Black Friday Tips

Black Friday_comingEvery year, Black Friday seems to come earlier.. Well this year is no exception. Yet to make things more interesting, here’s something that can be considered TIPS for shopping:

Full disclosure: I got most of these tips from reading The Simple Dollar, one of my most favorite blogs on the Web.

  • Black Friday deals are not really the best the day after Thanksgiving.. Best deals start on Thanksgiving day (The new norm for stores opening early on Turkey Day!), or weeks before Black Friday.. Amazon, Target, Walmart, Kohls is a key example of this
    • So when should you start shopping? USA Today says that Early November is when you should look for deals! So Black Friday now has so many pre-sales that, you don’t even have to wait till Black Friday to get the best deals!
    • Did you know Staples starts their Black Friday sales in Mid November (November 16th!)???

Did you know that for the past few days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, have pretty much melted together? Oh don’t get me wrong.. You can still get great deals on Cyber Monday, but.. buyer beware.. if you buy stuff on Cyber Monday, your delivery times WILL NOT be guaranteed!

Bottom line friends.. Deals can be had all year round. I’ve seen deals that will beat Black Friday deals starting in October.. That’s how fierce the competition is.

In my frugal mind, each month can be considered to be Black Friday.. as each month will find you the best deals as noted by Consumer Reports table that I excerpted below:

When to Buy
What to Buy
January Bedding/linens, Toys, Exercise equipment, TVs, Winter clothing
February Humidifiers, Indoor furniture, Exercise equipment
March Digital cameras, Humidifiers, Small consumer electronics,
TVs, Winter sports gear
April Computers, Digital cameras, Lawn mowers, Spring clothing
May Athletic apparel/shoes, Camping/outdoor gear, Carpeting, Cordless phones, Lawn mowers, Mattresses, Small consumer electronics
June Camcorders, Carpeting, Computers, Indoor furniture, Pots, pans, and dishware, Small consumer electronics, Summer sports gear, Swimwear
July Camcorders, Indoor furniture, Outdoor furniture, Swimwear
August Air conditioners, Backpacks, Dehumidifiers, Outdoor furniture, Snow blowers
September Bikes, Digital cameras, Gas grills, Lawn mowers, Shrubs, trees, and perennials, Small consumer electronics, Snow blowers
October Bikes, Computers, Digital cameras, Gas grills, Lawn mowers, Winter coats
November Baby products, Bikes
Camcorders, Gas grills, GPS navigators, Toys, TVs
December Bikes, Camcorders, Gas grills, GPS navigators, Home appliances (large and small), Small consumer electronics, Toys, TVs

Personally, Dad doesn’t even bother going out on Black Friday to get his deals.. I just watch my emails and use my iPhone with my Black Friday Apps to send me alerts on deals that allow me to beat the crowds!

How about using price trackers? Below are some that I checked out and found to be worth the click.

  • CamelCamelCamel – Amazon Exclusive
  • Slick Deals – My favorite as it gets me a deal across so many stores that offer in-store pickup and my favorite —> Free Shipping!
  • Price Zombie – This site put’s browser Add-on’s compatible with Safari, Chrome, and Firefox
  • BFAds – All major retailers as soon as they are leaked or published.

What I’ve learned over the past few years… It’s not when you buy, but how and the amount of effort it take to get the bargain. The last time I got up early in the morning as I painfully remember from my personal experience from a few years ago.. when my car’s battery died in the cold as I was amongst thousand’s of shoppers lined up at Best Buy waiting to get in at 5AM on Black Friday.. I said after that experience.. I’ve never stepped away from my keyboard to get the best deals!

If you have any Tips for shopping for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, I welcome your insights, after all, a good deal is what makes bargain hunting even more fun!

 

 

Netflix and Amazon Fast Instant Watcher

I’m a fan of both Netflix and Amazon video streaming and I struggle to find the one movie or TV show that I must watch.. Well I was reading one of my on-line papers and I saw this site Instant Watcher and I was really impressed!

I added it to my side links for Netflix as well.

As noted in Tech Crunch: Netflix in November of 2014 removed support for some of their API’s which allowed sites to filter and see popular titles, so this site is one that is still supported with Netflix API’s.

Below are some more sites that still work:

UPDATE: In a blog post, Netflix said that it would continue to work with a small number of select partners, including:

  • Instant Watcher
  • Fanhattan
  • Yidio
  • NextGuide
  • Flixster
  • Can I Stream It?
  • FeedFliks
  • Instant Watch Browser for Netflix

As I always say.. You can never get too much of streaming.. especially when you have your own man-cave!

