FTC Disclosure:

I am not paid or compensated in any way to write product reviews posted to this blog. There are affiliate links posted throughout this blog. So, when you click through on links and buy something, I may receive a commission. I pay for the products with my own funds. Product reviews always reflect my own experience with and honest opinion of the product as a consumer.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why I Don't Buy Stuff off The Streets

Many years ago, when I was about 19 or 20, I decided to drive down to a flea market in Miami, with my sisters and brothers.  While we were there browsing, a man walked up to me, offering to sell me "a real gold braclet" for only $40.  Upon looking at it, the bracelt did look like real gold.  I thought about it and was a little bit skeptical, because the man was a complete stranger. I asked my brother and sisters  what they thought and they all said that the bracelet looked real. So, I went into my purse and gave the man $40 in exchange for the bracelet.  

In my mind, I would be able to go to a pawn shop and flip the braclet for a quick profit.  As soon I got the braclet, we all left and drove around the area looking for a pawn shop.  After finding one nearby we entered and rushed to the clerk's window to find out how much the braclet was worth. To my dismay, the clerk whom tested the braclet looked at me and said very harshly, "We will give you nothing for it, because it is not real".  My smile quickly turned into a frown.  I felt like the butt of a prank.  

I decided to go back to the flea market to try and find the charlattan who sold me the fake braclet.  He was going to get a piece of my mind and then some.  Of course, he was  no where to be found and I was out $40.  The entire drive home, my brother made fun of me for being a sucker.  When we all arrived back home, my brother snitched on me to our parents.  And our parents me made feel further like an idiot and told me, "Well, that's what you get for buying jewelry off the streets."  It taught me a valuable lesson and I promised myself that I would never do that again.  

To this very day, I stuck to that rule and there are certain things that I will not buy off the streets from complete strangers.  This includes jewelry, electronics, DVDs, CDs (especially pirated), and other items that would raise the hairs on the back of my neck.  Aside from the fact, that I mistrust complete strangers, there is no way to know where most of that stuff came from.  

If some random stranger is selling stuff like this off the streets, there is a good chance that the stuff isn't theirs.  There are professional theives called "boosters", who go into stores and shoplift like it's nothing to them.  I don't understand how they are able to get away with it, but then again, that's why they are the pros.  According to this program that I watched about it on MSNBC, boosting is a multimillion dollar a year business.  The boosters most likely get rid of the stolen merchandise through a fence or they load it off on a greedy sucker.  

It is a far fetched thing to think about, but someone could have been assaulted or killed for their possession.  Some drug addicts have gone as far as removing phones and wallets from dead bodies ( Watch this show called "The First 48" and you'll get an idea of what I am talking about here).  They then sell the stolen property, at a rock bottom price (no pun intended) to some unsuspecting fool.  Can you imagine purchasing a smartphone that was removed from a dead person and then receiving a call from a homicide detective?  It's hard to believe, but it happens to people, more often than we think.     

Many are unaware that it is a crime to buy stolen stuff.  Even if you didn't know that the merchandise was stolen, you could still be charged with receiving stolen property in some jurisdictions.  This applies especially if you should have known or at least have reason to believe that the merchandise is stolen.  For example, a person walks up to you and offers to sell 2013 Acura TL, in excellent condition for $1,500 in cash.  That's an offer that would raise a red flag for me. So, no matter how tempting it may be, I refrain from buying high risk items on the streets.  It's just bad karma.  

Another reason why I don't buy stuff off the streets is because there is often no warranty  or refunds with electronics bought through strangers.  If I purchase an electronic from a retailer, at least I have some sort of assurance that I may return the item in the event that it malfunctions.  

There is a prevalent scam with people selling fake electronics, too.  The scam artist may have a shell of an HDTV, a tablet computer, or other electronic that is filled with a worthless material, such as plastic or wood.  In order to sweeten the "deal" the scam artist may tell the mark the he will sell the item at a super discount.  A gullible person won't bother to even test the so-called electronic and easily part with his money.   There is an old saying that "If something is too good to be true, then it probably is".  

© Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt 

Walmart is Ghetto and Their Customer Service Sucks

I  have a question for people who are reading this blog post:  Are you a customer service shopper or is getting a bargain the most important thing to you? This question is directed towards those people that do heavy shopping for grocery and personal care items at mass market retailers, such as Target, Walmart, and Kmart.  I consider myself to be a combination of both, leaning more towards a good customer service experience.  I like a good bargain, and I am frequently looking for ways to save money off my grocery bill, but the way that I am treated at a retail store is very important to me. 

The main reason why I write this article is because Walmart has a major advertising campaign going where, the retailer compares its prices to other retailers, mainly Publix.  The premise behind the commercials is that Walmart has everyday low prices and saves consumers alot more money than shopping at Publix and other comparable retailers.  I think that it is partially true, because I have found many good deals on merchandise at Walmart without catching sales there.  

That's not always the case, because I have also been able to find certain items at other retailers, at pricing much lower than Walmart.  Plus, if you know how to shop strategically with coupons and sales, you can get many things for free at Publix, CVS and Walgreens.  A few days ago, I purchased a couple of cans of soup at Publix, BOGO and used a coupon for $.50 off.  Therefore, I came out ahead buying the soup at Publix, instead of Walmart.  

The main thing that I want to get at here, is this:  Walmart is always emphasizing how low their prices are, without giving much attention to the overall customer shopping experience.  Walmart really does need to work on improving many aspects of the shopping experience, especially their customer service.  They are definitely driving away prospective customers.  

I can't tell you how many times I have been to a Walmart and waited 15 minutes or longer to checkout.  Their lines are usually very long at certain times, but you would think that Walmart management would understand this, and schedule enough personell to better serve the customers.  

Another bone that I have to pick with them is that their shelves are either empty, or poorly stocked and disorganized.  You better pay very close attention to the signage, becuase merchandise is quite often placed in the wrong location.  For example, I went there looking for Brinks pad locks and the locks were stocked in a juxtaposed position.  The cheaper locks were placed under a sign where the more expensive locks should have been placed and vice versa.    

Walmart has the most horrible produce, anywhere on the planet.  Yes, their prices are normally lower than any other retailer that I have visited for produce, besides a farmer's market.  However, it has been my experience that the produce goes bad quicker.  Once, I was in the produce section at a Walmart, and found a bag of rotting potatoes.  The stench was worst than a rotting corpse smell. 

There was one situation at Walmart, where I went to the Money Center to cash a check.  As I approached the counter, I noticed that the cashier had his head down on the counter, taking a short rest. I said "Hello." to him and he didn't respond and raised his head in a manner which suggested that he wasn't too happy about me disturbing his short rest.  

So, I told the cashier that I was there to cash a check and then add the funds onto a Walmart Money Card.  I handed him the check and the Walmart Moneycard.  He proceeded to cash my check, and laid my card down on the desk, asking, "Why did you give this to me?".   He cashed the check, but didn't load the funds onto the Money Card.  So, I started wondering if dude was on crack or whether he was sleep deprived.  I kept my cool and repeated what I was there to do and he cancelled the transaction and started over.

He screwed up yet again, by charging me a load fee, when it should have been waived.  To throw salt in the wound, he tried to argue with me about how I should be charged the fee. By that time, I was wondering how he managed to slip through the cracks during the hiring process.  A CSR ended up straightening the situation out for him and waived the fee.  

He cashed my check, handed the check back to me, gestured to hand me the cash, and loaded the funds onto my Walmart Money Card!  I had an expression on my face that said, "WTF!".  He realized his mistake and said, "Oops, my bad", in a goofy voice.  It took about twenty minutes for me to get through a process that shouldn't have been more than a few minutes.  

