Cardboard Boxes 1

If you were anything like me during the COVID shutdowns, then you did more online shopping than you thought was humanly possible. (Seriously, at one point I could barely get out of my apartment door due to all the cardboard boxes that were piled up to be taken to the recycling bin.) If you’re still like me, you now realize how much of a mistake it was to fill up your apartment with somewhat useless junk that you really didn’t need in the first place. I mean come on, who actually needs yet another decorative pillow…. Much less 20 of them? After my realization of this, and seeing my final credit card bill, I decided I was going to simplify my life, and give the whole minimalist thing a try. I had seen a ton of influencers on social media rave about the benefits of living simply, and after the 100th time of making my bed with a million pillows every morning, I made up my mind I was going to do this, even if it killed me. As it turns out it didn’t kill me, although it was extremely painful to let a lot of them stuff I had bought over the years go, rather it brought quite a bit of serenity into my life. And if you’re thinking about dipping your toes into the minimalist lifestyle, I would love to be able to share a pointer or two with you on how to make the transition. 

Tip number one. Find a friend who can be objective about your things. Let’s be honest, sentimentally is where neat spaces go to die. Sometimes it’s hard to be truthful with yourself about what is and is not truly “junk”. For instance, that slap band you had when you were 10 and haven’t worn since but kept because you’re sure they’re going to be cool again someday should be the first thing to make the junk pile. (Seriously, they’ll never be cool again, throw it away.) A friend, however, can come alongside you and help you see what should and should not be kept. 

Tip number two. Donate as much as you can. Just because you’ve decided to go minimalist doesn’t mean you need to just throw everything away. Plus, it’s not good for “going green”. Instead, start a donate pile. Let your friends and family know what you’re doing and ask them if there’s anything they’d like you to set aside for them. Then, whatever is left overtake to your local homeless shelter or goodwill. 

Tip number three. It’s ok to keep things you don’t use all the time. Some minimalists would disagree here, but there are going to be those certain items (Christmas decorations for instance) that you won’t use often but are still ok to keep. Just pack them away neatly and safely in some sturdy cardboard boxes and put them on a shelf in your closet or slide them under the bed. Out of sight, out of mind, but still there when you’d like to use them. 

Tip number four. Just do it. It’s one thing to talk about simplifying your life. It’s another to actually do it. And cleaning your house or apartment and getting rid of things here or here does not count. If you’re going to be serious about minimizing the amount of stuff you have, you need to just bite the bullet and do it. It may be a little painful at first, but I promise you, if you’re anything like me, you won’t regret it. Unlike all those online shopping bills. 

Make sure you have the right treat for the right time

I really love throwing parties.  I don’t care who they are for but when they are for the family it gets to be even more fun. Last year we threw a party for my mom-in-law.  She was super excited to get into the retirement theme and wanted a special day.  So she let us know that this day was going to be special and that she wanted the whole family there for a day.  She planned out the entire day hour by hour and wanted to spend it sharing all parts of her life with us.  Now in reality it was a bit boring, but it was also very special.  Taking the time to learn from someone who has many more years of living is important and a wise move.  Now she loves treats and we decided to go to the store and pick up her favorite candy boxes and set up our own little surprise for her.

Luckily, I have a great wife who loves to plan and do these kinds of things.  She set the whole thing up.  Our goal was to add a surprise to her special day and with that, we wanted to throw a party at the end.  We planned for weeks to find all of her favorite foods and colors.  We implemented really cool birthday gifts that were all themed.  The main theme was to take her favorite candy boxes of almond joys and make the theme flamingo.  This was a rather crazy task because ti meant everything had to be pink and yet coconut-themed.  It was very colorful and cool.

It was my mom’s day so we let her do her thing and when we had time to sneak away we did.  We took those breaks and instantly made the basement a super special place for a surprise.  The first goal was to fill it with balloons.  So on the first break, we went down and locked the doors.  We then proceeded to blow up several hundred balloons.  This was breathtaking as you might imagine, and we made some crazy fun decorations with them.

The balloons falling from the ceiling were pretty cool.  This made a bed on the ceiling with a pull string.  The idea was when she went down the stairs we would pull the string and the sheet which was taped to the ceiling and filled with balloons would fall.  We put about 50 ballons in the sheet and packing taped it to the ceiling.  We also used scissors to cut the string to the right length in order to have a good pull.  This took some time and many strips of tape to get it to stay in the correct position.  We had to use the pinata and it was a cute sloth.  It was so much fun for her.

We filled the pinata with her favorite treat of almond joys and provided a nice bat.  It was a flamingo pinata and she loved it.  Then we taped balloons across the ceiling and had all her gifts surrounded by a giant set of balloons.  It was a pretty awesome setup and by the time the fourth break happened we finished it up.  Finally, it was our time to surprise her and it was incredible.

Don’t get ripped off on tape at a big box store

We all know that 2021 is the true year for online sucess.  Our economy is ready and primed to be more than successful online. My industry has shown that this is the place to be and I am seeing thousands upon thousands of new companies popping up and actually surviving.  I have also seen a lot of companies not make the cut and end up burning through all their startup funds quickly.  There are a lot of reasons for companies succeeding and failing, but there are some sound things that every company should follow and that is to buy their supplies at the best cost.  Ecommerce is about success and if you are selling online then you already know that you have to ship those items to the customer.  One way or another this is going to be a cost and you want to make sure it is not going to be a cost that will shut down your company. If you are shopping in the wrong place you may just be putting your company into a quick death.  I want to go over some simple basics that can save thousands or millions of dollars.