Spring Forward 2013: Beginnings of Debt Free life

Wipe our Debt
Wipe our Debt (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

So this is the spring of 2013. Yet when I go outside, it still feels like Winter of 2013. The temperature is still hovering in the mid 30’s and I’m cold.

To me this spring is always the start of something new. This year, it’s the end of a burden and the start of a fresh start for something that I’ve written about in many of my postings. This topic of course is the ugly head of debt.

For the first time in over 20 years, I can truly say that I have zero credit card debt. Unfortunately, I was able to achieve this success not due to my ability to save money and pay off debts but due to the passing of my elderly father and his ability to save money for his children, so they can have the fruits of his love. The art of being frugal and saving.

I tell you, to have this burden of debt lifted off my shoulders is like having this huge elephant (that has been following me around for so many years), disappear. Now the task that remains for me is to make sure that I NEVER EVER get into this situation.

Here are some of the things my dad taught me that I didn’t learn till after he left us:

  • Live below your means. This doesn’t mean you have to live like a miser, but if you have things that work, why discard them for the latest greatest thing? For so many years, he lived with a 25-year-old 19 inch tube TV which was not even cable ready. Not until, did the picture fade, did he allow me to get him a new television. Once I got him the new flat screen, he did realize what he was missing, but he still said, “I could have lived with the old TV”. This may sound crazy to most but it makes sense to me now: This is how he lived. He didn’t need the latest greatest gadgets. He lived in a very modest apartment and to him, he had everything he needed. A sofa, recliner and his TV. He was happy with this so he could watch his beloved Yankees. Till the day he passed on, he didn’t even own a cell phone!
  • Don’t incur debts you can’t pay off – My dad, lived debt free for all his life. He never, ever had a credit card debt. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even use an ATM. If he spent $1 on credit card, he immediately wrote a check for $1 to the credit card company. I remember when he got me my first credit card when I graduated from college. He said to me: “If you can’t pay off what you buy, don’t buy it”. Now I get it.
  • Live to save for tomorrow, for tomorrow you may not have anything to save: Savings and self-preservation were the two of the mantra’s my dad lived with every day of life. He felt he would lose everything and would not be able to live independent. He didn’t want to be a burden on his kids, so he saved, saved and saved every day. I was always on his case to live a little, but he would just shake his head and say “one day you will understand”.. Well Baba, I get it now.. Thank you. 
  • Live Frugally: My dad, was so frugal that he didn’t need to buy new clothes. Ask yourself, how often do you buy new clothes, when your clothes in your closet will do just fine? Every aspect of his life defined frugality. He owned a car that was over 10 years old, everything in his home was things he had acquired from people who left stuff behind when they left the complex he lived in. He lived with the bare necessities and didn’t need much more. 
  • Vacations – Are a luxury not a necessity. When we were growing up in NYC, my dad took us on vacations, yet he only took us to places that he could afford. It was not a democracy. He worked for the airlines and we traveled by air for free and stayed in budget motels. No 3 or 4 stars for us. To me, I love vacations, but vacations always added to my debt.. I was taking vacations that I could not afford! So basically my taking 2 vacations per year put me in a deeper and deeper hole.. 

Living in debt was part of my every day life and I was (am still) obsessive/compulsive about it. I wanted to defeat it.. on my own terms.. I failed miserably. To me debt was always a moving target that no matter what strategy I tried, I could not defeat.

Today, as I look forward, living debt free is not just my goal, it is my passion. The lessons I didn’t learn over the past 20+ years will be etched in my memories. I never ever want to go backwards into that hole of despair.

I guess that’s what spring time is for, as the seasons change, so must I and grow.

New Year Musings

Every year, I think to myself, what can be some of my New Year’s resolutions that I know that I will (not) keep? So this year, I decided to write some resolutions that I will not be able to attain in 2012, but will try to..

  • Lose weight. The more the better. Every year I say, I’m going to lose 10 to 15 pounds and this year I went the reverse direction and gained.  Not Good.  I guess the “See Food” diet just doesn’t work. Either, I change this pattern in 2012, or, I’ll be facing more medical bills and ailments than I did this year..
  • Be Debt Free: This year, financially was better than 2010, but I’m no closer to being debt free than I was last year.. It’s not like I spend more recklessley this year on credit cards, but chasing the moving target gets harder and harder. I’ve tried different stragegies to reduce debt, but it’s like I keep floating in the same pool of debt..  In 2012, I gotta think of a strategy that will really make a dent in my credit card balances, or I’ll be writing about it AGAIN next year at this time. Gotta figure out how to use less plastic and/or pay off what you buy… Both are good ideas in theory..

