Our 2018 Fall To-Do List

Fall is here.  We definitely enjoy the cooler weather.  We’ve already had a great cider mill experience.  We have a fridge drawer full of apples from picking.  It’s a great time of year.  Although summer is my favorite season, fall is a great time. But, it’s not all fun and relaxing.  There is work to be done!  Here are some items on our fall to-do list.

Paint Swing Set

It’s been at least seven years since I last painted the kids swing set.  It definitely needs it.  This will honestly probably be the last time it gets painted.  It’s a wood set and water always breaks down wood.  Still, maybe this will get at least a few more years until they naturally grow out of the set.

Till The Flower Bed

We have a flower bed in front of the house that needs work.  There are nearby trees.  The roots from the trees have made the soil pretty hard.  After pulling the flower, I need to till the soil.  This should help for spring.  The flowers haven’t done as well as they used to.  I am hoping that some loosened soil will help next spring.

Fill In Grass Seed

I went through and put seed over some spots where the grass has gone down to bare soil.  I need to check if there are any remaining areas.

Fertilize The Grass

The pre-winter application helps keep the weeds down in the spring.  I have the fertilizer.  I’m just waiting until the new grass gets established before I apply it.

Sell Strollers

We have several strollers in the garage.  They are perfectly good, but we have no more need for them.  It’s time to clean them off and list them on Facebook Marketplace.

Organize Our Camper Stuff

As I mentioned, we sold our camper.  All of the inside stuff is neatly organized and in bins.  But, the outside stuff is in a big pile inside the garage.  Now, I need to get some additional shelving and store it properly.

Put Away Patio Stuff

Our glass table can’t sit out as is during the winter.  I tried it once and the snow was too heavy, and the glue that holds the glass to the frame became fatigued and had to be completely re-done.  So, I have to store it either in the basement or under the deck.

Trim Down The Perennials

We have quite a few perennials that need to be trimmed back.  So, some of them may need to eventually be removed.  We have some rose bushes that, no matter what I do, just look worse and worse every year.  It might be time to try something different.

Get Rid Of Old Computers

This really isn’t tied to fall but just something I want to do.  I have several old laptop and desktop machines.  But, I don’t use them. They are way too old to be sold.  I need to make sure to get any data from them and dispose of them properly.  I am just tired of things like that taking up space unnecessarily.

Start Planning For Christmas

It’d be nice to get a jump on the holidays.  They always seem to sneak up.  I’ve already encouraged the kids to start writing down items they might want for their lists.  Ideally, it’d be nice to go through our stuff and identify anything we might need.  Additionally, setting early shopping plans and budgets will only make things easier when the busy season hits.

That’s our list, though I’m sure it will get bigger.  What’s on your fall to-do list for the year?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

The Psychology of Sales

All human behavior is driven by one of two factors: the desire for pleasure or the need to avoid pain. If you can show a prospective customer how your product will help them perform either of those functions, you’ll have a buyer.

Here’s how to incorporate the psychology of sales into your marketing efforts.

Fear of Missing Out

People love to feel as if they are part of the “in” crowd. They derive pleasure from feeling they are privy to something others can’t get, or they got a special deal where most people had to pay more. When presented with such an opportunity—on a limited basis—shoppers will be motivated to make a purchase decision.  They don’t want to endure the pain of having missed out on a good thing. This fear of missing out is why car salespeople always “have a few other people calling about this car”. The implication is simple.  You’d better buy it before one of those other callers gets there and scoops up this “one of a kind” great deal causing you to miss out.

The Power of Anticipation

It has been the said the secret to a happy life is having something to which one can look forward. In many cases, the feelings of pleasure people derive from the anticipation of an event far outstrips the actual pleasure they experience. By way of illustration, let’s say you sell ebooks online. When you have a new title coming up, you can tout it heavily in all of your social feeds, through your content marketing efforts and with teaser ads on your site—building it up as the ultimate volume on whatever subject it happens to cover. If you can create a buzz and get others talking about it as well, the anticipation among the targeted reader base will be very high and so will sales—as long as the book continues to live up to the hype when it’s published.

Defeating a Common Enemy

People love to win. This behavior underpins all of professional sports and yes, even war. Thing is, for us to win, someone (or something) has to lose. If you can show them how your product helps them win, you’ll have a sale. As an example, cold commercials often pit the virus as an animated character wreaking mayhem on the respiratory system. The cold remedy is then presented as the solution to defeat a common enemy—the cold virus, which in turn both creates pleasure (the cold is gone) and eliminates pain (the cold is gone).