Don’t just do what is super simple to start with.  Think about it and give the possibility of saving a chance. This means different things for many people too.  For some companies, I have seen them buy all of their shipping supplies locally and then brag about this as a selling point.  What we found is that they supported local companies and that is something that we all liked.  But the downfall is that they only had a small sampling of options available to them.  They had to use the packages, tape, and cardboard boxes available to them within a 20-mile radius.  What this turned out to be for the companies that did this was a plane-looking shipping platform for a very high cost.  The cost was simply just too much and even though some of it was cool and custom that is not enough to be worth it. 

Obviously, lots of companies are buying on Amazon.  That is easy, but not always wise.  Now if you are simply getting office supplies I would say this is an acceptable option.  But people were buying thousands of cardboard boxes, rolls of tape, and bags on a platform that boasts good shipping.  Well, they got their supplies within two days, but they did not get bulk discounts or any advice at all on the products they ordered.  This was a major issue because the fact is these companies were generally not competitive on the shipping section and ended up losing out to the competition that was always cheaper or able to offer free shipping and low prices.  Don’t let this blow your minds, so many higher-ups can’t fathom it either.

Online packaging companies are simply the best and most cost-effective for a company to use. Not only do they give advice on the products you are purchasing when you call in but can help with bulk discounts on the whole order.  They always beat amazon and end up giving companies advice that lowers costs even further. Just take a little time to be wise and make sure you are getting the best deal for your company. 

Do you do desert runs for the family?

It is really a fun thing to serve those around you.  Sometimes it can be a problem to serve the wrong thing too much, but in cases like the covid lockdowns, it is nice to go out and get a nice treat for the family.  The existence of many things is now gone and part of that is dining in at most restaurants.  The change has brought about a new way of life and a new way to experience it. This week I learned that lots of people still want the things they wanted a few months ago and are willing to wait a long time for them.  This was made prevalent on my trip to the dairy queen with my wife last night. We were under the impression that a trip to get some ice cream would make the end of our evening a fun time.  one great thing to do is to get in the car and head to some place you know you both will love. 

One thing that is not so great is when there are a lot of people in line, but wating outside is not as bad as being at home.   It turned out that the light was ia lot of other people with the same idea as us..  It was strange because technically the inside of the store should have been open but it was not. This made us a bit sad because we knew we would be waiting for a long time.  Since the inside was closed we imagined that the line would go very quickly. Unfortunately, it did not and was a very poor waiting process. Not all things that seem bad are.  It was actually nice to spend some extra time away from home. 

We had tons of time to talk and decide what would really be good and tasty for the night. The upside is that we got to go through the entire menu on our phones for a long time and talk about the best items to get.  Many were based around our favorite candy box candy. I mean is there much better than getting your favorite type of candy box in your ice cream? I am honestly not sure and I sure love a Reese cup-filled treat. The chocolate brownie was definitely had by my wife.  I almost went for the warm cookie and ice cream.

Waiting was actually part of the problem though.  We ended up spending as much in gas as we spend on the ice cream and honestly being behind someone shooting exhaust fumes for an hour was not the best thing for us. The big issue was that we waited a very long time and the order we received was shoddily put together and an extra topping was missing.  That was a bit of a bummer to be honest.  It really showed a very poor lack of management.  A store that was being staffed with so many people should have had that line flying and orders should be correct considering that you are only taking one order at a time and not the 4 to 5 when the store is running at normal capacity. I wish we had a better after the experience, but at least we got out of the house and spent some fun time together. 

How to Take Care of All Those Shipping Packages

There have been many changes in the last year or so and one of them is how our economy works in the United States.  We are now an eCommerce based country and that is because of all the local regulations due to COVID-19.    It is 2021 and we are just passed our state lockdown laws. But as always they are saying they should come back.  Clearly it didn’t work last time and yet that is the first thing they want to do again?  Work has mostly gone back to normal but it is still stressful to out and shop.  There are many rules and regulations that have happened and that are still in place.  This means that with it being so crazy outside we are buying more through online retailers.  E-commerce is becoming our main shopping center and it has caused some extra areas of stress that we didn’t have last year.  Now we have so many packages piling up we don’t know what to do.

How many packages are getting delivered to your door per day?  We get at least two a day. This means that our goods are sitting outside in the heat and weather and even open to people simply walking up and taking them.  This leaves me and my wife with lots of stress.  It is hard to think about hundreds of dollars of items getting delivered and sitting unsafe outside our home for hours on end.  Really it does bother me and causes me a large amount of anxiety which makes working harder.  It is the little things like this that really make the whole situation simply awful.  I don’t like the regulations or being forced to purchase online. It has caused so much social anxiety in the country it makes me sick.

The change in our ability to get rid of the cardboard boxes is the real problem.  The purchasing habits that we now have are really unfortunate.  It costs extra in our neighborhood to recycle.  This is because our trash is private and not government-run.  The cost to recycle means extra money per month and also I have to purchase a 200 dollar trashcan or rent one.  Either way, it costs a lot of extra money and I simply do not want to pay it.  With the economy the way it is I am simply unable to pay for it.  So now our garage is filled with cardboard boxes because I am only allowed to use so many cans each week.  

What was the answer to this?  Really, I have to take extra time each week to go and break down the boxes.  It is partially unsafe because I am not able to do it by hand.  Some of them are very hard and simply I don’t want to strain myself.  This has led me to use knives in order to break them down and make them small enough to fit them into the bags.  I first used scissors but they dulled quickly and left blisters on my hand.  I had to move to a fixed blade knife to get through them all. 

This is not something I like doing either.   I know it is simply a waste to trash all these paper products and I am contributing to the waste our society is so well known for.  I hope the regulations in our State end soon because they seem to be just making our lives worse.