Never Overpay for Eye Wear Again

47c94-2016-08-042b20-36-16Buying glasses can be a costly affair. At least a hundred dollars for the frames, then you have to add in the cost of the actual prescription lenses…My mom paid up to $400 for a pair for me when I was just a kid. It isn’t fair, why should people who are born with bad eyesight have to empty their bank accounts to buy something to help them see? I literally couldn’t go to school without my glasses/contacts because I am blind as a bat.

Glasses are expensive around the world. Even when I was living in China, it cost a couple hundred Yuan, which is a lot in that currency. In the UK, for an adult, it could cost a hundred pounds. I tried to keep my eye bills cheap by buying Walmart frames, but it was still pricey.

Then a friend told us about the sight Zenni Optical. She said she bought frames for only $6.95. I thought it was one of those internet scams, or they were some badly made Dollar Store glasses. I didn’t bother looking into it, until after my mother ordered her first pair (bad eyesight runs in the family). They were awesome! Super colorful, and with the glass lens, plus shipping, she still paid less than $20.

The way it works is you have to already have a valid eye prescription. You copy it into their system, and then you have to measure your own head so you know the width you need for the frames. Then, you go through their huge selection and pick out your favorite. Not all the frames cost $6, those are the older styles or the ones that didn’t sell out yet. But, even for a on trend frame, you are only looking at $12-$20. I’ve bought a $12 frame, UV protected lenes, for around $25. It is affordable! And because it is so cheap, you can purchase multiple pairs to go with different outfits or styles. Color coordinated glasses is something I never dreamed I could have with my limited budget.

42246049_236112797253370_2217672660681228288_nZenni also does sunglasses. Now, I wear contacts 80% of the time, and only use my glasses when I wake up and before going to sleep. However, my mother uses her 24/7. While driving, she needs sunglasses. She tried buying the oversized ones that were in style in the mid-2000’s and wearing them over her prescription glasses but they weren’t comfortable. She also tried the clip on sun glasses, but they don’t really work either. But, her Zenni sunglasses (which were less than $10) have lasted her for years.

My family uses nothing but Zenni, so if you are vision impaired like I am, I suggest you use NOTHING but Zenni. Also, Zenni didn’t pay me to do this, I’m just sharing the #doitcheap philosophy by offering up a good glasses website.

The Blogging Sites You Should and Should Not Use

I’ve been blogging on and off for more than 5 years. I’ve gone through 10 different layouts, 4 different names and 3 different hosting sites. I’ve tried all the popular ones, and these are my experiences. Hopefully, I can save you some hassle (and money).

Screenshot (26)Blogger: Blogger is the blogging platform created/run by Google. I started my first blog on this hosting site. (Awww baby writer) It is like blogging with training wheels. It is very basic, but that is what you need when you are just starting out. Instead of using it to generate traffic, or be the fanciest blog on the block, I used Blogger as the place to really nail down my personal voice. Writing content is easy, as is adding embedded links and pictures. The best part is how straight forward it is to design the layout how you want. In addition, it links so well with your Gmail, Youtube, and Google profile. The help page was useful, and if I had further questions I always got prompt responses. I was never able to get Google Ad Sense to work…which is ironic because Google is the host… I recommend Blogger for the new writer who is just exploring what blogging is and where they want to take their writing. I give Blogger a 6 out of 10.

Screenshot (27)Wix.com: Wix was my second hosing site. I transitioned from Blogger to Wix because I thought Wix could generate more traffic and take my blog to the next level. I was wrong. I will say the layout was better than Blogger, although it took me much longer to arrange the way I wanted. It had more options for personalising my various pages. They have free images to add to the blog, but they make it difficult to Pin on Pinterest. It was the prettiest version of my blog that I have had. However, I paid a premium rate so I could have Google Ads…and Wix never gave them to me. I was paying a fortune to the company every month for services they never delivered. The Wix help is HORRIBLE! They mostly redirect you in a circle on their FAQ page. The traffic for my blog went waayyyy down on Wix. They do nothing to help with blog promotion, which Blogger did. And the final issue is it is next to impossible to leave Wix. They bill you for things separately, so I tried to cancel my plan and domain, and I managed to cancel for one of them. But, Wix continued to charge me for hosting a blog that no longer existed. The website wasn’t live online, but I was paying for it….When I complained, they refused to refund. And the free version they offer for blogs is next to useless. Wix is not a good host for a blogger, maybe for a different kind of website but not for a writer. I give Wix a 2 out of 10.

