Now that we can get the pictures off our camera again, we’re going to play “catch-up” and give you some pictures of the surrounding area in our next three posts. This first one is a favorite for walks, both inside and outside.
A. L. Hutson Memorial Gymnasium, Highland AR west side
The new (as of a couple years ago) A.L. Hutson Memorial Gymnasium is geat new addition to our community, and to Highland High School, home of the Rebels.
The city of Highland is located along highway 62/412, between Hardy and Ash Flat, Arkansas, and just outside of Cherokee Village. This new facility has a 2146 seat gymnasium, with two levels. The inside is open to the public and has a great indoor walking track around the circular corridor surrounding the gym. During events, it has a concession stand on each level, as well as many additional offices, and locker rooms. It is also used for public events and entertainment.
And speaking of entertainment, Little Big Town’s own Phillip Sweet graduated from Highland High School. This area in general has produced some great entertainers. The city of Hardy was the home to the Wilburn Brothers, and West Plains, Missouri, just to the north was home to Porter Wagoner. We may have another star in the making in the form of Lauren Gray, who is making a name for herself in area venues. Cherokee Village is also the home of Doug Driesel (aka Doug DeForest), a well known name in the music business, who also owns Lake Paradise Recording Studio right here in Cherokee Village.
We like to take walks with our German Spitz, Angel, when the weather permits, but sometimes our favorite parks are busy. We prefer the quieter areas, and the A. L. Hutson Memorial Gymnasium has a HUGE parking lot all the way around the building. It makes for a smooth and not too hilly trek around the perimeter.
A. L. Hutson Memorial Gynasium, Highland, AR looking east
You can just see the walking path between the gym and Highland High School through the vacant lot between them, in the picture above. Large grassy areas surround the entire parking lot, which makes it nice for Angel, so he can take care of his “necessities”. Looking to the southeast (below), across the parking lot, you can just see the Dollar General Store, on the other side of highway 62/412. That little dark green dot right below it is our minivan in the far corner of this parking lot.
A. L. Hutson Memorial Gymnasium, Highland, AR looking southeast
As you can see this parking lot is HUGE. It’s nice to have plenty of outside space to walk, where we can stay out of the ticks, chiggers and fleas, so prevalent in the grass and wooded areas, not only here, but in most of the southeast part of the country. We’re sure that Angel appreciates it, too!
It’s a shame to let this much real estate set empty when there’s no events happening, but I don’t think they will let anyone with an RV or camper overnight here. But then, I ‘ve never had occasion to ask, either. However, just six miles west is a nice Walmart Super Centerat Ash Flat, and they do allow overnight RV parking. They also have a McDonald’s Express inside the store and an automotive center, but no deli. Everyone is hoping that they might find room for a deli during the next remodel.
Also in Ash Flat, you’ll find a Subway sandwich shop within the Murphy USA Quick-mart, and a Sonic Drive-in, Pizza Hut and a Mexican restaurant across the street, along with an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store. If you need service, we highly recommend Bailey’s Wheel Alignment, about a half mile north of the stoplight. They are a full-service repair shop and have the equipment for larger rigs. Clint Bailey’s crew has done a lot of work for me over the years, and it’s always done right, on time, and for the price quoted. There’s also a very nice fitness center across the road from Walmart to the east, as well as a nice car wash facility. And this is all east of the stoplight.
West of the stoplight you’ll find Johnson’s Ace Hardware, the Sharp County Courthouse, First National Banking Company’s Main offices, another gas station, more restaurants, and finally… a blinker light. If you turn right there, that’s actually the main street, and at the far end on the right is the post office.
In the next post, we’re going to give you a tour of Loberg Park, and Hardy Camper Park, along the banks of the beautiful Spring River, and within the city of Hardy. After that, we’ll come back to Ash Flat, to the War Memorial at their city park. Coming up later this month is the Cave City Watermelon Festival, about 25 miles farther south. They are known all over the midwest for the sweetest watermelons you will find anywhere!
Now that we can get the pictures off the camera again, we hope to have pictures with every post. I also have a new TracFone ordered, which also has a camera, so I’ll have a back-up.
As always, let me know your thoughts, and thanks for reading and being patient!
Many of you won’t even notice the change, unless you happened to visit during the ten minutes I was making changes, but this blog has a new look! As soon as I explain that, we’ll get back to the cell phone issue.
