Tag Archives: deals

Buyer beware if it’s too good to be true

So you know those Kindle gadgets? Tony’s been talking about getting one for a while. He’s an English professor, so he’s usually got a stack of about 10 books on his bedside table that he’s actively reading. Many of the books he reads are classics that have now entered public domain, which means they’re available for free as e-books. A Kindle makes them nice and portable. Plus, you know, fun toy!

We never updated our tax withholdings for the baby, so we received a sizable refund this year. Most of it is going right into the bank to replenish our emergency fund. But we decided to splurge on a little something, and $140 seemed like a reasonable splurge, especially since our income increased with Tony’s new job.

We put a lot of research into e-readers in general. We considered the Nook, the Kindle, and the Sony. Ultimately, we were pretty sold on the Kindle for a wide array of reasons that I’m not going to get into.

We’d made up our minds, but Tony was only slightly hesitant because he’s convinced that the Kindle will drop below $100 in the next year or so. He’s been saying all along that once the price is $99, he wants to buy one.

So imagine our excitement when we stopped to look at the Kindle display in Target last night and OMG! There was one marked down to $99! It was labeled as “repackaged.”

We were wary at first, so we asked the associate. Was it damaged? He said nope, it had just been opened and returned, and the only thing wrong with it was the torn packaging. Did the same return policy apply to repackaged items just in case there was something wrong? Yep, 90 days with a receipt.

Still a little wary, we headed to the customer service desk just to be sure. A second associate assured us that the only problem with “repackaged” items was that the packaging had been opened, and that we’d be able to return it no problem.

We were obviously pumped. It seemed like fate! Tony wanted to pay $99 for a Kindle, and we’d found a $99 Kindle! We were sold.

After we bought it, we rushed out to the car to open our new toy and take a look. It looked perfect! No scratches, no defects!

Then I realized there was something conspicuously missing … the power adapter and USB cord. I checked inside the box, under the packaging, everywhere. No power adapter or cord. Crap.

Thankfully, we’d covered our bases. Tony went right back into the store and returned it. The customer service rep’s weak sauce excuse? “We take our customers’ word for it when they return an item, and we assume all parts are included.”

Um, what? So someone returned the item opened, and nobody bothered to crack open the box to be sure that all the parts were there before slapping a discount sticker on it and sticking it back on the shelf? Granted, there was a deep discount, but still! If parts were missing, I think it should be clearly labeled on the box so customers know what they’re purchasing. Furthermore, if the store’s policy is not to check returned items, then customer service reps should warn wary customers that the item is “as is,” and it may be missing integral parts. They should not assure customers that the item is perfectly fine except for some torn packaging. What the heck?

If I had gone back to return it, I would have spoken to a manager to complain. Perhaps I could have gotten a gift card or something for our trouble. Unfortunately, I had to send Tony in because Judah had started to fuss in his car seat, and I didn’t want to leave Tony in the car while he screamed his head off. I can typically keep him calm, so I stayed behind. Tony settled for a full refund.

Eh well. The moral of the story is an old one that you’ve certainly heard before: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If we hadn’t been told the item was returnable, we most definitely would have asked to open it in the store before purchasing to make sure it was functional and all the parts were there. As it turned out, we didn’t get the deal we were hoping for, but no harm was done.

What a bummer, though, right?

This post is not sponsored by Kindle or Amazon. However, the link to the Kindle is an Amazon affiliate link.

$20 Amazon gift card for $10

You’ve probably already seen this, but I just wanted to pass it along just in case. Right now, you can get a $20 Amazon gift card for just $10 on the deal site Living Social. It’s available in all markets, and if three of you use my referral link, mine is free. :)

Don’t forget to pass it on to everyone you know! If three people use your referral link, yours could be free, too!

Save instead of spending this Black Friday

Open an ING checking account today, and you’ll get a $121 bonus!

If you’ve been thinking about trying this great online bank, now is the best time. I’ve written before about just how happy I am using ING as my primary bank. They offer some of the best interest rates out there, and the customer service is phenomenal. Here’s how to take advantage of this deal:

  • Open a checking account today and use the promo code EOSAVE
  • Use your new debit card to make 3 purchases in the first 45 days of your account. Do not debit these transactions. Make sure you run it as a credit and sign for it.
  • On the 50th day, your bonus will be automatically deposited into your account.

If you decide to open a new account and make an initial deposit of at least $250, would you use one of my referral links below? I’ll get a $10 bonus for letting you know about this great deal!

Start saving now!

Start saving now!

Start saving now!

Start saving now!

Start saving now!

Happy deal hunting today! I’ll be cozy at home avoiding all the madness. :)

Sign up for a FREE 6-week trial of Blockbuster by Mail

Blockbuster_logo.svgI personally use Netflix, but this deal is almost too good to pass up. Today first-time users can enroll in a six-week trial of Blockbuster by Mail ($26 value) for free!

Just go to Blockbuster.com, sign up for an account, and use the promo code groupon. Pay attention to the expiration date, though! If you forget to cancel your subscription at the end of trial period, your account will automatically renewed and charged for a month of service.