Screenshot (28)WordPress: This is the 3rd blog host I have tried. It is a bit more complicated to use than Blogger, but they layout looks better. I have been able to personalise it to my liking. The help page is equal to Blogger. Creating content is easy, and they offer a lot of stock images which is crucial to a small writer. I still don’t have Google Ad sense. All blog hosting sites now charge you to use Google Ad sense, and it is only worthwhile if you have a lot of traffic. But, if you have a lot of traffic, most sites offer you abs for free. So, is not the ideal situation. The one thing that WordPress is spectacular at is attracting traffic to my blog! I’ve gotten more likes and follows with WordPress than any other hosting site. The free version is more than enough for me. I would say this blog is good for the writer who knows their content, knows what they like, and is prepared to put in a bit more work to make their website look how they want. If Blogger is for a beginner and Wix is for NO ONE, then WordPress is for the intermediate-advanced blogger. I give WordPress a 7 out of 10 (so far).

If you are a new (or old) blogger and you are thinking of switching your hosting platform, or upgrading, read this! I wish I had found more honest reviews of hosting sites before I started out. I would have saved myself a lot of time and money. Please comment and share which sites you like or hate!

Beachbody is a Scheme that You Should Not Waste Your Money or Time On

Fixed beachbodyYou’ve probably stumbled across at least one transformation picture that gave credit to Beachbody and Shakeology on your social media. Beachbody is one of the biggest fitness companies in the USA & Canada and is estimated to be worth over $1.2 billion.[1] Unsurprisingly, the company was eager to expand, and after a year of buildup, Beachbody UK launched in October 2017. I’m a fitness lover, so I was naturally curious about the latest and greatest trend.

Beachbody has an ingenious business plan. In the late 2000’s it switched to a model that utilized regular people and their social media contacts. The new ‘sellers’ of the Beachbody product were called ‘coaches’. These were customers who used the product and were then recruited into the company. Currently, Beachbody has around 360,000 coaches[3] (I am estimating the number of coaches that have joined in the UK).

The coaches earn income by getting commission from ‘challenge packs’, Shakeology, gear and by recruiting new coaches. The coach recruitment is the best way for coaches to up their income. Beachbody gives coaches regular monetary bonuses for the number of coaches they have recruited below them (if this seems like a pyramid scheme, it is a very similar setup). Some of the more famous Beachbody coaches make over six figures per year. Becoming a coach is billed as a great, easy, fast way to make money at home.

The posts I saw on Instagram by these coaches made it seem so good. They got to work out, get paid, and “help others live a happier life”. I was skeptical, but if this was legitimate then it was perfect for me. Unbeknownst to my friends and family, I joined Beachbody as a coach to investigate the inner workings of the business and to understand what was going on behind closed computer screens.

Below is a list of all the things you will never be told by Beachbody coaches or in the training, in addition to my personal warning about why you should not fall for the Beachbody mystique. Let’s start with the limited benefits Beachbody offers you.

  1. The ‘meal plan’ given to you is very similar to what most doctors recommend for losing weight. The emphasis is on portion control and getting your daily amounts of fruit, vegetables and protein. All this information is readily accessible online. Beachbody contributes by giving you Tupperware containers to divvy out your allotted portions for each food. The containers are color coded but the same thing you can buy from Walmart.
  2. The workouts are decent. Some are a bit dated in clothing and music, but otherwise you get a good sweat. Each move is explained and demonstrated. You also get a day by day workout, so you don’t have to plan anything. Overall, I think Beachbody has a good thing going with their workouts. However, the price is a high compared to similar things on the market like Fit Body Guides or Fitness Blender.
  3. They have a helpful customer service. I had to call customer service twice, once for a postal inquiry and once for a refund question. Both times I got the answer I wanted and the staff was very friendly.

