October 8th, 2011
Following Wal-Mart’s announcement in late September that stores across the country would expand last year’s holiday come-on of ten toys priced at $10 to 100 toys this year. The list includes such desirables as the New Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Deluxe Action Figures, board games including Monopoly and Battleship, Tonka trucks with light and sound, the Play=Doh Burger Builder Set (for those young wannabe burger-flippers in your family, and even a Nerf sword. Among other items.
So it was probably to be expected that competitor Target would come up with an alternative plan to get shoppers into the stores during what is expected to be a dismal holiday shopping season. Target’s come-on is to offer a selection of toys discounted up to 50%. Whether that offers more savings to cash-strapped parents than the guaranteed low prices at Wal-Mart remains to be seen.
For parents who really have to buy a few ‘regular’ toys for young children this may be a good deal, as there are unlikely to be any new Transformers or Nerf swords at Goodwill. But definitely keep the resale outlets in your planning, for such things as winter coats, dress-ups for girls, trikes and bicycles, those ubiquitous plastic child cars and play sets, etc. And it’s always possible to find one-of-a-kind items they just don’t make any more that would be perfect for someone on your list. Kitchen canisters, spice racks (may have to give empty), wooden utensil sets and many other things that are more opportunistic than planned as gifts.
The whole 50% off thing sort of reminds me of when I got a 2-day job in North Chicago while my husband was in A-School (Navy) many long years ago. I had small children and he was only there for 10 weeks, so getting a regular full-time job was very unlikely. It was at the area’s Carson Pirie and Scott department store for an upcoming late summer half price sale. One day helping prepare, and the opening day of the sale as floor help in Women’s Wear.
I showed up at the appointed hour, the store was closed in preparation for the sale. Turned out our job as temps was to replace the price tags on all the items in our departments – with the ‘original’ price doubled so the sale price underneath was exactly the same as full price was just yesterday. What a scam! Then the next day we braced ourselves against the huge crowd of revved-up shoppers who had been waiting for hours on the sidewalk. Nothing can really prepare you for watching a bunch of frenzied women with credit cards literally fighting over bras, sweaters, skirts, dresses, jeans and other items they only THINK they’re getting cheap. Clothes were flying everywhere, some things got ripped in half. It disgusted me enough that I never have trusted sales gimmicks ever since.
It wouldn’t hurt to check up on the going prices for some of those items you’re supposed to think you’re getting a great price on before you go to the big box stores to spend hard earned money. You might really be saving on that $20 item now going for $14.99, but you could be making it up on that peripheral item that’s been marked up to double. It might be a really pretty candy plate with angels and Aunt Ruth would love it, but if your experience suggests you could get the same useless item at the Dollar Store for $2, $9.99 is way too much. Retail is a little like a gambling casino. Sure, there are occasional winners, but the house always wins in the end.Filed under Brand New Used, Discount Outlets, Holidays, Resale, Shopping, Thrifting | Comment (0)
October 5th, 2010
Autumn is well upon us, and people who have been struggling to stay afloat in this lousy economy all year are now faced with the prospect of the coming holiday gifting season. Which can be daunting in the best of times, but can be positively depressing for those not used to not having cash or credit for the consumerist frenzy. This post is about helping to trim the gift list if you haven’t done so already, plus how and where to find gifts for loved ones that they may cherish forever, help maintain and spread the joy of the season, and not cost an arm or leg.
1. Analyze your gift-giving habits, trim the tree.
In our free-wheeling consumerist culture the Christmas shopping season represents half or more of retailers’ annual intake and an average middle class family’s greatest expenditures on unnecessary items for the year. If your family is struggling, the credit cards with their usurious interest rates have already been cut into small pieces and thrown away, consumer loans have been paid down or frozen in place, and promises to self not to spend more than you’ve got have been made. Don’t change a thing just because the holidays are coming!
If you have a lot of friends and extended family for whom you’ve bought gifts in years past, networking with them early is a good idea. See if doing something other than gifting this year could be a thankful relief to them as well as you. Pot-luck holiday get-togethers are fun, and no one person has to provide all the food and drinks. “Re-Gifting” parties can be great fun too, where you give some trinket you got from someone else in the past (it’s been just taking up room in the closet or on the shelf ever since) to someone else. Chances are someone will remember who gave Fred that hideous tie he’s never worn and laughs will ensue. The holidays are for fun, so have some!