Picking the right WordPress theme is important!
This blog was my first experience with using WordPress, and I made some beginner mistakes with it… namely, not researching the proper theme. I discovered too late that the theme “Twenty Ten” puts four columns of widgets in the footer, which is why the Frugal Shunpikers Guides and my contact information and disclaimers were all crowded to the left at the bottom, which looked really dumb. I should have used the “Twenty Eleven” theme, as it has one footer column at the bottom, and if you scroll down, the information there is all nicely centered now.
On the other hand, that theme only wants to put the sidebar on posts, not pages. I wanted more control over that, so I found a plug-in called “Twenty Eleven Theme Extensions” which gives more flexibility in that regard. Now, if you click on any of the pages within the black menu bar below the header above, the same sidebar will show that is on this page, which makes the overall looks of the blog more consistent.
With over 20,000 plug-ins available, this format has the most choices of any blog platform on the planet, and that doesn’t even count the developers out there who are constantly tweaking the code and creating even more new plug-ins! It’s fantastic!
Changing WordPress themes…
However, there are some things that you need to be careful of when changing themes. First of all, the header image was smaller (less tall) on the older theme. Fortunately, I had created the composite image on OpenOffice’s presentation program, Impress (same as PowerPoint), so I could go back and make the images higher and wider. It’s important to try to maintain “aspect ratio” so things don’t look too distorted.
After resizing, I grouped the images into one, and then exported the image as a .jpg file. For whatever reason I had some border lines showing, so I then uploaded it toPicResize.com and cropped just enough of the edges to get a nice clean image. I made sure my original image was slightly larger than what I needed for my header. PicResize will not “enlarge” images, as that reduces quality. Then I told it it to export the image at the exact 1000 x 288 pixels needed for the header, and saved the finished product back to my computer, ready to import into the WordPress theme in the exact size that I needed.
By the way, for more image editing tips, and other useful information, see myAzgrand.com site, where I am furnishing free beginner web marketing training within the posts of that blog. If you like what you see you can subscribe to new post notifications or use the RSS feed to be notified.
I knew that in order to switch themes I had to first export the old files to my computer, and then import them into the new theme, but I wasn’t sure what all that covers. To be safe, I also exported all the subscriber list, just to make sure I didn’t lose it, but later found that wasn’t necessary. All of my plug-ins transferred to the new theme with no problems, including my subscriber list. Only the header image did not import, which was fine with me, as it would have been too small, anyway. All I had to do was change my header image to the new, larger one, and I was back in business in less than ten minutes!
Then I installed the “Twenty Eleven Theme Extensions” plug-in (not available for the old Twenty Ten theme), and got my sidebars back to what I wanted. The last step was to add some deeper color to the background. That’s about as easy as it gets, folks!
What to watch for in WordPress theme selection…
In choosing any kind of site, and doing the layout work, never get in a rush. Plan how you want it to look, from header size and style to how many columns on the page, plus the layout of widget areas. You can always change colors, graphics, and make other adjustments to how it operates, but the theme is what does the main layout. If it isn’t right, all the plug-ins in the world won’t help you!
WordPress has tens of thousands of themes available, both in free versions as well as some specialized packages that are paid versions. Sometimes choosing a theme can be a daunting task, given so many choices. That’s probably why the vast majority of people stick with the basic stuff from the first page offered. With so much flexibility in design and colors, even the same theme can look drastically different. I am currently using the Twenty Eleven theme for three of my sites… this one, Toolsorter.com, and Azgrand.com, and only the layout remains the same. But don’t be afraid to choose themes that are away from the initial offerings. It’s your site… make it look the way YOU want it to by choosing the right theme.
For many of you with Rving or camping blogs, who may want a lot of pictures on your blog, you might watch for themes that have galleries built in, or themes that were designed for photographers to display their current work. Don’t stick to “basic” themes just because that is what is typically presented to you. It will be much more difficult to try to modify a theme to your expectations than to pick out the right one to begin with. It’s easy to learn new themes, or even upgrade to better ones, but always start with one that will work best for YOUR application.
