Tag Archives: Shopping

The Lifehacker Guide to Surviving Black Friday

The Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year to score deals on everything from TVs to gadgets, but braving the swarming mass of shoppers is a challenge. These tips will keep you on your toes and ready to snag the deals you have your eye on.

Last year, 60% of Americans went shopping on Black Friday and spent about $67 billion. If you want to get in on the deal hunting action, here’s what you need to know:

  • Get in line early: Some stores will open as early as Thursday afternoon, and many steadfast shoppers will start getting in line for other stores six to eight hours before they open. It might seem like long hours, but you could net savings of up to $70 per hour.
  • Do your research: Know what deals you want and know where they’ll be inside the store. That way you can get in, grab the goods, and get out.
  • Dress appropriately: The more layers you can put on the better. It’ll be cold while you wait in line, and a little extra padding can help you fend off feisty shoppers.
  • Stay calm, comfortable, and humble: Tensions will be running high, so it’s important to keep a level head as products go flying off the shelves. Stay hydrated and bring a snack so you don’t get hangry. And if you manage to grab an awesome deal on a limited product, avoid gloating to other shoppers. You never know what they might do.

Of course, the best way to take on Black Friday is from the comfort of your own home. There will be tons of Cyber Monday deals, so skip the crowds and shop in your pajamas. You save yourself a bunch of money and a whole lot of stress.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Digital Kitchen Scale

A digital kitchen scale is an essential tool for anybody that likes to cook or bake. They provide accuracy for making your recipes more reliable and easy to cook. If you’re in the market for one, these are the qualities you should look for.

In this video from the America’s Test Kitchen YouTube channel, chef Lisa McManus reviews the best kitchen scales out there (you can find a complete list here). Based on their results, a good digital kitchen scale should be:

  • Accurate: If it’s not accurate, it’s useless. Fortunately, every scale they tested with lab-calibrated weights scored well.
  • Easy to use: You should be able to switch from grams to ounces quickly, and the controls should be intuitive and easy to access.
  • Legible: The digital display should be large, use big digits, have sharp color contrast, and a backlight option. Also, a large bowl shouldn’t completely obscure the screen.
  • Durable: You should be able to plop your scale on the counter without it being damaged.
  • Easy to clean: The scale should have a removable platform for easy cleanup, and the scale shouldn’t have nooks and crannies that easily trap food and water residue.

So what was their top pick? They went with the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display which runs for $50, followed by the Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale as a best buy option for about $12.

http://lifehacker.com/5840209/why-yo…

Equipment Review: Best Digital Kitchen Scales | YouTube

Avoid Using Hard Numbers When Haggling Your Way to a Deal

Avoid Using Hard Numbers When Haggling Your Way to a Deal

Haggling isn’t just about being a smooth negotiator, it’s about not shooting yourself in the foot. Avoiding hard numbers gives a sales associate more wiggle room and increases your chances of getting a deal.

Being too blunt with a salesperson will kill the conversation fast. In the book You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get, author Janet F. Williams recommends you stay away from specifics when you’re trying to squeeze more out of your purchase:

As soon as you ask for a specific deal—10 percent off, $50 off—you set a limit… If you make it clear you’re looking to save but don’t say anything specific, it allows the salesperson the space to come up with their own creative way to help you.

They might give you a discount, especially if there’s an obvious defect, but they might not be able to. Still, there’s a possibility they’ll give you savings in other ways, like offering free delivery or telling you about an upcoming sale that will save you more on the product. You may not get what you wanted originally, but you’ll get something—and something is better than nothing.

http://lifehacker.com/talk-your-way-…

6 Surefire Ways to Negotiate at Retail Stores (Even If You Hate to Haggle) | Mental Floss

Photo by Barney Moss.

How Much Do You Save With Generic Brands, and When Is Spending More Worth It?

How Much Do You Save With Generic Brands, and When Is Spending More Worth It?

We all know that the generic, store brand of most goods are cheaper. Most of them are usually just as good if not identical to the name brand. We want to know how much you save by going with the off brand.

