Thursday, March 31, 2011

529 Savings

Today I learned something new. I learned a little bit about 529 savings accounts. With the recession and all, especially for hard-hit California, costs for everything are rising (did you see my post about bank fees?). The costs for higher education are no exception - rate hikes have been occurring across the board. And it seems that at the same time, drastic cuts have to be made due to budget issues. In fact, it wasn't too long ago that there were protests because of the 30+% increase for the University of California system. So...Saving for higher education is important, because it's not gonna be cheap!

In our Etsy shop, we have a section titled "HANDMADE by the KIDS." We created this section of the shop about a year ago. My daughter (in the 8th grade now) is very academic. For two years in a row, she's attended summer classes on a California State University campus as part of an accelerated program for 6th - 10th graders. Last year, we sold items on Etsy as fundraising for her tuition for the program (and did many other fundraisers). After the tuition was paid, we decided to dedicate an entire section of the shop to items made solely by the kids. Whatever sells from that section, we put toward their scholarship fund for education.

So back to the 529 savings accounts. I just learned about them. They are state-sponsored and earn interest tax-free. Money from these accounts can be used for tuition costs, books, computers - educational expenses. There are two types of plans, prepaid and saving. The prepaid type is only available in certain states. Most states offer the savings type, and there are many options, depending on the state. There's a lot to learn! There's a website (collegesavings.org) that has all the info you need to learn more. Below I've listed a couple of helpful direct links within their site that I visited:

What is a 529? Click HERE to find out the details.
What are the advantages of a 529? Click HERE.
A College Cost Calculator. Try it out. It will help determine how much to aim for saving.

I found the site very helpful, so I hope you do too. =)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

First Set

Made my first necklace/earring set today. Just listed it. It's a custom order. =)

Moon/Star Mood Set

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Tuesday Tantrum

For today, I have a tantrum to throw. Really. It's the END of free checking, for real. Last week or the week before, I had heard on the news that the big banks, are starting to charge fees for ATM withdrawals if you're not their customer (yes, it's Chase Bank, charging a fee of a whopping $5 to non-Chase account holders). Now...I happen to be a Chase bank account holder - for the moment. But the news that they're charging that much for an ATM withdrawal made my jaw drop. Literally.

So my account with Chase was opened about eight years ago. That was back when it was Washington Mutual - WaMu. How fun is that to say? WaMu. Catchy. Cute. But the real win - FREE checking. FREE checks. FREE ATM withdrawals, even at OTHER banks' ATMs. Plus, they had a program that they called WaMoola (again, so fun to say!) for schools - and they would
donate to local schools in the community for education and stuff like that. Even the atmosphere of the bank when you walked in was different than other banks. The newer branches had different, circular layouts - and even a kid-friendly corner with books and Nintendo DS systems to keep them busy for a few minutes. But I guess all the "free" stuff was a big part of the reason they didn't survive, right?
Awww...I miss WaMu.

Because then came the great fallout of the all the big banks. Government bailouts. WaMu went under and Chase took over. At first, it wasn't so bad. I had to say goodbye to the free ATM withdrawals at other banks' ATMs, but that was OK. No big deal. Checks were still free. The checking account was still free.

Right when Chase took over, though, the newer branc
hes, the ones with the fun layouts, kid-friendly corners, and great atmosphere --- got remodeled! Even though they were BRAND NEW! I asked why the remodel, and an employee told me that it was so all the branches could be uniform. That is SO corporate!!! But oh well. I got over it...Look what the box says...
Uhhh....Yeah, like the HIGHest fees for EVERYthing!

So this past week, when I logged in to my account online to see a fee of $10 taken out, listed as "service fee." I called the bank right away. What is this $10 fee? Well, the customer service representative informed me that without direct deposit, I no longer have free checking. I scrunched up my face. Yuck. The bank's motto: CHASE what matters. Yep, I'll be chasing a new bank now.

And so that's my tantrum. NO MORE FREE CHECKING. Why? Because I don't have direct deposit. We might as well close that account and go to Bank of America (their monthly fee is $8.95 without direct deposit, or we can deposit at ATMs with no fee) or Wells Fargo (monthly fee of only $5 without direct deposit). It's Bye-Bye Chase for us! They have the highest fees out of all the banks I've checked. Besides, Chase got rid of the kid-friendly corners anyway!

