Thursday, March 19, 2015 Review - Selling a Gift Card Online

This past holiday season I was given a gift card for $100 at Nordstrom department store. While this is a nice store, it is kind of far away from where I live and it is not a place I usually shop. I looked at their online store and even made my way to the retail store but nothing was really jumping out at me. So I decided to look into options for selling the gift card.

I was hoping to get a decent return on the card and hopefully have it be as simple as possible. By simple, I was looking for a company that would let you enter in the card information and then give you a credit by Pay Pal. I did not expect to get much for the card, but I figured it was worth investigating just in case.

A quick search for "sell gift cards" brings up a lot of results. I was surprised at how many companies are offering this service. I started comparing some of the top sites. Each lets you enter in your amount on your gift card and they let you know how much they will buy it for. The percentages vary by store but overall they were higher than I was expecting. I found most of them were giving about 85% of the value for the card.

I started comparing features. Some of them want you to mail the card in and they often pay a bit more for the physical card, but of course this process takes longer. Also some offer to pay by check which again takes longer. Some require your credit card information for security purposes if you want to be paid electronically.

After comparing a bunch of the different sites I decided to go with because they offered a good return and you can enter your card information online and get a payment through PayPal. Also the processing time looked to be one of the fastest available at 1-2 days. Reviews looked to be pretty good and their BBB rating was ok so I figured I would give it a go. 

I started entering my information. They actually asked for the gift card number and pin before even signing up for an account which I was a bit wary about. I decided to make an account first before entering in the information. They ask for basic information such as name, address, and phone number. Nothing too personal like social security or credit card numbers.

To be paid through Pay Pal, you have to verify your account and this is done by sending them 1 cent via Pay Pal. Overall it was pretty quick but a couple things were confusing. For example, at the end when it asks you to review your information, it had the name in the spot of the address field even though I had filled it in correctly. Also after the order had been processed, at the bottom it had information about printing out a form to send with your card in the mail. I had selected to enter the card information digitally so I was confused why they were asking me to mail in the card now. I think it was just in case you had selected the mail option, but it was confusing none the less.

I received an email confirmation that payment should arrive within 1-2 day. Overall I would be getting $80 instead of $85 because I chose the digital method vs mailing in the physical card. You could get the higher amount if you don't mind waiting longer for the physical card to be sent out and processed. Fingers crossed, I hoped everything would turn out ok.

The next day I received the payment via Pay Pal for $80! I was very pleased with the speed of the transaction considering how other sites had a longer processing time. Also I was expecting a Pay Pal fee of 2.9% + $.30 to be deducted but there was no fee charged which was nice!

To sum up the experience, I got 80% of the value of the card within about 1 day. There were a few parts that were a little confusing along the way, but overall I am very pleased and would use this service again if I have any more gift cards to sell in the future.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Last Man On Earth Review

When I saw the previews for The Last Man On Earth, I knew I had to check it out. Just the idea alone of being the last person on Earth is incredible thought provoking when you try to imagine what it would be like and what you could do. This is the idea behind the new show staring Will Forte. With so many shows these days recycling the same ideas and themes over an over again, it is nice to see a show stepping outside the box with an ambitious and interesting idea.

Note: Spoilers for first 2 episodes ahead.

The show takes place in the near future in a time when it seems all of mankind has vanished except for one man. He travels around looking for others but finds he is the only one left. In the first episode, it shows how he lives, the problems he deals with, and how he keeps himself entertained. He gets to do a lot of fun activities now that there are no rules and he can do pretty much anything he wants, but it is not all fun an games when he comes to the realization that there are no other people left. He gets to the point where he has just about had enough when he runs into another person!

When I first heard he would not be the only one left on Earth, I was kind of disappointed, but in actuality, it does enhance the show. In the 2nd episode he find a woman (Kristen Schaal). They are surprised to see each other and relieved to find they are not the only one left, but soon realize they do not really get along very well. He is kind of rough around the edges and has no regard for rules anymore while she is still more civilized and insists on following the rules even if they do not really apply anymore. This makes for a very interesting dynamic as they begrudgingly begin to work together. Even though they do not get along, in the back of their mind, they know the future of mankind may depend on them!

