Saving Money by Procrastinating

Most of realize that procrastinating has a way of getting us into trouble.  Or, if not bad situations, it can get us into situations that require a lot of catch up work later.  So generally speaking, it’s good to get the important things done first.

When it comes to Christmas shopping, however, it just might pay to procrastinate!  I recently saw something I wanted to buy, but hadn’t actually made the decision to purchase yet, be offered at a much better deal closer to the end of the season.

Without going into specifics – in case the recipient happens to be reading - I had my eye on an item that was about $200.  I know that she would like this particular gift, but I hadn’t made the purchase yet.  This item was available for a little bit less online, but it got to the point where it just wouldn’t have been a good decision to buy it and risk shipping issues – or pay extra for fast shipping.  So in that case, procrastination looked like it was going to hurt.

Then, I went back into the store and found a nice surprise a few days later.  The same item was priced at the same level – about $200 – but was now offered with a $50 gift card.  Hooray!

It looked like that quite a few in stock, so maybe this was a way to incent consumers to make purchase while the buying season was still in play.  Well, it worked with me! I snapped it up, and happily took the $50 gift card which I would certainly be using.  There would be no risk of me wasting that card.  So essentially, when considering my next purchases there, I will have received $250 of merchandise for $200.

Bottom line is that this amounted to a 20% discount, when you look at it that way.  All for being a procrastinator with gifts!

Clearly, it’s not necessarily such a bad idea to wait to buy certain gifts.  When stores want to get rid of things before the season is up, and want to meet sales goals, it might be possible to score some good deals.  Might as well strategically take advantage of this.

Back to the notion of procrastinating normally being something to not do, why does it seem like many guys are habitually buying things in the last few days, each year?  Believe me, I know several that have been in the same boat as me.  One flat out laughed and said he’s really close to being in the doghouse considering he hasn’t even bought anything or thought much about it, even just days before the holiday.   What’s a relief is that at least we can be rewarded for this procrastination by saving money! :)

My Questions for You

Do you evern wait until the last few days before buying holiday gifts?

Do you find there to be good deals during this time, versus earlier in the season?

Why is it, in your opinion, that guys in general tend to procrastinate with buying gifts a little bit more than the ladies do (at least based on what I’ve seen!)?

 

What Do You Think of Gift Cards as Holiday or Birthday Gifts?

Gift cards can be really popular during the holiday season, or on other occasions such as birthdays. You can buy whatever suits your fancy, from the particular retailer associated with that card.  There’s freedom of choice involved for the recipient, where you can wind up avoiding receiving some ugly sweater, 1970′s necktie, or something of the like. Instead, you get what you want!

Not everyone sees it that way. Some people take it personally when they get a gift card as a gift, in the sense of getting offended by receiving something like this.  The idea with this point of view seems to be that a gift should be given with the intent of providing the recipient with something he or she really wants. In other words, thinking of that person’s wishes in particular when buying a gift that will itself actually be used.

For example: if you know your wife has always talked about wanting to see a the opera live, you might buy tickets for an upcoming performance – along with plans for dinner, etc. Or, if you know your husband has a long commute to work that he finds boring or stressful, you can get him a satellite radio subscription. These are examples of how you show that you really know the person, that you care, and that you’ve been paying attention to what they need.

Personally, in terms of receiving gifts, I’m totally cool with gift cards, and actually like them. The idea of getting exactly what I want is a good thing, and it doesn’t matter if the other person thought of it or not. Actually, I’m not really needing any gifts in the first place, but I suppose that’s besides the point!

As far as giving gifts is concerned, however, I look at it differently. In that case, I tend to buy specific gifts for certain people. The way I see it, some family members such as your wife (or husband), young kids, and parents ought to get specific gifts. Or at least that’s how I do it. Some of these creative birthday gifts are a perfect example of special gifts to give.  Those are people that won’t be getting gift cards from me! There are also a few other family members that would get gifts, and they will be actual gifts as well (unless I simply can’t think of anything or run out of time). However, if I ever chose to buy a gift for a gift exchange at work, or for a teacher/daycare provider (a good idea, by the way), I think a gift card actually might be more appropriate.

