or other home responsibilities unless another adult steps in to help.

The bulk of laundry, cooking, and cleaning got completed once my husband got home from work when I was home full-time.  One of us tended to our child while the other did whatever needed to be done.  If she was asleep we both would clean and cook together and maybe if we were lucky, watch a show on TV together.  

This hasn't changed since I returned to work full time nearly four months ago.

Where are you working now?

At one of the best companies on the planet - American Express.  

This is a great company for working parents to look into.    
(Opinions on this blog are my own, not of American Express)

Do you still nurse?  Yes!! I'm so happy about that since I had such a rough start when she was born.  Being at an extremely woman friendly employer helped to continue with nursing.  More on that later. 

Guilty?   Nope.  It made perfect sense to do this for our family at this time.  Just like it made perfect sense over a year ago to stay home during pregnancy. 

Who watches your kid?  Someone we absolutely trust and come to love like family.   

Were you bored at home?  Never.  This is the biggest lie ever - that staying home is boring.  
I always had things to do, and still have things to do - especially with my baby!

Are you sad about missing firsts?  At home I missed my baby's first rollover and then some while she was a newborn because I was sleep deprived enough to where I hallucinated that cats were everywhere in the house.  Babies are unpredictable and do what they want whenever they want to, not just from 8-5pm, M-F.  

Babies discover and do new things everyday and every thing a baby does each day is awesome.  It is really amazing as a parent to witness. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to get in the 800 Credit Score and Above Club in Eight Steps

Ever wonder what people do to get credit scores that are off the charts?  Well I can tell you because my score is over 800.  

Here's a sampling of what I've done.

1. Open a revolving credit card account albeit with a small limit ($450-$600) first thing in college

2. Take out student loans - but think long and hard about getting student loans where the total amount exceeds the amount you expect to earn in a year with that education.  That is why I picked accounting instead of art.

3. Pay the revolving credit card balance in full, every month.  Never pay the minimum.  Why pay interest?

4. Upon graduation, start paying off the balance of your student loans every month.  Start with the minimum, and then increase the monthly payments little by little when you get a job.  Set up automatic payment and get a discount off the fixed interest rate.

5. After being upset that I wouldn't get a credit increase on my first card, despite proving I paid on time and in full for many years, I applied for another revolving credit card with a higher limit and CASH BACK.  Eventually the first card closed on its own.  So far I have not applied for another card because they kept extending my limit so I did not need another card.  

6. Charge any expense I'd be making anyway to the credit card - groceries, bills, gas, etc BUT I PAY IN FULL AND ALWAYS ON TIME.  I NEVER EVER pay the minimum and I never pay interest.  I also NEVER have anything go into collections including medical bills, rent, magazine subscriptions etc.  

7. If I am eligible for an increase in my credit on my card, I always say YES.  I want to prove I can borrow more and still pay back in full what I borrow.

Last but not least...

8. NEVER CHECK YOUR OWN CREDIT.  It lowers your score no matter what you read online saying that it doesn't.  It does.  Sounds extreme but I assure you people in the 800 club don't do this.  There are better and practical ways to prevent identity theft such as reviewing statements on all your accounts every month, sometimes weekly.  And when you do apply for a loan, you get your credit checked there and can clear any discrepancies from reviewing the report. 

Follow these steps and enjoy the best interest rates offered on loans that do matter - a car and a house. 

PS:  Anyone who tells you to never get a credit card is clueless with managing money in general. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Time to fix the Broken American financial system

Did you know that...

Traditional financial services are not working for most of the American population.  Money gives people options, and without options, it holds people back.  Many hardworking Americans do not have a bank account or do not have access to traditional financial services. They rely on cash and checks and tend to turn to alternative financial services, like check cashers, pawn shops, money order services and payday lenders, making them stuck in their financial situation because of the amount of fees it requires to use those alternative services.  

