Review: Harris Poll Interactive

pabloIf you’re looking for a way to rack up some gift cards for Christmas, online opinion surveys are great way to do so. Harris Poll Interactive is an online survey program that offers rewards for opinions.

Highlights:

  • Surveys pay anywhere from 5 to 40 Harris Interactive (HI) Points. After your third completed survey, you receive a 100 HI point bonus.
  • These points add up fast! You can redeem 800 HI points for a $5 Amazon, Toys R Us, Blockbuster or Pizza Hut gift card.
  • The surveys are fast, fairly interesting and easy to complete, unless some more cumbersome survey sites I’ve found.

For us amateur photographers…

Page through a typical family photo album and you’ll notice the kids in a few repeating themes—special-occasion shots, vacation photos, and staged portraits. All cherished moments, no doubt. But why not add a little creativity into your picture taking? Here are some memories that could be just as photo-worthy.

Big mess1. A big mess. Your little van Gogh has painted your white walls with chocolate pudding. Before you clean it, take a picture. And you can break out the photo when your child becomes a parent—to remind your child that no child (or parent) is perfect.

2. The first time they dress themselves. Pajama pants, one fuzzy slipper, no shirt, and earmuffs. You might not let them leave the house like that, but you have to appreciate their unique ability to accessorize. If you take a snapshot now, the “fashions” of their teens won’t look so bad.

3. Your favorite feature. The head-to-toe shot can wait for prom or graduation. Instead, zoom in and capture the one or two details you love most about your kid. Snap that swirl of hair atop your newborn, your toddler’s chunky feet, or your 7-year-old’s two missing front teeth—they won’t stay that way forever.

4. How they see the world. Go ahead, hand your child the camera for a while (under appropriate supervision, of course). You’ll be amazed at what they’ll shoot without consideration for traditional rules. Fortunately, with the beauty of digital, you can instantly delete all the bad shots and save the good ones.

5. Photos with you. If you’re always the one with the camera, you won’t be in many of the photos. Put your spouse or a friend on point-and-shoot duty and tell them to start clicking. Tell them to catch you and the kids when no one is looking at the camera or during moments that capture you as a Mom—cleaning up from dinner, reading a bedtime story, or helping with homework.

Source: vocalpoint.com, a great opinions and product review site hosted by Proctor & Gamble.

TJ Maxx is like Disneyland for me

SpringGC-TJ-ladybugWhat you call monotony I call routine. Nearly every Saturday, FatHeadDog–accompanied by FatHead Pup, Mother and Grandmother–make their way to TJ Maxx. After plopping the Pup into gray TJ Maxx shopping cart with my mother at the wheel, FatHeadDog enjoys an hour or so of uninterrupted shopping time.

Like other TJ-holics I know, we have an order of attack: handbags, wallets, hosiery, shoes, bras/panties, housewares and then clothing. Men’s wear if you’re just killing time. But then, I met someone completely uninitiated with “the Maxx” (fringe nickname I’m trying to pawn off as gold). This mom was looking for back to school clothing for her kiddos at a reasonable price. Containing my excitement, I told her this:

With a little organization and patience, you can shop TJMaxx clearance racks to dress designer for a fraction of the cost (cue TJ Maxx jingle music). Two quick tips to get you started:

1. The best prices for clothing are usually found end of season, or off season. Shop for sweaters 75% off in the summer, and snag name-brand collared polo shirts and tees in the winter. So shop now and store for later. Just remember to do the growth and season “math” if you’ve got little ones that’ll outgrow a size by a season.

2. Dig! Have the patience to go through every rack, even the circular rounders that I tend to miss when making my way down the clearance line. Don’t forget other size sections, too. I know I’m guilty of nestling a size 6 dress for later in the woman’s size 12 section and vice versa.

Back to Saturday afternoon at said “Maxx,” FatHeadDog’s arms are growing weary from the booty she’s lugging. She hears a familar whine in the distance–FatHead Pup’s patience has worn thin. He’s said hello to strangers. He’s admired his mug in the mirror. He’s knawed the price tags of a handtowel that kept him occupied from the picture frames section to clearance bedding. It’s time for FatHeadDog to make her return to the family basket and pay for this booty she’s discovered. (“Arrr.. do you take dubloons?”) Scooping the Pup into her arms, she exchanges a knowing nod to FatHead Mother. Good day at TJ Maxx… Good day.

