Haggling To Get the Best Deal

“What do you think of when you first hear the word haggling? Do you imagine yourself at a flea market browsing the aisles for antiques? Or do you picture a garage sale with people looking through old boxes and milk crates full of odds and ends?

Most of my haggling has been done overseas while on vacation in a foreign country.

I absolutely love going to their local markets or even vendors on the side of the road and checking out their handicrafts. Locals know you’re a tourist and assume you have lots of money. In my experience, when I ask how much, I find they’ll often offer me a price which is pretty high (It helps to know the conversion rate to see if you’re being ripped off, as well as a bit of the language so you can ask how much and say things like too expensive).  And so begins the battle of bargaining, naming prices back and forth until either you’re satisfied or you walk away in search of a better bargain.”

Read more about my thoughts on haggling @ Suburban Finance.



Kid Couture

Kid CoutureThat kid looks like an effin’ hipster. Why can’t kids just look and dress like kids?

I don’t get it.

Is it just me or are kids and teenagers these days a hell of a lot more stylish and cool than back in the day? When I was a kid, there weren’t many clothing stores as there are now that catered to the tweens and/or teenagers. I wore the matching sweatshirt and sweatpants. I know that 80s fashion is currently in style, but even growing up in the 80s, I wasn’t very stylin.’ I was never a fashionista and nor do I think I will ever be. I am that person who will help boost that salesperson’s commission by asking them for help when trying on stuff, because I usually shop alone (I find I get shopping done faster and more efficient when I shop alone. I also don’t spend as much money). I also don’t know what the heck I’m doing when it comes to clothing. I have less clothes than my bf. He is no fashionisto (?) either, but when you have less clothes than your bf, that tells you something: I HATE shopping and I have a fashion IQ of -5.

Now that there are so many other choices for tweens and teenagers other than the usual department stores (I did a lot of back to school shopping at Sears and JC Penny whenever we went across the border). I often wonder just how obsessed the youth are with brand names. They have way too many choices nowadays. I know peer pressure and advertising have a lot to do with it, but to what extent does parental influence play a role? My mom was somewhat into fashion and is still into a few designer names, but I never felt a strong influence from her to display this on my body. I went to a Catholic high school so we had to wear uniforms, unless it was a designated day where the students could wear normal “civvies” clothing. I always felt so much more relaxed on those days because I was wearing what the public school kids got to wear everyday. I vaguely recall stressing out on what to wear, but never to the point where I was concerned whether or not my jeans were Guess jeans.

What I really don’t understand is why parents dress their babies and toddlers up in expensive get-ups. I thought this was something only celebrities did. It almost annoys me. Aside from the obvious fact that babies and toddlers can’t dress themselves, they also can’t think or speak for themselves. They have no idea they are wearing high-end clothing. They don’t know what’s in style and what’s not. It’s just another piece of fabric that they’ll outgrow and drool/spit up on. But hey, they look good and shouldn’t looking good matter when you’ve only been in this world for less than a couple of years? Kids are already expensive enough as it is. Buying them expensive clothing starting at age 0 won’t help your budget. I honestly think it is such a waste of money because you’ll go through clothing faster than you can say Michael Kors.

In an alternate reality, if I was to pro-create and bear offspring, I would dress my kids in second-hand clothing for as long as I could. I would gladly accept hand me downs or go shopping at Target. I don’t care about kid couture and neither should my hypothetical kids. A kid that makes fun of another kid because he doesn’t have the right brand of jeans probably inherited that superficial way of thinking from his parents. Either that or he’s just a plain sh** disturber. Sure parents want what’s best for their children and maybe they want to spoil them with things they never had growing up. But parents should also want their kids to not be so style-conscious as such as young age or be so judgemental and like people for who they are. Not what make and model their running shoe is.

So, would you buy your child that Lululemon hoodie? For me, it would be on two conditions: 1. They paid for a portion of it through their allowance or a part-time job. 2. It was a reward for getting on the honour roll.

(Kid couture is way overrated)


Secondhand isn’t Second Class

First class, first place. When something is #1, it is considered to be the best.

With that being said, buying or owning secondhand clothing/items was almost never an option in my family. I grew up believing that  it had to be brand new in order to be the best.  Read more about it in Suburban Finance.

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3 Responses to Secondhand isn’t Second Class

  1. Many people feel that way but I have proudly always done the bulk of my clothing shopping at Goodwill and other thrift stores like it. I have even managed to find some collectibles over the years at Goodwill and sold them for a profit on ebay.
    zimmy recently posted…Freelance Writer? Earn Some Extra Money With DevtomeMy Profile

    • makinthebacon

      That’s pretty cool you were able to find some collectibles at Goldwill and sell them for a profit on eBay. I wonder if people who are getting rid of stuff realize that some of it may be worth something to someone on eBay.

      • Yep, they are. When you donate to Goodwill, the stuff gets sorted into three different categories. Website auction, in-store auction and floor sales. People donate high quality gold and silver jewelry as well as other collectibles so they can take the full value as a tax deduction. The really good stuff never makes it to any Goodwill store. It all goes to the website.

        It actually makes sense if you think about it. If they had gold and silver items worth several hundred dollars in the stores, they would have to have security guards, cameras, more expensive doors etc.

        Zimmy recently posted…Freelance Writer? Earn Some Extra Money With DevtomeMy Profile



“Z” You Later:The Takeover of Zellers by Target

If you’re Canadian, “Zed” you later sounds odd, but I know a lot of people from the US read this blog, so “Zee” you later is pretty fitting for the title of this post.