If you’ve got children, find out what they want most instead of just gathering their wish lists of every toy they’ve seen advertised on TV. For children old enough to know Santa isn’t Bill Gates, one big gift can be better than ten little ones. Items like bicycles, roller blades and other sports equipment can be purchased second hand and refurbished, maybe personalized with glitter paint and trim. Go for things they’ll really use and enjoy, stay away from basic junk.Alternatives, Brand New Used, Clothing, Crafts, Do It Yourself, Family Projects, Gifts, Holidays, Shopping, Thrifting | Comment (0)
November 14th, 2008
Gad-Abouts for $2500 or Less!
I stumbled across a really terrific blog post today on one of my regular check-ins dedicated to the automotive industry. It’s RideLust: 15 Beater Cars That Won’t Disappoint, and it makes the case for the very best deals among ‘Brand New Used’ vehicles that can be had for under $2500 (that’s a deal that can’t be beat by much these days!).
Sure, sometimes you can happen across the Greatest Deal On The Planet just when you happen to need it, as explained in my previous post A Car, A Car, My Kingdom for a Car!. In lieu of that sort of deal, Ryan has lined up some really good ones. There’s the legendary long-lived staples like Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but a surprising number of Detroit-produced cars that will at least be good for nostalgia’s sake if they all go under in the current crisis.
As for me personally, we have one of those ’90s Chevy S-10 pickups. It’s an honest workhorse, didn’t cost an arm and leg, and isn’t all that difficult to work on (if you’re into that sort of thing). These are the smaller pickups that can still manage a half a ton of cargo if you need it, but manage to get mid-20s mileage. Gas isn’t going to be as cheap as it is today forever, you know.
So if you or someone in your family has a need for a nice gad-about and you don’t have a lot of money to waste, check these out. Then do your homework for dealers or sellers in your area that have used stock, make your best deal. Merry Christmas!
Links:Brand New Used, Resale, Transportation | Comment (0)
August 13th, 2008
My eldest grandson graduated from high school in the top 10% of his class a couple of months ago, for which we are inordinately proud – he was taking courses like advanced biology, pre-calc, physics and advanced literature/writing, which most kids around here avoid like the plague. Now we’re facing the costs of getting him through college, since we raised him and of course we will.
We have had to seriously crimp some of our expectations about how this could happen, as things have changed both personally and societally since our children were in college. First, they don’t give out full scholarships to incoming freshmen around here, no matter how well they do in high school. You have to start with your basic Pell Grant and complete at least two semesters before you’re eligible for scholarship or extra grant money. The Pell Grant won’t come in until the second semester because the process doesn’t even start until the student’s already enrolled, so tuition must be paid up front out of pocket, along with all fees and the cost of textbooks.Alternatives, Back to School, Brand New Used, Discount Outlets, Education, Recycling, Resale | Comment (0)
June 9th, 2008
Last month I asked the question, Is It Depression Yet? and linked quite a few opinions of economic pundits about when the recession no one in DC cares to admit we’re in will turn into a full-fledged depression.
In going down the list of ominous signs that we’re going down for the third time, the key ingredient apart from a burst credit bubble was rising oil prices. Well, this last weekend gasoline went over $4 a gallon, and diesel was pushing $5. So while families and workers in cities can start taking mass transit to work and school and just stay home this summer instead of driving to the Grand Canyon, the price of diesel – which runs all our shipping fleets, trucks and trains – is going to cause swift inflation in the price of food as well as everything else that is transported from here to there. It is no longer a wild conspiracy theory that oil will go to $200 a barrel, now projected by the end of this year and possibly right around election time. It could hit $150 this month and no one will be shocked.
