Monday, October 22, 2007

Never Buy Useless Garbage Ever Again With This Punny Shopping Flowchart

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

One of the unfortunate side effects of being an obsessive deal shopper is that, while scouring the internet for all those fantastic deals, you find a lot of garbage you don’t need but you end up buying anyway because it’s a great deal. For example, you don’t need that nine-foot talking Christmas tree holder that normally retails for $399.95; but when discount-talking-tree-holder.com has it on sale for $139.95, you’d be a blooming idiot not to buy two or three of them. Then you get your order in the mail, open it up, set up your talking Christmas tree stands, and only then do you realize… you’re Jewish. Oy.

Fear not, Punny shoppers. You can still cash in on blowouts without blowing out your budget on useless crap you don’t need. The next time you’re tempted to jump on a bargain, simply whip out the Punny Shopping Flowchart to see if you’re chasing a true deal or barking up the tree of trash.

(click image to enlarge)

punny shopping flowchart - click to enlarge

(click image to enlarge)

You can also purchase the Punny Shopping Flowchart in PDF form for just $39.99. Click here to order the Punny Shopping Flowchart.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dealing With Falling Leaves the Easy Way

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

leaf me alone! i cannot beleaf autumn is here! please leaf at my jokes!

Buying and owning a home for the first time can be a great experience, but it does come with some extra chores. Those same trees that keep our house 10 degrees cooler than nearby houses during the summer are now starting to drop their leaves on our lawn, driveway and roof. Last year, it took my wife and me about 20 hours of work total to rid our yard of every last leaf. (Of course, we didn’t buy a leaf blower until hour #15. Big mistake.) Like snow, one of our favorite childhood playthings (“leaf piles, squeee!”) is now a nuisance to be eliminated as quickly as possible.

If you’re in the same leaf-filled boat as us, here are a few tips that’ll help you make shorter work of those pesky falling tree-stuffs.

  1. Prepare yourself. No matter what tools you use, removing leaves from your yard will likely be an exhausting task, especially if you make heavy use of a rake. Wear layers of clothes that you can peel off as you feel warmer, do some stretching or warm-up exercises before starting work, and do any raking or lifting with bended knees and not a bended back.
  2. Get a wide, sturdy plastic or metal rake. Don’t cheap out on a flimsy wooden rake. Spend $15-20 and get a decent plastic or metal rake made of firm material that won’t bend too much. A wider rake will help you cover more area faster.
  3. Split your leaf clearing into sessions. Unless you only have a couple of small trees on your property, divide your work across several days to minimize the strain on your body. Maybe do one part of the yard one weekend and another part the next, or rake into piles and then save the bagging or pulling to the curb for later. The job will go much faster if you do it without bringing yourself to the point of total exhaustion.
  4. Check your local leaf-disposing regulations. It seems that every city has a different way of handling leaf disposal. As a kid, we’d see black garbage bags full of leaves piled at the ends of driveways. Now we live in a city that runs collection trucks equipped with massive vacuums; we just need to get our leaves to the curb and they’re whisked away—no bagging necessary. New homeowners: be sure to ask your neighbors or local government for the proper way to prepare your leaves for their final journey.
  5. Pay a neighborhood kid instead. You really should just disregard all of the above advice and outsource all of your yard clearing to some neighborhood kids. While the job is laborious, it’s also hard to screw up, so children are the perfect victims helpers here. Check the prevailing rates in your area for kid-leaf operations, or just find a big dumb teenager who will clear your six acres for $20.

For those do-it-yourselfers, aside from a rake, you’ll probably want to purchase a decent leaf blower if you have a decent chunk of leaf-covered yard. You can drastically cut your leaf cleanup effort by also investing in a good leaf vacuum that chops the leaves into tiny bits. Such a vacuum can turn many bags of leaves into far fewer bags, and it certainly cuts down on the raking you’ll need to do.

There’s a great deal at Amazon.com right now on a well-reviewed Toro Ultra 12 Amp Electric Blower/Vacuum. It does both blowing and vacuuming, and it has a strong metal impeller that can deal with sticks and small rocks while annihilating your leaves. It retails for $100, but it’s on sale for only $55 after a $10 mail-in rebate (PDF) that’s good through October 31, 2007. I just bought one to help make quick work of the three inches of leaves we’ll get in the next two months, so I’ll share my thoughts on it when it arrives.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

If You Want A Giant Plasma TV in 2007, This Sunday Might Be The Time to Get It

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics:

do you really need a tv this big?