I feel like most of the people that Walmart hires in their retail stores, to put it bluntly, are socially retarded and ghetto.  It seems to be part of their retail culture to hire ghetto and immature people.  Now, I am not saying that all of their retail employees are like that.  But, the problem is that when too many people with those sorts of attitudes are present, the attitude seems to spread like a virus and cast a dark cloud over the atmosphere.  

Apparently, there are residents of Midtown Miami, an upscale community in Dade county, Florida that have ideas similar to mine.  The city planning department approved a plan to build the Walmart in Midtown Miami , August 2013. Several opponents of the plan have filed appeals to the decision with the city.   Some of the opponents say that the plan doesn't conform to the building code.  Others feel that a Walmart will crush the competition and ruin the character of the neighborhood. 

This is all good and well, but what they aren't saying is that Walmart is too ghetto for the area.  They don't want the mentality of some low-class and ignorant people to pervade their neighborhood.  This  sounds classist and elitist, but I can't say that I blame them.  I had a complete stranger to walk up to me in a Walmart store and ask me if I wanted to buy food stamps from him.  When I declined, he glared at me as if I were the crazy one!  Not only is this very ghetto, it is also very illegal.  

I understand  the benefits of brining in a new Walmart into that community.  It would mean hundreds of new jobs and an alternative shopping venue for the residents.  At the same time, I can sort of see where the opponents of the Walmart building plan are coming from as well.  

I don't live far from a Super Walmart, but there are times  that I prefer to stop at Winn-Dixie, Publix, or CVS.  Sometimes, better customer service and less stress far outweighs lower prices.  I am sure that the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton intended lower prices and good customer service as part of his legacy. 

© Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review of Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs for Women

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor or health care practitioner.  The contents of this blog reflects my personal experience and opinion.  It is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.  For any questions or concerns about your health and varicose veins, please talk to a licensed doctor or health care practitioner.  You will need to speak with your doctor so that he or she can determine whether compression therapy is right for you.  Your doctor will also help you to choose the right type of compression stockings, if necessary. 

Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs
For Women

Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs
For Women

This is a review of Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs for Women, medium black, Mild 8-15mm/Hg compression.  They are manufactured in the U.S.A. for 3M Consumer Health Care.  There are many styles, and varieties of compression stockings available by this company.  I purchased mine at Publix Supermarket for around $15 for one pair.  

There is a helpful chart on the back of the box, explaining some of the differences between mild, moderate, and firm compression stockings.  Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer, Mild compression stockings are intended for use with consumers that have mild varicose veins, minor swelling and tired, aching legs.  There is also a size chart on the box to help consumers select the right size based on shoe size, calf measurements and the length of the lower leg.  

These are black compression stockings that provide a mild compression on the lower legs.  They reach just below the knee and are closed toed.  They are plain, black and semi-sheer (in my opinion and not Ultra Sheer) as you aren't able to see completely through them.  They are very soft to the touch and feel comfortable to wear and are composed of 80% Nylon and 20% Spandex.  They definitely provide me with relief  from achy legs and feet, caused by standing for long periods and varicose veins.  You really can't tell the difference between these stockings and regular stockings just by looking at them. 

Futuro stockings really do give the legs a massaging feeling while you wear them.  I usually wear them underneath a pair of paints and I put a pair black anklets on over them.  I work in a mostly air-conditioned environment,so when I wear these stockings, I never feel itchy or sweaty.   I  never had a problem with these stockings slipping down as I am walking, so there is no need to frequently pull them up or adjust them.  That's a plus. 

The stockings have a reinforced toe that is enhanced with durable run guard.   As long as you properly care for these stockings, you may not have any problems with running or ripping.  The manufacturer suggests that they are washed in mild soap and lukewarm water. I don't dry mine in a dryer and prefer to allow them to air dry after washing.  I am very satisfied with the Futuro brand of compression stockings and will seek more information on some of their other products.  

If you have any comments and questions, visit: 
or call 1-800-537-2191

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt

I Have Ugly Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor or health care practitioner.  The contents of this blog reflects my personal experience and opinion.  It is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.  For any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a licensed doctor or health care practitioner.  


