4 Tips on Choosing an E-Commerce Platform

I recently guest posted over at Plucky's Second Though about 3 Super Easy E-Commerce platforms.  However, today I wanted to talk about how to choose the right e-commerce platform for you.  At this time, we're only talking about hosted platform and not ones you would have to host yourself (like WooCommerce or Magneto).
4 Tips on Choosing an E-Commerce Platform
I have used the Shopify platform, which I have linked below using my referral link.  If you click it and sign up for Shopify, I will earn a small commission.

Anyway, in an effort to find the perfect platform for me, these are the things I found to be most important.

1. Your budget.

Obviously, this can make a huge difference in what is available to you.  If you need low or zero start up costs, you'll want something like Etsy, Wix, or StoreEnvy.

This is probably the most important factor when deciding on what features you can and will have or what platform you use.  Regardless of what you want, if you can't afford it... Well, then you won't have it.

2. Layout and design.

E-commerce platforms like Etsy have a pretty fixed layout and design, with minimal customization by shop owners.  However, SquareSpace and Shopify offer a lot of options for templates and design (some paid and some free).  Big Cartel is another popular, customizable option.

3. Number of products

Depending on how many products you will or plan to have listed at one time, you might choose one e-commerce platform over another.  On platforms like Etsy, you pay a small fee per listing.  On platforms like Big Cartel or Shopify, a certain amount of listings are included in your plan.

Of course, it might also be a good idea to look at the maximum number of listings offered or where it tops out at on that platform.

4. Extra features

After you've got the basics down, you might want to consider what extra features you need now or that you might want later.  This is probably one of the biggest reasons people move away from platforms like Etsy and onto more versatile platforms like Shopify.

Based on my own research, I found Shopify to be the most versatile and affordable at the same time.  This is because Shopify offers and add on "store" but many features are free or very low cost.

On the other hand, if you're going to be using a lot of add on features, it might be more cost effective to have them included in your plan.

Add on features might include shopping cart recovery, loyalty rewards programs, subscription services, and more.

What e-commerce platform are you using?  Which is your favorite?  What one would you like to try!  Tell me in the comments below!
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4 Ways to Treat Adult Cradle Cap (Scalp Psoriasis)

Adult Cradle Cap Psoriasis
A few summers ago, I was suffering from nasty, greasy hair.  I had terrible dandruff.  It was like nothing that's ever happened to me before!  I've never had any of those issues with my hair!
A relative said something to me about adult cradle cap, which is really just psoriasis of the scalp.  The last straw for me was when the build up at my scalp was so thick that I tried combing it out with a metal lice comb and my hair literally broke off at the roots!

It was awful!

Related Post: What is Group B Strep?

My doctor decided that I did, in fact, have psoriasis on my scalp.  She prescribed the typical topical steroid treatment.  That sounds great, except it was going to be at least $80! Also, while it might make my symptoms go away, I would always have psoriasis on my scalp. 

Sometimes it might take weeks or months to reappear.  However, it could come back in as little as just a few days. I can't afford to fork over $80 all the time!

1. T-Sal Shampoo

I started looking for alternative options for treating my psoriasis, and the first thing I did was change shampoos.  I no longer use some pretty, lovely smelling shampoo.  I now use T-Sal, though T-Gel or Coal Tar shampoos have also shown positive results. 

T-Sal was what my doctor recommended and what I typically use. If you're trying to find these shampoos at your local store, look near head lice shampoos and/or near anti-dandruff shampoos.  They're frequently located at the bottom shelf, by your feet, too.

Scalp Psoriasis Apple Cider Vinegar

2. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse/Spray

Treating adult cradle cap with apple cider vinegar has also proven to be effective for me, if you don’t mind the lingering scent of it.  It does go away a little while after you shower.
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar per 1 cup water
Spray.  You can put it in a spray bottle or something similar.  Spray it throughout scalp, focusing especially on affected areas to relieve itching or irritation.  If you refrigerate the solution, the solution can offer even more relief to burning or itching.

Rinse.  Alternative you can rinse your hair after washing with the same solution, which is my preferred method. Do not use if you have cracked skin or open/bleeding sores on scalp or it will irritate the skin and cause a burning sensation.

3. DIY Soothing Salve

I have not tried this method personally, but it’s been recommended to me as an alternative homeopathic treatment.