Personal finance site Three Thrifty Guys decided to make a chart of their own experience with this experiment. During a typical shopping trip, the site compared prices between 16 different items they normally buy. They found that what would normally cost $56.24 for name brand goods only cost $41.51 by buying store brand items. A total savings of $14.73. Not too bad!

I was surprised at how quickly the savings added up. Choosing the cheapest option resulted in over 25% savings! For my wife and I (no kids), there would be about a $60 difference between choosing generic brand and named brands each month.

Of course, everyone buys different stuff, so how does your experience differ? Have you ever compared your usual shopping budget to see how much you save by skipping the big name labels? Alternatively, when is it worth it to you to spend the extra money to get a different brand?

Brand Name vs. No-name Brand: A Price Comparison | Three Thrifty Guys

Photo by Bossi.

Beware the “Productivity Spending” Trap

Beware the “Productivity Spending” Trap

It feels good to get stuff done, but sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking we’re accomplishing tasks that aren’t actually very important—like buying stuff we don’t really need.

Personal finance blog Brooklyn Bread explains:

If you can put a purchase off and it is not saving you money to buy it now, then the smart thing is to delay. But my busy-infected neurons are telling me that I am accomplishing something by incurring the cost now…Like checking email 100 times a day, hitting click on a purchase is an easy way to feel like we are doing something that we need to do. If I really wanted to be productive in that small free moment, I should have planned out dinner for the next two nights. That actually would have been productive, and saved money by ensuring I did not order out. I am trying to be a lot more aware of those purchases that my brain disguises as “getting stuff done.”

This post hit home for me. I’ve been spending a crazy amount of cash on Amazon lately, ever since I moved into a new place. Adding a few house-related items to my cart here and there somehow made me feel like I was getting stuff done. In a way, marking these items off my shopping list gave me a productivity high. The problem is, I was wasting a lot of time consuming, plus, the cost of this “high” can add up.

http://lifehacker.com/5887345/start-…

It’s not to say you should never buy things you want or need. However, it’s easy to convince yourself shopping is productive, and that can be a dangerous trap for your finances. To read more about this, head to Brooklyn Bread’s full post at the link below.

The Productivity Spending Trap | Brooklyn Bread via Rockstar Finance

Photo by Robbert Noordzij

Head to the Baby Food Aisle for Flavorful Fruit and Vegetable Purees With No Additives

It might feel strange to head to the baby food aisle when you don’t need to feed a baby, but if you ever make a dish that requires pureed fruit or vegetables and you don’t want to do it yourself, it’s your best destination. You’ll get a flavorful puree without unnecessary additives or ingredients.

The video above from the Tastemade YouTube channel is really about how to make a delicious mango pudding, but at about the one minute mark, Dzung Duong offers a tip that I found surprisingly useful: the baby food aisle is the best place to get purees if you’re looking for quality—even if you plan to use them in your own recipes. After all, it makes sense: baby food is tightly controlled, and usually the options in the baby food aisle will be devoid of some of the same additives, sweeteners, and preservatives you’ll find in the canned food or bottled food aisles for adults. So you’ll get better flavor, and while baby food can be more expensive, you may not need as much as you’d buy elsewhere in the store, and your final dish will be better as a result.

It’s a simple tip, but one that can save you time if you don’t want to puree something on your own for a recipe, for example, but don’t want to give up delicious results either.

Mango Pudding | Dzung Duong | Tastemade (YouTube)

Goodreads Deals Sends Your Personalized Deals Based On Your Profile

Goodreads Deals Sends Your Personalized Deals Based On Your Profile

The biggest problem with most deals newsletters is the fact they don’t really cater to your personalized preferences. Goodreads, the Amazon-owned book collectors site, is attempting to fix that with a fully customizable deals email.

When you first sign up for the Goodreads Deals, you’re asked what you want to get emails about. If you don’t want a ton of emails, you can restrict the newsletters to just “Deals from my Want to Read shelf,” and “Deals from my authors,” so you only get emails about relevant discounts. Of course, for either of these to work, you’ll need to follow some authors and put some books onto your “Want to Read” shelf in Goodreads. If you just want to see all the deals, you can pick a few genres too, in which case you’ll get a daily email with any discounts going on in a genre as a whole. You’ll only get discount emails from the retailers you choose, which includes Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, or Kobo.

