July 2008 Monthly Archive
Posted by Guest Blogger in Stop Buying Crap!
on July 22, 2008 | 14 Comments
This is a guest post from Jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity, who has the honor of being the first (and most likely only) guest post on StopbuyingCrap.com. Blueprint for Financial Prosperity is a daily blog with solid info on personal finance. If you like Jim’s content, please subscribe to his blog so he won’t beat me up (personal finance bloggers are a violent bunch).
Every once and a while my wife and I will head over to the local mall to walk around and shop. I kid to her about how I like watching capitalism in action, all the people milling about the corridors, popping in and out of shops, spending money, etc. Well lately, the motion of capitalism has slowed down a bit. There are still people milling around the corridors but more and more of them are there for the free AC than the shopping, but you still see the occasional shopping bag full of crap.
So, in celebration of capitalisms stoicism in the face of the slowdown and its resilience, I’ve decided to add to Cap’s growing list of things that are crap by offering up my four things that are crap.
Fancy Wine Openers
I’ve received many a fancy wine opener as a gift and I’ve broken them all. I’m hardly an Incredible Hulk but for whatever reason, fancy corkscrews always get jacked up and break on me. Funny thing is that the little freebie manual corkscrew has never broken, was totally free, and reliable opened every single bottle of wine it’s tried to open. And, to top it all off, it has a bottle opened on the other side so I can crack open a beer after the hard work of opening a bottle of wine!
Ridiculously Awesome HD Televisions
I like good picture quality and excellent crisp 7.1 Dolby Digital sound as much as the next guy, but I like a comfortable retirement just as much. The kicker is that retirement is something I’ll enjoy for many many years whereas home electronics will likely burn out or grow painfully obsolete within a few years. What do I get instead? I get decent electronics that was top of the line a year ago. I let the early adopters buy the stuff early and then sell it to me when they want the latest and greatest.
Cutting Edge Cell Phones
This iPhone mania is insane. People lining up for hours to get a cell phone? I’ve seen them, they are very nice, but the minimum total cost of owning one for the two year required period is nearly two thousand dollars. Sure you can surf the web, watching videos, and do all sorts of touch screen coolness… but two grand? That’s a sizable down payment on a car, you know, one of those machines that gets you from point A to point B by burning old dinosaur bones? That’s also a brand new top of the line laptop. Heck, that’s a Ridiculously Awesome HD Television!
Anything at Brookstone…
… or was at Sharper Image. Do I really need a spinning clock that shows the time in the air? No. Do I really need a coin sorter or a foot massager? No and no. Those stores are bright beacons of consumerism in our economic turmoil and a few months ago one beacons was extinguished. Why? Because they’re full of crap you shouldn’t be buying and people ran out of credit to buy it with. I don’t need a singing egg light, I don’t need a pocket Texas Hold ‘Em game, and I certainly don’t need a two thousand dollar massaging chair.
What do you think? Worthy of being called crap or was I too harsh?
Noteworthy Posts from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity:
Posted by Cap in Stop Buying Crap!
on July 18, 2008 | 11 Comments
From the issue where Bane broke Batman’s back, to the kick-ass Batmobile toy from Batman Returns, and finally to the Batman mug that I broke due to pouring cold milk into a mug full of hot chocolate (oh how I miss you, Batman mug) — my crap of Batman collectibles spells one clear thing: I’m a fairly big Batman fanboy.
But $150 per ticket for The Dark Knight?
Uh, no thanks.
According to an article on wcbstv.com, Craiglist was flooded Friday with ads for buyers and sellers of weekend Batman tickets. Most are willing to dish out $50 per ticket, but one hardcore fan is willing to shell out $150 per ticket:
Of course, Jafri says there’s some other motivation involved as well. “I’ve never seen anything you can text a girl that’ll get her to respond with a ‘YES!’ to meeting up more promptly than, ‘Dark Knight IMAX tonight. You in?'” he says.