When you don’t know someone, it might be better safe than sorry – in which case a gift card works better. For someone you know, maybe a real, actual gift is better.  Unless that person is like me, who isn’t needing gifts in general but would be totally happy with a gift card anyway :) But hey, we’re all different, and there’s no right or wrong way in general. Just depends on the situation, and the preferences of the people involved!

My Questions for You:

What do you think about giving or receiving gift cards for holiday or birthday gifts?

Do you view things differently based on giving or receiving?

Do you also see distinction between giving to family/close friends, vs. others you don’t know as well?

Happy Holidays! Here’s a Gift of a New Car – and Some Additional Debt!

Holiday gifts are nice, no matter what you might be celebrating. For those of us who celebrate Christmas, it’s a lot of fun to look under the tree and see a nicely wrapped gift with a bow, along with your name on it.  Of course it’s much more exciting for kids in most cases, but it can be a lot of fun for grownups as well.

So yes, receiving gifts can be fun. Personally, I don’t really need anything in particular, and prefer to give gifts to those closest to me.  Giving is more enjoyable to me during the season.

Gifts given to me sometimes make me feel a bit guilty that the person spent hard-earned money on me.  If it’s my money being spent, then I might feel less guilty. If it’s brand new car that’s bought for me, I’d feel something other than guilty: outraged!

I bring this up because it’s this frugal mindset I have when I see television commercials that involve a person receiving a brand new car as a holiday gift. You know, the ones where a car is outside in the driveway, with a big red bow on top. The ones where the person getting the gift (usually the wife, from the husband – but I’ve seen it reversed) has that “Oh my GOSH!!” look on her face when she sees the car. There’s usually some kind of subtle hint to the recipient initially, then she looks outside and the jaw drops and eyes light up with wonder and excitement. The message seems to be that she’s thinking “Wow, a brand new car, for ME!! This proves that he (or she) loves me so much!!”

Oh, please.

If you’re wealthy, perhaps it won’t matter. But for the rest of us – the so-called 99%, let’s say – a car purchase is a big deal. This isn’t like buying a nice cashmere sweater you got on sale, tickets to a live musical, or even a TV. This is a vehicle. One that probably cost $20,000 or more – sometimes much, much more.

So, let’s see here. If your spouse loves me, she (or he) is then supposed to buy me a brand new car, out of the blue, burning $20,000 in savings? Or, for most people, take out a big loan which might take a few years to pay off?

It’s almost like saying, “Happy Holidays, Honey! I love you so much, and wanted you to be happy, that I signed you up for 4 years of debt payments that we’ll have to work extra hard for. You’re the best, you deserve it!”

Right.

You can see what I think of those car commercials. The ones that I’ve seen lately have been these types of commercials, though there might be others this year for all I know.  Most commercials in general don’t bother me, and some are quite funny and/or clever in some way. However, these commercials kind of bother me, but mostly amuse me because I think it’s mind-boggling how stupid the premise of a brand new car as a gift is for most people.

Like I said,  I don’t need any gifts, though whatever I do get will be appreciated. Just save some zeroes, and stay around $20 instead of $20,000 :)

My Questions for You

What do you think of these car ads on TV around the holidays? Do you see it the way I do?

Are there any other ads around the holiday season that have made you roll your eyes, or amuse you in some way?

Do you ever think about money being spent on you (as I do), or do you avoid thinking of money in these terms when it comes to the holidays and gifts?

Unforgettable, Funny Holiday Gifts that were Given as Real Presents

Exchanging gifts over the holidays, with family, can be a lot of fun. It can also be the source of a lot of unintended laughs.

