Payday Loans

February 2012 Monthly Archive

Last week, I went to my local mall for the first time in many months (or was it years?). As I strolled around, taking in the sights and the bustle of our consumerist Mecca, I couldn’t help but notice all the sales I saw advertised at every major clothing retailer. JCrew and Anthropologie had multiple racks with deeply discounted items. Brooks Brothers and Macy’s had a 40% and 25% sale on every piece of clothing in the store, respectively (yes this is exactly how I shop, I take notes of discounts for future blog post that will never be written). The more I walked the more I realized that there were considerable “sales” all around me.

But the widespread nature of the sales does not mean that all clothing items were reduced or that customers were bound to walk away with discounted purchases without exerting too much effort. In fact, it was the contrary. Although stores were quick to advertise their sales in posters and entranceway signage, an actual examination of these stores revealed that there were still plenty of items priced just as high as ever. The differences between a full and half-priced item seemed to be minimal and random. In some stores, all lingerie was heavily discounted while jackets remained at full price. In others, some jackets would be surprisingly cheap while others were shockingly expensive.  The funny thing is that there’s some real science behind the arrangement of stores, from packaging, visual of placements, to eye tracking technology, even if it all seems maddening random and chaotic at times.

Of course, sometimes you come across weird gaps in thinking at certain stores. At Gap, for example, the price for a pair of blue jeans ranged from $9.99 (on sale) to $170 (full price). The two pairs of jeans at the edges of this spectrum both looked nice, both fit well, and both were labeled with relatively reputable brands. But there was a full $160 difference between the two. Pretty ridiculous. I personally wouldn’t cough up $170 for a pair of jeans – especially if a similar $10 pair could be found only several racks down. If someone frequently buys their clothes at this pacing, they’ll probably need a title loan to cover that difference.

This is all to say that the frugal shopper really has little reason to buy items at full price these days, because there’s always a “sales” around the corner or a 50% off sign somewhere, and the problem is that a good number of times, these sales signs are a mix-bag in terms of savings. The fact is, as long as you plan ahead (and are willing to buy winter clothes during the spring), willing to buy online, don’t need to own the absolute latest styles, and have some flexibility with your purchase preferences (i.e., you don’t leave for the mall thinking “I must get a red suit jacket today”), then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to focus on the actual savings and ignore the “sales” that are meant to play with your mind.

 Relevant Reading:

Nope. Not one of those “get paid to work for Google” scammy ads. You can get up to $25 in Amazon gift card from Google by signing up to their Screenwise panel. Essentially you get $5 for downloading the Chrome browser and installing the extension. You then get $5 for every three month you stay with the panel program (up to $25 max).

Personally I wouldn’t want my personal data to be shared like this, even if its in aggregated/anonymous format, but for those that don’t care or mind, this is easy enough “free” money (in the form of Amazon gift cards anyways).

Here’s the full gist of the program:

  • You can sign up at the Google Screenwise program page
  • You must be 13 or older (surprisingly low age threshold)
  • Have a Google account (or will sign-up for one)
  • Using the Chrome web browser
  • You’ll eventually get instructions on how to install the extension and join the program through Google’s panel management partner, Knowledge Networks

The sign-up page at Google shows that the maximum payout is $25 (total of 12 months plus initial $5 they give you for signing up). However in the fine print Google notes that it may extend the research beyond 12 months if there is a need/fit.

Please note that I am assuming data being shared are on an aggregated or anonymous format, but you should check with the full program terms before you start using it on a day-to-day basis. I doubt the purpose of the program/panel will be recording your bank login information etc., but when you install additional extensions to your browser, you add new potential security risk.

If anything, I suppose people can always sign-up to the program and opt-out of the program after the initial gift card is given to you. *shrug*