Shipping With Style

One aspect of selling through an online business that can cause a lot of stress is shipping. Striking the right balance between fees that your customers are comfortable with and ones that will actually cover your costs can be challenging. But there is more to shipping than simply figuring out the right price to charge. The care you put into shipping your products goes a long way towards showing professionalism and letting your customers know that they are getting value for those fees.

Goodies

Adding goodies to your shipment is a good way to make a positive impression on your customer. They can also help differentiate your business from others, especially if you are in a competitive market. Hard candies are the most common goodies you’ll find added to shipments. They still make a good impression, though. Depending on your product, stickers or buttons may also be appropriate. Pick items that are unusual and, if possible, relate to your business. If you are using candies, for example, you may want to send ones made by a local confectioner. Always package them in a separate bag or container from the item you are shipping to avoid unfortunate accidents.

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Why I Will Never, Ever Root For Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors gets a lot of attention in the various investment and financial publications that I read on a regular basis.  Many people think they have some great products and that their innovation could propel them to great things in the future.  They seem committed to the idea of the electric car, while maintaining style and ingenuity that customers crave as well.  The prices are pretty steep, but if you’re in the clientele that they’re marketing to, the idea is that price probably isn’t a huge obstacle.    Even though all of these limitations make it obvious that they’ll never crank out millions of cars per year, many investors feel that they have great opportunity.

Personally, I don’t care.  I will never invest in their stock.  But, my reasoning is a bit more close to home than anything else.

In 2006, Tesla decided that they needed a presence here in Michigan, which even though it has lost a lot of clout, is still a huge center of the carmaking industry.  They negotiated with a suburban city for a tax abatement, hired around 50 people, and set up shop with their Tesla Michigan Technical Center, with the doors opening in early 2007.

Less than 18 months later, it was all over with.  They put up a blog post indicating that they were cutting back and would be closing up various locations, including the Michigan location.  The big problem with that is they put up their blog post before management had a chance to let anybody know of their plans, so effectively, dozens of people found out they were going to lose their jobs via a…blog post.

This was right around the time that the economy was starting to crumble, and it was obvious that the domestic auto companies were in a big world of hurt.  At the time, layoffs of hundreds of people were announced almost daily, so the Tesla news was barely a blip on the radar.

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Does Google See Value In Bloggers?

It’s hard to believe that I’m coming up on five years here at Money Beagle.  I remember when I first pitched the idea to my wife, we were sitting at the beach (it’s nearby our house and at $25 for a seasonal pass, it was a great frugal value), and I pitched the idea of writing a money blog.  She was enthusiastic and it was there that it was decided that I’d move ahead.

I’ve loved all of my five years of blogging, and I’ve learned so much, but one of the trends I’m seeing is that Google seems to be placing less and less value on blogging.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlatform

When I started blogging, I jumped right in and used WordPress, which is the most commonly used blogging platform.  After a year, for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into in this post, I actually switched to Blogger, which is owned by Google.  Bloggers is considered a step back from WordPress, and with good reason: Google hasn’t made any signficant updates in probably five years.  They’ve made a few cosmetic features, but in terms of things like allowing detailed customization, allowing compatibility with external developers, mobile support, and a modern interface, there’s been little to no progress.

It’s pretty apparent that even though they spent a ton of money on Blogger, they really don’t see the value of putting any type of significant investment.

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The People Whom I Block On Facebook

I was recently going through my privacy settings on Facebook, and I looked through the list of people whom I’ve blocked over time.  It’s a pretty small list, but as I looked through it, I realized a pattern.  With the exception of one, they are all people who would probably never add me (for reasons you’ll see), but I blocked them simply because I wanted them to have no opportunity to view anything about me.

Take a look through the list and see if you can spot the pattern.  If not, well, I’ll make it easy as it will be at the bottom of the post.

  • My childhood babysitter – Until I was ten, my dad raised me alone.  Since he worked, I needed someone to watch me before and after school, and through summer breaks and what not.  Somehow, he found a lady who watched a few kids.  We were all around the same age group.  Looking back now, I realize that I wasn’t the best behaved kid.  I admit that I was a bit disruptive, but I wasn’t destructive.  Still, I was surprised when somewhere through the third grade school year, she told my dad that she didn’t want to watch me anymore.  She started thinking about winding down her babysitting service, and I was the first one she ‘cut’ as she started to reduce the number of kids she watched.  I don’t have any fond memories of time spent with ‘Marge’ before this, but it’s always stuck in my head that she cut me loose.  A couple of years ago, she actually found me and sent me a friend request.  I sat on it for a few weeks before deciding that, no, I was not going to accept the request.
  • Two bullies – In junior high and high school, I never ran with the popular crowd.  As a result, there were times when I was bullied.  One kid, in junior high, went so far as to egg my house, something that completely embarrased me as my parents were the ones that ultimately had to clean it up.  In high school, I caught the attention of the ‘star lacrosse’ player, who already was adored because of his ‘star’ status, but it wasn’t enough, so he picked on various kids, including me.  While some other kids followed suit with both of the bullies, none kept it up as long or went to the degrees that these two did.  As soon as I saw them on my ‘You might know…’ list, they went right to being blocked.
  • The frat guy – When I was in college, many people rushed a fraternity during the second semester of their freshman year.  I was on the fence, so I passed, but decided I wanted to rush in the first semester of my sophomore year.  I knew a lot of the guys in the fraternity I wanted to rush, and was good friends with many. It seemed a good fit, so I applied to rush.  The way it worked is that if you got ‘a bid’ they’d come by your dorm room and officially give you the invitation to go through the pledge process.  The day of the invites come and went and I never got one.  I was pretty devastated, but the code of the fraternity made it so that I could never really find out what had happened…and I didn’t for a few years.  Eventually one of my best friends admitted that there was a guy that had recommended I not receive a bid, and if one person felt that strongly, the house generally went with that recommendation.  It was someone I never interacted with regularly, and to this day, I have no idea why I ran afoul of him.    Again, he showed up as someone I might know and immediately went on my list.
  • An ex-boss – Last year, I went through the story of my worst job ever (parts one two three) where I outlined the story of the one job I’ve had where I didn’t excel.  Not only did I not excel, I fell flat on my face.  While I take responsibility for many parts, the fact is that I had a very unsupportive boss who did not believe in me, did not work to improve my performance, and took no responsibility for any of the issues.  The job rattled me and made me question everything about myself as a worker, though luckily my next (and current) position has been a job where I’ve been given the opportunity to succeed, and have taken advantage of it.