The good news is that while it is a large issue, it can be fixed.  There is new technology, new ideas, and affordable financial service products to help people who can't access the traditional services* so that consumers avoid those alternative services that rob hard workers through unnecessary fees.   

This issue is very important to me.  Many times on my blog I talk about money.  

I know that 89 billion dollars can go a long way making our world and our families happier if they didn't went into unnecessary fees of businesses that rob people instead of helping them.  

Watch this powerful documentary about this issue HERE

*opinions are my own and not of American Express

Monday, June 2, 2014

How to Wheel and Deal on A New Car Like a Lady

Dave's car got hit by a clueless driver.  Thankfully no one was hurt.  People aren't replaceable - but cars are.

Time to shop for another one!

We decided that we would replace the archaic 17 year old Honda Accord with over 200K+ miles with a brand new 2014 Honda Accord Sport fresh off the factory belt.

Yeah!  Our first new car ever for the both of us!!!!

When people (*ahem* men!) found out we were shopping for a new car

"Why are you wanting to buy a NEW car?"

"I would never pay to buy a new car.  You lose so much money, like $5K on depreciation"

I simply had to nod when I heard that, because they didn't understand how the business works when it comes to making money off cars, especially new ones.

How much markup is there on a new car?  Depending on the brand and model, very little, around 4-6% as a factory to dealer incentive when offered.  By selling the car at invoice price, the dealer is already getting about 4%.

How much markup is there on a used car that is 1-3 years old?  About 15-30% range.  I think that's a pretty significant difference.  Plus the manufacturer warranty is expiring by then, you have to determine the mileage and other stuff about the condition of the car - stuff I had no knowledge or time to learn more about.

The way I saw it, shopping for a new vehicle was easier, because the only thing I had to determine and deal with was the PRICE.

Before going shopping we looked up four things:

  • The MSRP of the car at the manufacturer's website - only suckers pay retail for anything! 
  • What other people in our area paid for the 2014 Honda Accord - about 12% lower from MSRP-this was something we couldn't pass up! 
  • The dealer invoice price - every Honda dealer pays the same price and all get the same incentives, rebates etc from the manufacturer
  • What dealers in our area were offering to sell the car.  We went to three dealerships.  

Doing this, we had a pretty good idea of how much we should really pay for a new Accord and asking the questions that mattered - everything tied to the price of the car.

For a lady, bringing your man isn't enough; you need your man AND a plan.  We talked and agreed about what we planned to do at each visit "We are not buying tonight.  We need to ask about X, Y and Z.  And most importantly we need to ask 'Can you beat our best price of $_____'"

The thought of car shopping and negotiating seems foreign and intimidating to most of the female population.  If you are apprehensive about talking to car salespeople, think this way:

This is YOUR money - not theirs.  You're the one in charge!  Don't agree to anything you did not ask for.  Simple as that.  All dealers want you to be their buyer and not their competitor's; if they can't offer what you want, you go to another dealer.  With new cars, they can't throw the "Someone else will buy it" because you can always order the car if it's not in stock.

We negotiated for a week bringing Baby in tow to all three dealerships.  She turned out to be really helpful, because when we didn't like a price that was offered, and wanted to leave, we said something to the extent of "Well it's getting close to her bedtime, we would like to talk more but we need to leave now"  The task of the car salespeople is trying to get you to buy TODAY.

We keep going back and forth from dealerships every night (minus Sunday) until two out of the three dealers couldn't beat our best price offered, "Go buy it from them."

Yes, it's possible for inexperienced car buyers to wheel and deal at a great price on a new car.  By great price, I am talking BELOW fair market value.  Even with the taxes and fees, we paid less than what the car could sell for in 5 years.

You don't need to bring me to your negotiations for a new car.  I know YOU CAN DO IT, not be fooled by anyone, and succeed.