Satisfaction of Curiosity

When people discover a hole in their knowledge, the need to fill it can be quite compelling. Ever been driving along in your car and heard an unfamiliar rattle? The noise irritates you something fierce until you know where t’s coming from. One you do, even if you can’t fix it, you feel better about it, because your curiosity has been satisfied. This incites a feeling of pleasure in the brain. Your marketing campaigns can benefit tremendously from this. Crafting subject lines designed to specifically pique the curiosity of your ideal customer drives open rates through the ceiling. You can also leverage this in your product descriptions.  Do this by giving shoppers just enough information to make them want to try the product and satisfy their need to know.

These are just four examples of how the desire for pleasure and the need to avoid pain can manifest themselves in the marketplace. Having a solid understanding of the psychology of sales will help you in your marketing efforts as you present your products and services.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

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.

They Place More Expensive Items At Eye Level

Off brand items or sale items will often give you the best deal.  But, keep an eye out for how they’re placed.  Many times, you have to look around for them.  They might be toward the floor.  Grocery stores generally reserve items at eye level for higher priced items.  The easiest things to find are the ones that they figure you’ll put in your basket.  Especially if you’re in a hurry.

Impulse Buys Are Placed In Main Aisles

Next time you walk through the main aisle of a grocery store, pay attention.  You’ll often find items that you might not otherwise buy.  You’ll find lots of snacks.  Soups and other items that you might stock up on.  Wine.  All of these things are items that you might not have on a list, but can tempt you as you walk by them.

Make You Walk Through The Store

Milk, eggs, and bread are usually part of almost every grocery store trip.  Sometimes they’re the only things people need.  For that reason, they’re usually located far away from the door.  Grocery stores put common items strategically away from the door and the checkouts so that you have to walk through the store to get to them.  What happens when you walk through the store?  You see lots and lots of other items.  Grocery stores hope you end up with a few extras in your cart.

Run Out Of Items

Everybody knows the frustration of going to find a sale item and finding only an empty shelf. I know it’s one of my pet peeves. I used to think it was because they didn’t stock fast enough.  Now I’ve started to think they might let empty shelves sit empty on purpose.  At least for a while.  Why would they do this?  So that you buy a replacement item, at higher cost, of course.  They figure that many people won’t want to bother with coming back later or a rain check.

Give You Coupons

Why would this be on the list? Coupons save you money, right?  Well, only if you’re using them on items you would buy anyways.  Now that stores have apps and rewards cards, they can tailor their coupons to individual customers.  You’ll start to see items that buy frequently appear in coupons.  Grocery stores hope that you’ll buy these again and again, even if you don’t need it at that time.  So, if you’re not careful, coupons can make you spend money you wouldn’t need to otherwise.

These are just a few grocery store tricks to watch out for.  I’m sure there are others.  Savvy shoppers will understand the tricks that grocery stores use and account for them in their strategy.

Readers, what grocery store tricks are you aware of?  How do you stay on top of things?  Do you think you’re good at avoiding them? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Facing Facts: Our Old Camper Is Near The End Of The Road

I’ve written a few posts over the year about our camper.  From our first post announcing we were considering the idea to our posts about subsequent misadventures, we’ve chronicled our journey well.  The bottom line, though, is that our old camper isn’t doing well.

Our Camper Is Old

We have a 2004 Jayco hybrid.  This is it’s 15th camping season.  We’ve only had it for seven of those seasons, but it’s showing it’s age.

Many campers can survive much longer.  Ours hasn’t done so well. The primary reason is the type of camper it is.  We have a lightweight hybrid.  At the time of our purchase, we had a mid-size SUV that could only tow a few thousand pounds.  This limited us on what we could get.  We didn’t want a pop-up, so this was about the biggest we could get with a traditional trailer.

It was great, but unfortunately, there are tradeoffs.  A couple of years back, I had a conversation with our repair shop, and he said that these types of units have a shorter lifespan than traditional units.  They use lighter and thinner wood.  The frame is made of less accomodating materials.  The shell is fiberglass, which eventually delaminates.  Simply put, they typically don’t last as long.

He pointed out that ours was in great shape….for a unit as old as it was.  He could tell that we took care of it and kept it up well.  But he was honest and said that it would continue to have problems.  And it has.

Current Problems

Soft spots on the floor

We had a rubber seal fail in a storage compartment over the winter a few years back.  This allowed water draining off the roof to enter and created a couple of soft spots.  They haven’t gotten any worse over time, but soft spots are an automatic no for many buyers.  It’s never been worth it to fix it, as we would have had to take apart the cabinets, the walls, the water tanks, and other key areas to fix.

