Hope for your financial life and beyond

Customer Service Training Ideas: No Comments on How Much Food I Buy

I love good customer service. When you find a store that consistently provides it for you it’s a thing of beauty. It’s obvious their employees have been through customer service training because they consistently focus on it day in and day out. I find it really makes shopping at their establishment enjoyable.

grocery cart with healthy foodOn the other hand bad customer service turns me off. What’s frustrating is when it happens at stores I frequent because of a) their location, b) their superior products or c) their prices. I intentionally go to these stores for one of those reasons and to shop elsewhere would be inconvenient. So I’m forced to endure the annoying service at times because those other reasons win out.

I took over the majority of the shopping last fall when I quit my job to be a stay at home dad. In the past year I’ve noticed some of the worst people at customer service are the ones I have the most contact with: the checkout clerks. The ones who have me riled up right now are those I find at the grocery store.

“Yes, I Know My Cart Is Full”

It’s a constant chore to manage the food budget, especially for large families. We have four kids so with six mouths to feed each week I’m buying a lot of food. It doesn’t matter how much I plan or try to cut back, my grocery cart is always full – or overflowing – by the time I roll into the checkout line.

And oh, you should see the looks I get.

But the worst part is the comments.

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With God All Things Are Possible – Even Saving Rich People

Hidden Nuggets Series #96 – “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

On one occasion in the Bible a rich young ruler approached Jesus with a very serious question. The man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. After a brief back and forth exchange Jesus had this final answer for him:

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

with god all things are possibleIt’s easy to misinterpret what Jesus was saying to the young man. He was not saying that owning possessions in and of itself is bad. Nor was he saying that a person can buy their way into heaven.

He also wasn’t saying that we all have to give up our wealth to enter heaven. And he certainly was not saying that God favors the poor over the rich. God looks upon all people with equal value regardless of their financial status.

Jesus knew something about this particular man though…something that was keeping him from inheriting eternal life. The man’s reaction to Jesus’ final instruction reveals exactly what it was.

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The Big Reason You Need Disability Insurance

Most of us feel we are doing fine if we have the four horseman of the insurance industry covered: health insurance for our physical needs, auto insurance for when we drive, home/renter’s insurance for our property and life insurance to provide for our family in case of a death. Beyond these four we think insurance products are unnecessary and a waste of money.

wheelchairsYou might want to check that negative sentiment while you read this post. While all four of those are important, they aren’t the end-all to insurance products. In fact, disability insurance, the one many people forget about, could be the most important coverage you buy. Here’s why.

The big reason you need disability insurance is that your income is the #1 tool for generating wealth. If for some reason you cannot earn that income your chances of being able to adequately care for yourself and your family decrease dramatically. A loss of income jeopardizes your present needs and your future financial goals. So unless you have substantial savings and investments to cover the time where you are out of work, disability insurance is your best bet to manage through the difficult times.

What is Disability Insurance?

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8 Sneaky Places Mold Hides in Your Home and How to Get Rid of It

Like many others I suffered from allergies as a child. The allergy screening my pediatrician conducted revealed my greatest allergies were to dust and mold. Mold was especially problematic because our house was built around 1910 and the brick basement walls routinely allowed water to seep through. Consequently we often dealt with moisture in the air – a common factor in the production of molds.

how to get rid of moldMold is a fungus that can be found anywhere in nature. It can survive indoors and outdoors at any time of the year. However, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it grows best in locations that are warm, damp and humid.

Mold spreads by producing tiny spores that are released into the air. Coming in contact with these mold spores can produce allergic reactions including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and even skin rashes. They can even produce asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.

You may have heard that some molds are toxic and pose an even greater danger. While certain types of molds can produce toxins the mold itself is not toxic or poisonous. The CDC has reported a few cases where mold toxins created a further health risk. However, under normal circumstances the mold types and levels we experience on a daily basis are not harmful beyond fever-like allergy or asthma symptoms.

Regardless all molds should be taken with the same amount of care whether it is a kind that produces toxins or not.

How to Recognize You Have a Mold Problem

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Americans Share Their Biggest Financial Worries

When it comes to your money, what are your biggest financial worries?

Paying the bills?

Retirement?

That massive chain of student loan debt wrapped around your neck?

There is no shortage of issues to worry about. At each stage of life we face something that puts us on edge. This anxiety about the present and the future drives our choices for good or for bad as we attempt to solve the problems that keep us up at night.

Over the years I’ve learned how to let go of the worry that can so easily bind me up. There is a fine line between worrying about the future and planning for it. Planning for it is prudent and wise. Worrying about it robs us of living in the present and maximizing all that today has to offer.

Whether you are a worrier or not the fact remains we all face financial challenges. Even the wealthy have problems they must deal with. What’s dominating your thoughts? See how you fit in with the rest of Americans in the infographic below.

Americans Deepest Financial Worries

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How An Expensive Camera Purchase Ended Up Being Worth Every Penny

Like you I enjoy summer vacations and think travel should be a part of any budget. Actually vacations at any time are great. We just end up taking most of ours during the summer as a reward for my wife making it through the busy tax season. Come the first of June we are (she is) ready to head somewhere.