Once you know what you want to buy, you
-Do your price research...this is a must.
-Ask questions about the price and the itemized quotes, out-the-door price.
-Keep it cool.  Don't be swayed by your emotions.  Listen to the salesman and pick out key words that he or she will say. "You said X, so are you willing to do this for Y?"
-Don't set an appointment.  Just walk in when you're ready to talk.
-Read stuff online about common car sales techniques, there is great information worth reading.  You will not be swayed by any type of car salesperson personality either.
-If you have awesome credit, financing the new car is better in the long run, especially if there is a killer interest rate.  (If financing through the dealership - they will try to trick you at the very last minute getting you on a higher interest rate, so keep an eagle eye out.  I knew we qualified for a 0.9% instead of the 2.7%, I told them to fix that upon my review before signing)

We felt so super with our new car purchase.  Even the head honcho of the dealership came up to us and said we beat him and didn't make any money on us (I'm sure he made some but not as much as he hoped)  The night before purchasing he even tried to be aggressive and get us to buy on the spot "Take it or leave it" but that didn't work along with his gruff stature and demeanor.  We just left and came back the next evening saying

"We will buy this car tonight but only if you take out X, Y, Z...and A!"

Before leaving, he asked

"What do you do for a living?"

"I'm an analyst"

"What do you analyze?"


"Aaah...I see.  Man you're good" and smiled.

Bye bye Dave's car.  Thanks for the happy memories.  

Hello gorgeous!  (Dave)
2014 Honda Accord Sport

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Be a Good Mom no Matter What

I had an epiphany a while back that I would like to share.

We all know and can name:

The good single mothers as well as the bad single mothers

The good rich mothers as well as the bad rich mothers

The good poor mothers as well as the bad poor mothers

The good military mothers as well as the bad military mothers

The good mothers with one child as well as the bad mothers with one child

The good mothers with many children as well as the bad mothers with many children

The good stay-at-home mothers as well as the bad stay-at-home mothers

The good working mothers as well as the bad working mothers.

That being said, your circumstances do not automatically make you a "good" or "bad" mom.

With regard to motherhood, it's one of the most important jobs there is.  You MUST WORK HARD at being a good mom-period.

You have to be a good mother no matter your circumstances in life.    

No excuses.
No whining.
No wimping out.
No wasting time online or arguing whose a better mom or validating your circumstances to assure you are a good mom
No running home to your mommy when life gets tough--you're an adult.  Face it and fix the problem.

Staying home didn't automatically made me a "good mom" neither did returning to work full-time automatically made me a "good mom"

Once I had my little Baby in my arms I knew no matter what, I had to do all I can to be the mother that she needs me to be--irrelevant of the circumstances.  I love her very very very much.

I also like this quote but the entire speech is incredible and appropriate for all parents.

From a talk given by a General Authority from the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Read more HERE

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, April 25, 2014

Utah Moms Prefer Plastic Surgery over Vaccinating their Babies

I was surprised upon discovering that a lot of families in Utah do not vaccinate their children.

This came about after wondering why there were several billboards about vaccine advocacy while driving on I-15.  Isn't the majority of the population in Utah all about being healthy, up to the point of abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, and even coffee and tea?

Utah does have one of the highest rates for autism prevalence.  However, I don't believe that this alone is the reason many mothers in Utah opt out of vaccinating their children.

I think the low Utah vaccination rates are more due to a narcissistic mentality that is so prevalent in this state.

Jenny McCarthy has led a lot of moms to believe in her claims because she is a mommy just like them but to some Utah moms they want to look just as good as her, cuz she's a mommy too.

Any mom living in Utah can admit that they've seen this with women they know through their social circles.  This obsession with looking "perfect"

At church or in your neighborhood, it's all about looking better than the other moms and their imperfect kids.

Think about it:

  • The majority of women that opt for plastic surgery are white, married, and college educated.
  • The majority of mothers that refuse vaccinations are white, married, and college educated.   
  • The majority of the female population in Utah consist of white, married, and college educated women.  
  • Utah is notorious for plastic surgery because of white, married, and college educated women done with having lots of kids at an earlier age.   

