Dec 31 2010

what would I buy today… if I could? [day 218]

  • Some setting materials for the pile of slate in my driveway.  I can make two countertops and finish my patio.
  • Some gray paint.
  • Caulk and wood filler.  (I got liquid nails for Christmas!!  Thanks Lloyd and Susan!)
  • A modern bathroom light fixture.

I guess I would only be buying stuff to repair and finish my house.  Nothing big.  The big stuff, I try to find used, like the modern light fixture.  Impossible to find used, even on eBay.  The couple I found were WAY expensive.  Overall, my shopping habits have changed.  It’s much easier to live with my means and to be able to help others that don’t have enough “means” to cover the basic necessities.


Dec 28 2010

my kids are okay with it [day 215]

Here’s the answer to the big question, “Were your kids okay with this no retail shopping Christmas?

Yes.

I’m very proud of them.  I’m imposing some of my challenge on them, but just by the stuff I get for them.  They both work for their allowance and they are allowed to spend it retail if they choose to.  My 11 year old could care less about money or buying anything.  My 10 year old, who likes money and shopping, has had $150 in his wallet for over 2 months now.  He’s had several opportunities to spend it, and has not.

When it came to Christmas, my kids didn’t really want much.  As a matter of fact, I got a text from their dad saying he had no idea what to get them for Christmas, as every time he asked, they didn’t really give him an answer.  The one thing they both showed an interest in was an iPad.  After ignoring that for the first 20 times they said it, I thought about it.  I told them they would have to share it, but I would put some money toward it if their dad and grandma would too.  Grandma agreed, dad did not.  It was a bit of a relief, as I really didn’t want to give them a lot of money.  It would be better than them having a bunch of small stuff that will be used for about a week, then end up at the thrift store.  Anyway, no iPad in the Wissing house.

So what did my kids want?  Books.  The Bones series and some of the Pokemon series.  We shopped together on amazon.com and got everything they wanted… used.  I got a book too, Journal Junkies.  I also got them each a gift card from Gamestop, as they have used games, fitting that into my no retail plan.

When they came home from their dad’s house, where they didn’t get anything extravagant for Christmas, they were excited to come home and have Christmas at our house.  Driving home, I was thinking how disappointed they’ll be, as their friends got electronics and lots of toys, and all they’ll get is some books.  I didn’t even wrap anything, the mailer envelopes under the tree, displaying my lack of Christmas consumerism.  We got home, they opened their gifts, and guess what?  They were happy.  They spent the next hour reading, and it would have been longer if I hadn’t made them go to bed.

I don’t know if what I’m doing is good for them, but I’m doing it for the right reasons and I’m sensitive to their reactions to it.  I’m not sure what I would have done if they were disappointed, but I know I would have tried something to make it good, yet still doing what I feel is the right thing.  After seeing from my mom right before Christmas, and hearing how “ridiculous” I am for the no retail shopping challenge and for recycling, because after I’m gone, nobody will care and there won’t be any less trash in the world, I felt okay.  I’m encouraging my kids and I’m not shoving this down their throats.  Christmas will never be good for me, but hopefully it won’t be bad for my children.


Nov 27 2010

BLACK FRIDAY: the video [day 185]

Any other day of the year, no retailer would allow you to walk around their store with a camera around your neck, they would stop you and make you put it away.  On black friday, that’s not the case.  With the busyness and chaos of the thousands of shoppers, extremely long lines and merchandise everywhere, nobody stopped me.  Here’s the black friday 2010 video to the tune of AC/DC’s Back in Black.