Goodreads Deals

Don’t Give Thoughtful Gifts, Give Your Friends What They Actually Want

Don't Give Thoughtful Gifts, Give Your Friends What They Actually Want

Thoughtful gifts are the best gifts, right? Not so fast. Choosing a “thoughtful” gift might be more selfish than letting your gift recipient choose their own gift.

Researchers at Ward of Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Austin conducted a series of experiments with 90 college students. Half were put in the gift recipient group and asked to choose a lamp to put on their gift registry. The other half, the givers, were asked to pick out a lamp for the recipients from five options, with one lamp marked as the one on the person’s registry.

The results are fascinating. Only 23 percent of the gift givers chose a different lamp for the other person if they weren’t close friends. However, if the gift giver and recipients were friends? An incredible 61 percent of the gift givers ignored the registry choice and selected a different lamp.

Although it’s a small sample size, the studies point out the bias we have when selecting gifts for our friends. Gift-giving is an occasion to share your personal interests with the recipient or demonstrate how well you know him or her. Whether consciously or not, we consider our own need to choose a “meaningful” gift and our relationship with the person rather than what the person might really want (even as stated on the gift registry!). The Washington Post explains:

The discrepancy seems to come from a simple misplaced belief that thoughtful presents are the best presents. They are not. In fact, they might just be the worst presents. The more thought you put into a present, the more likely you are to stray from buying what the person you’re buying the present for actually wants.

“Gift givers tend to focus on what people are like instead of what people actually would like,” said Steffel. “And it’s most pronounced when they’re shopping for people they are close to.”

In other words, people let their gift-giving egos get in the way of great presents. Especially when the recipient is someone they want to show they know really well.

If there’s a registry, stick to it. If not, you might be better off asking your friend what he or she wants or giving a gift card with a suggestion for something he or she might like. Perhaps that sounds thoughtless and lazy, but your friend might appreciate it more. If you’re on the gift-receiving end, you could help your friends out by setting up your wish list.

Ask and You Shall (Not) Receive: Close Friends Prioritize Relational Signaling Over Recipient Preferences in Their Gift Choices | Social Science Research Network via The Washington Post

Why thoughtful gifts are the worst gifts | The Washington Post

Photo by OakleyOriginals.

Save Money on Coffins at Costco

Save Money on Coffins at Costco

Okay, the last thing you’re probably thinking of when preparing for someone’s funeral is the cost of the coffin. Funeral directors know this, however, and will take advantage of you. Don’t let them. You can buy coffins at Costco.

http://lifehacker.com/the-services-t…

At Costco.com, coffins start at $950, compared to the average coffin’s $2,000 cost. As the Motley Fool points out, the average casket buyer purchases one of the first three models shown by the funeral director, who no doubt starts with the high-end and mid-price models, never showing the cheapest options.

Costco might be an unlikely place to buy a coffin, but as with its other services and programs, it can help prevent you from spending a ton on a funeral.

4 Things You May Be Surprised to Learn Costco Sells | The Motley Fool

Save Money on Coffins at Costco

Save Money on Coffins at Costco

Okay, the last thing you’re probably thinking of when preparing for someone’s funeral is the cost of the coffin. Funeral directors know this, however, and will take advantage of you. Don’t let them. You can buy coffins at Costco.

http://lifehacker.com/the-services-t…

At Costco.com, coffins start at $950, compared to the average coffin’s $2,000 cost. As the Motley Fool points out, the average casket buyer purchases one of the first three models shown by the funeral director, who no doubt starts with the high-end and mid-price models, never showing the cheapest options.

Costco might be an unlikely place to buy a coffin, but as with its other services and programs, it can help prevent you from spending a ton on a funeral.

4 Things You May Be Surprised to Learn Costco Sells | The Motley Fool