To a "perfect" mom, her children would not be targeted by dangerous viruses or toxins because the children are her children.  Along with posting daily selfies on social media of what she wore, how she did her hair or how she looked at the gym, to enhance her "perfect/hot mom" image, she would never in her life create defective children.

To a "perfect" mom, needing to vaccinate suggests that she runs the risk of creating imperfect/defective children, or heaven forbid, they become autistic children, or have toxins in their perfect little bodies.

Not vaccinating her children is just a way for a Utah mommy with ridiculously flexible morals to feel superior to the rest of the Utah mommies and their imperfect children.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Stay At Home Moms - Stay AWAY from "Home Based" Businesses

Not just SAHMs but to anyone that is involved with the following:

Mary Kay


Stella & Dot

Pampered Chef
Young Living

This list can go on.  The thing they have in common is that they are MLMs.  

There is nothing good about MLMs no matter what you're told.   

MLMs divide families and make families poorer than they were when they first got involved with it.

If you are working full-time, and invest in an MLM you will screw your job; the job that pays vacation, sick leave, health insurance, pension, and/or 401k.  Along with a steady paycheck.

Your co-workers will not know you too well other than you spam their work email about parties/events (against company policy by the way), solicit your products during lunch (they will avoid you or mention it in passing to your boss) and know you took vacation to go to a "conference" or traveled to sell/present to someone during the workday.   Your HR or hiring manager will laugh when you list MLM as applicable job experience on your resume and you may be out of the running for a real job when your background check flags out your negative credit score rating because you charged for thousands of dollars in inventory that you never end up selling.

Beyond the annoying party requests, meetings, presentations and such, I think the people who run MLMs are evil incarnate for running these scams at peoples' expense - anyone in a vulnerable point in their life that need something like extra money, more friends, a career, a purpose, a miracle cure etc.  

Every MLM you face say you can get any and all of the above INSTANTLY.  Reality aka "negative people in your life" will say that these things take time and effort, and in some instances, no miracle cure - accept what's true and live with it.  

To consultants

I wish I could say that it would work for you by deciding to be a consultant.

It is unlikely you will make any money.  

It is very likely you will have mounting debt from inventory, expenses, and travel.  

It is unlikely that you will be home with your family the longer you're in it.   

It is very likely you will be manipulated into ordering more than you sold at any given time.  You will be told you "need" inventory because you "can't sell from an empty wagon" 

You - the consultant - are the end consumer in the eyes of the company.  Those companies sell ONLY to consultants, and THIS IS HOW THE COMPANY MAKES THEIR MONEY.  

It is very likely you will keep hoping for a better month next month, and you will be told this by your sponsor/recruiter.

It is very likely that the product you sell is at least one of the following, or all:

  • Overpriced - any customer can get whatever you're selling at retail for better cost or FREE.  Your friends/family may just buy a candle or a tube of lipstick but that's it.  
  • Not proven by real science, or not approved by the FDA - the "research" is fake.  
  • Makes no life-changing difference in your skin, weight, time management etc
  • Makes no improvement in your health - or worse
  • Surprise! You will not sell as much as anticipated because of the reasons I've mentioned.    

In order to keep your status as a consultant to move up in the chain, your sponsor/recruiter will tell you to RECRUIT.  

Why do you want to get your friends to be consultants when you have been barely successful selling the product yourself?  

Your sponsors/recruiters are lying to themselves and to you about this “opportunity.” They are NOT your friends and they DO NOT have your best interests at heart.   

That company founder that you idolize who keeps telling you all the things you "need to hear to be successful in life" does not have your best interests at heart either.  

All of MLM  businesses are doing is trying to rape you - financially.   

Protect yourself from this happening to YOU.  Protect your loved ones that are involved.  

Remember, rape is NOT your fault.  Do not blame yourself for what happened. These companies are very good at tricking women (and men too) in making them believe that what they're doing is good and right for them and their family.  They use a thread approach.  One thread at a time, until you are handcuffed under threads of manipulation and lies of omission.  