You can read the terms and conditions here.  Enjoy!

Things to consider when making a big purchase

canon-xsLast weekend, I made a huge purchase. I bought a camera that cost almost a whole paycheck. Yikes.

We’ve been thinking about it and saving for months. I planned to wait until we saved enough, but I realized that I could buy it now with the money I’ve earned from this here blog (thanks for reading!) in addition to my savings. We felt ready to make the purchase. We thought it through, researched, and decided to finally take the leap.

Despite all of this, I still woke up last night in a cold sweat. We spent $750 on a camera. Holy cow. I thought about all of the things we could do with that money, especially since we’re still saving for our emergency fund and Europe and moving and eventually a house.

I calmed down when I reminded myself of all the steps we took to ensure this was a good purchase:

Ask yourself why you want it and what it will add to your life.

If you don’t need the item, then think about why you want it. I love to take photos, and they’ll be even more important when we have a baby. We have a point-and-shoot camera, but I want more control over my pictures. Photography is a hobby I’ve always wanted to pursue, but my lack of proper equipment was holding me back. This camera will allow me to pursue photography as a hobby and take high quality pictures of our memories.

On the flip side, several months ago we considered buying a TV. We have an old TV that works fine, but we considered getting an HDTV. We decided that it wouldn’t add enough to our lives to justify the cost. Our TV works, and we don’t care about the difference in picture quality that much, so a new TV wasn’t worth the money.

Do your homework.

Before making a major purchase, make sure what you’re buying will last and perform the functions you want. I thought about the type of photos I like to take, made a list of functions I needed, talked to some photographers I know, and read forums to determine which camera would be best.

I decided I needed a digital SLR camera to get the speed and control I want and a telephoto lens for the portraits and close-up shots that I like to take.

I chose the Canon Rebel XS. There are newer, pricier models, but the XS is suitable for me, so upgrading to a newer model isn’t worth the money.

Start making price comparisons.

I looked at used cameras, but resale value is so high that buying used in good condition would only save me about $50.

I could get the camera and an 18-55mm lens on Amazon for $500 without the telephoto lens. Adding a Canon brand telephoto lens added another $250, bringing the total cost to $750.

I found an amazing deal on eBay for the camera, three lenses (including a Tamron 28-80mm and a Canon 75-300mm) and a ton of equipment like memory cards, carrying case, digital card reader, tripods and other things that I don’t really need but may use as I learn more about photography. The total cost is $750.

I considered buying the camera with the 18-55mm lens for $500 and getting the telephoto lens later, so I broke it down by value. I needed a high capacity memory card ($25-$30) and camera case to protect the camera ($30). Ignoring all the other extras, that brings the cost of the lenses alone to under $200. There’s no way I’ll find two digital lenses, especially not a Canon telephoto, for under $200. Considering the huge list of extras in addition to the lenses, it was best to spend the extra $250 now. If I don’t use all of the extra equipment, I can always resell it to get some of my money back.

Don’t choose a bargain over quality.

For major purchases, it’s almost always worth it to spend a little more for the best possible quality. I hope to have this camera for years to come, which means the additional cost will be worth it in the long run.

I can’t wait to share my photos with you!

Wow, did I get a great deal on new clothes

My shopping trip yesterday was a phenomenal success. I was looking for fashionable, versatile clothing that would be professional enough for an upcoming business trip and comfortable enough to wear in my pretty casual office. I shopped with a friend, and we went to Anthropologie, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.

Before the trip, I decided I could afford to spend $150. That felt like a lot of money to spend on clothing in one month, but I haven’t shopped in about a year.

My friend suggested Anthropologie because I was looking for fashion, and even though they offer a pretty large sale selection, the sale prices were high for me. I did end up getting a nice cardigan from the sale rack, but at $40 it was the most expensive item I bought today.

Banana Repubic and Old Navy (as well as the Gap) are offering 30% off your entire purchase this weekend. This is in addition to sale prices and clearance mark downs. I found a TON of great stuff. After Banana Republic, I was still under budget, so I took my coupon to Old Navy where I bought some plain layering tees and camis — stuff that I always need, but usually don’t want to spend the money to get.

Here’s what I bought:

  • 1 pair dress pants
  • 2 cardigan sweaters
  • 3 dressy shirts
  • 5 layering camis
  • 2 t-shirts for me
  • 4 t-shirts for Tony

My total ended up being $165.22. If I had paid full price (which I would never do, but it’s still fun to see), it would have been $478.77. That’s a savings of over 65% off the original price!

It’s unlikely I would ever pay full price since I always shop the sales. A more likely scenario is that I would have paid sale and clearance prices without the 30% discount. If that was the case, it would have been $218.03 (including my $40 cardigan, which wasn’t marked down another 30%). So the 30% discount at Banana Republic and Old Navy saved me roughly $52.81.

How did I do it? Well, obviously, the 30% off everything sale really helped. But I also shopped exclusively from the clearance and deeply discounted racks. Not a single item was full price, even without the 30% discount.

