Look At Me And My Designer Clothes!

If there is one thing I have never understood, it is the allure of overpriced designer clothing. The reason I don’t understand it is because most people buy fancy brand names because of the name and the fact that it is displayed in a large font on the item itself, all in an effort to impress other people. Is a Gucci handbag made in a factory in China any better than any other decently-built handbag made in a factory in China? Nope. But I guess having the big “G’ on the side makes it 10X more expensive and worth it, right? I mean, who doesn’t like paying a fortune for a big “G” on the side of their handbag?

One great example of this kind of thinking comes from a friend of mine who visited China last year. He was there with a friend who knew someone in China who was a clothing buyer, and he took them along to check out a few of the factories. Inside one of the factories they went to, there were t-shirts being made and emblazoned with all sorts of different well-known logos. One of those logos was for a very famous clothing company, which sells overpriced t-shirts covered with skulls and hearts to fashionistas around the globe. I looked up these t-shirts online, and saw that their prices run from $62 all the way up to $132…for a single t-shirt. One. T-shirt. The t-shirts for this company were being made and printed in the exact same factory, on the same lines, and by the same people making t-shirts being sold at hundreds of different stores for way, way less. But yet when they left the factory, because of the logo/name on the front, these shirts are being sold at a premium over the “regular” shirts. Just goes to show you the power of branding and logos, right? Create a buzz around a name and you can sell anything, at any price, to all sorts of people who are more concerned with impressing everyone than they are about wasting their own money.

Are those shirts any better made than most other shirts? Probably not. Sure, they are probably better made than $5 shirts you can get at any big-box store, but I doubt they are better than shirts sold at medium level stores for $25. Are my $39 jeans from The Gap any less well-made than a pair of $200 designer jeans from Armani? Doubt it. Personally, if I am going to wear clothing with gigantic logos on them, I think the companies should pay me to do their advertising for them. I don’t want Sean John written across my chest in size 400 font!

Buying quality clothing is one thing; buying designer brands with logos screaming at me is another. I believe in paying for quality, as then the goods last longer and I don’t have to replace them as often. However, quality and exorbitant prices are not one in the same. I don’t believe in wasting my money in an attempt to try to impress other people. Does anyone really care if my messenger bag is from Louis Vuitton? And if they did, would I even want to be friends with them? Not really.

I have much more important things to worry about and spend my money on. What other people think of my belongings is at the bottom of that list.


How To Get Help After Your Car Warranty Has Expired.

Last year, the 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty on my brother’s Honda Civic expired. As with most Hondas, he never had a single problem with any part of the car; at least until right after his warranty ended. My old 1994 Civic went for 128,000 miles without having any major issues, so it was pretty surprising to him that something would go wrong so short into his ownership of the car. About a month after his warranty expired, a pretty expensive part broke on the car and he took it into the dealership to get fixed, thinking it was covered under the drivetrain warranty which is a little bit longer than the standard one. Unfortunately, the dealership’s service department said it wasn’t and that he was going to have to pay upwards of $300 to get it repaired. Needless to say, my brother was pretty outraged at this, as this was practically a brand-new car still and his warranty had just expired! So he left the dealership without getting the repair done and started the process of contacting Honda of North America about his problem.

He first went to their website and send a letter through their general email system. When a week went by without a reply, he took it up the ladder a bit – he started contacting executives either through email addresses he could find or by sending regular mail. A few more weeks went by when finally someone from Honda got back to him and they started a dialog about what was wrong with the car. My brother told him that this car was his third Honda, and as much as he loved the car, he was very disappointed that such a major issue came up only a month after his warranty expired and the dealership immediately rejected his plea for help. After some back and forth contact, the person at Honda contacted the dealership and did the right thing – approved the repair to be done at Honda’s expense.

The lesson of this story? Just because your car is out of warranty does not mean you are necessarily out of luck. With some dedicated work and patience, my brother was able to get repairs approved by the parent company when the dealership automatically said no. Dealership service departments exist for one reason – to be the face of the head company and to minimize the expenses of said company. So if you are not satisfied with what they tell you, and you feel like you have a legitimate complaint about your car, take it to the next level – start contacting those higher-up in the company. You just never know what you may get back in return, and there is no harm in trying to get your repairs approved after your warranty expires!

How about you? Have you ever done anything like this and gotten what you felt you deserved? Let us know in the comments!


Spend Money Today To Save Money Tomorrow.

Those of you who are regular readers of this site know that I am not a fan of spending money I don’t have on things that don’t bring me very much in return. I often talk about saving your money for experiences rather than “things” that you don’t need, but this post is about the exact opposite. This post is about spending money today in order to save yourself money tomorrow. What in the world am I talking about? There are things you can buy today that will continue to save you money long after you have paid for them…and I have no problem buying items like this at all!

One of the things that I have bought a lot of lately are the Forever Stamps from the USPS. Forever Stamps can be used to mail a one-ounce letter regardless of when the stamps are purchased or used and no matter how prices may change in the future. Currently, the price of a regular postage stamp is $.42, but the price of postage goes up $.02 to $.44 in May…but if you buy Forever Stamps now at $.42, those will still be good for any first-class mail in eternity. Small savings in the short term, but bigger savings in the long run the more stamps that you have! And ours should last a while, as I really only use one or two a month.