This is a Mormon Ad but MLMs are notorious for preying
on the religious and abuse Jesus and God in their marketing

If you are a consultant whose fog has lifted I want to say that you CAN be successful outside MLM, as soon as you get out.     

Get out now.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Help Family in Need Win a Van with Wheelchair Access

This young family needs your help!  Right now! 

The Stangers of South Weber, UT

They need the highest number of votes in their state before May 2014 to win a van with wheelchair access

Mom recently diagnosed in summer 2013 with a genetic disorder that is dislocating her joints and affecting her organs.  She is deteriorating physically and quickly.  

The only thing that is keeping her joints together is wearing braces and being confined to an electric wheelchair.

She relies on her husband who does the things she can no longer do.  Such as:

  • Take a shower or bath
  • Put on clothes
  • Play with their two babies
  • Brush her hair
  • Brush her teeth
  • Cook dinner for their family

In addition to doing all the things above, her husband must take the time to relocate her joints and tape them back together.  

Ever dislocated a joint? Remember how painful that was??  

Imagine several dislocated joints and putting them back together all day, and everyday.  This is a reality for this family.  

In her hardest moments when she cries from the pain and the frustration of no longer being able to do the things we take for granted on her own, her husband is her rock and has shown nothing but love, strength, and commitment to her and their little family.

Her husband has learned to carry her from the bedroom, to her wheelchair, from her wheelchair to the bathroom etc. all in effort to not dislocate her joints while moving her from one place to another.  

They do not have a van with wheelchair access because health insurance does not cover the cost of such vehicles.  In their situation, they cannot afford such a vehicle out of pocket.

Her husband has learned to take her out of her wheelchair, put her in the car seat, relocate her joints again and repeat the process all over again.  This is painful.

He wants nothing more than a van with wheelchair access to minimize the physical toll on his wife when transferring her place to place.  From the doctors' appointments, when visiting family, or just to get in the car to drive to the park and watch their kids play.

Vans such as these provide the facilitation in transportation for loved ones
in an electric wheelchair

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association is giving away wheelchair accessible vans to a winner in each state of the US.  They will announce the winners in May 2014.

If you read this post, you ARE able to help this family in 3 steps below:

1) Please vote for them to win in the state of Utah!  
Read more of their story and vote here.

2) Tell your friends to tell their friends to vote for them too.

3) Vote TODAY and EVERYDAY until May 2014.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Maximizing Grocery Savings at Smith's

Smith's is where I shop for groceries.    

I do not own the image, it belongs to Smith's and all of its producers

Quitting my job forced me to look around at how I could save more on groceries.   Over time I figured out some things that I will share with you.

1) Get a Rewards card  Simply ask the cashier for one and clip it on to your key chain.  

Yes your grocery cart will literally fly with savings after reading my blog post

2) Register your Reward card ONLINE. This is a must!

Smiths has a lot of coupons online...
-Manufacturer Coupons

Smith's has a disclaimer saying "digital coupons may not be combined with paper coupons" meaning, you can't stack a paper manufacturer coupon with a digital manufacturer coupon for one item.  

But you can stack digital manufacturer or paper manufacturer coupons with some digital coupon exceptions that I'll explain in more detail.  

-Super Savings Coupons

This is a STORE coupon used during a promotion; they would say something like "Super Sale-Use up to 5 times in one transaction"  You can stack them with the manufacturer coupon; digital or paper.

-Best Customer Exclusive.  

A digital coupon just because Smith's loves you.  It will be a coupon for an item you usually buy or might have an interest in buying based on the history from your previous shopping trips.  I also think you get them when you fill out the periodic surveys online from your receipt. You can stack them with the manufacturer coupon; digital or paper.  This is also a store coupon you can stack with a manufacturer coupon.  I got a dozen free eggs from that.  Who else gives free eggs?  No one!  

