Well, it’s that time of year again. You know, shopping season. Black Friday seems to have turned into Black November. With all the Early Black Friday deals and the “leaked” ads this year, it’s worth repeating my warning from last year.
Don’t fall for it!
That’s right. We all know darn well that most of the one-day-only, limited time, act-now-or-it’s-gone-forever deals will be back at some point. Why do we let the retailers push us around and make that impulse buy? They’re playing on our desire to save money and feel like we’re getting a great deal that just a special few were able to find.
I’m not a psychologist and I’ve never even played one on TV but there’s definitely something with that tactic of a limited time offer. I’ve fallen for it many times and not just when shopping. My wife and I learned a lesson when we lived in Georgia and our apartment complex hosted a party complete with door prizes. We thought it was great when we won a free week at a fancy fitness club.
Of course, when we went to redeem it, we were offered instead to trade it in for a FREE MONTH if we signed up to be members - but only if we signed up right then and there. The deal seemed foolproof. We had to commit to a minimum number of visits in that first month and if we didn’t like it, we could just cancel our membership.
We took it but after we left that day, we quickly agreed that it was a bad idea and we would cancel at the end of the month. Unfortunately, they didn’t always record our visits so when we went to cancel, they told us we couldn’t. Ultimately, we had to get the Better Business Bureau involved and they finally let us cancel.
If it wasn’t for their insistence that we had to take that deal right then without the ability to go home and think about it, we certainly wouldn’t have signed up. We were newlyweds barely paying the rent. We had no business signing up for an expensive fitness club.
Since then, we are leery of any deal that involves a quick decision, a long term commitment, and our money.
Quick Decision + Commitment + Money = Bad Idea
Honestly, you could remove the commitment and it’s still generally a bad idea.
I won’t deny that there are some great deals out there this month, but I want to caution you to buy with a purpose. Avoid impulse purchases just “because it’s a great price” or a “limited time offer”. Figure out what you want to buy ahead of time and THEN shop for a good deal. If you’re big on Amazon, one strategy is to put something you want in your Amazon List. Often, if it gets discounted as part of their Daily Deals they will notify you. A coworker just bought something at a great price this way.
Finally, if you’re gift shopping, I want to remind you to go for non-clutter gifts like experiences, memberships, and consumables. Thanks for reading, and if I’m on your shopping list, I like Scotch.
I’ve been extremely busy lately with all the kids’ end of the school year stuff coupled with some projects around the house. Not to mention running to softball games, t-ball games, Church events, etc. I’ll keep this short and remind everyone that this Sunday is Father’s Day in case you forgot.
Like many holidays, people often buy gifts for Father’s Day so my job is to remind you to be thoughtful about your gift and not buy “stuff” that he may not want. If he has requested something specific, that’s different. In that case it will be something he uses and hopefully won’t become clutter. But please don’t run to the mall or jump on Amazon and pick the first thing that grabs your eye.
Out of curiosity, I looked at Amazon’s list of “What dad really wants” and apparently dad wants a new shirt, watch, or wallet. The shirt probably won’t fit. The watch will be the wrong color or style. And the wallet he has is just fine. I also found it interesting that Amazon’s list defaulted to “under $50”. Maybe that’s based on my shopping history.
OK. It was actually the Amazon Fashion list of Father’s Day gifts, hence the clothes and accessories, but you get the point.
Anyway, if you have no idea what to get dad this Father’s Day, I recommend consumables or experiences as always. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
Just remember that the most valuable gift you can give anyone is your time.
Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow dads out there and especially to my own dad.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!
I’ll keep this a short read so that you can go back to finishing your eggnog and candy canes.
Recently, I was at work when a friend started up a text message conversation about how he felt like he needed to purge some of the extra stuff in his house again. This friend is my hero when it comes to getting rid of things. I’ve seen him give away and throw away things that you wouldn’t believe. I’m always impressed when I go to their house and their huge kitchen counter is empty, while mine always seems to be covered with things the kids bring home from school and the last couple days worth of mail. I encouraged him and agreed that I need to do the same thing.
When I got home from work that day, I went on Facebook for a few minutes and saw his post. He had pictures of two electric guitars and said he didn’t need to own four. He was giving these two away to the first two people who said they wanted them. Needless to say, they went quickly to new homes.
I talked to him later about it and he told me how it felt great to give them away rather than sell them. He made a couple of people very happy and that always feels good. In this case, he helped spread his love of music at the same time making it even better.
I tell this story to remind us all that Christmas time is about giving but we should try to do that all the time. When you want to get rid of things, it’s often better to just donate them or give them to someone rather than to try making some money. You may just find that the act of giving will bring far more satisfaction than a few extra dollars in your pocket. Not to mention the time and hassle you’ll save yourself.