Back to the cell phone problem…
I have learned from personal experience that special orders usually take longer, even fromWalmart. The micro-SD card that I ordered last week, and was “hoping” would arrive by Tuesday apparently has not. You will find that with most stores, they get deliveries on certain days, and with our store, that is usually Tuesday… at least for these types of things. With groceries it may be different. They are good about sending out an email when the order has arrived, but I have received nothing so far, other than an email saying that it had been shipped from the warehouse. So all I can do is wait. Hopefully it will be here by the 31st.
Please keep that in mind when you order online specials from Walmart… the prices are great, but allow a couple of weeks for them to get to the store. If you have them shipped to your home or business, the wait time is much less. Also remember, just because “Walmart.com” has it, doesn’t mean your local store has it. Your order may be shipped from the supplier or from across the country, so please be patient. The savings are worth it!
Meanwhile I have found the phone that I want from Trac-Fone, and have that plugged into the budget for this next week. It will also be ordered online, so I want to make sure I have it, and can get the number switched over by the time my current Verizon contract expires on 8/21. The new phone, although not a “perfect” choice, will suffice for now, and the price and features are suitable.
I was hoping for a nice wide screen with one of those “slide-open” cases exposing a full Qwerty keyboard, but the only one they show is more money than I need to spend on it ($90!). So what I chose is more of a “Blackberry-style”. It still has the full keyboard, camera, hands free capability and web access, and even comes with a 4-gig micro-SD card and double minutes for life… just no cover.
That’s OK. I can buy a suitable protective case for it at Walmart (if it doesn’t come with one or I don’t like what they provide), and it will be fine. For $30, rather than the $400+ I have been used to spending in the past, it will do. And even with buying my first allotment of minutes, won’t cost as much as one month of Verizon service!
Cutting the budget… drastically!
Also, I have been checking my past minutes on my Verizon bill and I have only been using about 1/10th of the 450 minutes on my current plan (but still paying full price for it!), so I can get by with even less minutes than Sharon (who uses hers to talk to her sister occasionally). As a result, my overall monthly cost will drop from about $50 a month to even less than her $14.33 per month average! That’s more money for traveling, folks! And the time is getting closer and closer!
It’s little strategic moves like this that make a difference! We’re also rewriting our mortgage to drop better than two points off the interest, and lower our monthly obligation by roughly $40, so it all adds up. Of course, we plan to keep up the higher payments that we are currently paying, just to get the house paid off earlier, but still, knowing that we can get by with less if we “have” to, during months when income may be slower, is a stress reliever no matter how you look at it!
So (provided the card arrives on this coming Tuesday) my next post should have some pictures in it, and I should be able to keep up with adding pictures from now on. I know that most of you expect pictures, and I have to apologize for being lax on that issue. I promise to do better! It just takes so much time! And this isn’t the only site I have!
So until then, thanks for reading, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
I have gotten somewhat lax about getting out new posts, but just when I felt ambitious, I found I couldn’t download the pictures I have saved for the blog! Two years ago, after Verizon took over Alltel, they made some “improvements” at the local towers which suddenly caused my Kyocera PDA phone to quit working. Verizon was no help at all, even after driving 65 miles to Jonesboro to the Verizon store! They wanted to sell new phones, for a couple hundred dollars and up, to solve the problem!
… we returned home, with no cell phone, so we finally went to Walmart and got my wife an inexpensive Trac-Fone, so that we would at least have “something” for emergencies. However, my contract wasn’t quite up with Verizon, so we looked online to see what they had. After much deliberating, I decided that the Casio Exilim was the closest to what I needed. It didn’t have the PDA features and spreadhseet capability that my old one had, nor a touch screen, but then my old one didn’t have a camera. The Casio has a great camera with zoom, and more features and settings than what I really wanted, but after all, this is a phone with certain military specifications, and retailed at $450… but I could get it free by renewing my 2-year contract. I was reasonably pleased with the phone… until…
Failed driver exam!
So now again, two months before my current contract expires, I suddenly find that the album program that is supposed to download the pictures from the camera doesn’t work anymore! After trying the usual rebooting of the computer, and re-installing the program from the disk, and wasting several hours trying various things, I finally went online. In searching for information I came across more than one forum that basically said that the new “improvements” (upgrades) that Microsoft automatically installed for Windows 7 has caused the Casio driver to quit working, and Casio won’t provide support or updated drivers because they want to sell you a new phone! The only solution that anyone had was to use the micro-SD card to store all your pictures and then use that to transfer them to the computer! Fine, but I have never used the card option before and didn’t have one!
