The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Big expense

I keep receipts from just about everything I buy, and put them into envelopes that are separated by category (such as food, clothing, entertainment, etc.). This allows me to get a clear idea of how much the family spends on these things.

Anyway, I was looking through my “Health & Beauty” envelope this morning, and decided to tally up how much I’ve spent in the past 12 months in my quest to find the best acne treatment for my skin. Well, the total came to an absolutely staggering $586.24!!! Granted, this included a dermatologist visit and a very expensive prescription for Differin (neither of which were covered by insurance), but still… That’s a lot of money!!

I’m sure some of you out there can’t believe that I would spend that much to try to combat acne, but it got to be pretty bad — to the point where I didn’t even want to leave the house because of it. But now my skin looks 100x better, and though it’ll probably never be perfectly clear, I’m now at a point where I can live with the results. And looking on the bright side, at least now I just have to spend about $10 per year on BP products and I’ll be fine!

Doritos 2nd Degree Burn

So I finally got around to trying one of the new Doritos flavors that I’ve been seeing a lot recently: “2nd Degree Burn Fiery Buffalo”. I usually don’t like hot chips, but these were actually quite tasty. I was expecting more of a Buffalo wings flavor, since that’s pretty much what these are advertised as, but didn’t get it. Nevertheless, there was still a nice tangy flavor, as well as the promised heat.

Of course, a major problem with these chips is the fact that a 2oz bag packs a whopping 300 calories. I’m already feeling guilty about the single bag I downed, and have been searching for quick weight loss products ever since. Obviously, Doritos cannot be a regular part of my diet if I want to continue shedding pounds, but this is a nice once-in-a-while treat.

Silly Bandz banned!

You know those colorful Silly Bandz bracelet things that elementary school kids wear all up and down their arms? Well, apparently a lot of teachers are fed up with the things, and have gone so far as to ban Bandz in certain schools in New York and other states. In the article I read, this sounds more or less like the Pokemon card craze of several years ago, where kids get into trading them, fighting over them, etc. Still, it seems a bit silly to take this kind of drastic action over rubber bands! It’s not as though the kids are trading illicit drugs or spiking each other’s lunch milk with protein powder. Maybe everyone just needs to lighten up a bit here!

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Lindsay Lohan SCRAM Bracelet

Well here’s one celebrity “accessory” that isn’t likely to start a trend among young consumers. Lindsay Lohan has been ordered to wear this SCRAM bracelet, which fits around her ankle and has a built-in Breathalyzer (of sorts) to monitor blood alcohol levels. SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, and tests perspiration on the skin every 30 minutes or so for alcohol content.

This is actually the second time Lohan has been ordered to wear a SCRAM device. Given her lack of film roles lately, you just get the feeling that her acting career is going nowhere, and she’ll end up hawking the best diet pills for women or something on late-night infomercials. It’s kind of sad, to be honest. Freaky Friday and Mean Girls were actually pretty decent flicks. Lohan might have had a decent career if her personal life was in order.

Pantene Frizzy to Smooth Conditioner

I have thick, unruly hair that tends to frizz in high humidity and just remain rather poofy and unmanageable at all times. No matter what kind of mousse or styling products I used, my hair would puff out around my head and just look terrible.

I tried Pantene’s Frizzy to Smooth conditioner a few weeks ago, not really expecting any dramatic results. After all, I’ve used things like this in the past without success. But this particular product actually works very well for me! It’s not as though it made my hair straight as an arrow, but it’s at least as effective as running a dehumidifier on the muggiest summer days. My hair now hangs closer to my head instead of puffing out, and though it still gets a bit curly at the ends, it’s not an all-out frizz any more.

I definitely recommend this product and will continue using it as much as I can. Wow, it’s great to have manageable hair again!

Fox Dirtpaw MX Gloves

Motocross gear is very expensive, so I’ve been outfitting my son a bit slowly. Instead of spending $1,000 on everything he needs, I started with the important stuff (helmet and boots) and have been adding to his equipment bag whenever I can. My most recent purchase was these Fox Dirtpaw MX Gloves.

Motocross gloves are important because they’re padded around the knuckles to protect your hand against the rocks and roost that might churn up while riding on the track. In addition, some MX gloves claim to help prevent or reduce arm pump. This isn’t something I’d know about, as I don’t ride.

Anyway, these Fox Dirtpaw MX gloves for kids are pretty good. They fit snugly, serve as protection, and have survived several washes without adverse effects. The only thing I don’t like about them is that it practically required a certificate in document management to get through all the tags that were attached to the product at the time of purchase! Seriously, less is more, fellas.

The bottom line: for $20, you really can’t go wrong with these Fox Dirtpaw MX gloves. Now I just hope they last until my son outgrows them!

Barry Bonds Baseball Card

My stepdad is a baseball card collector, so I was thinking of getting him a somewhat valuable card for his upcoming birthday. While I was browsing through an online store, I came across this Barry Bonds card from his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Look how tiny his is compared to his time with the Giants!! Of course, this Pirates physique was long before allegations of human growth hormone use started dogging him. How can anyone compare the before and after shots of Bonds and think that it was all a natural progression???

Anyway, I’m not really sure what card I’ll end up getting my stepdad. I have to put some feelers out there and see if there’s a particular card he wants, and then see if I’ve got the funds to buy it. Fortunately, I’ve got a couple months until the big day, which is plenty of time to choose something good!

Complaints That Get Results

All consumers run into problems from time to time, whether we’re talking about a bad hotel room or a defective product. And we all know that there are effective ways to complain in order to get the results we want. But do we always follow the advice that experts put out there? Probably not, which is why it’s a good idea to read a reminder every once in a while. Take a look at this column by The Haggler over at the NY Times. It’s a good one, with many tips worth remembering.