 

  • Have 6 month cushion of Money – Yeah right.. Refer to “Be Debt Free”. Only difference now is that my household income has gotten a spike upwards, but that doesn’t mean, my savings to debt ratio has gotten better.. Sad but true. I guess the motto “the more you make, the more you spend” applies here”.
  • Reduce my Medical Bills by taking care of my health.. Refer to bullet 1.. “Lose Weight”. It seems if I can’t do this, my medical bills will continue to go up every year..
  • Make my other passion BharatBeat successful: In 2011, my partner and I made some progress by setting up a dedicated page on Facebook .. but getting people “LIKE” us continues to be a challenge. In 2012, our goal is to finally step out of our comfort zone and go all out… maybe people will “LIKE” us then?? We shall see
  • Make strides in my Day Job – Actually 2011 was pretty good here for me… Enjoy my job, have a challenging position.. yet the rise to a higher pay scale continues to elude.. Yes, I know.. “Work hard and you shall succeed”..

Even with my cynical outlook, I do realize that what I have far exceeds my expectations of where I thought I would be as I hit the half century mark as well as well as 2011 draws to a close.. Now the question is what 2012 resolutions should I write that are actually attainable goals?

 

The Simple Dollar – Must read for your life

dollar1My daily read that I’ve gotten hooked on is the The Simple Dollar. Trent Hamm is one of the most knowledgable individuals that i’ve come across in the blogsphere. His articles related to personal finance are truly worth your time. Trent provides insightful and very timely advice on bettering your personal finances.. If you have just one blog in your favorites, this is the one you must have in your favs.

Today Trent is offering to his readers his eBook – Everything you wanted to know about personal finances on one page

Thanks Trent for this excellent site and keep up the great insights!

2009 Financial Action Plan

My wife pointed this one out to me and it is indeed true! Thanks MM!

I came across this and it blew me away.. As you know Suze Orman is the Guru of personal finance.  She is giving away her new 2009 book: Suze Orman’s  2009 Action Plan.

You can download the entire book from Oprah’s site. Which is another site that is worth it’s weight in gold..

That’s all for now.  For those in the Northeast United States, have a great snowy weekend!

Internet Achive – Family Links

Geocities archives

Updated this entry from 2008 to showcase the ability to see an archive of the web! I actually found the entire content of my now closed Yahoo Geocities Family links website which was the last incarnation of Dad’s Taxi.. Of course there is a gotcha.. all the links from this archive are links to the Archived version of the sites as they existed in 2008-2009! Now that is cool. So it’s like I have my own personal repository of a snapshot in time! 

For 5 years from 2003 – 2008, I researched and compiled a mega-site for links for my kids and family. Of course, when Geocities closed, my site was gone till today!

My  Geolinks Family Links site was the last incarnation of Dad’s Taxi that I had utilized to put together links my then pre-teen older daughter to use get a better understanding of the Web. Of course as is normal with Dad’s Taxi, this links site got to be almost unmanageable and before long, Yahoo shut down Geocities!

Internet Archives

I used the beta version of the wayback machine to get this archived version of my Yahoo Geolinks Family Links site which I used to accumulate

A majority of the links below this point refers to the archived versions of the site! The sites which still are are still working and worth your click!

If you want to see whether a link still is still active.. check it out by copying the URL from the Archive.  Take the case of Mad Money Recap (Archive) and today’s version! It’s an interesting exercise that I think I’ll do when I revive Family Links into Dad’s Taxi with the updated links.. but that is an action item for another day!

Archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20090207164253/http://madmoneyrecap.com/index.html

Today: http://madmoneyrecap.com/

I read Money magazine almost religiously every month and I came across this article that was great.

The 28 Best Money Sites.  Below are some direct links to sites of interest
Categories include:

  • Shopping – Are you a smart shopper?? It always pays to comparison shop, especially when you can get money back in your pocket via  rebates and coupons to save more money!
  • You know those mailers you get at home from Valpak? You can customize them for your zip-code. Use discount codes when you shop.
  • My favorite site that I’ve used for a years now provide both on-line and off-line shopping
  • Searching on the Web – Here I accumulated some sites for some interesting search engines. Of course Google is now the standard.. Remember InfoVista?