Sagging ceiling

The roof support system is made of wood beams.  Because of their lighter weight, they eventually settle.  This happens especially in the middle with the weight of the A/C unit.  As such, water puddles around the A/C unit. When we’re storing it, we just tilt it to have the water run off.  But, when we’re camping, the water around the A/C actually starts prohibiting the condensation from draining, so it starts dripping back in.

Small leaks here and there

I caulk pretty regularly around the sides and joints.  Still, the lightweight design means that things regularly expand and contract.  Plus, the outside is made of fiberglass panels, which start to separate.  So, while there’s never a major leak to cause new soft spots, there have been a few water stains here and there.

Fridge half works

The refrigerator typically works on electricity or propane.  Ours quit working on propane.  Even our repair shop couldn’t figure it out.  This is usually fine as it’s insulated enough to keep things cold during travel.  However, we had a 24-hour power outage on one of our trips this summer.  Our fridge had to be emptied.

Leaky water heater

The drain plug on our water heater drips.  It’s just a small drip, maybe a drip every few seconds, but it’s just annoying enough to be a problem, as the pump turns on every so often.  I’ve tried new drain plugs and even some teflon tape around the plugs, but still to no avail.

Canvas fatigue

The awning and beds are both made of materials that seem susceptible to pinholes or stretching.  These aren’t usually big time repairs, but the problems won’t stop happening.

Other Issues

Outside of the problems, our camper has other issues for us.

Lack of bunk beds

Our kids are of the age where we would like them to have their own sleeping space.

Small tanks

One of the ways they made the camper small was to reduce the size of the water and waste tanks.  We camp for up to eight nights at a time.  With the size of the tanks, I’m adding water every day and we’re unable to put more than a gallon or two into the tank per day.  That’s really not a lot.

Very little storage

We have very little storage outside the camper.  I’m cramming anything that goes outdoors into two 2′ x 6′ x 1.5′ compartments.  Inside, there’s very little space for clothing and food.  It’s either one or the other.

Setup and pack up time

Our beds fold down, just like in a pop-up.  This adds time for us when we setup, in folding down and making the bed.  It’s also extra time to pack up and leave.  This isn’t a dealbreaker.  But, we go camping a lot.  We probably do six or seven trips per year.  That time adds up.  I know, first world problems, right?

 

Our Camper Today

The bottom line is that our old camper is undersized for how we use it.  We camp over twenty nights per year over many trips.  As my wife pointed out, it’s probably best designed for weekend trips.  With those, the tanks wouldn’t be a problem. Folding the beds in and out wouldn’t be as frequent.  The issues with the fridge and water would be more minor annoyances.

What’s Next

We will probably start looking into the idea of a new camper soon.  We’ve talked about it for a while.  We knew the day would come.  I think we’re just seeing that the issues aren’t going to go away.  We know more will come, not less.

When we bought the camper, I wasn’t sure about it at all.  I didn’t grow up camping.  My wife did.  Everything was new to me.  I didn’t know how to take care of it.  I really wasn’t sure if I’d truly like it.  To be honest, I had a lot of reservations.  The good news, though, is that I do like it.  I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable about towing and taking care of a home away from home.

So, we’ll probably start looking to see if anything stands out at us.  We want something newer.  It would have to be something bigger.  We don’t want anything lavish.  It just has to suit our needs.

The budget for it would be a combination of several things.

Selling our old camper

The current camper would hopefully work for someone.  We would likely get very little compared to what we purchased it for.  This is a bummer, but I’m pretty OK with it.  Why? Because of how much we’ve actually used it.  If I were to add up the number of days and nights we’ve used it since we bought it, we’ve gotten some great use out of it.

Savings

We have been putting money toward a new camper for awhile.  It’s been slow as we are a single income family, and we are also saving toward other items.  We’ll need a new deck.  Our furnace, A/C unit, and water heater are all of the age of caution.  We put most of our savings toward retirement.

Loan

We may take out a small loan to pay for the balance.  We’re trying to keep things on the affordable side.  I don’t want to take out more than a few thousand dollars for a loan.  It’s never my ambition to take on a new loan, but I know the payment would be small.  Plus we have  a student loan payment ending in a year or so that we could shift the payment to largely cover a loan payment.  It wouldn’t put a financial strain on our budget.

All in all, our camper has provided us with a lot.  Many great memories.  Shelter during some heavy storms.  Lots of great places to stake our ground.  We get to vacation more at a fraction of the cost compared to more frequent hotel or rental vacations.  So, while nothing is in stone, we’re opening up ourselves to the idea that a new (to us) camper may be in the works.  Just more memories to be made, I hope!

Readers, what have you owned that eventually ‘got old’?  At what point did you decide it was time to move on?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.