Thanks for reading and I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year.
Are you saving something (clothes, a bottle of wine, some fancy dishes, etc.) for a special occasion? Has that occasion ever come? How many special occasions have you had? What really is a special occasion? I think most of us do not even know what a real special occasion is, or at least we don’t realize it until it’s already happened.
Oxford dictionary defines a special occasion as “A particularly noteworthy event, ceremony, social gathering, or celebration“. That covers a lot. This year is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th. That sounds like a special occasion to me being a particularly noteworthy event. I don’t think special occasions are necessarily always happy occasions. Last month, I visited my dad and for at least a few hours, I was in the same house with my dad and my six sisters. It was quite a social gathering and celebration. Definitely a special occasion.
Depending on your religion, there are some dates most people would consider a special occasion like Easter and Christmas. Similarly, depending on where you live days such as the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving would be considered special occasions. Those are obvious ones that many people would come up with if you asked them what their idea of a special occasion was.
Maybe we can come up with some more obscure ones though. What about the day you finish paying off your student loans? They day you pay off that first car or sign the papers to buy your first house? How about the last time you and your spouse sat down for dinner with all of your kids at once? We recently sat all three kids down and watched the movie A Christmas Story with them. They loved it and it was undoubtedly a special occasion.
Here’s my definition of a special occasion: Any time we are alive and experiencing something that we can appreciate, celebrate, or commemorate. If that experience happens with someone you love, then it’s even more special but we should be able to find something special about every day of our lives. Then we should celebrate that by enjoying every day somehow because the next one is never a guarantee.
So, eat off the China and break out the crystal wine glasses because won’t it be a shame if you just stare at those things every day waiting for just the right special occasion to use them and it never comes? It’s only stuff, right?
I have a very special pilsner glass that was given to me when I became godfather for our friends’ daughter. I love it. It has my name and proudly proclaims that I am her godfather. I would probably be heartbroken if it broke, but at the same time it’s just a glass and I refuse to think that it’s just for displaying on the shelf, never to be enjoyed. I use it all the time.
If I die with a bottle of unopened expensive Scotch in my basement, I will consider myself a failure at enjoying life. I want to try it all and learn to appreciate every minute of it. Don’t keep your favorite shirt in the closet because you don’t want to get it dirty. Don’t leave that bottle of Pappy Van Winkle sitting around because you’re waiting for that perfect time to enjoy it.
Those days may never come and it doesn’t matter if they do. Any day that we wake up on the right side of the ground with our mind and body intact can be the best day ever. We just have to learn to appreciate those little occasions and make them special.
I saw a lot of good deals over the Thanksgiving weekend and there are still plenty around. I did buy a couple of things but I managed to resist some other bargains by asking myself two questions:
Ask yourself these things before you before you pull out your credit card and really think about them. Visualize your house and all the stuff in it. Do you see any free space to put what you’re about to buy? How did you get by this far without it?
It’s one thing if you’re replacing something you already have and you’re looking to upgrade, but even then, maybe you should see how much longer you can get by with the one you have? Also, are you really willing to part with the old one?
One of the items I did buy was a new wireless router for my house. My current one is several years old but still functions. However, we’ve noticed that some of our devices will lose connectivity throughout the day. I also wanted something with more parental controls than my current one provides now that my kids are getting older and have their own tablets. When I get the new one, I’ll reset the old one to factory settings and then either donate it or see if any of my friends need it.
Before I bought the router, I asked myself both of the questions above and decided I really needed the more advanced parental controls and I have a place to put it, right where the old one is. Done.
There have been times I wish I would have pondered those questions a little more. I think it was shortly after our bread machine broke that I found a great deal on an ice cream maker. I thought the kids would love it and we would use it quite a bit in the summer. I had a place to put it since we discarded the broken bread machine.
Unfortunately, we don’t use the ice cream maker that much. You can’t make a very big batch of ice cream at once and after you use it, you have to wash the tub by hand. Then you place it in the freezer (level so that it doesn’t freeze at an angle) and wait for it to freeze again before you can use it again. Not to mention, you have to have the ingredients on hand to make ice cream. The biggest problem is that my wife misses the bread machine and now the ice cream maker is taking up space where we used to store it.
In the end, these are petty problems that we’ll ultimately resolve by getting rid of something that we don’t use much and we all know things like bread machines and ice cream makers are luxuries in a world where some people don’t know where they are staying the night or where their next meal may come from.
The point is in order to reduce the amount of stuff we own, we have to not only get rid of the excess we already have, we have to keep ourselves from bringing in more than we’re getting rid of. Hopefully, asking yourself the two questions above before buying, will help you the way it helps me. Good luck.
My family uses Cozi for our calendar, shopping, and to-do lists. The best part is that it's free.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2020
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