This is third time this kind of crap has happened to me, and I’m getting a little tired of it!
The first time was when we were still in Mesa. I had purchased a brand new Palm Trio 300 for $600, around 2003. I guess I made a mistake of not buying the extended warranty with it. About two months before the contract was up, one of the hinges broke on the cover. I took it to the Sprint store where I got it. They looked at it and the first thing out of their mouth was “Did you buy the extended warranty?” I told them “No I didn’t, but I’ll pay for the repairs, I just need a new case for it, the phone works fine.” They disappeared into the back room for about ten minutes only to come out and tell me that they can’t help me, that I’ll have to buy a new phone again! My contract wasn’t even up on the first one, and already they wanted more money!
After trying phone support, online help, and anything else I could think of, they still refused to repair the phone… but expected me to finish paying on my contract!
We already knew by that time that we were going to be moving back to Arkansas, so I researched what companies were available in both places, and it happened to be Alltel, so I went to their store and picked out the new Kyocera 7135 (which they already knew was on the way out, but it was the only PDA phone that they had available, AND the last one in the store). So that’s how I ended up with that “boat anchor” (the heaviest phone I have ever owned!). I had the old number transfered and left Sprint in the dust.
Why can’t everybody stop being greedy and learn to just get along?
Customer service has always been one of my strong points, and if this were a situation that happened with my company, and I couldn’t fix or replace a product for a customer, and had nothing of equivalent value to furnish in it’s place, I would have at least dropped the rest of their contract. There was only two months left anyway… no big deal. I would have made enough profit while the customer had it, to MORE than make money on the deal.
But not Sprint! They hounded me for the next five years to pay the balance on that contract, and I told them more than once that Hell would freeze over before they got another dime of my money! Of course, the report went to the credit bureaus, but I didn’t care! It was the principle of it! The rest of my credit was near perfect and any time I had to explain the issue to a prospective lender, I told them exactly why I refused to pay the bill, and it wasn’t a problem. Everyone that I told said they didn’t blame me!
But finally, after several collection agency attempts to collect an outrageous bill plus interest (nearly $150) they finally started going backwards! The “settlement offers” kept getting lower and lower, until finally it got down to about $50, and I finally paid it, just so I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore. They got more than they deserved and I paid more than I should have had to, but it was a compromise. But they have lost a customer FOREVER, along with anyone else that I have told about it… so what have they gained by being such jerks!
So then Verizon did the same thing to me near the end of the Kyocera’s contract (it was also a $400+ phone when I bought it) by making the connectivity useless, and now Casio is doing it to me again!
It’s a shame when you have to have a $400 product that is perfectly good, and yet the greed of the companies that make these things is so great that they won’t even provide a warranty that is reasonable, or upgrade their drivers so you can use it awhile longer!
Revenge! (and tremendous savings!)
But I have news for them, I don’t need to have a PDA phone for business anymore, and I’m tired of the outrageous charges and tactics they employ to lock customers into continual upgrading, when there is nothing wrong with the equipment that we already have paid good money for, and which should last WAY longer than they “allow” it to last!
Next month, when my contract expires, I am going to Walmart and buy the cheapest Trac-Fone that will do the job for me, and pay only for the minutes that I use WHEN I use them! At least if it goes bad, I won’t mind nearly as much replacing a $40 phone as I do a $400 phone!
In the meantime, I have ordered an 8-gig micro-SD card and adapter that will work with the slot on my laptop, so I can at least continue to use the Casio as a camera. The card should be here next Tuesday to the store, and then Sharon can pick it up for me after work. In the rare instance that the camera may go bad, at least I know that I only spent another $5 for the card and adapter.
By the way, I’m still using a Sony Mavica camera (yes, I know it’s a dinosaur) that I bought back in the early 2000’s for $450, and as long as I can still get 3-1/2-inch floppies (or re-use what I have) and be able to transfer those to the computer with a USB adapter, it will probably work forever!
Maybe the next phone I get should be a Sony. Do they even make them?
Don’t YOU be a victim, too!
By the way, you can buy a Trac-Fon at Walmart online and have it ready to pick up when you get to a local store. There’s no shipping costs on store pick-ups, and you don’t even need a credit card to buy online. You can pay for your order when you pick it up. How can you beat that for convenience?