Do You Take Vasa or Moostercard?

monopoly_geld_paper_moneyYesterday, FatHeadDog’s chief financial officer (husband) opened the mail to find correspondence from American Express that they’re raising our credit card interest rates, with an explanation that sums to “that’s the cost of doing business.” My off the bat response–“Let’s call and ask them to lower it. If not, see ya later American Express.”

If you didn’t already know, you can call your credit card companies to ask for a lower rate. In fact, more than 75% of people who call to ask for a lower rate are successful on the first call, according to financial author David Bach in his new book “Fight for Your Money: How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune.”

Here’s how: Take any of your credit cards that are carrying a balance, flip them over, and call the number on the back. Tell them that you want an interest rate reduction or you’ll take your business elsewhere. Before you call, know the rate you’re currently paying and the kind of rates that other banks are offering. (Bankrate.com is a great source for comprehensive lists of interest rates from credit card companies across the country.)

If the first person you talk to won’t do it, ask to talk to a supervisor. Be aware that there are often many levels of supervisors, so if the first supervisor doesn’t give you what you request, ask to speak to that supervisor’s manager.

Even if the credit card lords are only able to shave off a few points from a high interest rate, it will make a difference. If you have a $5,000 balance, even a 3% rate reduction saves you $150 a year.

What happens if they won’t negotiate? Ask to have the account closed. This will trigger a transfer to the customer retension department–the final stop of customer service whose job is to talk customers out of canceling their accounts. It’ll likely work, and once you get one card down, I bet you’ll find it such a rush that you’ll press onward for all your cards. No? Just me?

It’s like Science Fair for adults

students-of-invention-logoHere’s a cool idea. Bed Bath & Beyond  is sponsoring a contest for the best dorm room product idea; the winner will get paid and have their product sold in stores.

It’s a great fit because we all know dorm rooms are the ultimate birthplace of innovative space fixes. Who else but a college student would suspend their dorm bed onto cinder blocks for the sake of underbed storage?

Ideas may be submitted from July 1 to September 30, 2009. Visit EdisonNation.com to submit your invention.

Sites I’m Digging: task.fm

The task.fm blog is my new serendipitous partner in crime. Every workday, I wage a battle with myself to fill the large shoes of my dream profession as a magazine editor. What stands between me and productivity–procrastination or laziness, I can’t tell the difference. The task.fm blog describes my dilemma:

task.fmWhen we do an activity, whatever it is, we often get in to a state of flow where we’re focused, concentrating, and completely immersed in the thing we’re doing. It’s that intense kind of focus that we’ve all experienced where you can lose track of time and then ‘wake up’ hours later, hungry and absolutely sure that someone has been messing with your clocks, because there’s no way 3 hours have gone by.

When you get to that state of concentration, things like work, exercise, or whatever else you’re doing feel effortless. The tricky part, I always find, is getting to that state of flow. That’s where the Five Minute Running Start comes in.

Articles like this on fighting procrastination, “Lifehacks” and other helpful productivity tips can found at this site. So if you’re like FatHeadDog on this work day and putting off your “To-Do” list, aid your procrastination by reading ways to fight procrastination.

Great gift idea

From the experts at Kodak Gallery, who offer periodic photography tips, here’s one great idea for a precious time-capsule gift for mom, dad or grandparents:

A day in the life of…

Kodak photo
Photograph your baby when they first wake up in the morning, and continue to document them at meals, bath time, naptime, playtime, and every other major moment in their day. Try and keep everything very typical to their schedule. Have a proof sheet made from the film and you’ll see a full day-in-the-life story of your baby made by you.
® Amy Postle
Source: Kodak Gallery Exposure| July 2009 newsletter

Tip for receiving CVS coupons

save3CVS is popular with couponers for offering CVS in-store coupons to be used in conjunction with manufacturer’s coupons. But where do you find these elusive coupons? A few places:

1. Scanning your CVS Extra Care card at the price scanner, which prints in-store coupons. Be sure to scan your card more than once. The machine will say something to the effect of “No More Coupons. Check Back Tomorrow.”

2. Signing up for the CVS e-mail newsletter, which gives notice of upcoming sales, special discount codes for online purchases and printable coupons for specific items and dollars off your total purchase. Here’s a current one for you.