Overall the first 2 episodes were quite entertaining and I look forward to watching it next week to see what happens and how they progress in this world where they are the last man and woman on Earth! The Last Man On Earth airs Sunday nights at 9:30pm/8:30pm central on Fox.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuna in a Pouch Comparison - StarKist vs Bumble Bee vs Chicken of the Sea

I am not a big meat eater and I rarely eat fish, but recently I started trying out tuna in pouches which is becoming available in many stores. These are individual packets that are easy to open by tearing off the top and the tuna is ready to eat. You don't have to drain it or do any kind of preparation so it is very quick and convenient. They also do not need to be refrigerated and have a long shelf life and do not take up a lot of room which are all positive qualities.

These tuna pouches are very affordable at about $1-$2 each for a single serving and are a great source of protein. I have been trying a few different brands from different stores and here we will be reviewing 3 of the top brands: StarKist, Bumble Bee, and Chicken of the Sea.

3. StarKist
StarKist is the most common brands I have been able to find based on experience. They have several varieties of the tuna in the pouches so I tried out many of the different options from water based to oil based, to different flavors. Overall taste was ok, but I was not impressed with the quality in terms of appearance of the tuna. I am picky especially when it comes to meat or fish in that I want it to have a consistent look and texture. In all the StarKist varieties, I found there to be many different colors of pieces found within the tuna. There may not be anything wrong with this, but visually, it is not appetizing in my opinion. I ended up trying to eat around these different colored pieces and overall did not get much out of each packet. Because of this, I would rate StarKist tuna pouches in 3rd place of the 3 brands.

 2. Chicken of the Sea
Chicken of the Sea is also a pretty common brand. In terms of visual quality, this one comes in 2nd place. It had more of a consistency compared to StarKist, but still had a few discolored pieces within. The tuna tended to have a pinkish color to it. I found it to have a pretty strong tuna flavor which is good if you are seeking out the taste, but may be a bit too much if you prefer a more mild flavor. Overall not bad, but good enough for 2nd place.

1. Bumble Bee
I found Bumble Bee to be the least widely available of the major brands, but overall the best quality. The Bumble Bee tuna packets have light colored tuna with a consistent texture with very few discolored pieces. It also has a good taste which is not overpowering with tuna flavor. The high quality combined with good taste bring Bumble Bee tuna in at the number 1 spot.

Overall the nutrition and cost of each of these 3 brands is very comparable. It you can find Bumble Bee tuna packets at your local store, I would highly recommend them. If they do not have Bumblebee, Chicken of the Sea is a good 2nd choice. If they do not have either of those, StarKist is ok if you are not picky about the look or texture of the tuna. You will be able to find the tuna pouches near the canned tuna section in your local supermarket.

Burning Smell from Vacuum - How to Fix

Recently I discovered there was a burning smell whenever I would vacuum the floor. I started trouble shooting the basics such as changing the bag, cleaning the filters and making sure there was nothing caught in the rollers. I even took apart the bottom and gave it a good cleaning making sure to get out all the dust that was inside. Still the vacuum continued to make a burning smell.

Some suggested that it could be the motor overheating but I never run the vacuum for a long period of time and it would begin to make the burning smell and even start to smoke after just 1 minute of use. I did some more research and came to the conclusion that is needed a new belt for the roller on the bottom.

I looked on the vacuum and in the manual to find the item number of the belt and went searching for it online. They were pretty cheap, just a few dollars, and available at hardware stores as well as Amazon and eBay. I found the best price from a reliable seller on eBay so I ordered it to be delivered.

About a week later, the belt arrived. I disassembled the bottom of the vacuum to get to the belt. While it was apart, I made sure everything was cleaned out inside. The old belt looked ok, but I decided to switch in the new belt to see if it would fix the problem. The new belt looked to be a lot smaller, but it was the correct item number and I was able to stretch it to fit the rollers.

Next, I reassembled the bottom of the vacuum and gave it a try. Thankfully it ran perfectly with no more burning smell! Overall it was a pretty easy and inexpensive fix and sure beat buying a whole new vacuum cleaner. So if your vacuum is making a burning smell, chances are it needs a new belt for the roller on the bottom. Make sure to order the right belt and align it evenly so it runs smoothly and does not rub against the sides. Hope this article helps! Good luck!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Jewel Monopoly Game Rare Pieces 2015

The Monopoly Game is back for Albertsons grocery stores including Jewel, Acme, Shaws, Star, United, Market Street, Amigos and Super Saver grocery stores. This year, the stores are giving away $80,000,000 in prizes for the Shop, Play, Win Game.  You can win by collecting the game pieces earned each time you shop at the stores. 

There is at least 1 rare game marker for each prize and here we will be keeping track these rare pieces to help figure out which ones are needed to win the prizes. Feel free to use the comments below to post which game pieces you have and which ones you need. For more information such as rules and odds of winning on the 2015 Monopoly Game, check out the official website here.