I don’t want to be an ass, but if an IMAX movie is the fastest “yes” you’ve gotten for a date — maybe it’s time to cut back a little on the Batman love (says the super-senior-college- student-fellow-hobbyist-who-still-doesn’t-have-a-day-job).
Anyway, maybe it’s a Manhattan thing.
From [wcbstv.com] (Thanks Jim!)
Posted by Cap in Woops, Bought Crap
on July 16, 2008 | 14 Comments
Just came back from a weekend getaway cruise (first cruise! snapshot above).
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- The ocean can be quite scary at night.
- Tall places with little railing is also a bit scary.
- Apparently, I’m still a wuss.
- Not locking or turning off your cell phone while roaming can cost you an extra $24.95 in charges.
I forgot to lock the keypad on my Blackberry while I was dancing badly aboard the cruise ship, and an accidental call was made to a friend. Thankfully her answering machine only allowed a message length of four minutes, or else I’ll be weeping terribly as I write this post.
Half an hour after the accidental call, my friend checked the message and called me back, wondering why she wasn’t invited to whatever party I was at. The call went straight to my voicemail box, as I didn’t have reception by the time she called back.
Here’s the kicker:
If you have T-Mobile, as per their International Roaming FAQ, unless you switch your device off or activate Unconditional Call Forwarding on your device, you will be billed for calls delivered to your voice mail box while you are roaming internationally.
So even though I didn’t pick up the call or check the voicemail, I was charged the spectacular rate of $4.99 per minute for receiving a voicemail message while roaming.
If you have T-Mobile and you see an expensive call coming from 805-637-7249 on your bill, you were most likely charged for receiving a voicemail while roaming internationally. Turn off your phone or lock your keypad and save some money.
The really stupid part is that this is the third time I’ve accidentally made a call while traveling abroad. You’d think I’ll learn by now…
Posted by Cap in Deals and Discounts
on July 16, 2008 | Comments Off
If you need a discount, check the latest myfico promotional code page.
myFICO currently has a 20% off summer sale for their FICO scores. Original price for each score is $15.95. After discount, the cost for each credit score is $12.76. The promotion ends on July 31, 2008.
FICO credit scores are a good purchase when:
- You are planning to get a significant loan (home, auto, or boat) and need to know your credit worthiness
- You need to see if your recent financial actions have affected your credit worthiness negatively or positively
- You are planning to fix your credit and/or get out of debt (knowing your credit worthiness can help significantly in rate negotiation)
FICO credit scores are NOT a worthwhile purchase when:
- You are simply curious of your credit scores
- You haven’t made any significant changes to your credit profile
- You aren’t in a financial situation where you need to know your credit worthiness
Remember, knowing your credit scores, buying your credit reports (especially when they’re available free annually), and using credit monitoring services does NOT magically make your financial situation better. Don’t buy into the marketing of fear that’s being employ by some credit reporting companies.
Posted by Cap in Even More Ramblings
on July 9, 2008 | 17 Comments
My piece-of-crap, six years old, 3.2 megapixel Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P7 digital camera has finally crapped out on me.
It’s four in the morning and I’ve just spent about two hours prying the camera apart, trying to figure out why the lens will no longer extend out when the camera is powered on.
After electrocuting myself (ah… so thats why they have non-conductive film wrapped around that area) and fumbling with the gears that extended the lens, I still couldn’t figure out why the damn thing is broken. The motor’s working but the gears won’t spin — even though the teeth on the gears appears to be in working order.
There’s a guy selling two of the gears on eBay for ten bones, as these particular lines of Cyber-shots are prone to lenses being stuck in the housing due to gears breaking (a frequent solution touted by people from Googling is dropping or banging the camera against the floor — no joke).
I can buy the replacement gears and see if it’ll do the trick, but I might just be wasting additional time and money — after all, there’s no guaranteed the new gears will fix the problem.
You’ve probably been in this situation before. Your old “good enough” piece of crap that you’ve been using for years finally broke down, and you have to make the decision to either repair it or replace it. It gets especially annoying when the part is easily replaceable, but is costly due to rarity or time consuming due to the part’s location.