This summer we had our sights set on a brand new destination – Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We’ve done Disney before and the beach and the cruise ship – all multiple times. So, with the kids getting older, we wanted to venture into new territory – places with new scenery and new adventures to create new memories.

We knew heading out West (from Georgia) would be expensive. Plane flights for six, rental car for 10 days, hotels, meals, activities…you can see this is adding up quickly. We also knew though the West would provide incredible scenic views – mountains, rivers, wildlife – all of which we would want to capture. However, all we had to use were the cameras on our iPhones and an older Canon PowerShot Elph 110HS.

There is nothing wrong with either of those for capturing basic pictures. But neither of them would do for bringing out the most vibrant color in images nor for when distance from an object or its movement is a factor in the quality of the photo.

So as part of our vacation budget, we saved to make a camera purchase. The one we chose was pricey but as you will see it was worth every penny.

Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words

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How to Bug Proof Your Home Inside and Out

We’ve had our share of bug issues in the home recently. Most notable we’ve had a constant stream of ants in the kitchen all summer long. It seems every morning – no matter what we do to clean – we find a few scurrying through our kitchen.

bug proof homeI know that most bugs have been identified as being either harmless or beneficial to our world. We need them to maintain environmental balance. However, that doesn’t mean I want critters that buzz, fly or have more legs than I do creeping through my home all the time.

Our first inclination when that long line of ants goes streaming through the kitchen is to follow the traditional method for eradicating pests – reach for the spray can (or call in a professional if it’s severe enough, which of course can cost a lot of money). However, these methods only treat the symptom not the fundamental cause as to how bugs enter the home. Additionally, pesticides can contain chemicals that could have lasting effects on children or pets that live inside the home.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests an environmentally friendly, common sense approach to controlling pests. The goal is to eliminate the use of pesticides by focusing on prevention. In essence, you will want to stop all the conditions that entice and allow pests to enter the home.

Inside the House Steps to Bug Proof Your Home

What do humans need to survive? If you answered food, water and shelter you would be correct. It’s interesting that bugs need all three of these as well. No wonder they like your home so much.

Since that’s what bugs need you should work on correcting those issues. Follow these best practices in each area to bug proof your home:

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7 Popular Work at Home Schemes and How to Spot Them

You open your email one morning and there it is ­– the most enticing, perfect job offer you’ve ever seen.“Be part of one of America’s fastest growing industries. Earn thousands of dollars a month…and you can work at home!” the ad reads.

The best part is the job will require very little work.

Work at home scamsIt sounds too good to be true.

Well, you might actually want to slow down for just a minute. How do you really know that job offer is legit? There are many work-at-home schemes that entice people with huge promises. In fact, some work-at-home offers are illegal and could land you in potential trouble should you participate.

Since that is the case, it would be wise for you to know the most popular work-at-home schemes and how to identify if that job offer really is a scam.

Popular Work At Home Schemes

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), these job offers have been identified as the most common work-at-home schemes:

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What to Do If Your Wallet or Purse Is Stolen

“My wallet’s gone!”

thief stealing purseAren’t those words horrifying to even think about. There have been several instances in my life when I truly thought my wallet had been stolen. Those moments filled me with such fear and anxiety I could hardly think straight.

Of course the initial reaction is to panic as your mind starts ticking off all the items that might leave you financially vulnerable. Information like credit card numbers, social security card, driver’s license and home address could be exposed and make you at risk to identity theft.

What I realized is that I needed to keep my head…panicking didn’t help. I thought through where I had been and retraced my steps. In each of my situations I eventually found my wallet and life returned to normal.

However, if you are able to confirm that your wallet or purse has indeed been stolen, take these steps immediately to protect your financial assets and limit your exposure to identity theft.

Your Wallet/Purse is Gone…Now What?

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How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Most adults realize the dangers of identity theft and take reasonable steps to protect themselves. However, did you know that child identity theft is a growing problem? In fact, The Center for Identity at the University of Texas at Austin estimates that a child is 35 times more likely to have their information stolen than an adult.

So why is a child’s identity so attractive to a thief?

3 Reasons Children Are Targets For Identity Theft

identity theft cartoonFor starters ­a child’s Social Security Number (SSN) is clean. The chance to obtain an untainted SSN that has no credit history or credit problems is very attractive. It is significantly easier for a thief to combine a child’s unused SSN with a new name and address.

Another issue is that securing a child’s SSN is also much easier. In many circumstances the culprit ends up being a family member or another person known by the family.

Social security numbers can be found in public spaces such as a doctor’s office, school, and on forms at athletic recreational leagues, clubs or other organizations. We’d like to trust the workers at those locations who set eyes on the forms that contain our kid’s information but some have used their position to gain access to SSNs.

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A Time For Choosing Freedom

Eerily, this man’s words, penned in 1964, are coming true on many levels:

American flag“Every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement…[and] policies of accommodation…”

“If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand, the ultimatum…and what then?”

“…And someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically…”

 But there is hope found through courage and sacrifice:

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