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6 Ways We Saved On Our Kids Birthday Parties

Our kids are growing up quick, and in the past month they’ve both hit new numbers for their birthday.  Little Boy Beagle just turned 4 last month and Little Girl Beagle turned 2 on Saturday!

Birthdays are always great, and this was the first year that both of them got excited about their birthdays, Little Boy more so than Little Girl.

However, we recently celebrated their birthdays, and were able to do so in a fun, easy way that really saved us some money.  Here are six ways we saved!

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Did You Ever Have A George Bailey Moment?

Even though spring is blooming, I recently had a conversation with an It’s A Wonderful Life reference that I just had to share.

The owner of the company who installed our new roof (more on that in another post) was a great guy and he was very easy to talk to.  As such, after the job was completed, he came to our house to collect the final payment, and Mrs. Beagle, Bob (the roofer) and I talked about a few different things outside of the questions we had about the roof.

I can’t remember the specific context, but he mentioned that he lives a pretty quiet life in that he doesn’t smoke or drink.  He then paused, and said that this wasn’t always the case, that he is in fact a recovering alcoholic.  I asked how long he was in recovery and he said that it’s been 19 years.  I was very impressed and let him know as such, and he then told us something that made me really stop and think.

He told us about his ‘George Bailey’ moment.  I’m sure most know, but just in case, George Bailey is the main character of the Christmas themed movie It’s A Wonderful Life.  In the movie, things go wrong and he says out loud that he wishes he had never been born, and then gets to see his wish come true.  A guardian angel takes him to a world in which he’d never been born, and he gets to see how things changed for many of the people (his wife, friends, family) whose life wouldn’t have been touched had he not been born.

Bob’s story obviously wasn’t centered about what would have happened had he not been born, but instead about how things likely would have turned out had he not stopped drinking. He told that during his ‘really, really wild days’ (his words), he had a best friend who was there with him at every turn.  They drank together, partied together, got out of had together, got in a lot of trouble together, and lost control of themselves together.

At a certain point, Bob realized that he couldn’t do that.  He knew he was out of control so he quit drinking.

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Assign Tasks To One Person And One Person Only

I’ve learned quite a bit over my 15+ years in the workforce.  One of the things that I’ve learned is that the more people you assign tasks to, the less chance you have of the work actually getting done.  In fact, every person you add to task list will continue to decrease the chances of success.

It kind of seems like it would go the other way around, wouldn’t it?  Simple logic says that if you have something you need done, and you ask a group of people to do it, that you’re increasing the chances that someone has the knowledge, the ability, and the time.

While all that may be true, what it doesn’t address is that by asking multiple people to complete a task, you’re taking away accountability, and that is the key component that trumps any of the other variables I mentioned.

Simply put, if you assign a task to one person, you’re putting the accountability on that person.  If you assign it to a group, you’re putting the accountability on….nobody.

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Coupon Policies Are Not Always Enforced

Have you ever looked at store coupons and seen rules and stipulations a mile long, and said “Forget it” to the whole thing?

Not so fast!

At least if you’re shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

We’ve had a couple instances of very good luck using coupons that, according to the rules on various coupons, shouldn’t have worked.

Two Bikes

Last year, my wife was in the market for a new bike.  I think this was prompted by the fact that my sister-in-law had just got a new bike, and while usable, the aqua green 10-speed from the 1990’s just wasn’t alluring.  We do quite a bit of bike riding during camping trips, so she used birthday money to get her bike.

My sister-in-law actually came up with the suggestion to try to use our Entertainment Book coupon, where Dick’s has a few entries.  I looked at the coupon and it had some brand exclusions, one of which was the bike my wife wanted.  I asked my sister-in-law and she said that they took hers without a problem, even though she bought a bike from the same manufacturer.

Sure enough, when I went to the store to pick up the bike, they took it without so much as a second glance.

We saved $15!

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6 Terrible Reasons Your Boss Might Love You

For anybody that works in a job where you have a boss, you want them to like you and be satisfied with you, right?  I know I always strive to be the best employee I can be, and while I know I’m not perfect, I have more often than not been considered an employee who contributes.

But, there are times when your boss might love you, for all the wrong reasons.  What does that mean?

Well, it’s simple.  You might be a sucker!

If your employer ‘loves you’ for any of the following reasons, then maybe it’s time to change your strategy a little bit.

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