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)
January 28th, 2009
For those of us on the short end of the recent and ongoing mass looting of the economy by the kind of ant-populist robber barons who make Jesse and Frank James seem like do-gooders The Hardy Boys, there is now a historical record of the Fortune 500 CEO Hall of Shame in what could be printable trading cards outlining the shameful accomplishments of the Worst of the Worst.
Check out the card for Lehman Brothers’ Richard Fuld, whose stats list a total loss of $29 billion, while his personal take for the efforts comes in at a cool $71.9 million. Look at that punum… does he look suspiciously like a lizard? Then there’s Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo, with a face only a mother (or a Sicilian Don) could love. Stats: in the loss column, a total of $22 billion. It’s the personal take that’s truly impressive – $225.7 million. This guy was good at being bad!
So if you’re overdue for an out-loud chuckle in the midst of economic meltdown designed to do the most amount of serious harm to the most number of honest, hard-working citizens, don’t miss this offering by BusinessPundit. It’s well worth the waste of card stock and color toner.Art, Credit Cards, Debt, Elitism, Holidays, Humor, Pirates | Comment (0)
November 14th, 2008
As we move into 2008′s extended holiday period, more than a few families are wondering if there will be a Christmas this year. Sure, some retailers are going all out to stay open long enough to see if anybody’s buying this year, but with consumer credit at a virtual standstill, international trade languishing on the docks and jobs being lost by the thousands every week, it’s a no-brainer that this Christmas isn’t going to be ‘the usual’ consumer spending orgy of Christmases past.
Presuming that your family still has a home, can heat it, and enough income to put food on the table, there are ways to have a festive, meaningful Christmas without going further into debt and without ending up with cheap Chinese junk that nobody really wants or needs.
The best thing you can do for your family is Make Your Own, and involve the kids! We save old Christmas cards in a box in the closet, pull them out around Thanksgiving and use them, plus various saved papers, made papers, trims, sequins, glitter, buttons, studs, etc. to make brand new Christmas cards for the people in our lives. Scissors and glue, a paper cutter, maybe some cutsey hole punches and lots of odds and ends, these cards inevitably get saved by every Mom, Grandma or other friend/relative who gets them! And kids are especially creative in this area. Sure you’ll have to clean up the mess, but a great time was had by all.Alternatives, Art, Crafts, Do It Yourself, Family Projects, Gifts, Holidays, Recipes, Recycling, Sewing, Shopping, Thrifting | Comments (4)
September 3rd, 2008
While those of us in the less-than 95th percentile of the American income scale celebrated a long Labor Day weekend with family and friends, the 2008 Presidential race heated up, took a bizarre turn, and looks more like a “North Country”-like sit-com every day. The New York Times published some Labor Day editorials that are as remarkably honest as they are politically timely in this era of double-digit inflation for basics like food and fuel, the mortgage crisis tossing millions of families out on the streets, and ever-faster distancing between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ that can positively cause major depression if you think too much about it.
Why? Because things are getting worse, not better. Our shoestring budgets can no longer be thought of a a temporary condition, but something we’ll have to work with all our lives. This is what op-ed contributor Dalton Conley commented on Tuesday in his opinion piece, Rich Man’s Burden.Economic Prognostication, Education, Holidays, Income Inequality, Inflation, Politics | Comment (0)
December 24th, 2007
…at that nice mountain cabin everybody rented…
During this 2007 holiday season, it seems the children are all nestled asleep in their beds, with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads… oh, wait. You say the “children” are all teenagers now, terminally bored with Christmas and expecting a 10-gig iPod loaded with every album too objectionable to be played in public, plus keys to your a car and $400 worth of “Prison Chic” pants that hang somewhere around the thighs and show off their underwear?
Be of good cheer, enjoy yourself anyway, and…
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!Filed under Family Projects, Holidays, Humor | Comment (0)
November 13th, 2007
Yes, the holiday season is upon us again, just when we are trying to adjust what the government does to our internal clocks twice a year (just to mess with our heads, I am convinced). It’s a time of get-togethers and feasts with family and friends, and the sometimes scary specter of gift-giving that puts such a huge dent in people’s tight budgets these days.
So I thought this is probably a good time to talk about gifts that cost little to nothing, but are always gladly received and mean more than just some trinket you could buy at the store.
Does that sound kind of strange in this era of conspicuous consumerism, where even 5-year olds brag to each other about how much their gifts cost (and how that means Santa must love them more?). Probably not to those of us who have given up conspicuous consumerism and found that we like it. Yet I am talking about gifts that hold enough thought and effort on your part to impress even the richest, most disdainful member of your family, who has always considered you a true failure of Capitalism for your choices in life. In my case that would be Aunt Edna and Uncle Francis.Alternatives, Crafts, Family Projects, Gifts, Holidays, Sewing | Comment (1)