A few black friday observations:

  • It’s controlled chaos. The retailers are creating it and they’re prepared for it.
  • There’s a size relationship. The bigger the person, the bigger the packages.  Oh, how some psycho therapist needs to analyze this.
  • People like to get a deal. I’m not sure if they really want or need this stuff, but there seems to be an accomplishment once they’ve gotten a deal.  If they researched a possible purchase during the year, they could probably find a similar savings.  Is it really a deal if it’s cheap and not needed?
  • Loss leaders. There are some deals that can’t be found throughout the year, but these loss leaders are only available to the first 3-5 people according to the ads.  Not a bad deal, but I would do the cost analysis, time and effort versus cost savings.
  • Warranties. Many of the big ticket loss leaders have very limited warranties.  Before buying, you better make sure it works before you put it under the tree.  Many items have 15 days warranties.  They might as well just skip that altogether.
  • 2 types of men. The ones that like electronics with a willingness to get up early and fight for it and the “my wife made me do this and I better get sex tonight” male drag-a-longs.  I might start a line of t-shirts before next year.
  • Sporting event. I’m pretty sure most women see this as some sort of sporting event.  It’s a race for the best deals and to get all the shopping done at one time.  Most of them are getting lots of practice time during the year, so it should be a good game.

There’s much more, but that’s the big stuff.  Now, what to get my kids for Christmas without going shopping?


Oct 26 2010

yes, I went to the mall [day 152]

I know!!  But I had a good reason!  Three actually…

#1 – Friendship

My friend Susan, who is a walking miracle and an awesome woman, can’t drive right now.  She had major surgery and is on a no driving restriction for several months.  I’m off work on Mondays so I asked if she needed to go anywhere.  She said the mall.  Everyone around us stopped, looked and laughed.  It’s ironic, but I’m all about a trip to the mall.  I would not buy anything there even if I could, so it was safe.

#2 – Recycling

Aveda will take all of your plastic bottle caps and tops and will recycle them to make caps for their future products.  Most of the local recycling programs only take the big stuff, but not the lids.

I brought in my bags of lids and they gladly took them.  I knew someday I would end up at the mall and decided to collect these until that day came.  Now I can refill my little container that sits next to my recycling bin.   Continue reading


Sep 4 2010

online shopping 101 [day 101]

It’s time to start shopping for my son’s birthday.  He prefers a gift instead of a big party, something of Lego Star Wars.  Off to eBay!

Want to see something scary?

Ouch!  Can Legos really cost that much?  Why do all Legos have to be themed now?  Where are just the plain Legos?  It seems like everything these days is sponsored by someone.  Please send $15 to me for your trashsociety.com and iembracechaos.com Lego bricks.  Free shipping!!!!  LOL, okay I’m joking, unless I can find a way to make Legos from 100% recycled materials.  Currently Lego doesn’t not do this, but I did find a petition site for this topic.

Shopping online?  Online shopping 101:

Know the retail price.

Don’t shop on craigslist or eBay without knowing the retail price of what you’re buying.  Sometimes when you add in the shipping and/or pick up, it’s really not much of a deal.

Haggle, or at least ask for the best price.

I really don’t like the word haggle, but asking for a lower price is not a bad thing.  I guess haggle is more like argue.  Ask nicely, know what you are willing to pay, and sometimes you might get something cheaper than what you set out to pay.  Asking increases your chances by 100%.

Shipping and pick up.

Know the current shipping prices and approximate weight of the item to know if you’re getting a fair deal on the shipping.  Look at the price of the item and shipping together to do your “good deal cost analysis”.  If it’s a local pick up, be safe by taking someone with you or meeting the person somewhere.  If you have to drive far, calculate your time and mileage into the price.  I got my AC filters yesterday and I met the guy at Kohl’s near my house.  He was on his way home from work and it was easy for both of us.

Ask questions.

Most sellers in general are honest about the condition of their items.  Pictures also tell a lot.  If you’re buying used, ask questions.  You know what you want and what ‘used qualities’ you’re okay with.  Several years ago, I bought a treadmill at a yard sale for $125.  It was a really nice one and was a good deal.  When I got it home, it had a funny smell I could not get clean.  It was too big for my room so I decided to sell it.  I listed it on eBay, along with a detailed description of the smell issue.  People asked questions and I answered honestly.  I sold it, full disclosure, for $200.

I could probably go on for hours here, but I think these are the big ones.  If you’re just not sure, it’s probably not a good purchase to make.  Happy trashsociety.com style shopping!