Anyway, that’s why I have not had any more recent pictures lately. I have more photos of the minivan camper conversion reclining couch/bed and hardware… I just can’t show them to you yet! I also have pictures that we took at Loberg Park in Hardy, and pictures of the War Memorial in Ash Flat (which I must admit is quite impressive for a small town… much nicer than I had anticipated!) and I will have all of that for you within the next two weeks. I wanted to have the War Memorial pictures and a post out for July 4th, but now you know why that didn’t happen!
Other unrelated information…
Also, Just FYI, I have updated my old Azgrand.com “headquarters” site, and am turning that into a free online training program for beginning marketers through the posts. Those posts started with the basic stuff, like how to determine what kind of marketing fits your lifestyle and goals… something that no other marketer has ever told anyone! They don’t want you to know that, because they want to sell you their product, even if it isn’t a good fit for you, and they don’t care what your goals are! I am currently in the middle of a ten-post series talking about the basic service and software that you would need. Some of this applies to “any computer user” not just marketers. It’s good basic information that anyone will find useful.
So why am doing it for free? Because when I started fourteen years ago, no one was there to help me. I had to learn it all the hard way, and spent many thousands of dollars through various seminars and courses. Most marketers today won’t even answer simple questions, like “how do I upload a .pdf document so it can be downloaded by customers?” It would take them less than a minute to answer, but no… the standard answer is “buy my course and it will tell you”. The prices of some of those courses are anywhere from $100 to more than $10,000, and I’m tired of beginners getting ripped off by greed! I already have made a modest income, and the last thing I want to do is take money from those who really need the help to make more!
Most of what you need to market ANYTHING online is available for free. The only things that aren’t, are security software, back-up protection, domain registration and hosting. The last two may not even be necessary depending on your business model. And yes, you could take your chances and operate without any of them, but that’s risky. I want to show you how to run a business both profitably and professionally. I can show you where to get free software for nearly everything else, and you can study the course for free at your leisure through my posts, so what have you got to lose? Check it out athttp://azgrand.com, and if you like what you see, tell others, and subscribe to the new posts. I’m not selling any courses! I make my money the same way you will, so I don’t need yours. And if you don’t want to fool with learning the web stuff, but still need a site for your business, or even just for fun, I may build it for you for free, also!
So thanks for being patient, and for hanging in there with me. I appreciate your reading this blog… I really do. Stay safe and healthy in your travels and don’t let those greedy companies take advantage of you!
Now… where did I put that Skype log-on info? If I’m going to give these cell phone companies the old “Italian salute”, I may need an alternative!
I have seen many indications (uncorrected typos and misspellings) that continually go uncorrected on blogs, and I believe I know what the reason is. It has been mentioned already that some people mistakenly think that their blog is going to “resend” to everyone subscribed to it every time they touch it.
Forget about it!
Blogs are designed to send out new post notifications on “publish” (which it will only do once)… not on “update”! So you can go back in as many times as you want to after it has once been published, and make any corrections or additions you want to without overwhelming your audience!
It doesn’t matter whether you need to correct a simple typo, add or change a whole paragraph, add or change pictures, or even go back and install ad banners on it, the blog will not “re-publish”. Once published the next button that shows is always “update”. Even changing the title will not “re-publish” it.
And it doesn’t matter whether you make the change the next day, the next week, or the next month. So there is no excuse for the mis-spelled words, typos, and grammer problems that I see happening on many of the blogs. Some people may not realize they have mis-spelled a word, but most blogs have a spell-checker built in. For instance, on WordPress, and most other editors, it’s that little checkmark icon on your WYSIWYG editor bar at the top of your editing window with ABC above it. All you have to do is click on it. If you want to check a particular word, just highlight the word, and it will tell you whether it’s right or wrong and give you suggestions for what it should be. A simple click on the correct suggestion will correct it in the blog.
Although such gibberish as we are used to in texting is getting to be the common thing these days, a text screen is the only place that is is acceptable to the public. A poorly spelled blog, or any other article that the general public reads is going to be shut down by most people before they even get through it, and it will forever be labeled as “unprofessional”.
I go back and re-read all of my posts and pages, sometimes many times, before I see a problem. It’s human nature to miss some things, and despite the proliferation of computers and key pads, very few of us have ever learned to type correctly and accurately. But with the spellcheckers built into ALL computers, there is no excuse to not learn proper spelling. All you have to do is “care” how your posts look! If you don’t “care” enough to make them right, the public may not “care” enough to read them! It destroys the credibility and intelligence level of the author in the public’s eyes!