Now, for the many problems I found with Beachbody.

  1. You must invest way more than people tell you. To begin as a coach, you pay £39.95 to join, then you are forcefully encouraged to purchase a challenge pack that includes your first months Shakeology, access to workouts, and the online coaches training. This costs you £160.00 + VAT, but you get a 25% discount as a coach and you get the £39.95 coach fee waived with purchase. This works out to an even £160.00 just for your first month! After that you pay £15.95 per month for access to your coach website and the training library, and £95.00 for your monthly order of Shakeology. So, the monthly running cost is roughly £120.00 including VAT + shipping. To break even, in commission you would need to sell a minimum of 3 challenge packs a month. Coaches try to play this amount down to potential new coaches by saying it is a small price to pay to be your own boss. But…is it?
  1. It is not a quick or easy way to hustle some side cash. The social media posts I saw from Beachbody coaches made it seem simple! Post work out pics, show you are drinking Shakeology, and people will want to join your challenge group. What Beachbody neglects to tell is that you must constantly talk people into joining your challenge or coaching group.The work doesn’t stop there, after you have walked people through the joining/payment process, you now must put in effort to guide them through workouts, provide emotional support, and basically be a life coach for half the money you would normally get. I would estimate that you need to network for at least 3 hours per day and assist in your challenge groups at least 1-2 hours to earn a slight profit.
  1. You become the creepy stalker character from ‘Friend Request’. To get new coaches below you (so you earn bonuses) and customers you must stalk, harass, and annoy people into working with you. Beachbody even have a suggested formula that coaxes people into agreeing. First, you study their profiles, and find something you have in common. Then, you randomly message them with something like ‘I see you are an avid hiker like me! That is so cool, where are some of the places you have climbed?’ Now, you have a conversation going and you can eventually slip in that they should join your Beachbody challenge group. In case they have some objection like money or time, Beachbody has pre-prepared responses designed to refute their concerns. It is straight up stalker material.
  2. You are persuasively encouraged to drink Shakeology. Shakeology is one of the biggest sellers for Beachbody. It is a drink with a ton of added vitamins and herbs that is supposed to curb cravings, make you eat less, and basically help you lose weight along with the workouts. I was most cynical of this aspect of Beachbody. It tastes good, like cake batter, but immediately after my heart was unnaturally racing and I got the runs. Concerned, I went to a pharmacist to ask about Shakeology and interactions with my medication, and was told that there was no way to know because so many of the ingredients weren’t tested for interactions and were likely not fully researched. I told my Beachbody mentor that I wasn’t comfortable selling a product I couldn’t drink for health reasons. She reacted aggressively, saying my concerns were unfounded, and I should try to drink it for at least 8 days for my body to adjust. Her suggestion that I should drink it for at least a week made me think there was something else going on. I took my bag of Shakeology and went through the ingredients list. It shared ingredients with soda, and energy drinks, as well as using artificial sweeteners that haven’t been thoroughly studied. I can’t say positively (I am not a medical professional), but I’m suspicious that Shakeology might be mildly addictive.
  1. It is almost cult like. Once you are in Beachbody it is really, hard to get out. Your coach will put in a lot of effort to keep you in the program. If you want to cancel your coach membership you have to file online paperwork and then wait weeks before they officially cancel your membership. You must also call to separately cancel your monthly Shakeology. You cannot cancel this online anywhere. And, if you want to return any products for any reason, it is a trial! In the UK, the official return address does not show up in the Royal Mail Postal system. I tried calling Beachbody for a different address, was given the same one, then told to pay to use their special Beachbody courier who sent it to an address in a different region than the one advertised on the Beachbody UK site.
  2. It is concerning that Beachbody puts all legal responsibility on its coaches. If you do not follow their scripts word for word, and someone attempts to sue for injury, breach of contract, whatever, the coach, not Beachbody is liable. A dangerous place to be if you are a small business owner with no insurance.

It’s difficult to find any negative reviews about Beachbody and their coaching schemeBeachbody 2 online. It took deep internet research to find a few blogs that had somewhat un-positive things to say, but they all still had pro-Beachbody quotes worked in. I attribute this to a very strongly worded coach contract all new coaches must agree to prior to accessing Beachbody. One section forbids an active coach from posting ANY negative reviews/comments/opinions online while still working as/with Beachbody.

