New Year and a New Strategy

>> 1.25.2012

For 2012 I'm officially stepping away from my old clearance/coupon-obsessed shopping habit and into a more sane shopping strategy. I feel like the recession has created such a !!MUSTSAVE!! mentality that we as shoppers are now bombarded with opportunities to "save" left and right. Retailers have caught on to this trend and have given us what we craved for- artificial "savings" to help us sleep at night.

Luckily, the Christmas bushes (?) were on sale the entire holiday season!

At this point the excitement of finding a good sale has almost completely worn off for me. I mean, when was the last time that you've been excited about JoAnn's constant 40% off opportunities or Bed Bath & Beyond's $5 coupon?! And don't get me started on those flash sales sites (One Kings Lane, Joss & Main, etc) that aren't exactly always selling the higher-end pieces that they claim to be, but tempt people into purchasing with their large "markdowns." At some point we're all going to have to face the reality that the shirt Gap is selling for 40% off was meant to be priced that way from the second that it it the sales floor. I have to give major props to JC Penney for following the lead of stores like IKEA and Lowe's that just offer their best values for the majority of the year and revamping their pricing strategy. I wish more stores would get on board!

I'm officially going into this year with a new *even thriftier* mindset:
I will... determine the value of a product based on its ingredients, manufacturing process, or maker. This means you might hear more things like "Wow, I found a 100% silk dress for $x.00!" or "I can't believe that they were selling organic apples for so little!"

I WON'T... brag about finding something on "sale." It's a bad habit and makes me look stupid when all the other shoppers were able to use those same sales. 

I will... continue to shop at thrift stores and buy things off of Craigslist!

I WON'T... always trust the Craigslist sellers who claim an original retail price as what they paid. I like to do a quick check for current web prices on items rather than using the seller's number.
I will... start branching out by shopping in new stores and online. Yes, I'm guilty of avoiding certain stores because they didn't have enough sales.

My first experience with the new strategy was earlier this month when I was shopping for a new refrigerator for our rental house (we're renting out the old house- more on that later). Before going out shopping, I set a budget for the fridge based on my previous appliance shopping knowledge and put my flashy sale sign filter goggles on.
...and, wow, I'm so glad that I did that before going to the Sears Outlet. Talk about worst values ever! Not only do they have previously and/ or scratched up appliances, but they inflate the original sales prices (like Sears does) so that the markdowns are only slightly better (if that) than buying the new, scratch-free stuff. Oh, and on top of that, their delivery charges take away any change of savings that you had left! We (I) ended up leaving that place in a foul mood (the nerve of them!) and did some comparison shopping before settling on another Lowe's appliance which was right under the budget and delivered two days later for free (they do inflate by around 10% so expect some sale here as well). 

So, who's with me in setting a new strategy for saving this year?


The Yard and Keeping the Dogs In

>> 1.12.2012

*I was not compensated in any way to write this review.*

I think you know my dogs by now:

 Hugo is the little one and C.C. is my big girl. Hugo is our little escape artist. Before moving, he would climb our bull-wire fence and terrorize the neighborhood from time to time. That was fine in the last house, but our new house is in a more central part of town that comes with a lot more traffic.

I can't remember if I've shared much of the new yard. Here are a couple panoramic shots I took when we did the house inspection:

The whole yard has a mishmash of wood, lattice, and wire fencing. I just knew that Hugo would climb out to chase something and get hit by a car! Even with a new fancy fence (that we want to add eventually), I wasn't feeling very comfortable at all...

So we got an Invisible Fence! Can you see it? Kidding... Actually, you can tell where the boundaries are based on those white flags. They tell Hugo where the safe zone is.

You can see what the wire looks like from this picture. We plan to redo the driveway so the installer just used large staple-like things to keep the force fields in place.

Oh, and if you haven't caught on, Invisible Fences are the things that shock your dogs when they cross over the boundaries. We only have Hugo on the system (see his collar) because he's the one that actually tries to escape and has the personality that matches this training method better. I know that some people would say that this is cruel in a way, but... small shock to teach a lesson > getting killed by a car!
I can't tell you how much peace this "fence" has brought to my mind!! Hugo has done an amazing job and has received a "correction" (shock) fewer than ten times in the month+ that we've had it.

For the indoors, we use a disc by the front door for keeping him from bolting out towards traffic. It works so well that when I've forgotten to pick him up to carry him out for a walk (the routine we have to do to get past the door), he actually pulls back from the correction area when I'm trying to lead him out the door!

I do wish that I though more about the placement of the hub. I didn't really think about how large it would be and how they would need to drill through the wall to get it in place.

We paid right around $1,500 in total for the system, installation, collar, training, battery backup, and indoor disc... but, as thrifty as I am, I truly don't regret a penny of it! At the same time, I don't think that I would fully trust it if we did not have backup fences in place because I know that he could get by it if something really worth the effort went by (like a cat or squirrel). Stay tuned to see how we plan to upgrade the fencing and rework the landscaping!

Does anyone else use an Invisible Fence? How does it work for you? 

PS Nate had one of these fences for his Husky growing up, but he said that his dog would just charge through the system. I have a feeling that it doesn't work for all breeds/ personalities.


First Finished "Room"

>> 1.05.2012

Since we actually downgraded our living space by around 100 sqft with the new house and *maybe* have six total rooms, I would appreciate if  you all would let me call my five foot long closet a "room." Thanks!

Remember when I declared that my first project in the new house would be to take care of my the disgusting closet in the master bedroom?


You might or might not also remember that I was once the proud owner of a PAX closet from IKEA which was super efficient and stored all of my clothes in style. Since moving, I haven't been really successful at recapturing that same organization level with my wardrobe...

...and cue the "until now!"
Thanks to my addiction to buying organizational tools on clearance, I was able to get my new closet up and running after only spending an additional $10 for a double hanging rod at the Container Store (which I did actually have at some point but donated earlier last year).

I think that the key to successful organization in small spaces is to use up every square inch of space. Having matching hangers and a black-white-clear-wood-metal theme keeps everything from becoming too visually overwhelming. To sort my clothes, I basically put like-items together and tried to focus the things I would be most likely to wear on a daily basis towards the center of the door opening.

I realized that I had a problem with matching up socks and throwing shoes around so I went ahead and added bins for them at the floor of the closet.

For some reason I felt the need to label that top section as "tall shoes" instead of "boots..." I suppose I might be keeping my options open for future stripper shoes or something?? Speaking of shoes, I was thisclose to buying a fancy shoe rack for my shoes, but I'm glad that I went with the vertical plastic one (I think it was from the Dollar Tree at some point)- it's so much more space-efficient!

Anyone else find closet organization remotely interesting? Is organizing part of your New Year's resolution?

PS I do have pajamas and underwear- they're in the dresser drawers on the other side of the bedroom.
PPS Running shoes and coats shoes go in the coat closet by the front door.


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