Since, I my mid-twenties I have had a problem with varicose veins and spider veins in my legs.  They've gotten worse over the years.  My condition is mainly cosmetic and I had not experienced any major medical complications due to the varicose veins.  Also, according to what I occasionally see on the Internet and out in public, many people have it far worse than I do.  Still, I don't like the way that they look, and I generally don't wear short skirts without also wearing concealing stockings or short pants because of the appearance of the varicose veins and spider veins.  

Veins are the blood vessels which function to carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart,  from the tissues.  Varicose veins are formed in some people that have hereditary weakening of the valves in the veins.  The weak valves, cause blood to pool in the vein, resulting in bulging, twisted, bluish-green veins near the surface of the skin.  Spider veins are similar, except they are mainly formed in smaller blood vessels.
I am not surprised that I have varicose veins, because it runs on my mother's side of the family.  My mother has them after giving birth to several children, my sisters have them, and my brother has varicose veins.  In addition, I have struggled with weight problems most of my adult life.  Also, I have worked in job fields for several years, which required standing for very long periods.  

Besides it being a hereditary condition, certain other people are more prone to developing varicose veins.  Pregnant women, overweight people, and those that sit or stand for long periods of time may be at increased risk of developing varicose veins.   I would tell most people that have a predisposition towards forming varicose veins, that they should take measures to try and prevent them from forming (although this may be impossible for some people).  

Well, it is too late for me to prevent varicose veins, but at least there are options available to me to keep the conditioning from worsening.  I did visit a doctor several years ago about treatment for my varicose veins.  He explained all of the choices of treatment available, as well the side effects for each.  Since my veins weren't all that noticeable back then, he recommended sclerotherapy and compression stockings.  

Sclerotherapy involves injecting the varicose veins with a chemical which will cause it to close off and disappear.  I decided to pass on the sclerotherapy, because I am fearful of invasive forms of treatment and their possible side effects.  I went out and bought a few pairs of compression stockings and I started using them on and off since then.

Now, my varicose veins have worsened because I took a position a few years ago that required me to stand and walk around for most of the work day.  My legs would throb and sometimes give a burning sensation from all the walking and standing. I slacked off and stopped using the compression stockings and the varicose veins began to reappear and worsen.  They appear only on my feet, lower legs and thighs.  I am lucky in that respect, because there are people that have thousands of spider veins and varicose veins on the face, chest, arms, and legs.  

I don't want to ever get to that point, so I bought a couple of pairs of new compression stockings.  My legs don't hurt so much, now that I have resumed using the compression stockings. The idea with compression stockings is that they apply gentle to firm pressure on the legs, in order to alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins, such as swelling and pain, and stimulate the circulation in the legs.  The two brands that I purchased were Truform Leg Health, knee high compression stockings and Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs for Women.  

I plan to continue wearing the compression stockings through out my day and elevate my legs above my heart in the evenings before bed.  I started my exercise routine to lose weight, too.  This will take some of the pressure off my legs and hopefully, lessen the appearance of the varicose veins and spider veins. I am in the process of researching herbal supplements that may help with varicose veins.   I will monitor how things turn out over the next several months and keep you posted.  

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Reasons Why We Should (But Probably Won’t ) Boycott Fast Food Joints

Number ONE the food is way too expensive.  The amount of money that you pay for one meal could purchase enough food to feed two- four people for a few days.  Take for instance a typical meal deal at McDonald’s, which might cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.00-$7.00.  If you were to purchase a loaf of bread for $2.50 and 1 medium sized jar of peanut butter for $3.50, you would come out ahead, financially.   If you went ahead and purchased the meal deal at McDonald’s, that is only a ONE TIME occasion to feed ONE PERSON and then shit the food out later.  WTF!!  