And now it’s time for a brake!
OK, how many of you missed the fact that a brake is something on a car, and a break is something that you take when you’re tired?
Come on… admit it! Spellcheckers won’t catch that kind of stuff because both are correct spellings for their own purpose. Such things as “form” and “from” are common mis-spellings and that is why you can’t depend on your computer for “everything”. It pays to go back and LOOK at your work, too.
If you are not good at spelling and grammar, then have someone that you do know is good at it, to check your work for you. If you are writing something like sales copy, it may even pay you to go to someplace like http://fiverr.com and pay someone five bucks to do it. In the long run you will lose much more than that from not having it right. Heck, you can even hire someone to write your sales copy for you there, if you don’t know how!
Best wishes for successful and correct publishing!
There have been solutions to problems as well as problems presented in the last few months regarding the issues that full time travelers face when trying to order online. We hope to provide our own take on these issues.
Safety and security.
One of the first issues that must be faced is the fear that some people still have about doing “any” kind of business online, which in nearly every case that I have ever heard, is a totally unfounded fear. Most of the problems I have heard or read about is because the purchaser did not follow the simple instructions on their screen!
Here’s a case in point from one of our personal friends: she wanted to order something online from a vendor that uses PayPal as their processor, but did not have enough money in her PayPal account to make the purchase, so her daughter offered to go online and buy it for her. The mistake was in the fact that her daughter used her mother’s computer to make the purchase from the vendor, and then did not read the instructions on how to switch from PayPal to a credit card!
All computers store cookies, so they can remember users, passwords, last sites visited, etc. In this case, the mother’s computer was recognized by PayPal as a normal user, and defaulted to the PayPal checkout process, which is normal. All the daughter had to do was click a button to take her to the section where she could use a normal credit card, and then it would have been charged to the daughter’s credit card. Instead, she went ahead and checked out with PayPal (note: she would have had to know her mother’s password, which is entirely possible, but that should have been a huge red flag, had she been paying attention!), and it got billed to her mother’s PayPal account anyway! With not enough funds in PayPal it pulled funds from the bank account associated with it! This is NOT the fault of PayPal. It is the fault of the user not knowing how the system works and not paying attention to the simple instructions onscreen!
But now the mother is down on PayPal, and with all vendors online, saying she doesn’t trust “any” of them, and will never buy online again! IT ISN’T THE VENDOR’S FAULT, NOR THAT OF THE PAYMENT PROCESSOR! IT’s the USER’S FAULT! Computers have a far superior brain than any human has. It is the human’s fault if they don’t understand or follow the procedures necessary to allow it to do it’s job! Like the old saying goes… “(if you put) garbage in, (you will get) garbage out”.
We have been purchasing online since 1999, and have never had a problem with a checkout process. I read several years ago a report about the online payment processing industry, that the standard encryption process that ALL payment processors use is 40 times greater than the military radio transmission encryption used in operation “Desert Storm”. If the government feels safe enough to keep information out of the hands of our enemies with their technology, then what have you got to worry about with a credit card? Your chances of having your card (or number) stolen by a face to face transaction with someone like a restaurant employee or convenience store is probably 10,000 times LESS secure than online! It only takes them less than two seconds to imprint your card into a piece of clay and memorize the three digit code on the back, or scratch it into that piece of clay by hand! That will never happen with the kinds of encrypted processing used online!
And if you never learn any more about using a computer than (barely) knowing how to manage your email account, then you are only using less than a tenth of a percent of what an average person “could” be using a computer for! And that lack of knowledge is costing you money in so many ways that I can’t begin to think of them all!
It’s a total waste of money if you never learn anything but email on it! If you learn how to use it properly, you will find a whole new world open to you! If you refuse to learn, then you only have yourself to blame if you have no extra money or when things go wrong!
Receiving your physical purchases while traveling.
Obviously, digital products, and things like memberships, can be delivered to your computer anywhere you can get internet service. Physical packages are the problem.
