Archive for April, 2011

In-Stock Update Oxygen Absorbers and Mylar Bags – And Why Networking is Important

All my stock orders came in at the same time this month, so in the next 4 days we’ll be receiving shipments of all our sizes of oxygen absorbers:  100cc, 300cc (yay!!!), 2000cc, as well as the larger Mylar bags.  It’s seemed like forever since we had 300cc’s in stock, but in reality its only been about a month.  Since January, we’ve doubled our order sizes (and frequency) yet again and we’re again doing an ok job of managing our inventory; I’m not really a doom-and-gloomer, but people are worried and its showing in our volumes.  And that’s all kinds of people; we get a ton of orders from places as remote as Alaska, Puerto Rico, and just recently, a rash of orders from New York City.  White color, blue color, working poor and upper middle class.  I’m definitely a believer in the ‘wisdom of the masses’, so my wife and I, as mentioned in our previous post, are putting some more resources into getting our house in order.

For the totally bored, we’ve hired a new local logistics company to handle our warehousing.  As we first started to grow our business, I ‘luckily’ had a business friend I had worked with for years at my previous job who let me use his warehousing facilities to handle our first pallet-sized shipments.  The reason is that it costs on average $150 to get a lift-gate truck to drop off pallets in places without a dock.  I had a couple dropped off at our home office that way early on, and it was incredibly cost-prohibitive.  As the business has grown to stand on its own, I felt it was time to move out and stop taking advantage of the relationship.  My friend is happy we are successful, and though I’ve offered to pay for the services given on multiple occasions, he has consistently refused.  So now, I’ll take him out to lunch and we’ll talk about old times and new business opportunities.

This leads me to a post I always planned to do on Advice and Beans, but which I never got to:  the power of your word and the magic of networking.  At my former job, there are dozens of buyers that beat down their vendors and suppliers regularly, and who focus on nothing but price.  What they don’t realize is that focusing on price only negates the power of relationship-building.  For many years, I managed a half-dozen suppliers where our company and theirs were joined at the hip, and real partnerships.  Sure, I wanted a good price on the services I purchased (print, office supplies and fulfillment services mostly), but I also wanted our partners to be successful and make a decent profit, for a lot of reasons.  For one, partners that don’t think you are taking advantage of them will go out of their way to help you out of tough spots, will provide what you need on-time and usually faster than they will other companies that don’t treat them with a high level of respect.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, treating this one supplier with respect led him to, with no prompting, offer his services for the small business I was starting up.  And his services gave me the ability to cash-flow my way to much larger orders, and in turn, more business.  So the actions I took over the course of many years led to a result no one could have predicted.  This tells me that the golden rule works: treat folks like you want be treated.  Sure, not every relationship is going to lead to a ‘payoff’, but that should never be the intent anyway.  But if you treat every relationship you have like it is precious, likely when you need something, someone will be there to help.  If instead you beat up the folks who handle your furnace, your car, your insurance…are they really going to go out of their way to help you when you are really in a bind?  If instead you are long on patience, pay your bill quickly, and forgive mistakes, you will often have people who will put you at the top of their list in the event of a real emergency.

If the last year has taught me anything, it is that hard work, belief in a higher power, the willingness to take a risk and an overwhelming desire to treat people right are often the only things one needs to get ‘lucky breaks’.  The next time you find yourself complaining that someone else got some benefit because ‘they were in the right place at the right time’ or ‘got lucky’, or any other such statement, should realize that they likely received the benefit due to their actions over a long period of time.


04 2011

Preparing Through Things You Should Be Doing Anyway

Glenn Reynolds linked this post about whether or not the government will eventually tax Roth IRA’s, even though they were set up to be tax-emempt.   McArdle’s conclusion might be par for the course for many preppers, but it might be helpful for others:

So I don’t advise not saving.  But I’ve started thinking about saving in ways that Uncle Sam won’t be tempted to touch–like paying off your house early, maybe buying a vacation home (for cash) if you know where you’re likely to want to spend a lot of time, and doing the kind of renovations that save you money in the long run–better insulation, higher-end energy-efficient appliances, etc.  Paying now to lower your monthly costs later may have a better after-tax return than that “tax free” account.

My wife and I have been debt-free for some time now, except for our mortgage.  One of our goals is to pay that off in the next 5-7 years.   Having a decent lifestyle that can be supported by working at the local fast-food restaurant must bring financial peace of mind, and it is one we hope to achieve.

Being prepared goes hand in hand with having our finances under control, and not having them control us.  We do have a Roth and a 401(k), but I have about as much faith in them performing well enough to let us retire comfortably as I do in Social Security being available when I am 65.  While I do believe in investing for retirement once you have the other financial aspects of your life under control, bringing our monthly costs down to almost nothing will be a better and more immediate investment that will allow more options in our lives.

As I also believe inflation will take a good portion of our earnings in the next several years, I am purchasing more (useful) goods that will retain value or hopefully not lose much.  My food storage from 2007 is a huge boon, as to purchase the same items today would cost 30% more, and will likely be pushing 40% by year’s end.  That’s a whole lot better than my 401(k) performed since 2007.

I also assume prices aren’t going down anytime soon, so we are also purchasing some things our house needs and that don’t depreciate rapidly, such as a new refrigerator, washer and dryer, some tools, and maybe a firearm or 3.  We’ll still get a deal where we can, such as at the local scratch and dent store, but I’d much rather have at least some of our cash in hard goods than in my savings account earning -8%.

One of our preparedness group members also completed a huge project along this line.  His electric bill has been outrageous since he bought his home several years ago (over $350/month), so he completely replaced every component of his heating system.  He took out the heat pump, installed a propane system with a tankless water heater, and added some insulation as well as some monitoring thermostats.  I expect he’ll cut his electric bill in half and the savings will pay for his investment within a year or two.

It’s definitely a more interesting mix of saving and spending than I’ve advocated in the past, or that might be acceptable to Dave Ramsey, but one that makes sense for my family.


04 2011

Food Savers and Mylar Bags

Occasionally someone will ask if they can use a Food Saver to vacuum seal a Mylar bags.  In general, the answer to that is no; Food Savers are designed specifically to handle their particular channel bags.

I received an email last week from Don Sheets saying he had found a way to use a Food Saver to vacuum seal Mylar.  Needless to say, I was intrigued.  He followed up with a full set of pictures and explanation, which I now present to y’all! In essence, it is a method to create Food Saver Channel Bag ‘Straws’, which can then be used to vacuum seal a Mylar Bag. Very cool.

Thanks Don! (My apologies for the poor formatting, working with a group of pictures in WordPress is not yet my strong suit!)

Soldering gun with tip made from #12 or #14 copper wire

Step 1:  Soldering tip made of #12 or #14 copper wire. 

Soldering gun used to score and seal Food Saver bags. Run the tip over the spot several times to insure it seals the edge.

Step 2:  Score and Seal Food Saver Channel Bags. Repeat as many times as you have bags to seal.


Cut the strips apart in between sealed areas.

Step 3:  Cut the strips apart in between sealed areas.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Step 4:  Cut the ends off the strips for air to flow through them.

Cut the ends off the strips for air to flow through them.

Step 5:  Place one strip in bag with about ½ inch or more sticking out.  Put in sealer and vacuum.

Place one strip in bag with about ½ inch or more sticking out. Put in sealer and vacuum.

Finished product is a vacuumed bag of rice with an oxygen absorber inside. Cut the excess strip off.


04 2011