Number TWO, most menu items at fast food restaurants are not very healthy and nutritious.  They are usually loaded with sugars, saturated fats, chemical preservatives, and empty calories that provide little or no nutritional value.  Most people that frequent these joints have know idea of what they are eating.  They would never bother to read the labels and what they care most about is the taste and satisfying their hunger.  I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that most of these food are intentionally made to be addictive.  

Here are some examples of strange chemicals that are used in fast food:

Propylene glycol-  This is a chemical used in anti-freeze, which is highly toxic;  electronic cigarette filler, and laxatives.   It keeps food frozen, enhances moisture and adds to flavor of the food

Yellow 5 and 6-  A dye used in fast food, which has been found to increase the risk of hyperactivity in children

Sodium nitrate-  an artificial flavoring and preservative used in cured meats;  May lead to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)-  a food preservative, that may cause memory problems and headache in persons sensitive to this chemical

High fructose corn syrup made from GMO corn 

Dimethylpolysiloxane-  This is an emulsifier, anti- foaming agent, and anti-caking agent found  in McDonald’s chicken McNuggets. It is also used in silly putty and silicon breast implant filler.  

So most of that food is being consumed for the convenience and instant gratification. People feed themselves this crap day in and day out and this type of food has an accumulative affect on their health.  They may not see what it does to their bodies after a few months, but think about what they deteriorate to after a few years of eating that junk.  As the old saying goes “Garbage in, garbage out!”.  Watch the documentary "Super Size Me" and you’ll learn exactly what I am getting at here.  

Number THREE, look at the quality of the service and the food that you typically receive and you will see that in most instances that you are not getting a good value for the money.  Most consumers of fast food are paying for the brand name, taste, and convenience.   Sometimes the employees have disrespectful attitudes and are very dismissive.  

I can’t tell you how many times that I have been through a drive thru window of certain fast food establishments and received curt service. This is this an example of how you may be treated at a McDonald’s franchise or a Checker’s, etc.   You drive to the window to pay after placing your order.   Once you arrive at the window to pay, the cashier tells you your total,  without even saying as much as “Hello” and then hands you your receipt after you pay.  Another employees may pop up at the drive thru window and say something like “Here you go”, while handing the food to you.  No “Goodbye” , “Thank  you”, or “Have a nice day” .  It often leaves me thinking “What am I? Chopped liver?”  That’s the extent of the interaction at many fast food franchises.  I am not saying that this is going to be your usual occurrence, but it has happened to me too many times to ignore.  

As far as the actual quality of the food goes,  you are very fortunate if you stumble upon a fast food establishment that will give you fresh food.  It really irks me when I visit a Dunkin Donuts and the employees try to pass off stale donuts on me.  I know that they realize the donut is stale.  I know that they  would not eat a pastry that is as hard as a rock, but yet they somehow think it is acceptable to serve this to a paying customer.  There was one occasion where a McDonald’s employee handed me a Hot Fudge Sundae, that was all melted.  It looked as if it had been partially eaten and played over.  I very angrily returned it to the McDonald’s employee and demanded a freshly made Hot Fudge Sundae.  

Number FOUR, Can you really be certain of how your food is being handled?  There have been several instances of employees working for fast food establishments that have been caught doing some very disgusting and unsavory things with the food.  Like, the kids that decided that it would but funny to make a dick sandwich with Subway bread.  Or the fellow that thought that it was cute to lick a whole sleeve of tacos at a Taco Bell franchise where he was employed.  What makes matters worse is that these folks experienced a eureka moment and decided to take pictures of themselves in the act of their hair brain activities and put the photos on Twitter and Instagram.  

Aside from these mishaps you have to worry about whether the food was stored and prepared in sanitary conditions and properly cooked.  There is also a concern of  whether employees washed their hands before handling your food.  A relative of mine once worked at a fast food restaurant and she told me that the soda fountain that they used was really dirty.  It was not cleaned very frequently and was contaminated with mold, dust, and crusted up syrup.    