I began this project because I wanted to see if Beachbody’s overwhelmingly positive reputation was as honest as it appeared. It wasn’t. Personally, it was an extremely hostile experience. I had internet trolls comment on my photos, my mentor attempt to brow beat me, and I got ill off Shakeology. I suggest that you do not join Beachbody as a coach to earn money. If you are purely interested in the workouts, they seem safe and effective, but drink Shakeology after seeking a doctor’s advice.

In a bid to quiet the people who might suggest I wrote this because I am upset I didn’t make any profit, let me give a breakdown. Several weeks into coaching, I did have several people who were ready and willing to pay to be a part of my challenge group and several people ready to join me as coaches. I would have gotten a profit from both aspects of the Beachbody business if I continued. I worked the program exactly as outlined by Beachbody. I want to also clarify I returned all profits and cancelled my Beachbody membership before I wrote this, I made zero profit from the business, and I have not violated any confidentiality. All of this information is accessible on their website and via research. 

[1] Beachbody Executive Team – Fitness, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss Official Web site Beachbody UK Fitness – http://www.Beachbody.co.uk. Beachbody LLC. (2017). Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://www.beachbody.co.uk/product/about/executive-team.do
[2] Beachbody History – Founding Date – Beaching Coaching Started in 2007. (2014, March 13). Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://fitdadchris.com/beachbody-history/
[3] Company Overview. Beachbody LLC. (2017). Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://www.beachbody.com/product/about_us/company_overview.do

How To Turn a Side Hustle Into a Career

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Does your ESL teacher look like this?

Staying in England, I have struggled financially. The cost of living is high all over the country, and finding a well paid position in my skill set isn’t easy. Around Christmas of 2017, I had a lot of people to buy gifts for and no cash to do it. I was desperate, and even though I already worked 2 part time jobs, I took on another. My parents taught English online, and suggested a company that had flexible schedules and decent pay. It was called Cambly, I applied, and was hired within 3 days.

I initially took the job as a way to get through the holidays, but, I was so good at it, and I made so much money that I never got around to quitting. I’ve been with Cambly 6 months now, and I work online almost every day. I swore that I would never be a teacher, but, I have a knack for teaching English. Just a few months into working for Cambly, I became one of the highest rated teachers, and I rarely have any open slots in my schedule. Sometimes my teaching hours are booked up weeks in advance.

Teaching English was my side hustle. I never thought it would turn into more. But, I was miserable in my day job working at a nursery/daycare, and was desperate for a change. The UK is a hot spot for ESL summer camps, and all of them were looking for qualified English teachers. I applied for 2 different companies and was hired by both. So, I immediately left my job at the nursery and NEVER looked back.

My side hustle was born out of necessity. I needed money, and I had the skills to teach English (those skills were a degree and understand of different cultures). But six months in, my side hustle is now my primary source of income. I make at least $100 a week and I only work 10 hours teaching online. I make around $500 a week teaching English at summer camps. My schedule is insanely flexible, I design my own classes, and am basically my own boss.

Will I always be an ESL teacher? I don’t know. For now, it pays the bills and allows me the freedom to write. Turning a side hustle into a career was never my plan. However, side hustles are usually things that people enjoy, are good at, and treat as a hobby. Like running an Etsy store or a blog. It only makes sense that something a person is passionate about would become more profitable than a job they despise.

If you have any questions about side hustles, making profits out of them, or about teaching ESL, DO NOT hesitate to contact me. I will answer any questions and happily lend support!!

