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
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)
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 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)
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)
December 10th, 2007
I was in my late twenties when I finally grasped a tiny bit of the Mystery of Mammon – the magic of money. It occurred to me while awaiting a payment for services rendered that the person who owed me money was waiting on someone who owed him money too. I realized that among the full-time residents of that small New Mexico town there was never more than about $5,000 in circulation on any day of any month. That money made its rounds every month starting at the top and ending right back there when the month was over. The only new money anybody ever saw came in by way of tourists from Texas, but that got immediately swallowed up by big bank accounts in somebody else’s town.
Many regular people have a certain psychological aversion to money, or to the idea of allowing money to rule their lives. The capital class depends upon this deep psychological aversion to empower the “money myth” they depend upon to amass ever more of it in their own coffers. Terms like “filthy lucre” and traditional religious prohibitions of usury speak to this deep uncomfortableness with artificial value, yet it is the general public’s uncomfortableness with artificial value that allows the capitalist system to operate.
People who are not comfortable with artificial value don’t tend to amass much money and are prone to use the artificially valued paper to purchase things that for them have actual value. A home. A reliable means of transportation. Nice clothes, big televisions, enough food to make themselves obese, computers, entertainment, toys… it’s what makes our consumerist lifestyles hum and it’s every bit as unsustainable – both personally and economically on the national level – as chemical-intensive force-farming. These days a college graduate begins his or her working career deeply in debt and remains deeply in debt for most or all of his or her life. And it never seems to matter how deeply in debt you are, there are at least 10 new credit offers in the mailbox every week to dig you deeper.Conscious Living, Debt, Economic Recession, Thrifting | Comment (1)
December 3rd, 2007
I’ve written a bit about The Art of Thrifting, purchasing clothes, appliances, knick-knacks and gift items at secondhand outlets, garage sales and through auction outlets. I’ve also written about Alternative Economies and how systems like barter and straight trade can keep your family going without the exchange of cash or credit.
This post combines both of these approaches to make a talent at thrifting into an actual income. Over at Apron Thrift Girl blog there is a wonderful post describing one adventure in estate sale thrifting entitled Seeing What Has Always Been There that I recommend to readers so as to get a feel for how to make money by picking out bargains and re-selling them at a hefty profit.Alternative economics, Auctions, Brand New Used, Resale, Thrifting | Comment (1)
September 17th, 2007
Some people get into the economics of living on less because they don’t have much of a choice. Others get into alternatives because they believe our living-beyond-our-means lifestyles are harmful both to ourselves and to the environment. Either way, it’s good to know that there are alternatives, and plenty of room for people to invent their own levels of participation.
The ‘Money Economy’ is the one most people live in here in the modern world. It causes us to trade our lives – our time, our talents, our energy – for a certain valuation calculated in cash, and in that economy different people have different value placed on their lives. Women are still worth less than men, even in the same jobs with the same responsibilities. Women also tend to have to work more hours than men do, despite also being saddled with most of the housekeeping, child-rearing and food preparation jobs.
Minority workers are also valued poorly, as are teen workers and entry-level jobs in all sectors are notorious for paying less than it takes to live, eat, and repay student loans for that semi-worthless college degree.Alternative economics, Barter, Economic Recession, Recycling, Thrifting | Comments (3)