For all those people who screamed “YES YES YES!” when I asked if you need a giant screen TV, you’ll probably want to camp out in front of Best Buy this Sunday morning and pick up the Panasonic 50-inch 1080p Plasma HDTV for just $1709.99. This is one of the best 50-inchers out there, and you normally can’t find it for under $2,800.00.

This could turn out to be a price mistake; so don’t get your hopes up too high, and try to keep it on the down-low. Whatever you do, don’t post it on a popular personal finance website.

EDIT (September 20, 2007 @8:13pm): Looks like the deal is dead before it was alive. People are reporting that Best Buys are already posting signs in stores that the price is incorrect and will not be honored. It’s a long shot, but the more unscrupulous Punny Money readers (you know who you are!) could try price-matching the Best Buy flyer at Sears or Circuit City. Just be prepared for store managers with swords to stab you in the face and eat your flyer.

Confirmed. Not only is Best Buy not honoring the price, but they’re trying to turn their mistake into an advantage by offering $100 off other TVs. Lame!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wii Accessory Deal: Buy One, Get One Half Off (4000 Wii Points for $30)

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics:

please aim your wii remote toward the webpage

I rarely post deals here, but it’s a really great one and I know a lot of readers have Nintendo Wii systems.

Toys R Us is offering a fantastic deal where you can buy one Nintendo Wii accessory and get another at half price. Some examples:

The Wii Points deal is a real bargain because you never see sales on those things. Stock up now and enjoy your favorite videogame classics for 25% off! (Note that there are some light shipping charges, and you have to place separate orders if you want to stock up on a particular type of accessory.)

EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS OF AWESOMENESS!!! It is being reported that Toys R Us is also having their semi-annual Buy Two, Get One Free on all videogames sale in store. Forget budgets and frugality for a few hours and go crazy! (Did I just say that?)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Drugstore Rebates: Free Stuff or Con Job?

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

rebates--letting people by useless crap for free since 1947

By L. Shepherd

You may have heard about the drug store chains that offer rebates, either through newspaper circulars, the rebate kiosks in the stores themselves, or from that friend who will not stop talking about the free deodorant and toilet paper she got from CVS. Seriously–will not stop.

Rebates are an alternative to coupons that a lot of stores prefer for several reasons. First, there is the obvious impulse purchase situation once they get some sucker into the store for the free shaving gel. Secondly, they expect a certain percentage of the population to buy the items, take the rebate forms home, and then lose them on an untidy desk piled with other crap. So, the rebate is never filled out and the buyer has gone out of their way to buy something they ordinarily would have ignored.

If the rebates are followed faithfully, which my friend always does, rebates can actually save Type A personalities a lot of money. The rebates offered from Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens, and other national chains are well publicized through circulars. And if you don’t get those, check out the front of the store where there are rebate booklets you can fill out for each product you buy. If you can faithfully record each of the listed items you choose, make the notations on the receipt, and mail all of it back to the company, then yes, you’ve gotten free products. The only cost is the sales tax on the items and a little bit of postage.

I tried this only once, buying three 12 packs of Diet Coke with every intention of filling out the forms and getting my money back. Unfortunately, I immediately fell into Gen X slacker mode and lost the paperwork before I even got home. Based on this experience, I believe that coupon clipping is likely a better use of time if you’re looking to save on grocery and drug store items. Coupons are right there, in your hand. They are hard to screw up, and you don’t have to do anything else once you leave the store.

But, if coupons are too easy for you or you just have a love for pushing paperwork, most drugstores offering rebates will have a page to advertise items with rebate offers so you can check out the free stuff before you hit the store. Some sites will let you make an online shopping list of the items you can get for free. If you have the presence of mind to do this, you may do well at the rebate shopping game. And if you are of a seriously frugal nature, you will one-up the drugstore by being a double threat. You can use a coupon for the rebate items, getting it for less than the advertised price, and then get a rebate for the full amount. So, the store actually pays you to take their stuff. And for the well organized frugal shopper, it doesn’t get much better than that.

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L. Shepherd is a freelance writer and has been self-employed for six years. You can contact L. Shepherd at http://thewritersite.com.