 

How To Build Your Butt The Cheapest Way Possible

Host: Vicky Justiz
Video: Exercises For a Rounder Butt!
Exercise Type: Booty, Booty, Booty!!! I thought it was about time I reviewed some of my go-to booty videos. My butt is probably the part of my body that I have worked hardest for. One day I just decided I wanted a big ol’ booty to match the big boobs I was born with, and it literally grew from there. In this video these exercises are all designed to build up your side butt, the muscles that we tend to forget about most.
Review: I am always coming back to this routine! It only takes 5 minutes but if you focus in on your body and really put in the effort, your ass will be sore by the end, I promise! I will usually do it at the end of my workout, after I’ve done like some abs, or a HIIT round, just to really burn out the glute muscle. Personally, I don’t find the moves as demonstrated quite hard enough. If you are just starting out on your bigger butt journey, than stick to the moves as they are done in the video. However, if you squat a lot (like me!) and you have stronger muscles already, then I suggest you take it up a notch! I like to add a clingy band to most of these moves, because they increase the resistance and therefore work my butt more. You could also add weights to your ankles to up the ante, or hold weights in your hands for the side to side squat step to work it more. I don’t have much to say about this trainer. She doesn’t get on my nerves, but she isn’t very inspiring. However, it is only a 5 minute video so you shouldn’t need a lot of encouragement to push through.
Favorite Move: It is so hard for me to choose a favorite! I love the first half of the moves, and only like the second half. If I have to pick just one, I would say the side-to-side squat step is the best. To do this move you squat down as low as you can, then step one foot out and bring the other one to follow, then repeat on the opposite side. It’s ok if you can’t get too low at first, because it requires a lot of quad strength to hold the squat and do the step at the same time. I do add a resistance band to this one, and I swear you can physically see the muscle strain.
Hardest Move: I wouldn’t say any of these moves are super hard, it is all about what you make of them. If you use a band or add weights or even just move slowly to control your muscle’s, then the hardest move would be the squat with a side leg raise. This move requires balance and focus to make sure you don’t just swing your leg around like a piece of rope. If you do that it won’t benefit your side butt. You want to make sure to squeeze your butt as you pull your leg to the side. Like I have said before, the more you focus into your butt muscles the more you will feel this routine.

 

Rating: 10/10. There is nothing wrong with this video. The moves are straight forward, and not too complicated. The trainer doesn’t talk too much, and I didn’t swear at all! The best aspect of this video is that the difficultly level is really left up to you. If you are just beginning than you can follow the trainer exactly. If you want to make it harder than there are options for that. I think that you could even do this video as a circuit and repeat it twice through to get an edid you see the joke I made there, it was puntastic)

ven better workout. If you only have 5 minutes between getting home, and making dinner, then you can do this workout! You don’t need to be in fitness gear, this could be done in jeans, and that might even make it harder. Seriously, I swear this video has helped me get my butt and that is probably one of my most noticeable assets. (

Get Mean So You Can Save Money

I’m sure we are all familiar with the phrase “Nice people finish last”. Now, I don’t think that’s always true, as I made clear in last post. You can get free stuff by being kind and helpful. But sometimes, to get things for free or at a discount, you have to get mean.
image from pixabay.com
Have you ever ordered a meal at a restaurant, and they got things wrong? Your food was undercooked, overcooked, or you got the complete wrong thing? You could just accept that, and eat it anyway. But, if it is at a chain restaurant (like Frankie & Benny’s, Chili’s, etc.), you can probably get something for free out of it. You can have your meal completely paid for, or get the drinks for the table covered. It doesn’t have to be limited to your food being messed up either. I once went to a restaurant, and it took 30 minutes to bring us drinks, and over an hour to take our food order. Needless to say, we  got some stuff for free that night. The biggest issue I believe people (especially Brits) have, is that they are afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask, or even demand, that a restaurant gives you a discount or free stuff if they messed up. Trust me, they would rather give you a free burger and have you come back again, than lose you forever as a customer. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? They say no if you ask for it to be comped?
Other times, it isn’t as easy as saying, you messed up my salad, can you give me a free soda. Sometimes, you should get really angry. This works best when you are dealing with online booking situations. If you book a rental car, and you turn up and they give you a smaller car than you ordered, you can demand a discount. They might try to say no at first, but they will eventually give in. (This rental car situation has happened to me, instead of a discount, I got a free upgrade to an even bigger car!). You can also do this with hotels as well. If your room isn’t cleaned, or you got a smoking room when you requested non-smoking, then ask for money back!You just have to stand your ground.
image from pixabay.com
If your flight is late, and you miss a connection, then that is definitely grounds to get something out of the airlines. My plane was late into Las Vegas, and I missed the last flight out to Seattle. I had to spend the night in the Vegas airport. So, the airline gave me free first-class seats, and food vouchers to places in the airport. (In a similar situation, an airline put me up for free in a hotel). Another time, an airline charged me twice for a ticket. After calling them, demanding to speak to a manager, then lodging a formal complaint, I got $150 in gift cards to the airline. Airlines and airports are an ideal place to get seat upgrades, free food, free hotels, and some extra air miles.