Any of you having issues with your banks? I think it would make me feel better to hear about your tantrums too! I just feel like times are so tough right now for everyone, and it's only getting worse.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Re-Listed

Re-Listed these, for our HANDMADE by the KIDS section.
I did some photo-editing to make the pictures brighter.
Take a look!

Fun Lanyard Key Chains

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Brand New!

This is brand new in our shop! And - it's made by my 8-year-old. =) What do you think?


This is also a newbie. What do you think of the pictures? I'm not sure if they're good enough. I might try to snap a few more shots to see if i can get better views of them.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fab Finds for Friday 3/25/11

Here are today's Fabulous Finds for Friday, March 25th. Enjoy!!!

First finds are from a new shop I found just this week. The shop is called CharmsMaker, and the charms she makes are really fun. And the great thing - you can order ANY custom made fine silver pendant from YOUR VERY OWN design! It can be anything YOU want - a picture, design, icon, or saying. She also has lots of great pendants already m
ade with quotes and sayings on them, and some fun pictures too. I really like the thought of having one customized, but I found some with great sayings on them that I thought I'd share. Here are some good ones I found:

Sometimes...


The greatest risk...


Loved you yestereday...
My next Fabulous Finds for Friday are from a shop called KCowie. The shop offers glass tile pendant necklaces and custom photo key chains. Kathy can make custom photo glass tiles for your pendant or key chain, so they are completely customized for YOU. She also has a wide selection of pretty and colorful options in her shop. Here are a few that I found:

Purple Passion


Pink Rosebud

Peace and Love

Hope you enjoyed today's Fab Finds for Friday! Have a great weekend. =)


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

These are Back!

These are back in our shop now! Click away and check them out!

Popular Drago
nfly Car Charm


Deep Blue Moon/Star Mood Necklace


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I won a giveaway! =) I'm so excited about this. My friend Pennie from Pernilla's Something Swedish is part of the Sampler Village and hosted a giveaway for the Sampler Village blog. I still can't believe that I actually won. It's my second time winning a giveaway that Pennie participated in, so I'm feeling really lucky. Look what I won!

Organic and All Natural White Chocolate Apricot Fudge

Organic and All Natural Fig Clusters


I can't wait to try them. They look soooo yummy. It makes my mouth water.
Plus, I've been having a bit of a bad week (came down with an infection - yuck!), so winning this giveaway gives me something to smile about. =)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fab Finds for Friday 3/18/11

Today I've got a few things to blog about. I already posted about my treasury list "With Japan in Mind." Now, an item from our shop is featured in a treasury too! Click the link below and it will take you there.
www.etsy.com/treasury/4d83d508a1c26d910132ba79/artworks
Lastly, I've found some great items during the past week,and I wanted to share some of those finds (and the shops they came from) with you all. With that, I'm just gonna start posting away, all of the Fabulous Finds for Friday!

Friday Finds from classyandsassycharms on Etsy

First up is an item that I included in my treasury for Japan. It's from the Etsy shop classyandsassycharms.


This shop has many charms that are dedicated to the relief efforts for Japan, so don't just look at the ones I've posted - visit the shop and check them all out! =) As the shop name suggests, there are classy charms and some sassy charms (charms with attitude!). It's so much fun to browse.


Friday Finds from periwinkleprints on Etsy
Next is a shop called Periwinkle Prints. This shop offers fine art photographs. I had seen one print on Etsy's front page (above), and went to the shop...I ended up loving almost ALL of the items, especially the photos of the flowers. But there are so many more outstanding photos, not just the ones shown here. Another fave of mine is called "Scattered Hearts," but I'm not gonna show it, you have to go visit the shop and see it for yourself!

Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you loved the Fabulous Finds for Friday!

*Please note: These images were posted with the permission of the shop owners. Please respect and do not duplicate. Thank you.

With Japan in Mind

Last night I posted my first ever treasury list on Etsy. Four of the items have sold (one of them I edited to show that there are more to purchase). These are the items that have sold so far...