Number FIVE, the employees at fast food restaurants are paid crappy wages and treated like crap by their management.   So, it almost goes without saying that most of these employees have no real incentive for providing top notch service to customers.  I don’t know about you, but I have some reservations  about disgruntled and mistreated employees handling my food. Some of them don’t appreciate and take their jobs very seriously.  They are basically overworked and underpaid.  I can honestly say that I feel them on that one, because I was a fast food employee in my teens ,working for a measly $3.35 an hour.  Ah.  Those were the days.  There have even been several mass protests staged by retail and fast food workers.  They demand to be paid $15 an hour or more for their time.  

© Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt 

With a Little Knowledge, You can do a lot of Damage

Many years ago, I was enrolled in a personal finance related course.  I was one of those borderline annoying students who liked to shout out answers to questions in class.  I am sure that some of the other students couldn't stand me because of it, but whatever.  

So, the course instructor asked the class a question and I was the only person in the class to know the answer.  It wasn't even information that was esoteric, but for some reason the instructor was impressed that I knew the answer to his question.  During the class break, the instructor asked me where I learned the answer to the question that he had asked earlier.  he was so curious because it wasn't a topic that was covered in the course textbook and he never went over the topic in class.  I told him that I had read about it in a book. 

He then nodded and said, "With a little knowledge, you can do a lot of damage".  And this is something that stuck with me all these years.  It also brings me to the point of this article:  There is enough information available for you to achieve any objective ti is that you wish to achieve.  It does not matter if your goal is to lose weight, start a business, or find a natural treatment for a disease, the information is out there.

In most cases, information can be obtained for low cost or free.  If you want someone else to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of research and save you some time, then you may need to be willing to pay a premium for good, solid, thorough information.  In that situation, you will need to pay an expert/coach, attend a seminar, or purchase some training courses for the sort of specialized information that you are seeking.  The point that I am illustrating is that whether the information is free or not, it is out there.
Now as far as the free information available, the most obvious place to get it is on the Internet.  You could jump on search engines like, Google, Yahoo, or Bing.  Websites such as Wikipedia.org and Howstuffworks.com are also very interesting and helpful.  Not only is YouTube a great place to watch entertaining videos, it is a destination for an education.  The YouTube channel, Khan Academy is highly recommended.  I am not saying that everything out there on the Internet is true and accurate, but these websites are good starting places. 

Another resource for free information is the public library.  It is like the Fort Knox of information and can literally be used as a come up. I am a huge proponent of public libraries, because I grew up in poverty and the library was a safe haven for me. This is why I do not scorn most homeless people who frequent the library.  The ones whom utilize their time wisely are simply taking advantage of whatever free resources they can in order to get on their feet.  

Being a resident of South Florida, the library system that I normally use in Broward county, is an awesome system.  It gives patrons access to free computers with Internet, free Wi-Fi, e-books, reference volumes, huge online databases of articles from scholarly journals, audio books, DVDs, CDs. The Broward County library system also offers patrons free classes on how to use a PC, how to surf the Internet, how to use Microsoft Office, how to interview for a job, and how to create a resume. From time to time, there also free lectures from SCORE.  In addition, if a patron seeks a particular book that is not available in BCL system, a librarian may be able to borrow that book from another system that has it through an interlibrary loan and Worldcat.  These are just a small sample of the benefits of using the public library. So if you aren't using the public library to your advantage, you are slipping, seriously.  

One of my favorite stories about a person that used the library to her greatest advantage, is the J.K. Rowling story.  She is the author of the Harry Potter series of books.  At one time in her life, she was a divorced, single mother relying on the dole (the U.K.'s form of welfare).  She spent hours in the library researching and reading material to write her Harry Potter tales.  Long story short, she is now worth nearly billions of dollars, because of the royalties that she receives from the Harry Potter books, movies, and merchandise.  That's how she was able to leverage her knowledge in order to become a more educated and wealthy woman.  

Always be about the business of acquiring more knowledge because knowledge is power and knowledge is the new money.  When you acquire knowledge, then put it to good use.  After all, what good is it if it's not used?

© Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt


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