 

The key in all those situations, was not taking no for an answer. Companies will always try to just apologize and then brush you to the side if they mess up. Some people will accept that and just complain quietly to their friends. But, I never accept it. I know that companies have budgets set aside to manage screw ups, and employees have a certain amount of leeway to give upgrades, discounts etc. So, if a company messes up, I make them give me things. If they say no at first, I ask to speak to their boss. If they say no, I threaten to write a bad review for them online. (A bad review can mean a lot of lost business for a company, especially if there is a good human-interest story attached to it). Usually, after I refuse to back down, I get stuff for free. And I never feel guilty or like a bully. The companies messed up, they need to correct their error. Plus, I’m poor so I never feel bad about getting something for free. 
 
 

Be Sweet and You Can Get Free Stuff

 
I have another post about getting free things! If I get something for free, I find that down the line I love the thing more than I would if I paid for it. I think that is a result of being poor and knowing the value of items. 
 

Method 1: Say yes to everything! Store employees are always approaching me to do surveys, fill out a quick form etc. Usually people brush them off because they are in a rush, but I’ve been one of the people who asks customers for surveys and if they do fill them out, I’m happy to make it worth their time! Just the other day, I filled out a survey and I got a free ice slushie at the movie theatre and 2 for 1 popcorn. Many fast food restaurants have surveys at the bottom of receipts to get discounts or free burgers! If you don’t believe me that saying yes to surveys, forms, etc. gets you free stuff, then listen to this. If you are shopping and you buy ten shirts that cost $10 each, your total will be $100. If an employee offers you 10% off for answering a few questions, that will save you $10 off your total bill. That means that by filling out one survey, you would basically get one of your shirts free! I hope you believe me now when I say you need to say yes!

 

Method 2: You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. It’s an old wife saying that is completely true! If you go out of your way to be nice to employees at a store, they will be more willing to do you favors. Be extra polite in the ice cream line, and you can get more free samples, or a bigger scoop of ice cream. Chat up the barista and they will put whip cream on your hot chocolate at Starbucks for no extra charge. Free samples and extra’s might not seem like much, but when you are broke, the little stuff counts. I promise, if you are nice to people than you will get extra discounts and free stuff thrown your way.
image made at recite.com
Method 3: Don’t be afraid to ask for things. (People often feel uncomfortable asking for free things, but they shouldn’t!) Ask for samples at makeup stores. Sephora gives you free samples to try out products before making the commitment of buying them. I don’t recommend you use this for all your makeup needs, but if you want to try something new, or just need a certain shade for one occasion, then it’s a great bet! You can also order a way to try samples of shampoo’s and cleaning products. If you have a baby, signing up for parenting blogs can get you offers on diapers, and some diaper companies will give you one or two free new products to try them out and garner interest. On top of all that, in magazine inserts you can get sample face masks, perfumes, etc. These are luxury items I can’t afford. I don’t buy face masks, but I save the ones from Cosmo and Glamour and use them when I need a little spa day.
Method 4: Lend a helping hand. Doing favors for other people doesn’t only give you good karma (which I am a strong believer in) but usually leads to getting you free items. If you lend someone your soap, they might return it in full, by buying you a whole new bottle. Does someone need help moving? Help, and you can get a free meal, plus you get your exercise! I’ve exchanged car rides from the airport for a box of chocolates. You will find that people give you stuff if they feel like you have put in effort for them (otherwise they will feel guilty for taking advantage of you).

 

My biggest advice, be extra nice to employees at food places and retail shops. It will always pay off with discounts and free things. Kindness to others is free for you to give. Offer to do favors for people, and they will return it by giving you stuff. But, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want as well.