Thus I read with interest an article in the June 9 New York Times entitled Rural U.S. Takes Worst Hit as Gas Tops $4 Average. A survey by the Oil Price Information Service did a survey which showed that the price of gasoline has its biggest impact on rural areas, particularly in the Southeast, and that for the people euphemistically called the “working poor” the cost of just getting to work and to the store is quickly eating as much of their income as food and housing. Since their incomes are not rising and aren’t likely to rise, the situation for people in rural areas of the south, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas will soon become a choice between food and transportation.Alternatives, Brand New Used, Economic Prognostication, Economic Recession, Energy, Fuel, Surviving, Transportation | Comments (8)
March 18th, 2008
What it Means to the Home Mortgage “Crisis”
Many of us watched with serious confusion the strange financial market machinations that led to the Fed bailout of investment bank Bear-Stearns, taxpayers taking on bad debt paper held by speculators rather than any actual member of the central banking community. JP Morgan bought B-S for mere pennies on the dollar, ending up buying for just a 5th of what B-S’s Madison Avenue headquarters building is worth – the rich folks have taken their hit. What matters now is how much of a hit the average cash-strapped citizen will have to take.
Government bailouts of junk paper speculators is outrageous, and does not a thing to help homeowners whose mortgages far outstrip the current reduced value of their homes – while the price of every necessity is going through the roof. Yet at the same time Fed chair Ben Bernanke pledged to “do all that is possible” to help struggling homeowners. There actually may be hope on the horizon, though nobody should bank on Fed “pledges.”Brand New Used, Debt, Economic Recession, Housing, Resale | Comment (1)
March 14th, 2008
The Beauty and Style site List Maven has posted a linky article entitled…
It’s truly imaginative. I particularly like the crocheted plastic grocery bag necklace, though I use my plastic grocery bags as trash basket liners if I forget to take my many forever re-usable canvas bags to the store with me. And I’ll definitely have to make my grandson those computer key cuff links for the prom, since he’s determined to win the Duck brand Scholarship for best Duct Tape tuxedo…Filed under Alternatives, Brand New Used, Crafts, Do It Yourself, Fashion, Green Living, Humor, Recycling, Thrifting | Comment (1)
February 29th, 2008
Part 4: Items 16 – 20
In this last entry on our 20 ways to live on little-to-nothing, some further ways to take honest stock of your situation and prospects, plan accordingly, and make use of systems already in place to stretch the dollars you’ve got left.
16. Who Are You Supporting?
If your habit is to always buy new, who is that supporting? In a serious recession, it’s probably not supporting some skilled worker in a factory in your area, since the US has already stripped its manufacturing capability to almost zip. Are you supporting the call center bill collectors? Do you really WANT to support them?Alternative economics, Alternatives, Brand New Used, Debt, Economic Recession, Surviving | Comments (5)
February 19th, 2008
Selena at Apron Thrift Girl ventured into video this past November, and it turned out so well that I hope it won’t be her last video venture! Here she debunks 7 common myths about thrifting, which may help those who are new to living on a shoestring budget get past their preconceived prejudices and ingrained shopping habits. It also reinforces the things that us seasoned thrifters already know!
If you enjoy Selena’s video, don’t forget to check out her blog! There’s plenty more knowledge where that came from…
Previous Posts About Thrifting:
Thrifting: It’s An Art Form!
Credit Crunch: How to Survive the Recession
Living on Less: The Alternative Economies
The Payoff: Thrifting and Re-Selling
Free Yourself from Debtor’s Prison
Tips for Avoiding Pressure to Shop
Craig’s List: Great Resource or Scary Place?
January 21st, 2008
A good friend read my post It’s Better than Cheap… It’s Free! and mentioned Craigslist as another very useful resource for the sale and exchange of items, along the lines of the Freecycle Network. I had never made use of Craigslist and wasn’t very familiar with how it works, so in this post let’s look at what it actually has to offer those of us trying to live well on limited budgets.
Craigslist is a lot broader in scope than the Freecycle Network, which maintains local sites devoted exclusively to the exchange of ‘stuff’ for free – you advertise what you have to give away or want someone to give to you, and responses are routed through the administrators (sans personal information) to facilitate the exchange. In contrast, Craigslist advertises community news, businesses and services, housing, personals, for sale items and job openings (or wanteds), just like your local newspaper’s want ads – but much, much moreso!Alternative economics, Barter, Brand New Used, Recycling, Resale, Thrifting | Comments (2)