An article I came across on Yahoo! listed 19 Unusual gifts that nobody wants, showing a list of products that were clearly not for everybody. To me, they seemed like gifts that were either ill-conceived, or so cheesy, that they would be hard to forget. The list got me thinking about gifts that I had received – or ones that I have heard of people receiving – that were so weird that they couldn’t be forgotten.

First, the list from the article. As I mentioned, 19 unusual items were listed. The 5 that jumped out at me (with my commentary below) were:

  1. Dog Mustache Toy($10). This just seems so silly, to buy a fake mustache that can be put on a dog. Won’t the dog get irritated with it? Is it really that funny, anyway? When I look at the picture, it seems like this is such a dumb idea for a toy that it actually is funny. Kind of like a movie that has acting that so unintentionally bad and cheesy that it ends up being entertaining.
  2. Peekaru ($80). I wouldn’t have put my kids in this thing, if for no other reason that it looks completely bizarre. The kid’s face just emerges out of the parent’s body suit/blanket. Again, though, it’s so weird that a picture of it would be one to laugh at for many years.
  3. Bed Bug Stuffed Animal ($10). With the recent bed bug scare, I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to snuggle up with a stuffed animal that’s supposed to be a bed bug. What gives you the warm and fuzzies, a stuffed teddy bear, stuffed puppy dog……or stuffed bed bug? If you gave this gift, at least you’d be remembered?
  4. Puppy Love Fragrance ($44). This is interesting….buying perfume for a dog. Would Fido really appreciate this perfume, or would he like a tasty bone or delicious dog food instead?  If you’re really thinking of what makes the ultimate gift-recipient happy, this probably won’t be the gift you buy.  It’s also one that won’t be remembered too well either:)
  5. Spray-on Hair ($15). This, I think, should only be given as a prank to a thick-skinned person. Who could possibly give this as a well-meaning gift? At least splurge for some generic minoxidil:)

As for my own experiences, I have seen enough funny gifts over the years.  Now, let me preface this by saying that I truly appreciate all well-meaning gifts, and don’t really want anybody to spend hard-earned money on me. It’s really about the peace, goodwill, and time with close family and friends for me.

That said, you just can’t help but remember some wacky gifts. Here are 3 in particular that I remember from over the years:

  1. Deer Repellent Whistle. Some years ago, I received this cheap looking contraption that was supposed be a deer repellent for your car. It had a discount label still on it, for $0.99. It was given by someone who let’s say was an extended family friend. The price sticker was faux paux #1, though I don’t really care about it much. The person was known to be cheap, and I don’t care anyway. The funny thing, however, is that I live in the Chicago area, and this person lived in a much more rural area. For him, it’s probably a realistic gift. But in a highly urban area, deer aren’t likely to be traversing busy intersections on their way to strip malls.  Just a wacky gift all around.
  2. Chuck-E-Cheese Toys. Ok, this was me. I was a little kid, and Christmas was upon us. We went to a Chuck-E-Cheese (or maybe some knock-off place) a couple of days before Christmas, and I redeemed a bunch of Skee-ball tickets for a little tiny notepad and a plastic ring.  As Christmas Eve came the next day, I realized I didn’t have a gift for my parents. So…you guessed it…I tried to give them these toys! Keep in mind I was very little. They didn’t even try to fake the enthusiasm, and I got the message and learned a lesson. It’s funny to me how unbelievably lame my effort was:)
  3. Leg Shaver. This one comes courtesy of a friend of mine from high school. He was dating this girl, who was his first girlfriend ever. They actually went steady for a few years. He wasn’t the most attuned to girls, and this showed when he got her a gift for Christmas. He told me that he really looked all over the place for a good gift, and tried to buy something he thought she would use. So, he bought her a leg shaver. Apparently, she tried to fake enthusiasm, but he realized his gift was a dud. It didn’t take him long to figure out how unromantic his idea was, and to his credit, he laughed at himself about that for a long time afterward. Of course, if he didn’t, a friend would be right there to help him with that:)

How about you? Have you received (or given) any gifts over the holidays that were well meaning but just so totally ridiculous that you just can’t forget them?