The first thing that people need to realize is that not all vendors allow you a choice in how your purchase will be shipped. Some, even though the purchase is very small, will still use a service like UPS or FedEx, because they have accounts with those services and do enough shipping to get a substantial discount on shipping costs. With built-in tracking, it makes it comparable in price to First Class Mail with Delivery Confirmation added. As a purchaser you need to know what method they use before you make that purchase! It will usually tell you in the checkout process. If there is not a method listed there that you can use, then back out of the transaction and go somewhere else! YOU must make that choice!
The problem is that many travelers use General Delivery at a nearby Post Office to receive their forwarded mail, and that works great for Post Office mail. But most other shippers will not deliver to a Post Office for “any” reason or by “any” method! Even if they “would” deliver it there, you have paid your fee to the shipping company, and yet the Post Office is getting nothing for receiving your package and storing it for you until you can pick it up! So why would they want to mess with it without getting paid for it? You nor I wouldn’t do that, so why expect them to do it?
Normally, the only way to receive items from anyone other than the Post Office, is to have permission to ship to a physical address, such as the campground where you are staying. The catch there is that some will allow package delivery and some won’t. You HAVE to ask the manager before ordering something online! Sometimes it can be a matter of timing. If your current campground won’t allow package or mail delivery, then you may have to wait until you get to place that WILL allow it. If you call ahead and get permission, you may be able to place your order online so that it will arrive at the same time you do. With UPS and most other services you can use the tracking number to go online and verify the exact delivery date, so you know when you have to be there. Receiving packages is more of a problem for people that spend most of their time boon-docking. They may have to make a rare exception, and spend a night or two at a paid campground in order to receive a package there, as public parks, COE campgrounds and forest campgrounds won’t provide that service. But by verifying the delivery date, they won’t have to waste expense on extra night’s fees.
Having an address at a UPS store is OK, if you live in an area where you can visit the store regularly, but if you are traveling, that is not a good solution, either. They will forward mail to a Post Office for you, but they also charge extra for that service, in which case, you will be paying for shipping costs twice, plus the cost of their service.
So even if you use a mail forwarding service, which will usually forward to General Delivery at any Post Office, be aware of the problem with packages shipped by other services, learn what you have to do, THINK, and plan accordingly.
Although having things delivered to your door is usually much cheaper than wasting gas and time to go get it, due to the issues above, it “may” be cheaper to wait for that trip to town, “IF” you can get what you want there. Many times you can’t get the item you want locally. The biggest mistake people make is that they don’t consider the delivery cost of goods purchased, and that also applies to your own picking it up and bringing it home! That is still “delivery cost”!
It isn’t just the gas you will spend on your vehicle… it is the entire operating cost that you have to consider! Regardless of what the IRS says is a legal tax deduction for mileage, it often runs way more than that, especially for RV’s and heavier trucks. As an example, when I was using our Dakota V8 Quad-Cab for business (not even a “heavy” truck), I kept track of every expense on it, from the mileage to the payments, to the maintenance to the insurance and taxes on it. The IRS lets you decide how you want to take your expenses on it, either by (1) their standard mileage figure (which is often way too low on a newer vehicle), by (2) actual expenses, or by (3) calculated depreciation.
From our own records I found that our actual cost per mile at seventy-five cents, was the best way to go for us. So therefore, a ten mile trip (20 miles round trip total) to the store was actually costing $15 in total wear and tear on that vehicle, whereas the gas used was only about $4 worth! So when I hear people tell me that it “only” costs them a minimal amount for gas, and that they can’t afford shipping costs, I have to laugh to myself at their ignorance of basic finances! A vehicle costs WAY more to operate than just the gas! Every mile you put on it is costing you in the TOTAL expense of operating that vehicle, and people need to wake up to that fact!
And then there’s the factor of time. If you were paying an employee to go pick up that item, you would be paying for their time at an hourly rate. Many retired people don’t consider their time worth anything… but it is! Take whatever your yearly income is and divide it by 2080 (the number of working hours in a year) and that’s what your hourly time is worth! If you figure that trip to the store is going to take an hour to get there and back, and your time is worth $20 an hour, then you can also add that cost onto the “delivery cost”. Someone is making it! If it isn’t you, then it’s the Mail Carrier or the UPS driver, but someone is being paid to get that item to your door, even if it’s you yourself! If you have other, more profitable or more enjoyable things to with your time, then why “work” at doing a chore?