My favorite item is a button-down cardigan. It was hanging on the clearance rack, marked down to $9.97 from $79. Why was it marked down almost 90%, and why on Earth was it still on the rack at that price? Well, there was a pretty big rip in the seam on the neckline. Because it was “damaged,” they took an additional 10% off the clearance price. Then I got another 30% off that. I paid $6.28 total for the sweater, which is a total savings of 92% off the original price.

When I got home, I stitched up the rip in the seam, and now the sweater is good as new. Even without the extreme discounts, it probably would have been my favorite item because it’s so versatile, comfortable, and cute. Never disregard the “damaged” items! It’s often a simple fix, and you can get some amazing deals if you’re willing to do some stitching.

The most important thing is that my wardrobe is refreshed with nice, versatile clothing that I can wear for business and daily life. But it definitely helps that I found such great deals!

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I strongly suggest you head over to Old Navy, Banana Republic, and the Gap to see if there’s anything left on the clearance racks. The 30% off sale ends today!

The results of my search for low-priced contact lenses

I agreed to let my optometrist write my prescription for newer lenses instead of the older ones I’ve been using. I like that the new ones are monthly instead of bi-weekly lenses. I also found they were more comfortable than my old lenses, and the office assured me that they would end up costing roughly the same amount per year as my old lenses.

However, I made sure I would be able to change my mind. Since the lens brand is part of the prescription, they told me they could only write it for a certain brand. I was nervous about finding a good deal on the newer lenses, though. I made sure that if I decided after doing some comparison shopping that the new lenses were just too expensive, I could call the optometrist’s office and have them write me a new prescription for the old lenses. They said that would be fine.

Before I left the office, I had them price a year’s supply of contacts with my insurance discount and any rebates. The original price was $250 for a year’s supply or $62.50 per box. A 20 percent discount through my insurance would bring the total to $200.

There was also a $50 mail-in rebate for a year’s supply. However, I would need to mail in my receipt and proof of purchase, and then wait for a check. With discounts and rebates, the total would be $150 or $37.50 per box. Not great, but I guess it could be worse.

When I asked for my prescription, the manager of the optical office said I should let him know if I found a lower price. He said sometimes he’s able to match prices. Good to know, though I didn’t end up taking him up on it.

Next I checked at 1800-contacts.com (which¬† powers WalMart.com contact lens sales). I was not impressed at all. Their price was $50 per box. They offered an automatic $30 discount for a year’s supply, which would bring the total to $170 or $42.50 per box.

Today I checked Costco. The regular price was $32.25 per box. They also offered an electronic rebate of $20 for a year’s supply. The final price was $109 or $27.25 per box. That’s $90 less than I would have paid out of pocket at the optometrist’s office, and $40 less after all the discounts and rebates they offered.

For the record, I also priced my old lenses just for comparison’s sake. A year’s supply at Costco would have cost $112. So I actually saved $3 by going with the new, high-tech lenses. :)

It seems like a lot of money in a lump sum. However, since they’re monthly lenses, it works out to about $9 a month. It doesn’t seem too expensive when you think about it that way.

I feel bad for all those years that my parents ordered my contact lenses directly through the optometrist. Even with discounts and rebates, it’s usually just not the best deal.

I was also surprised to find out that 1800contacts isn’t as great a bargain as I thought. I think a lot of people order through them without shopping around, because they market themselves as the lowest-priced contacts dealer. 1800contacts were actually more expensive than the optometrist’s office, though. Just thought that was interesting.

Just remember, there’s almost always a better deal out there if you’re willing to do some leg work.

Be wary of liquidation sales

I came across this video, and I couldn’t resist posting it.

Just as I suspected, liquidation prices aren’t necessarily the best deals. No matter where you’re purchasing an item, make sure you’ve done your homework to ensure you’re getting the lowest possible price.

In the end, the supposed “percentage off” is less important than the final price. Always shop for the lowest final price, not the largest percentage off.

The second most frugal way to buy contacts

The best way to save money on contacts is to wear glasses instead. You can get a great deal at online discount stores like Zenni Optical, and a good pair of glasses will long outlast your supply of contact lenses.

I’ve had the same pair of glasses for two years, and they’re still in great shape.

As much as I’d like to give up contacts, I just can’t get over my discomfort with glasses. My lenses magnify my eyes, making me look pretty silly. So I only wear my glasses in the evening and at home.

I have an eye exam scheduled for this weekend, and it’s time for me to order new contacts. In the past I’ve ordered them from the same place where my exam is done. This time, I’m doing some research to find a better deal.

Here’s what I’m doing to make sure I pay the lowest price possible:

I’m taking my prescription with me.

I’ll have my doctor write a prescription for my contacts so I can shop around online and in stores for the best price.

I’m checking prices everywhere.

I’m not thrilled with the prices at 1800contacts.com, so I’m checking prices at Wal-Mart, Costco, and other places to find the absolute lowest price.

I’m looking for online coupons.

There are a ton of coupons for online contact lens dealers. I’m finding the best ones so I can figure them into the online prices for a real comparison.

By shopping around, I’m hoping I can get a 6-month supply for $75. The best I’ve found so far is $100 for a 6-month supply. Hopefully I can do better than that!

Where do you buy contact lenses?