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)
March 5th, 2009
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports its latest unemployment figures as of January 2009 as 7.6% of the workforce, compared to 7.2% in December of 2008. We all know that jobs are being lost by the hundreds of thousands across the nation. We also know that these statistics account only for those workers who file and are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Which makes the real unemployment figures at least twice as high, now more than 15%. That’s definitely edging into ‘Depression’ territory, and there will be no let-up any time soon.
Whether or not you qualify for unemployment benefits – which aren’t enough to pay the mortgage for most people – if you are out of work you and your family probably qualify for food stamps, or what is now termed by USDA as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP]. The Social Security Online website also has good information about eligibility for food stamps, and we most certainly hope that readers of this weblog aren’t too proud to make good use of this program if they find themselves in need. You may hope that another good job will soon be offered, but don’t let your family go hungry in the meantime. DO something!Conscious Living, Health Maintenance, Joblessness, Nutrition, Shopping, Staple Foods, Surviving | Comment (0)
January 2nd, 2009
For those of us out there who still have work and a regular paycheck, and who managed to put some store-bought presents under the tree on Christmas, some shock and awe may be hitting home right about now when the credit card bills are received. Seems the credit card companies have exercised the clauses in the light gray 6pt type nobody ever reads to raise their interest rates and fees through the roof and cutting off available credit altogether no matter how good your credit score may be or how promptly you pay your bill. Some card companies have been creative about shuffling due dates at will, confusing customers and hamstringing small business, and some are refusing to even try to explain to customers what’s going on or what their options may be.
As Kathleen Ryan O’Connor explained in a recent CNN article, Credit cards gone wild: Shocking rate hikes, “Faced with the same economic pressures as other companies affected by the ongoing recession and credit crunch, credit card companies are racing to protect themselves from the costs of more defaults by hiking interest rates and slashing credit limits, even for cardholders with excellent credit histories.” Banking analyst Meredith Whitney predicts that $2 trillion in credit lines will be wiped out over the next year and a half.
As if to add a note of irony to the pain and suffering of consumers and businesses being screwed by their credit card companies, those new card offers are still coming in at the undiminished rate of one a day. One wonders if the marketing department ever even communicates with the front office!Credit, Credit Cards, Debt, Economic Recession, Legislation, Shopping | Comment (0)
December 1st, 2008
Ask any shoe lover, and they will tell you that shoes can make an outfit. You can wear the same outfit during the day, at night, or on the weekend and give the outfit a very different look and feel just by changing the shoes you wear with it. In fact, most shoe lovers would probably agree the only drawback with shoes comes from not having enough of them or enough money to buy them. The good news is, whatever your shoe budget, there is a way to find great bargains to satisfy your shoe cravings.Shopping | Comment (1)
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)
May 20th, 2008
Clean, Green Living in 3 Cheap, Easy Steps
Part 1: The List of Ingredients
Now that it’s late May, it’s time to stock up for the summer – and our many summer visitors – on things like bug repellant (we really do live in the Deep Woods), anti-itch solution, insect sting remedies, poison ivy treatments, cut and scrape treatments, etc. The basic summertime First Aid Kit, all ingredients of which will be used as regularly as the usual household cleaners, deodorizers, detergents, polishes and disinfectants get used all year round.
Might as well get items that do double or triple duty as household cleansers and disinfectants as well as personal skin and hair care products too. I’ll use this post to make the basic list of things to buy, and later posts will give specific recipes and hints on how to use them to best advantage. And the best thing about these products? They’re Green and Eco-Friendly to boot!
Baking Soda: It all starts with good old baking soda. You can purchase generic or the primary name brand we recognize (Arm and Hammer). It’s cheap either way, and the same product though generic will tend to clump and solidify quicker and easier. Compared against the multitude of specialty chemicalized products you could be buying to do many of the same tasks, you could save hundreds of dollars a year with a cleaner, fresher house and a healthier family to show for it!Alternatives, Conscious Living, Do It Yourself, First Aid, Green Living, Recipes, Shopping | Comments (6)
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 8th, 2008
Habits of thought that won’t cost you a thing…
My last post offered some Tips for Avoiding Pressure to Shop, mostly in the context of getting out of the usual “girls’ day out” type of expensive, mall-hopping, credit card fueled frenzy that way too many people in the modern world view as entertainment. At least, until the bills come due. Sad statistics demonstrate that if medical costs from an accident or illness in the family don’t lead to bankruptcy, credit card debt will. These are the two biggest contributors to middle class bankruptcies in the U.S. at this time, and as the mortgage crisis becomes ever worse, it’s not going to get any better.
In this post I’m going to offer some ways of thinking that can become habitual without too much trouble, that will help keep you out of debt by not going into debt in the first place. Not everyone can put these to good use, but those who can will find that their shoestring budgets go a lot farther in covering necessities.Alternatives, Conscious Living, Debt, Economic Recession, Family Projects, Garden, Nutrition, Shopping | Comments (3)
January 2nd, 2008
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been much of a good consumer as that designation has come to signify in and out of recessions in this capitalist-based economy. I don’t “shop ’til I drop,” I don’t buy much of anything new, and whenever friends or sisters try to talk me into tagging along for a bout of binge buying at the mall I come up with every excuse in the book to beg out of it.
And now that I live on a mountain rather far from town (and any sort of mall), I’ve managed to keep from making friends who believe that frivolous spending of vast amounts of money is a competitive sport. I like that about the people here in the southern Appalachians – they’re not nearly so concerned conspicuous consumption as they are concerned about the quality of their natural habitats. Perhaps that’s true of rural areas all over the country, where people are simply not accustomed to spending money as an ingrained habit or mere way to pass the time of one’s life. When we lived in a city of a million-plus people in Florida, there seemed to be at least one strip mall for every household, and they were all making a living!Alternatives, Brand New Used, Green Living, Peer Pressure, Shopping, Thrifting | Comments (2)