Japan Relief Key Chains by TopKnotch

Heart for Japan artwork by GreenOptimist

Share the Love bracelet by amodernphilosophy

Tokyo Japan Oval Vintage Map Necklace
by ksickles

Please visit my treasury and see all the beautiful items dedicated to Japan.
http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4d82cd8d35db6d91f3581b5e/with-japan-in-mind

Later today I will be posting a couple of features here on my blog. Stay tuned - I think you'll like it! =)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My First Treasury

Check out my first ever Treasury List on Etsy! It's called "With Japan in Mind" - Hope you like it!

http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4d82cd8d35db6d91f3581b5e/with-japan-in-mind

I couldn't figure out how to paste the whole treasury here on the blog. I've still got to learn how to do that. But...This is my first treasury, so I promise I'll learn! Click the link above to view the treasury. All items are making donations to the Japan Relief Effort. =)

Happy St. Patrick's Day




Hope you're all having a LUCKY day today! My boys are in the yard, trying to find four leaf clovers. =)

Please stay tuned for tomorrow, because I'll be featuring an AWESOME Etsy shop that's trying to help out with the devastation in Japan. You're gonna love it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Photos

Here are some new photos!!! What do you think? Click to go see the full item description and more pics. Love what you see? Give 'em hearts and make them faves. =)

Also -------
Don't forget that I need just 10 more comments by this Friday to be able to do a blog giveaway by the end of the month. So if you're interested in winning something from our shop, leave a comment! =)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Need 11!!!

I've got some NEW followers! GREAT! WELCOME! I'm so glad to have you here.
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I need 11 more comments by end of day Friday to do a giveaway on my blog! Leave a comment to show interest in a giveaway! =)

Also, very shortly I will resume doing features here on my blog. I will be featuring an Etsy seller each week. And I'm also thinking about showing just a few of the great Etsy items that I find each week as well. What would you most want to see on my blog? Would you prefer to see an entire shop featured once a week? Weekly Etsy item finds once a week? Both of these? Leave me a comment to let me know. =)


GIVEAWAY UPDATE:

I've only gotten one suggestion so far for the giveaway. I'm afraid with my blogging absence over these past few months, I've lost some loyal readers. I've still got followers (and even some new ones! Welcome new followers! I'm so glad to have you!), and I know the site gets hits, but not very many comments at all. =(


Before I do the giveaway, I need to be sure that I've got readers to enter! If you're at all familiar with my giveaways, they require participation. The number of entries depends on the number of comments left on my blog, so participation definitely increases your chances of winning.

SO...If you're a follower, and you're reading, please leave a comment to let me know. If I can get at least twelve comments within a week letting me know that there's interest in the giveaway, then I'll do the giveaway.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sold & Shipped!

Sold and shipped a car charm this week! It's the clear crystal ball car charm, featuring a beautiful Swarovski prism. The crystal balls are always a popular one! The size of this one (20 mm) is perfect for the car too!


I've already got a couple of new crystal ball car charms to add to our Etsy shop. I just have to take pictures for them. My light box took quite awhile for me to finish. It's just been difficult to find the time to actually sit down and make the thing! But it's complete now, and all I need to do is go and purchase a few daylight bulbs. So...I should have some new pictures up soon, and they'll be posted here on the blog first. =)

This week I also got news that Swarovski is raising prices, which means that my supplier is raising prices. In turn, I will have to raise the prices of my Swarovski pieces as I get new pieces in. =( It won't be by much, but still...





GIVEAWAY UPDATE:


I've only gotten one suggestion so far for the giveaway. I'm afraid with my blogging absence over these past few months, I've lost some loyal readers. I've still got followers (and even some new ones! Welcome new followers! I'm so glad to have you!), and I know the site gets hits, but not very many comments at all. =(


Before I do the giveaway, I need to be sure that I've got readers to enter! If you're at all familiar with my giveaways, they require participation. The number of entries depends on the number of comments left on my blog, so participation definitely increases your chances of winning.

SO...If you're a follower, and you're reading, please leave a comment to let me know. If I can get at least twelve comments within a week letting me know that there's interest in the giveaway, then I'll do the giveaway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Favorite

Just added this one back to the shop. It hasn't been there for awhile, so I thought I'd make one real quick and get it back on the site. It's a favorite at my daughter's middle school. Last spring we sold quite a few of them, but we still haven't sold one on Etsy yet.


What do you think? Share your thoughts with a comment!

Please remember that I need help with my upcoming blog giveaway! Click the link below to help me out with your input. I'd like to start this giveaway soon, so be sure to keep tuning in!
http://2justbyou.blogspot.com/2011/02/more-input.html

Thanks for reading! Have a great Wednesday!