Archive for the ‘Consumer Issues’ Category

Get Ready! Get Set! Save!!!

If you haven’t heard about the new savings craze, brace yourself!  The next time you’re out shopping at the local grocer or pharmacy, see if you can spot a shopper armed with a binder.  A binder, you ask?  Why would anyone walk around carrying a binder while shopping?  The simple answer…couponing. 

Super savvy shoppers have found a way for stores to practically pay them for shopping by wisely tendering coupons at the register.  Couponing isn’t just about occasionally saving a few pennies here and there.  It’s a lifestyle. 

Couponers approach saving from a different perspective than most shoppers.  They don’t believe in paying asking price for grocery items, they pride themselves on matching coupons to sales cycles, and they stockpile goods for the long haul.  Couponers know price match policies and which stores will double – even triple – the face value of coupons.

I’ve long-considered myself a savvy shopper who knew about sales cycles and I could spot a good sale when I saw one.  A few times each year, I take such great advantage of sales at Kroger, that I leave feeling like I’ve robbed them!  I’ve been known to go crazy stocking up on $1.50 boxes of cereal and 25-cent cans of veggies in quantities that would sometimes draw stares from other shoppers.  I carry a coupon wallet in my purse and use targeted coupons that Kroger mails directly to me based on my previous shopping habits.  I’ve even loaded e-coupons onto my savings card and printed coupons from various online resources, but coupon queens put my shopping skills to shame with their ultra-keen savings strategies.

So, I’ve decided to embark on a couponing journey to learn as much as I can about the strategy and will try it on my very next trip to the grocery store and pharmacy.

I’ve already purchased a binder and dividers with inserts for coupons.  All that’s left is to gather and organize coupons, familiarize myself with store coupon policies, match my coupons to sales cycles, make my shopping list, put on my walking shoes, and save!  Sounds easy, huh?  We’ll see!

Wish me luck!

What couponing advice would you offer to an aspiring coupon queen?  Post your comments here!

Love to all!

CC

Elliptical vs. Treadmill

Treadmills are great for taking a stroll or going for a run while protected from the sometimes fierce weather or darkness.  So why am I looking to get rid of mine?

For years I’ve heard how great elliptical machines are on the knees.   Now that my knees, hips, and other lower parts seem to have given out on me, the excitement of hopping on the treadmill and running to exhaustion has lost its appeal.   So the purchase of a joint-friendly piece of exercise equipment seems to be in my near future.  I’ve listed pros and cons of both machines to help make a final decision as to whether I should replace my treadmill with an elliptical.

Elliptical

Pros

  • adjustable incline on some models
  • adjustable resistance for easier or more difficult workoutlow-impact, so no shin issues for me (huge plus!)
  • forward and reverse motion options – forward simulates cross country skiing when using the handlebars; reverse helps to target quadriceps muscleshigh-calorie burn
  • total body workout, since they’re equipped with cross country bars

Cons

  • potential injury to ankles and Achilles tendon due to the unique motion of the machine
  • since one size fits all, my shorter legs are more likely to become overextended causing injury; pulled muscles are, unfortunately, familiar to me, so the thought of buying a machine that could cause a repeat injury doesn’t sound appealing

Treadmill

Pros (for the model that I already own)

  • adjustable incline and speed
  • great when training for distance running
  • high calorie burn
  • total body workout (I have cross country bars on mine)

Cons

  • aggravates my shin pain
  • high impact movement is difficult on my hips and knees

Maybe you can help me by providing pros and cons for both types of equipment.

Do you own, or have you used, a variable stride elliptical?  How was the workout?

Post your personal treadmill and elliptical machine experiences here.

Love to all!

CC

Netflix vs. Movie Theater

Did you know that the average price for a movie ticket these days is nearly $8?  While that amount might sound low, it includes prices for matinees and children’s tickets.  Not so cheap-sounding anymore, huh?  And we haven’t even brought up the cost of concessions.  Yikes! 

The high price of movies has pretty much kept my family away from the big screen, except for blockbuster movies or special occasions (kids wanting to blow allowance).  Instead, we opt for Netflix.  In fact, we’ve turned to Netflix for our movie needs for five years now and it has never disappointed.  You simply can’t beat having movies delivered to your directly to your mailbox (and now your PC) for a small fraction of what it would cost to take your entire family to the megaplex.

Besides price and convenience, I love that Netflix has an incredible selection of family-friendly titles as well as my favorite thrillers and documentaries.

Netflix does have some competition from companies like Red Box, On Demand, and Blockbuster (the kiosks), but none of those are game-changers for me.  There’s something about an all-knowing movie-selection company that sends what I want, when I want, and suggests things that I’m not even aware that I want for the price that I want to pay.