-Free Friday Download

As a benefit for registering your Rewards card online, each Friday and only on Fridays you have 24 hours to download a coupon for a FREE item.  Usually it's a new product to the store.  It's good because it's like getting a free sample at no loss on your part. Some items I've gotten for free:
  • A cup of 5 oz yogurt
  • Liter of soda
  • Clear and Clear shampoo
  • Granola bars
  • Smoothie mix
  • Colgate toothpaste
  • Gatorade protein shake

3) Review the circular that comes in the mail on Wednesdays.  It is also available online. I use this while making my grocery list and plan my trip.  If an item is on sale and it's something I know I will buy but don't need it right away, I enter the information in my price book app.

4) Use the "Buy 5, Save $5" promotion to your advantage.  In the circular they will mention some of the items in the promotion, but not all of them.  You need to go to the store and see!

Example of items in the B5S5 promotion from the circular and stacking them with coupons:

This week until Tuesday March 25, 2014 at midnight:
Minute Maid Orange Juice: $3.99 
On sale for $2.99.  With the B5S5 you can get it for $1.79
There is a manufacturer coupon* floating around for $1.00 off Minute Maid Juice.  
That means you can get a 59 oz orange juice for .79

Magnum Ice Cream Bars $3.99 
With B5S5 it's 2.99 
There's a coupon* floating around for $1.25 off.  It made the bars $1.74
*I download the App on my iPhone, iPad, and Dave's iPhone.  You have a 2 coupon max limit on each electronic device, and do not close your device while printing! You will lose the coupon and reach your print limit.  I don't use my computer for the App because it never works to print.  The coupons I mentioned are from  In addition, I check out the Redplum in the mail and my MIL gives me her coupons from her Sunday paper.  That's it.  

Pampers Swaddler Diapers. $9.84
The ice cream bars and the juice sale price were mentioned in the circular but not the diapers. 
With B5S5 they would be $7.99 instead of 8.99 on sale.
I had a customer exclusive coupon for $1.50 off and a manufacturer coupon for $1.50 off. 
$7.99 minus $3 would make the diapers $4.99 a pack! That's a very good price for a pack of diapers no matter the brand.

I like orange juice. I like ice cream. And I need diapers for my baby. As a result

Two 59 oz of OJ $1.58
Two boxes of ice cream bars $3.48
One pack of diapers $4.99

= $10.05.

If they weren't on sale they would be roughly $25.80.  Just for those items I saved 61%! 

I once got a customer exclusive coupon to get a FREE box of Cheerios, selling at $3.29 a box.  I still used a .50 off Cheerios manufacturer coupon; that was neat because it was like getting 50 cents back to apply it to another item.

5) Identify manufacturer coupon loopholes* when clipping and/or downloading coupons.  I'll use Secret deodorant as an example
*I am not encouraging coupon fraud. But I have done this and it has worked without any problem.  If it is illegal I will revise my post and admit my mistake and promise to never ever to do it again.  

  • You have One manufacturer coupon that says "Save $1 when you buy two Secret deodorants"
  • In addition you have Two manufacturer coupons that say "Save $2 when you buy one Secret deodorant"
  • Result: Use all 3 coupons, buy two packs of deodorant and save $5.

Another example:

  • You have one manufacturer coupon that says "$2 off any fragrance Secret deodorant"
  • In addition you have one manufacturer coupon that says "$1 off powder fresh Secret deodorant"
  • Result: Use both coupons, buy one powder fresh deodorant, save $3.

Some pictures of my receipts with savings.  Look at "Total Savings" not the "TODAY YOU SAVED..." for a more accurate amount of what you saved on.  


15 items
30% savings of $18.60


22 items
32% savings of $27.34


6 items
66% savings of $11.15


22 items
40% savings of $36.42

Instead of paying $260.21 in four shopping trips, I spent...$166.70.  About $40 average spent. 
The $93.51 savings is worth about two grocery trips!  

With time and practice of knowing when a sale hits for a certain item I will get even better!