Now, I can easily buy another “good enough” digital camera for around $50-$80 bucks. The gears that may fix my old camera cost $10, and it’ll probably take me another hour or two to replace the gears. An hour or two of my time, believe it or not, is actually worth more than $60 — but realistically, it’s not like I’ll be using those specific hours to “work.”
Hmm… what should a cheap and lazy bastard do?
Posted by Cap in Stop Buying Crap!
on July 5, 2008 | 32 Comments
As I was stuck in traffic on a fine 4th of July Friday, I noticed that the minivan in front of me had a gigantic LCD TV installed for their kids viewing pleasure. Before I knew it, I was tailgating the minivan to catch the ending to another fine episode of Sponge Bob SquarePants.
The problem with buying lots of crap for your kids is that you may be unintentionally giving your children a sense of entitlement. Being a former brat, I know how it is to annoy surrounding adults with the wanting, whining, and complaining.
From my experiences, the quickest way to raise a bratty child is to buy them lots of crap to appease them, and what better way than a gigantic TV in the car, with a full collection of Sponge Bob DVD?
Here’s a list of five things I’ll never buy for my future kids:
1) TV in the family car.
I’m not about to spoil my kids with hours of entertainment as we drive cross-country to visit grandma (because daddy was too ‘frugal’ to waste money on plane tickets). What my kids will get are important stories on life and personal development. “Why, just a decade ago, daddy had to wake up midmorning, walk all the way to his home office, and slave away on blogs and other web projects…”
2) $20,000 playhouse.
If daddy didn’t get one, you don’t get one too.
[From The Digerati Life].
3) Massively Multilayer Online Role-Playing Games
Are you kidding me? Just look at uncle James, who’s been playing World of Warcraft since 2004 and you’ll see why.
4) A brand new car.
Now, daddy’s not a cheap bastard like mommy’s new boyfriend. See here, a 1985 Toyota Corolla — Japanese engineering at its finest!
5) 6th Generation iPhone
My kid’s phone will be able to do three things: 1) Call mom. 2) Call dad. 3) Call 911.
Posted by Cap in Deals and Discounts
on July 3, 2008 | No Comments
By using this link from Visa Signature’s concierge service (subscription to restaurant ratings cost $24.95 per year at Zagat’s website).
I’ve never use Zagat before, but from what I read the reviews are fairly spot-on. If you don’t feel like cooking this holiday weekend, perhaps you can find a nice place to wine and dine with friends, family, and loved ones — maybe the $334 per person sushi restaurant listed above?
Posted by Cap in Updates
on July 2, 2008 | 4 Comments
I met some interesting bloggers last week at the blogging conference held by Consumer Reports; all of them, of course, writes six thousand times better than me.
Here are some blogs worthy of your RSS reader, pick and subscribe at your choosing:
- Erin Doland from Uncluttered.com, a blog about getting and staying organized. Emailing link to sister ASAP.
- Kim O’Donnel at A Mighty Appetite, a cooking blog filled with yummy recipes. Also emailing link to sister.
- Edgar Dworsky of Consumer Worlds, who also blogs at Mouse Print, a blog exposing the nasty catches buried in the fine prints.
- Zac Bissonnette, writer and editor at BloggingStocks and WalletPop. One of the other personal finance blogger at the conference. He was alright. (Just kidding he’s cool).
- Leslie Price, editor at Racked.com, a witty NYC retail and shopping blog. From the blog’s words: “If they’ll take your money, we’ll tell you about it.”
- The gang from Consumerist.com, where shoppers bites back and gives the middle finger to crappy businesses. Most likely already on your blog reader, and if it isn’t, it should be.
- Although I didn’t get to meet the blog editors, Consumer Reports also have a daily posting Money and Shopping blog that you may be interested in checking out.
And finally, here’s a picture of a T. rex from the American Museum of Natural History: