The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Oscar Fashions

The Oscars are on tonight, and the dresses worn by attendees are sure to generate just as much (if not more) buzz than the prize winners. This is something I’ve never understood. Who cares what kind of formal gowns and tuxes celebrities wear? I mean, I can understand wanting to buy the same $50 shirt as your favorite screen idol, but how many regular folks are going to be able to rush out and buy Herve Leger just because that’s what Natalie Portman wears to the Oscars? Do designers really experience a sales boost from having celebs wear their clothes at these events? If so, who’s buying this stuff?? Only the rich, I suppose.

(Photo: Hailee Steinfeld on the red carpet.)

Most Popular Magazine

Do you know what the most popular magazine in America is? Well of course the photo here gives away the answer. It’s AARP the Magazine, which I guess is a publication aimed at retired folks. According to Wikipedia (so take this stat for what it’s worth), AARP the magazine has a bi-monthly circulation of 24.4 million copies. Wow! It helps that the mag is automatically sent out to AARP members, and is therefore not strictly subscription based. Just for the sake of comparison, titles like Time and Sports Illustrated have circulations of 3.3 million and 3.1 million, respectively.

Why was I looking at magazines today? It’s because I renewed my life insurance policy at a lower rate and have a bit of extra money in the budget. I haven’t subscribed to a magazine in a long time, and thought it would be fun to take a look at what’s out there now to see if anything caught my fancy. Then I remembered how I don’t like physical publications anyway, so maybe I’ll spend my extra cash on a subscription through my iPad. We’ll see!

Late Payment Warnings

Do you have trouble remembering when your bills are due? I know some people like to use “AutoPay” agreements that allow your credit card company or cable company to automatically deduct your monthly bill from your bank account. I think that sounds convenient for folks that always have plenty of funds in their account, but can be dangerous for those of us without much of a buffer. So what I do instead is set up Google calendar alerts to email me when my bills are due. I set these up as soon as I get the bill in the mail or email. I check the due dates, input the alerts in Google and am ready to go. Since I pay online, I don’t need a three-day buffer for snail mail. I pay the day before to make sure the transaction posts properly and that’s that!

Digiorno Pizza & Breadsticks

I can’t believe I haven’t written about this before! I’ve liked Digiorno’s frozen pizzas for a long time now, and always make sure I have at least a couple on hand for those days when I don’t feel like cooking lunch or dinner. The pizza is pretty tasty (for frozen), and my whole family likes it.

What’s even better is getting the Digiorno’s Pizza & Breadsticks combo pack. This is a brilliant idea, and one that I’m surprised no one thought of a decade ago. I really like the convenience of having breadsticks and pizza all in one box. I know people have complained that this pizza is smaller than the regular ones, yet costs more, but I don’t really mind about that. The breadsticks, which basically taste like the crust (plus some butter and other flavorings), and the marinara sauce make this product worthy buying, IMO.

Medicine chest eval

I periodically go through my medicine chest to take stock of what’s in there and toss out expired products. Doing this gives me an idea of what my family is wasting money on and allows me to adjust our spending habits (via the budget) accordingly.

Yesterday I ended up tossing out expired ibuprofen, dried-out deodorant sticks, crumbly makeup, and acne treatment that I no longer need. I’m always surprised at what we accumulate in there. A lot of these products are expensive (relatively speaking), and shouldn’t be wasted like this.

No-Iron Shirts

The one household chore I dislike the most probably has to be ironing. I have to iron work shirts for my husband every day, which is both time-consuming and boring. But I was reading some different articles last night about “innovative products that work” and saw that Brooks Brothers no-iron shirts are on the list. Apparently, you just pull them out of the dryer and they’re ready to wear. Now I want to buy a couple to try them out.

Now I wish someone would make a similar list for diet pills so I can find something effective to help me lose about 10 pounds. I keep putting off a purchase because I can’t be sure what works and what doesn’t, and I don’t want to end up wasting money trying out several different brands before finding something good.

Marketing eBooks

A friend of mine is currently writing an eBook that he hopes will generate interest in some products he sells. I know that lots of folks have made money with ebooks, but I think a big part of that is finding a way to get your book out there so the masses will know about it. Now that Amazon’s Kindle is a bonafide hit, submitting to their marketplace might be a good option.

Another would be creating your own website, and then having people sign up for newsletters, emails, and other bulletins. This can be handled using specialized mailing list software — or it can be done manually if you don’t have too many names at the start. I recently read some positive constant contact reviews, so I’m planning on passing that info on to my friend.

Anyway, I’m interested in seeing how his experience goes because I’ve got a couple ideas for ebooks myself. I hope to learn from whatever he does so my marketing attempt goes a bit smoother!

Budgeting for college

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about the skyrocketing costs of college tuition. Some articles recommend saving early (and often) for your child’s future education — but really, how many of us could save $100,000 in 18 years? That’s “only” about $5500 per year, but I don’t know too many families that could take that amount out of their budgets and not feel the pinch. Plus, that’s the amount needed if you have only one child. Obviously, you’d need to double or triple your savings if you have more kids.

As far as I’m concerned, though, there are lots of ways of getting an affordable college education. The one I chose for myself was a combination of community colleges and online degree programs. I took classes at the local community college for a year or two, then finished my Bachelor’s degree online. Many fully accredited schools now offer these options, so there’s no worry about your credentials being questioned by graduate programs or future employers.

I know a large part of “college” is the experience of moving away from home for the first time and being somewhat independent. That might not be possible if students enroll in one of the many online degree programs out there, but perhaps with the money parents would save on tuition, they could rent a small, off-campus apartment for their kids in a college town. All I know is there’s always more than one way to skin a cat, so I’ll never feel as though I have to spend six figures on my son’s college education.