Blend 1 tsp each:
  • Neem oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Lavender oil
Then add them to an oil base made of 3 tsp of any of the following:
  • Olive oil
  • Almond oil
  • Wheat germ
  • Coconut oil
Gently massage into affected areas.

6 Reasons Facebook is NOT for Kids

Facebook is a great way to connect with people; near and far, young and old, current friends and people you once knew. However, I have received a disproportionate amount of friend requests from young children.

Some that can't even read, yet!

6 Reasons Facebook is NOT for Kids

I never accept these friend requests, personally.  Actually, I never deny them either because then they can just send another one.  I just let them sit.

While I thought it was pretty obvious that Facebook is not intended for young children and that, as a parent, it's crazy to let your kids have a Facebook... Well, I was wrong.  So, I want to take a second to talk about exactly why Facebook is not for kids.

1. Facebook TOS

Let's just start right off with Facebook's Terms of Service, which you agree simply by signing up for/being a member of Facebook.  Under Registration & Account Security, you'll find the following:
You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.
Therefore, any child under 13 isn't even suppose to have an account anyway.

Some people could care less about what Facebook does and doesn't want.  If this is you, then I'm sure you find this point moot.  However, this ties into the next reason, so it was important to mention first.

2. Encouraging Lying & Misrepresentation

Because you have to be 13 years-old or older to have a Facebook account, per Facebook's TOS, the only way for a younger child to create an account is to lie! Maybe their account will misrepresent them as 13, 16, 19, or 25.  Does it really matter?  I don't think it matters what age they're lying and saying they are.

As a parent, allowing or even encouraging this is sending our kids the wrong message, in my opinion.  I want my children to be happy with who they are.  I do not want them misrepresenting themselves as something or someone they are not.  I do not condone lying in other situations, so why would I in this one?  I think it's okay for my kids to know that there are age regulated and age appropriate tasks.  Drinking and smoking, for example, are age regulated.  Simply put, it is okay to say no.

3. Makes Children Vulnerable

While Facebook's TOS also don't allow sex offenders to have an account, it's something that's pretty impossible to 100% monitor.  Anyway, what about people who haven't been convicted?  Also, there are plenty of other terrible things that could happen to our children by letting them on Facebook too soon.

Cyber bullying is real and has destroyed many young people's reputations and self-esteem.  We've all heard a tragic suicide story related to this, I'm sure.   It's going to be very hard, if not impossible, to 100% monitor your child.  We've already allowed them to lie, deceive others, and misrepresent themselves, while breaking Facebook TOS.  Now we're making them vulnerable to attacks of other young adults or of becoming an unfortunate victim of some other crime.

4. You Child Can't Read

If your child cannot read, they cannot get any value out of having a Facebook account.  Realistically, this is just you managing a second account and relaying text or photos to your child.

5. There are other ways to connect your child with others.

A common reason I hear parents give for allowing their young child to have a Facebook is because they have relatives that live far away.  If family really wants to connect with your young child, encourage phone calls, letters, in person visits, or share photos from a parents Facebook account with your child.

6. Inappropriate photos and status updates.

Whether from your own child or, more commonly, from people on their friend list...Facebook is full of inappropriate photos, language, etc.  This content is wildly inappropriate for young children, especially when they're still learning self-control and about themselves.

At the end of the day, Facebook was never intended for young children and cannot be monitored to be appropriate for them.  It's something for them to look forward to later, and it's okay to say no now but share family photos/videos/updates with them from your own Facebook account.

How old do you think children should be before being allowed to have a Facebook account?  How do you feel about young children on Facebook?

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6 Tips for Promoting Tummy Time

Tummy time. Oh the dreaded tummy time.

I have felt this way.  Have you?

It actually seems pretty common among moms, new and experienced, to hate tummy time.  I've heard parents say they were excited if their child spent ten seconds on his tummy, because all their baby did was scream during tummy time.  Yikes!

6 Tips for Baby Tummy Time

Other parents get nervous, especially with smaller infants, because baby might not be able to lift his head yet.  Therefore, baby has his face smooshed or buried in whatever surface he's lying on.

In general, tummy time seems to make a lot of parents uneasy.

My daughter has always been pretty easy during tummy time.  Definitely easier than the ten second tummy time screamers.  She would contentedly lie for 5 to 10 minutes on her tummy.  Plus, she's had great head control since a young age.

However, I still don't like tummy time.  Probably because whenever I think of tummy time I feel guilty for not promoting it more often.  Oops!

Here are a few easy ways to promote a little bit of tummy time everyday.  Remember, little bits of time add up!

1. Changing Time

One of the greatest tummy time suggestions I've ever heard right here!  Every time you change your baby's diaper, flip him over for 30 seconds on his tummy after he's in that clean diaper.  This is so simple and so obvious, I can't believe I never thought of it.  I think this is especially great for the parents of anti-tummy-time babies.

2. Get Down There Too

Take a minute or so to get down on the floor with your baby.  Lie on your tummy and interact with your sweetie.  See the world from their level.  It's a great way for you to spend a minute or so with your baby.  It's also a nice way for you to take a quick break from the hectic demands of everyday life.

3. Set Goals

It's easy to lose track of something as simple as giving your baby a few minutes of tummy time each day.  It's not intentional.  We're busy.  Parents have so many things to think about.  Something as simple as setting daily or weekly goals for baby's tummy time and tracking progress can remind you to give baby some tummy time.

4. Tummy to Tummy

When you think of tummy time, you might be thinking of lying your baby on the floor on a blanket or play gym.  However, moms and dads alike can lie on their backs with their baby on their belly; belly to belly with baby.  This is a great time for some skin to skin contact with baby and cuddling, too, in addition to tummy time.

5. Use Your Arms

This is another one you might not normally think of counting, but when baby is still pretty small it's a great way to get tummy time.  When baby is small enough to fit on your forearm, you can cradle baby with her belly against your forearm.

6. There's an App for That

Of course, there is an app for everything these days!  Find Tummy Time Helper in the iTunes store.  I haven't been able to find something similar for Android, but if anyone knows of one, please let me know!

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8 Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund Responsibly

It's tax refund time here in the US.  Expect to see people lined up at Wal Mart with shopping carts full of big screen televisions and other junk.  Unfortunately, many people getting some serious cash could really do something better with it than buy a big screen.  Why not spend your tax check responsibly in one of these eight ways.

8 Ways to Spend Your Tax Money Responsibly

1. Pay off student loans.

If you pursued (or are currently pursuing) a higher education, then you're probably one of the many who have student loan debt.  A smarter way to spend your tax refund money is to pay off student loan debt or, if you're one of the few without student loans, you can put the money toward paying for school (instead of having to take out a loan).

2. Pay off your car.

Regardless if you're getting a small sum or a large sum of money on your tax refund, if you apply it toward your vehicle loan you'll be able to pay it off faster or, if you're lucky, pay it off altogether!

3. Pay your car insurance.

Depending on who your provider is, you can pay your car insurance up 'til the end of term.  Some people are able to pay for the whole year.  My terms are only six months long and my company won't allow us to overpay, but calling your company should help you find out how long you could pay your car insurance off for.

4. Renew your plates and registration.

When that time rolls around every year, is it like a punch in the gut (or wallet) to you?  Go ahead and tax your tax return and renew your plates and registration, even if they've been fairly recently renewed.

5. Pay your rent or mortgage.

If you're getting a hefty tax refund, why not pay your rent for the year or pay down the principle on your mortgage?  You could even set up a savings account to deposit your refund into that will automatically withdraw your mortgage payments all year, if you'd rather just not have to worry about paying your mortgage for the year.

6. Invest in home improvements.

Replace your roofing.  Update your windows, doors, insulation, etc.  Now is a good time to get on those home improvements you've been "meaning to get around to," especially if they add value to your home and/or improve your home's efficiency.

7. Pay off miscellaneous debt.

If you can pay off a debt or bill that you have, then do it!  Stop paying the minimum that you'll be paying for the next 473 months and pay it off now so you can forget about it!

8. Save for a rainy day.

None of us expect or want bad things to happen in our lives.  However, sometimes jobs are lost or accidents happen.  We really can't predict all the things that could go wrong in the year to come.  If you have no other pressing matters, why not drop some (or all) of your tax refund into a savings account.  Just put it there and forget about it.  It'll be there if you need it.  If not, and next year rolls around, you might be surprised how financially stable you suddenly feel.

So, for anyone who is receiving a tax refund this year...
What will you be using your money for?

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