Even if you “could” buy what you want locally, you have to consider the hassles of it. Some people hate to shop, others may love it. Some may go just to get out of the house or RV and go do “something”. But regardless of personal reasons, the financial reasons will usually argue in favor of having it delivered to your door. It saves time and money.
Greater selection and savings.
No store, even such giants as Walmart, stock everything in the store that they list online. Regional stores in different areas carry different items, so people that may have moved (or are on the move) may not find what they want at a different store. But online, you can find nearly anything you want! Also, many online stores offer free shipping, if not across the board, then on certain things or on an order of a certain size. So ordering online doesn’t “have” to cost more if you shop wisely!
Our new office computer is a good example. This was an online ONLY special purchase through Walmart. It was not available in ANY of the stores. This is a MSRP $450 computer that we bought for about $300 online and had it delivered to our local store for pick-up, so there was no shipping costs on it! Since my wife works there, it was not an extra trip to pick it up. There are hundreds of thousands of deals like this available every day online, so those who refuse to buy online are spending money needlessly and foolishly!
And even more money can be saved by buying from places like eBay! Very seldom will you ever see anything listed on eBay at it’s normal store price. Our printer cartidges are a good example. We buy only OEM (not remanufactured) cartridges in orginal packaging for sometimes one-fourth of what we would pay in the stores! Some are simply past their expiration date to legally sell in the stores, but let’s face it… ink doesn’t dry out that fast! We haven’t found one yet that doesn’t work as good as new! In these uncertain times, you need to stop wasting money, and put it in your own pocket… not someone else’s!
Other reasons for shopping online.
Someone we know has a physical disability, and they need assistance walking. They still do their own shopping and can walk and stand for short periods of time, but it’s difficult, and getting up and down steps is difficult. They have steps between their house and garage, so the fewer trips they have to make to get purchased items into the house (especially groceries) the better off they are. They also sometimes work long hours at their regular job, and don’t have time to shop. Here’s how they solved that problem…
…they order all their non-perishables online (paper goods, cleaning supplies, boxed goods, canned goods, hardware, etc.) and have them delivered to their door. It not only saves a tremendous amount of time, it costs them LESS than it costs them in the store, because they can find things online that their local store doesn’t stock! Many people don’t realize it but you can order anything you want from Walmart online … including groceries…and have it delivered to your local store for pick up, and you pay NOTHING for shipping! If you want it delivered to your door, all you have to do is make sure your order totals $45, and they will deliver it to your door… for FREE! So now, instead of several bags to carry and try to walk with a cane at the same time, they have only a couple of bags. Think how that cuts down on the physical pain of walking and standing time! They can get in and out of the store in minutes now, instead of an hour or more!
You can have a better selection of any items… groceries, appliances, clothing, office supplies or whatever… by going online to shop than you will EVER have at ANY one store! Our friend still buys her fresh and frozen items at the store (produce, breads, meats, etc.), but now she is going in through our links and ordering everything else online to save her the pain of walking, standing and getting up and down her steps… and at the same time, she is saving money by getting “specials” she wouldn’t find in her local store. And since she does us the courtesy of using our links to go online in appreciation for our waking her up to these methods, we are getting a nice “referral fee” from Walmart for sending her there to shop! It’s a win/win situation for all concerned!
If you live in an area where your Walmart is not a “Super Store” and does not have a grocery or deli department… guess what? You can STILL go online and save money by buying your groceries through Walmart, and have them delivered! Even if you still have to buy the fresh stuff from somewhere else, the savings on all your non-persihables will be worthwhile!
The other thing great about Walmart is that you no longer have to use a credit card to shop! If you have the item delivered to a local store for pick-up, you can pay when you get there! Now… how can you beat that? How many more lame excuses are you going to come up with before you realize what you are missing, and how much money you could be saving?
If you are out traveling in your RV, and plan to stop at a Walmart overnight, You can place your order… even for things that they may not have at that store… and have it delivered there so that it will save you time when you get there! All you have to do is go to the “site to store” area (sometimes at the back of the store) to pick up your order. Please verify that the particular Walmart store where you plan to park overninght allows RV parking overnight, but even if they don’t, you can still pick up your order there, even if just passing through. Also check the delivery date of your order coming in. Usually it will tell you during the checkout process when you can expect it. Make sure the delivery date fits within your plans.
So what are you waiting for? Get into the 21st century shopping methods and go save some money!