Another great purchase that saves you money in the long term (and saves the environment, too) is a reusable water bottle that you can fill up with tap water. I am a huge proponent of tap water, and I truly believe that bottled water is not only a scam but a huge waste of money. Even if your tap water at home isn’t great, installing a $35 filter can clean it up pretty good. By using a reusable bottle from the likes of Sigg or Klean Kanteen, you are not only saving yourself from buying $1-$3 plastic bottles of water, but you are also reducing the ridiculous distances that some water travels to get to your store (think Fiji), and keeping all that plastic out of the waste stream. (Need help choosing a bottle? Check out “How To Choose A Safe Reusable Water Bottle“.)

Yet another way I save money in the long term by buying today is stocking up on food staples when they go on sale. Things like pasta noodles, grains, cans of soup, etc., can be bought in bulk and lasts nearly forever. Whenever you see a huge sale on items like this, at prices you have never seen before (even better if you have a coupon!), spend the extra couple of bucks to stock up. This not only helps to make sure you have some food on hand for quick dinners or even emergency situations, but it also can save you a ton of dough. Look for those long-term items at the store, and pick some extras up when they are on sale!

There are many different ways to spend money today to save money later, but these are just a few of the things that we have done. Do you think long-term about your expenses too? What kinds of things do you buy today so that you can save a little cash down the line? Let me (and everyone else) know in the comments so we can learn from each other!


8 Green Cleaning Tips To Save Money & The Planet.

Next time you visit a grocery store, take a look at just how many different cleaning products are on the shelves. It seems these days there’s a different chemical concoction for every household chore, from cleaning the windows to the oven. The average household probably has an entire cupboard full of sprays and bottles perceived as essential for keeping the home clean.

But, all these products cost money and in these uncertain economic times it makes sense to cut back on superfluous items in the weekly shop. To my mind, a lot of the cleaning products on the supermarket shelves aren’t the necessities the manufacturers would like us to think they are. Go back a couple of generations and you’ll find our grandparents managed to keep their homes sparkling clean using cheap, basic ingredients such as baking soda and white vinegar. As well as being effective for a wide range of jobs, these simple ingredients are safe and non-toxic, so they won’t pollute the environment like many modern products do.

Here are my top tips for going green and saving money by making your own cleaning products:

1. Multipurpose Cleaner – This simple cleaner can be used on various surfaces around the home, from kitchen counters and bathroom vanities to stovetops. All you need to do is mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

2. Windows – The above multipurpose cleaner is effective at cleaning windows too. Spray it on and wipe over the glass, then use a dry cloth or even scrunched up newspaper to buff to a shine.

3. Bathtubs and sinks – Spray undiluted vinegar onto tubs and sinks. Then sprinkle baking soda onto a damp cloth and wipe over the surfaces before rinsing with water. The baking soda acts as a scourer to remove soap scum and limescale deposits, the vinegar gives shine.

4. Drains – To unblock a slow-moving drain, pour down half a cup of baking soda followed by half a cup of vinegar. Leave it for about 10 minutes (it’ll fizz and foam!) before flushing through with a kettle of boiling water. To prevent future blockages, regularly pour about half a cup of washing soda down the drain and rinse it through with hot water.

5. Stainless Steel & Chrome – Bring back shine to stainless steel sinks and chrome bar stools by wiping with a damp cloth sprinkled with baking soda and then buffing with a dry cloth.

6. Furniture Polish – As a natural and effective alternative to synthetic spray polish, mix up a small amount of olive oil and a couple of drops of lemon juice. Rub this onto wooden furniture, wait a couple of minutes and then polish with a soft, dry cloth.

7. Upholstery – Prevent greasy food spills from staining sofas or upholstered dining chairs by immediately rubbing gently with a 50-50 mix of baking soda and salt. Leave overnight and then vacuum up.

8. Oven Cleaner – Instead of using a harsh chemical oven cleaner, mix up a thick paste of baking soda and water. Spread it all over the inside of the oven and leave it overnight to loosen grease and grime before scouring the next morning.

This is a guest post contributed by Caroline Smith of Get Bar Stools. Caroline enjoys finding ways to save money and being green at the same time. She has written money-saving and home decorating articles for a number of websites.”


Sunday Money Roundup – Top Off The Jeep Edition.

It is so warm right now here where I live that I actually took the top off the Jeep for the first time. When it’s the beginning of March and it is 65 degrees outside, you just have to take advantage of the situation! It was fun to drive around without the top on and enjoy the warm air, but they say that snow or rain is coming soon. Guess I better learn how to put that top back on. And if it is anything like my previous Jeep I had years ago, it’s not an easy task! On to the roundup…

Yielding Wealth asks the question – will you be able to afford a student loan in these economic times?

Cash Money Life has a review of You Need a Budget. If you are looking for budgeting software, you might want to check this out.

Money Ning has a Basic Four Step Plan for Your Money In Case You are Worrying. And aren’t we all!

Dough Roller has a great review of the TurboTax software for those of you who do your own taxes.

My Dollar Plan talks about all the details for the Making Home Affordable program in Obama’s economic plan.

Simple. Organized. Life. has Never Pay For Small Storage Containers Again.

Northern Cheapskate asks if frugality hampers kids’ creativity. I would imagine it could, but there is so much to do with kids that doesn’t cost much of anything!

Steadfast Finances has 20 Reasons To Love the Recession.

The Wisdom Journal has a great post up titled “How I Paid Over $120,000 in Debt in 52 Months“. You know you want to read this one!

Good Financial Cents has some advice on selling your home tax free.

Hope you are having a nice weekend!