The next family movie night in my house will undoubtedly involve a movie from Netflix and some inexpensive theater-sized treats enjoyed from the comfort of our own sofa and pj’s.

Do you Netflix, or are you among the $8 movie-goers?

Let’s chat!

Love to all!

CC

Hello, All! I’m A Thief!

Have you ever walked toward the exit of a store and had the low, groaning alarm with flashing red lights tell everyone there’s something in your bag that you didn’t buy?

Yep, it happened to me tonight. In my “I got some great deals while shopping” afterglow, I proudly walked toward the door with my daughters and a smile on my face, because we’d found tons of great deals on our shopping trip. The smile and afterglow were immediately wiped off my face when the store’s security traps began blinking bright red lights while impersonating a nuclear power plant red alert alarm. I sheepishly began the walk of shame over to the register, where the clerk who’d just scanned my items ordered me to let her take a second look at my bag. Well, she didn’t make me feel shameful, in fact, she tried to tell me that this kind of thing happened all the time. OK, but why? I am not a thief!

While I waited for the clerk to finish checking out the customer who was originally behind me in line, another customer joked that he, too, felt like a crook whenever the all-knowing electronic security guard did the same to him.

So how did it all end?  The clerk went through my bag and found a security device on a sweater that I’d just bought for 80% off.  Purchasing a sweater at 80% off made me feel like I’d just robbed the department store, but not literally! The bright side (there always is one if you take the time to look) – I’m glad that the clerk found the security device, because I’m not trendy enough to start new fads – let alone the bold fad of wearing security devices on new clothes.

Do you have a “Hello, all, I’m a thief” story? If so, let’s discuss it here.

Love to all!

CC

Grocery Store Woes

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time in grocery stores. Boy, has customer service changed! Clerks rarely make you feel welcome, checkout lines are long, and full-service checkout is suffering the same demise as the Sony Walkman.

Is it just me, or have you noticed that checkout clerks don’t seem happy to serve their customers and they really don’t want us to “come again”. We’re either interupting their gossip with a coworker, interfering with their text messaging or phone calls, or expecting them to return our plastic forms of payment or customer loyalty cards (as if they know what loyalty means) to our hands and not the check-writing counter. Speaking of counters, who still writes checks in stores? That’s a topic that deserves it’s own discussion.

Another trend has emerged within the past decade. Stores don’t seem to schedule enough people to work and they only open a small number of available registers even during expected rush-hours. What do they care? They already have you waiting in a line as long as a football field with a cart full of goods right? Not always! Twice in the past month, I’ve walked into a grocery store just to have to go right back out in search of a grocery cart. Seriously? Not a cart in sight? Yes, seriously; not a cart in sight.

Finally, what’s up with the move toward self-checkouts? I’m OK with self-checkouts for a small number of items, but why do these pennypinchers expect me to scan and bag large amounts of my family’s latest wants and needs? One local superstore typically has only 2-3 manned registers. Our checkout options aren’t very good; we can: use the express self-checkout lanes, use the “I’ve got a ton of groceries – maybe a cart or two” self-scan (and bag everything by myself!) lanes, or wait in a long, winding line for full-service. By the way, full-service doesn’t always include help bagging items and loading them into your cart. Many-a-times, the clerk handed over my receipt and began the next victim’s order – whether or not my items have been properly prepared for the trip home.

Fellow shoppers aren’t being let off the hook by this writer. The next time you’re finished loading your groceries onto the conveyer belt, please be courteous and use the divider thingy – especially if you’re much closer to it than the person behind you. Oh, and don’t forget to say, “please” and “thank you” to your checkout clerk – even if they don’t make you feel welcome. Then tell a store manager, so that future shopping trips can be a more pleasant exchange of money and service.

Maybe telling a manager won’t even matter, because one day, I’ll walk into a store and the only employees available will be self-scan registers that sometimes go haywire and have to reboot in the middle of my order. But hey, at least they’ll have good enough manners to thank me for shopping with {insert grocer or superstore here}.

Love to all! Let’s discuss.

CC

You Paid Retail? Gasp!

I’m a bargain shopper who nearly keels over at the thought of paying retail for just about anything from groceries to clothing to school supplies to nail polish.  Joyful is the shopper who uses coupon codes for online purchases!

If you didn’t already know, coupon codes for online shopping are just a click away, so before you check out of your next virtual shopping cart, take a trip on over to coupon codes sites such as Retail Me Not, Coupon Cabin, and Current Codes.  Why waste your money?

Love to all!

CC