Tipping On Carryout Orders – Yay Or Nay?

Lines on credit card receipts for tips have popped up everywhere.  It used to be that sit-down service was the only place where a tip applied.  Now, that is not so much.  Tipping on carryout orders is now a fairly common practice.  At least, if you believe how often the tipping lines appear.

So, what is the expectation for tipping on carryout orders?

tipping on carryout orders
Tipping on carryout orders is more common now than ever.

The Case For Tipping On Carryout Orders

While some would say that restaurants are being greedy looking for tips on carryout orders, many workers would likely disagree.

In many cases, workers are dedicated to the carryout section of a restaurant.  There is a local pizza place that we love, but we’ve started doing carryout only.  It’s so popular that waits for tables are usually at least 30 minutes, even on the least busy day of the week.  So, the solution is to purchase carryout.

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How One Local Brick and Mortar Store Is Keeping Up With The Times

The apparent death of the brick and mortar store is well documented.  And, with pretty good reason.  At least once per week, we see another big name store closing up shop.  Toys R Us.  Payless Shoe Source.  Gymboree.  These are just a few of those that hop right out at me without even looking anything up!  And I know there are tons more.

However, not all brick and mortar stores are content to sit back and let online businesses take them away.  I am pleased to mention one such experience.

New Running Shoes

I run about 10 miles per week.  Lately, I’ve noticed that my shoes have started to feel a bit worn.  They have around 500 miles, which is honestly around the top end for running shoes.  My shoes are pretty sturdy, so that is actually about right.

running shoes
Does a brick and mortar store compare to online options for new running shoes?

I had bought my last pair at a local store called Hanson’s Running Shop. They specialize in shoes and gear for runners.  I had a great experience and they found me a pair of shoes that offered extra support.  This is important to me given that I’m prone to plantar fasciitis

Read moreHow One Local Brick and Mortar Store Is Keeping Up With The Times

How We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund (And What We’re Doing With It)

Have you done your 2018 taxes yet?  Are you one of the unfortunate people who are seeing a smaller tax refund this year?  If you are, I hope that it won’t impact your finances in a negative way.  Thankfully, we were able to avoid a smaller tax refund this year.

tax refund checklist

How We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund

When we got our tax forms back, we were happy to see that we’re getting a little more back than last year.  While many people think getting any sort of refund is bad thing, I actually welcome a refund.  We don’t count on the refund.  For us, it’s just nice to have money that isn’t a temptation to spend during the year.  The removal of that temptation is worth the small interest we’re foregoing.

So, how did we avoid a smaller refund? There were two main reasons.

Read moreHow We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund (And What We’re Doing With It)

Don’t Pay With Cash Unless You Have To

Do you pay with cash or swipe a card?  Some will swear that paying with cash can save you money.  After all, you’re only spending what you have on hand.  This is definitely true, but that doesn’t mean cash is king.

Why We Don’t Pay With Cash

For our spending purposes, we rarely pay with cash.  The only times we do is when we have no other choice.   We don’t think paying with cash is necessarily a bad idea.  It just seems that using a card works better and offers us a few more advantages.  Here are a few.

Credit Card Rewards

We do most of our spending on three different cards. They all provide different rewards.  We pick the card we use in order to maximize our rewards.

credit card rewards
Reward credit cards can give you freebies.
  • Costco Cash Back Visa Card.  We use this card primarily for gas, restaurants, travel, and Costco shopping.  The reason is simple.  It provides 1% for all spending, but provides between 2-4% cash back on all of those categories.
  • American Express Blue Everyday Card. This is the card we use mostly for grocery shopping.  Same deal as the Costco card, in that it gives 1% on everything, but for grocery shopping you get 3%.  With our family of four that includes two very fast growing children, that extra amount adds up.
  • Southwest Visa Card.  Most of our other spending goes on our Southwest card.  This gives you one mile per dollar spent.  I’ve done the math, and at least last time I checked, the standard ‘cost’ of a flight using miles works out to be about 20% cheaper than paying in cash. We took an anniversary trip to Cancun a couple of years ago with no cost whatsoever.

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Thoughts On Selling On Facebook Marketplace

In the past, I’ve sold some items on Craigslist.  While I love selling online, it’s no longer my go-to site.  I have started selling on Facebook Marketplace.

Why Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace was rolled out a couple of years ago.  With so much selling going through Craiglist, eBay and the like, it was natural that Facebook would want to get in on the game.

I like Facebook Marketplace for the following reasons:

  • Familiarity – I use Facebook almost every day.  So do many people.  You don’t need a different login to sell (or buy items).  You don’t need a different app.  It’s all right there.
  • Real People – When you’re buying or selling on Facebook Marketplace, you’re using your regular profile.  So is the other person.  You instantly have a name and a face.  It seems to make things more personal.
  • Size – Facebook is huge as it is.  So right away you’ve got a built in audience.

It’s been a cool experience so far.  But, I have some observations.

Read moreThoughts On Selling On Facebook Marketplace

How We’re Trying To Support Local Business

As more and more stores close, one thing is clear.  It’s important to support local business.  During our last recession, Michigan was hit very hard.  The recession here started a couple of years before it hit the rest of the country.  Unemployment was worse than most other states.  That’s what happens when the economy is based on one industry that was hit very hard.  As it was, a lot of local business didn’t make it through.  Those that did can often find it tough to make it through.

Still, it’s important to support local business.  Here are some ways we have.

Shopping At Local Hardware Stores

I wrote an article about this a few months ago.  Local hardware stores, simply put, are a treasure.  You get helpful and knowledgeable people.  There are times to shop at the big box store, that’s true.  But I think paying a little extra now and then is well worth it at the mom-and-pop hardware.  There’s hardly any better way to support local business.

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6 Grocery Store Tricks They Don’t Want You To Know About

Grocery shopping.  Is it ever anybody’s favorite time of the week?  No, but it has to get done.  So, we go.  We look for ways to save money.  And, many times we walk out feeling victorious.  But, did you know that grocery stores have tricks up their sleeves? Yep.  They have strategies of their own, all designed for you to spend more money.  The good news with this is that a little knowledge goes a long way.  Here are some grocery store tricks to watch out for.

They Put High Margin Departments Near  The Door

Walk into most grocery stores and you’ll usually find the same things.  The meat counter.  The bakery.  A floral department.  Fruits and vegetables.  Is this because all grocery stores are designed by the same person?  No.  It’s because these are very high margin items.  Since you don’t have anything in your basket yet, you won’t be as careful about saving money since you haven’t spent any yet.

Read more6 Grocery Store Tricks They Don’t Want You To Know About

You Should Pay More To Shop At A Small Hardware Store

Lately, I’ve been going to a small hardware store on the way home from work when need arises.  It’s convenient and the service is great.  Still, they’re a bit higher priced.  The other morning I was going to meet my dad for breakfast.  Across from the restaurant is a Lowe’s.  I figured I’d stop in and get a few things to save some money.  What a big mistake.

I had a pretty small list:

  • Screws to mount a small TV
  • Pesticide for our rose bushes
  • Globe light bulbs for the bathrooms
  • Rubber gloves

Read moreYou Should Pay More To Shop At A Small Hardware Store

Guess Which Replacement Fitbit I Got?

Going to the water park for the kids mid-winter break has become a tradition.  This year we went to Kalahari instead of Great Wolf Lodge.  Both are in Sandusky.  But that’s a post for another time.  This year, unfortunately, I lost my Fitbit.  My band broke, and I stuck it in my pocket.  A couple of hours later, I went to check it, and the Fitbit was gone.  The band was still there, but the Fitbit must have slipped out.  So what replacement Fitbit did I choose?

The O.G. Fitbit Flex

I got my Fitbit in 2014.  I picked the Flex.  At the time, it went for $100 and was pretty cool.  Of course, now it’s pretty basic compared to what they have.  I call it the O.G. which stands for Original Gangster, and is a slang term for something once cool that’s now a throwback.

While it sucked to lose my Fitbit, it gave me an opportunity to consider what I wanted to do.

Read moreGuess Which Replacement Fitbit I Got?

7 Ways To Save Money At The Drugstore

My wife and I were talking about drugstores the other day.  We tried to remember if they were always expensive places to shop.  I thought that they used to be a little more reasonable on everyday prices.  But, she wasn’t so sure.  Regardless of who was right, there is one fact that’s clear.  Shopping at the drugstore can be very expensive.  But it doesn’t have to be a place to avoid.  You can save money at the drugstore.  Here are some tips.

Sign Up For Rewards Programs

Rewards programs will often give you money back after a certain level of spending.  You can even get bonus rewards on certain items.  Just keep an eye on their weekly flyers.

Read more7 Ways To Save Money At The Drugstore