Rare Game Marker List: 

105A*, 107A $1,000,000 Cash
110B*, 113B $500,000 Vacation Home
117C, 122C* $100,000 Cash or 2015 Tesla   
125D, 126D* $50,000 Home Makeover
131E* , 134E $35,000 Vehicle of Your Choice   
137F*, 138F $20,000 College Tuition
142G, 145G* $10,000 Jet Ski
146H, 147H* $10,000 Family Vacation
153J $5,000 Cash
158K $2,500 BigJoe & Groceries    
160L $1,000 Cash    
165M $1,000 Romantic Weekend Getaway        
167N $550 Redbox Movies for a Year    
174O $500 Apple iPad Air   
177P $200 Grocery Gift Card    
179Q $200 Cash        
184R $100 Cash 
188S $100 Grocery Gift Card      
191U $50 Grocery Gift Card    
197V $25 Grocery Gift Card    
202W $25 Cash    
204X $15 Grocery Gift Card    
207Y $10 Grocery Gift Card    
213Z $5 Grocery Gift Card

* = Marker thought to be semi-rare based on findings. 

Tip: To help find specific pieces in the comments, you can do a keyword search with CTRL+F on PC and Command+F on Mac. 

Related:  Tired of grocery shopping? Check out our Review of Peapod Grocery Delivery Service and get $15 off your first order.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ever the Movie Review

I have been a fan of Wendy McColm and her Youtube channel for a while now so when I saw she was staring in a new full length film that would be posted on her channel, I was looking forward to it!  The new film is called Ever, and it is written and directed by Josh Beck and stars Wendy McColm and Christina Elizabeth Smith with cinematography by Micah Van Hove.

I went into the film without any expectations figuring it would be an artistic expression type of movie that might be ok.  After watching the movie, it surpassed all my expectations!  Not only is it a great movie for Youtube, but it is good enough to be in theaters.  It really has a high production value from the filming and soundtrack to the writing and acting.  

This is the kind of movie you should watch without knowing anything about it ahead of time.  I would recommend not even watching the trailer or reading a plot summary.  This is because there are some twists and it is best not to be spoiled.

Without giving anything away, just know that it is a drama about a girl who is going through an emotional period in her life and the movie is about what happened and how she deals with it as she meets new people and forms new relationships.

The film was featured at many indie film festivals and the creators have been generous enough to upload it to Youtube and Vimeo to watch for free.  I highly recommend this film to anyone who likes movies with emotion, drama, and twists.  Wendy and Christina both have excellent performances as the main characters in this movie. You can watch it above and visit the official website for more information.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What To Do With Found Money?

The other day I was shopping at Target and as I was checking out, I saw there was a $20 bill on the ground folded in quarters.  Immediately I picked it up and showed it to the cashier and said, "Someone dropped some money down here."  She took it and looked if the previous shopper was still there but they were gone.  It would be hard to know if it was from the previous shopper or if it had been down there for a while.

Since we didn't know whose it was, she said she would turn it in to customer service.  The customer service desk was literally 20 feet from where we were standing so she walked it over and handed it in.  She came back and said thank you.  I paid for my items as I normally would and was on my way.

I was wondering what would happen to the $20?  In my mind I had a feeling the person at customer service would just keep the money.  It didn't help that the person behind the desk didn't exactly look the most trustworthy, but who knows, hopefully they will hold on to it in case anyone comes in to claim it.

In a case like this though I think the chances are slim that anyone will claim it.  Likely the $20 just fell out of someone's wallet when they were paying and they will not notice it for a while and even if they do, not know where it went or figure it is long gone if they dropped it somewhere.

So what will happen to the money if no one claims it?  I probably should have turned it in myself and asked about the policy.  I did a little searching online and found a couple other cases like this.  Apparently if it is not claimed, it just gets added to the store account.  It would be nice if they gave it back to the person who found it if it went unclaimed.  I kind of know the cashier who turned it in for me because I shop there often so I might ask her about it next time I am in there.

Reflecting back, I turned in the money immediately because I am an honest person and I figured it does not belong to me, but other people may have just picked it up and pocketed it.  In the back of my mind I always think I am going to be on one of those hidden camera shows like  "What Would You Do" where they make moral dilemma situations like this to see how people react.  I wouldn't want to be the person they catch picking up the money and keeping it and then running into John Quinones at the door asking me why I didn't turn in the money. Of course this never happens but it definitely makes you think twice. 

So what would you do in a situation like this?