As I was driving into the mall last week, I happened to notice the Target sign over the former Zellers. Zellers is just one of the many stores that has been taken over by an American counterpart, with the majority of them being closed down.  I am quite excited for Target to becoming out, but at the same time sad. We are losing yet ANOTHER Canadian brand. No offense to Zellers, but I almost never got anything from that store. It was just a mere gateway to the rest of the mall and well, you can’t beat the prices at Wal-Mart for a lot of things. Zellers always seemed to be filled with more employees than shoppers. With one of the Zellers in the city I live  in, I noticed it was mainly senior citizens who shopped there. Perhaps they had a strong brand loyalty to big red Z (Zee, Zed, potato, pah-tato).

In addition to takeover of Canadian retail stores, there is the expansion of US stores into Canada. So Canadians are being bombarded with American brands left, right and centre. I am not against American brands(I am falling so head over heels in love with Starbucks it’s not even funny. I have shares in the company),  but the introduction of more American stores, may threaten the life of our existing Canadian stores. Call me patriotic but  sometimes its nice knowing its a Canadian company and whoa, get this it’s made in Canada still??!?!(Errrr…here and there). I still think Canadian Tire money is fun!!

What doesn’t make sense to me are the new rules for duty-free shopping. Check out this article in moneyville: New duty-free rules to fuel cross-border stampede. It mentions that: The duty-free limit for stays of more than 24 hours will be boosted to $200 from $50. Limits for visits longer than 48 hours will be increased to $800. The previous limits were $400 for a week and $750 for more than a week. Now I’m no retail strategist expert or economist buff, but wouldn’t you want Canadians to spend most of their money in Canada?

Growing up, my family used to go border shopping in the outlet stores in Buffalo. This was long before stores such as Old Navy, the Children’s Place, and Marshall’s made their way to the Canadian side. I remember getting clothes and my parents telling me to rip the tags off, crinkle the clothes up and change into them in the washroom to pretend that they were old and we had worn them already coming into the US. I remember being very excited about going to the States, not so much for the deals, but more for the back to school shopping. This lessened the chances of me having the same outfits as the other kids, unless they also happened to border shop at the same store and get the exact same thing. Which never happened.

I love going on vacation, but I don’t love the idea of going on vacation to shop. As I got older and more aware of my spending when we went border shopping, I almost felt pressure to find something because we drove all this way, spent this much money on food, gas and sometimes hotel. I know some people who enjoy shopping in the US and will travel the distance just to go to a certain outlet mall. That’s fine by me, but there are so many stores right here in my neighbourhood. Best thing of all? It’s a 15 min drive away. Ok, maybe they don’t have certain brands or there are certain stores that are only in the US, but its only a matter of time till almost all our Canadian stores are gone. But that’s fine, cause bye, bye, bye will still mean buy, buy, buy.

Canadian readers, do you feel we’re being Americanized too much?

American readers, do you ever go cross-border shopping to Canada for certain stores? Are there certain Canadian brands you prefer? The only Canadian expansions (not even a takeover, just an expansion) that spring to mind are Tim Horton’s (whose coffee I think is pretty gross. Sorry) and Lululemon.


The Mall Can Be A Temptation Island

Shopping at the mall

Let me rephrase that. The Mall IS a Temptation Island. It beckons you with all your favourite stores, the sales, and fun, bright displays. Of course, it has a Starbucks too! Stores tempting you to cheat on your bank account and max out  your credit card.

Have you noticed how all retailers have merchandise displayed at the check out? Impulse Buy Central. Last minute purchases to add on to you what you are already buying. They are something for you to look at and examine while you wait in line to pay. Hey, I could use an extra pair of socks. I’m always losing them in the dryer. Or, this hairband will go great with my new outfit. Wal-Mart and Winners are a couple of stores who have created  what I like to call an Impulse Buy Line Up. As you are waiting in line, the impulse buys are lined up right beside you before you are at cash. As you move further along the line, you are still constantly looking at merchandise.  I didn’t think I needed gum, but now that its right here in front of me, I can add it to my cart.  When I go through these lines, I usually try and block it out of my peripheral vision.

When I walk into a store, I often make a beeline for the sale rack., which is often at the back of the room. That means you have to manuever your way through the tempting new arrivals priced at regular price Again, block it out of your peripheral vision and focus on your target. The red sale sign.

Just like they say never shop for groceries when you’re hungry, that saying should also go for when you go to the mall. Since I shop like a guy, I try to be in and out of the store as quick as possible. But sometimes the satisfying your craving monster takes over. I can understand if people are in the mall for a couple of hours, they can get hungry. The food court is there for them and also the people who work in the mall. There are just too many added food temptations. Smoothie bars, pretzel stands, coffee shops, frozen yogurt. This post is making me hungry! I sometimes try and bring a granola bar and water bottle with me to tie me down till I get home. I can’t justify paying for water when I know I can get it for free. There should be more water fountains available in the mall.

When it comes to the mall, I would suggest a plan of attack. If possible, arrive at the mall with a full stomach.  This may seem like too much effort, but do your research. Almost all retailers nowadays have an online website. I tend to browse the sites before I go to the mall to get an idea of what they have, how much they cost. Like grocery shopping, come with a list and stick to it. Buy only what you need. Call me a shopping  drill sargeant, but maybe you need to whip your finances into shape. How many times have you or someone you know has said they walked into the mall with the intention of buying only “blank”, but ended up getting “blank” and a whole crapload of other “blank, blank, blank, blank, blank?”