The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

National Pancake Day

Today is National Pancake Day at IHOP, which means each guest can get a FREE short stack while supplies last. Customers are asked to make a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in return for their free pancakes, but this is not a requirement.

I love pancakes, but just don’t have time to take advantage of this kind of offer. There’s only one IHOP near me, and when I drove past it on my way to work this morning, there was already a line out the door. There will probably be more folks lining up for dinner too. Oh, well!

Ways to Save at Bulk Stores

I just read a Yahoo! Finance article with some tips about how to save money at bulk stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. I think a lot of this advice comes down to common sense, but I’ll list the highlights anyway.

  • Stick to one membership since there’s no real difference between the offerings at Costco and Sam’s Club
  • Go shopping each time as a guest on someone else’s membership card
  • Compare price per unit to ensure you’re getting a good deal
  • Buy the store/generic brand if the option exists
  • Share perishables with a friend or relative (ask yourself if you’re really capable of eating a dozen jumbo muffins before they go stale)
  • Freeze unused perishables
  • Consider whether you can use a whole case of a particular food item in a reasonable amount of time
  • Take advantage of other perks and discounts (e.g. grab lunch at the cheap cafeteria, change your tires at the car care center, etc.)

“Controversial” Levi’s Jeans Ad

I saw a post about this on Yahoo, and they apparently got it from someone (or some site) named “Copyranter”, so that’s who gets the credit (including the photo).

Anyway, one of the latest Levi’s ads is causing quite a stir. It says “hotness comes in all shapes and sizes,” yet the three models featured on the page are all slim and, well, model-ish. The only noticeable difference between them is their butt size, and even that’s negligible. Take a look:

So of course people are up in arms about this, saying those aren’t different shapes at all, where are the “plus sizes,” yada, yada, yada.

Usually I don’t care about this kind of controversy, but in this case, I totally agree with the negative reactions. I mean, come on!! What kind of idiotic executive could look at that picture and NOT envision the fallout? How did this thing ever get approved???

Oh, well… I haven’t worn Levi’s since high school and don’t plan to pick up a pair anytime soon.

First iBooks Purchase

I am a devoted Kindle fan and prefer reading books on that device over my iPad. Therefore, even though I’ve had an iPad for 2 years, I’ve never bothered checking out the iBook store for a novel — until yesterday. (I did buy an Algebra textbook from there a little while ago.)

I was in the mood to read the next Agatha Christie book on my list, which happened to be By the Pricking of My Thumbs. For some unknown reason, the Kindle store didn’t have the book available — despite the fact that many, MANY other Christie titles are well-represented in the e-book market.

Because I couldn’t find it on Amazon, I decided to give the iBook store a try. It was there for $6.99, so I downloaded it.

The iBooks transaction was fast and smooth (as expected), and the iBooks interface is every bit as useful as the Kindle (meaning I can search the text, change font size, look up words, etc.). I’m still not too keen on reading for long stretches with the iPad’s backlight, so I doubt I’ll be buying too many books from their store; but this is a good backup for those times when I can’t find what I want at Amazon.

Breaking Bad Season 2

Well, that didn’t take long! There were only 7 episodes in the first season of Breaking Bad, so I was able to blow through those fairly quickly. The show was intriguing enough that I went on to purchase Season 2 from the iTunes store as well.

Season 2 consists of 13 episodes, so it’s more expensive than the first season. This one cost me $21.99 for standard definition, and would have been $32.99 for HD. Interestingly, the DVD set costs only $17.99 on Amazon. But as I said before, I’m willing to pay a bit more for the convenience of digital files and not having to deal with storage/disposal issues later on.

This time around, I tried transferring my Breaking Bad downloads to my iPad and iPod just to see how the process worked and how the videos played on those devices. Everything worked smoothly and I really enjoyed being able to watch a few minutes here and there during the day while waiting in line or whatever. I think I’m hooked on watching TV shows via iTunes! There will definitely be more purchases to come!

Buying silver

I’m not quite ready to go into full panic mode when it comes to the global economy, but things still seem pretty bad all over the world. I don’t have any investments to speak of (besides my home), and I’m very worried that my cash savings won’t be worth very much 10 years from now, let alone by the time I retire. So, I’m actually thinking of buying silver bullion bars to protect myself.

Many experts believe it’s better to have tangible goods such as gold or silver instead of just paper currency, and I’m starting to agree. I would buy gold if I could afford it, but since that’s out of the question, silver is the next best thing.

I don’t know enough about the precious metals market to jump in right now; however, after a bit more research I should be ready to decide one way or the other.

Breaking Bad Season 1 on iTunes

For the first time ever, I purchased a television show from iTunes. I decided to get all of Season 1 of Breaking Bad because I’ve heard too many good things about the show to ignore it any longer. This isn’t going to be a review of the actual program or anything; I just wanted to share my buying experience for those of you who might not have done this before.

First, Breaking Bad is a cable show, which means there’s bound to be profanity and nudity to go along with excessive violence and gore. But for some reason, the iTunes version puts sepia bars over nude body parts and mutes the profanity! WTF???!!! Is this pretty standard for iTunes or is it a particular quirk of Breaking Bad? Whatever the case, I would have liked to have known about it beforehand, since it does impact the viewing experience a bit.

Second, I opted to save six bucks and just purchase the standard version over the HD version. The picture quality isn’t as crisp, obviously, but it’s still watchable. Maybe next time I’ll get HD just for the sake of comparison.

Finally, I do like how easy the process was overall. I simply selected the show/season I wanted, downloaded the episodes to iTunes, and was watching on my computer just a few minutes later. When watching, iTunes remembers your viewing location within the episode, so I can shut it down anytime and then pick right up where I left off. Plus, don’t forget iCloud, which also allows me to watch on my iPad for mobile viewing.

Overall, I think buying TV seasons on iTunes is a very convenient way to watch shows. I like not having to worry about storing/reselling/getting rid of DVD box sets, and think I may just go digital with TV and movies from now on. I’ll probably discover some negatives as I familiarize myself more with watching on iTunes, but for now I’m sold!

Top counterfeit goods seized by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

Have you ever wondered which counterfeit products are seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol most often? Well, wonder no more as the agency has just released this list:

  • Electronics (including smartphones, DVD players, tablets)
  • Shoes (Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, etc.)
  • Drugs (Viagra, Cialis, etc.)
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Clothing (especially jeans and sports jerseys)

Nothing on this list surprises me because the originals are all so damn expensive to begin with! I don’t support counterfeiters or anything like that, but as a consumer, I can totally see how it would be tempting to pay $50 for an “authentic” sports jersey instead of the $300 that they cost at legit retail establishments. I mean, there is a MAJOR markup on that stuff, so a black market is inevitable. Again, I DO NOT buy these kinds of things myself, but I understand why others would!