It’s On Us!

It makes total sense for their business, but it’s new to me:  I just learned that Amazon has a dollar threshold for returns.  Under some amount, they just say this:

There are reasons to not love Amazon, and other political factors in their favor (in my book), and I will continue to track them (or check in as Sally tracks them), and then there are things like this don’t bother to return policy, which is awesome.

I will donate the bamboo knitting needles to the Dana-Farber Caps for Kids program.

National Cash Mob Day is Saturday March 24 / Concord NH 2 PM

I learned, from NHPR’s Word of Mouth, that there will be a Cash Mob in Concord on Saturday at 2 PM.  And that is just when I’ll be in downtown Concord!

I learned that a Cash Mob is an event organized via social media in which shoppers descend on one area with cash in hand.  The Cash Mob blog says: “The general idea is to encourage people to go into small, local businesses and spend their money, en masse, to give the business owner a little bit of economic stimulus.”

You can learn more about the Concord event and the overall movement, here: Concord to Welcome a Cash Mob.

Keep on Truckin’….

I learned all these things about renting a truck.

You may remember that I learned last year that a U-Haul guaranteed reservation means nothing.  Specifically, it means that they guarantee that they won’t raise the rate when you pick up the truck, but it in no way implies that there will be a truck to pick up!   It turns out that Budget has the same system.  I asked Budget “Then what’s the difference?”.  “The price”,  Zach the Budget Guy told me.  And boy, what a difference!

So I learned:

  • Ryder trucks are only local, so it’s just U-Haul and Budget
  • Budget rental trucks are roughly half the price of U-Haul, for the same thing!
  • You can request features (a third seat, for example), but you won’t know if you get it until the truck arrives at the pickup spot, usually a day before your reservation
  • Even if you think you know what you are getting (a newish truck with an input jack for mp3/iPod), there may be a last minute switch to “or not”.  Ours was due to a Check Engine light.  The next truck was older and had no such gadgetry.
  • Bring your own padlock.  If you are like us, you have a stack of them.  Why buy yet another?
  • Bring your own GPS (but you already figured that out)

Steve is the one who drove the whole Eastern Seaboard in 2.5 days – Steve, what did I forget?

Bedtime Stories

I have learned that it’s always a bad idea, but it’s a particularly bad idea when in a lonely place, for me to read depressing books at bedtime.  Death? Check.  (actual) Dismemberment?  Check.  Dead and/or missing children? Check!  What was I thinking?????

So one yard sale ($1 a bag) and one consignment shop later, I have a  nice pile of books from which to choose something much better suited for reading before sleeping and dreaming.  A Wodehouse, a Westlake, and a whole bunch of Chick Lit.   Sweet dreams!

That Next Step is a Doozy

So I used a lot of minutes this month.  So what?  I know what you do when you go over your minutes.  You just call Verizon and say whoops I went over my minutes.  Then you pay $10 and they give you a whole bunch more minutes for the rest of the month and later you just call them again and set it back to the lower rate.  Easy peasy.  Done this before.

Wait – what?  What’s that you say, Verizon?   It costs $20 to go from 700 to 1400 minutes.  OK.  And $10 more to go from 1400 to 2000.  Cool.  And now I’m over 2000.  OK whatever.  I just want to sign up to pay the whatever few dollars and you just give me the next step up.  WHAT?  The next step up is to Unlimited minute and it costs A HUNDRED DOLLARS more??

I learned that I really should have bothered to get the static-y land line in this temporary home of mine fixed  rather than think that I could just easily bank on my cell phone and buy more minutes!

Oh well.  Lesson learned! Now my family has unlimited minutes for the next two weeks, so feel free to give me a call on my cell!

Return to IKEA: Do the Math

I thought I had IKEA all learned up, in a previous lesson, but on this day I learned to ADD!

Lesson 1: Do the Math

There was a promotion running: spend $100 and your lunch is free.  What we should have done, but didn’t, was add up our joint purchases as we went, so see what to combine.  In this case, one of the “should I buy this or not?” could have been included for less than free!  They would have paid us to buy it – if we had spent $10 more they would give us $26 back.   Unfortunately, we figured this our right after ringing up.  Which brings us to…

Lesson 2: Do the Math

If it takes 20 minutes to go through the checkout line the first time, then it’s going to take at least 20 minutes to go through the checkout line the second time.  If you don’t have another 20 minutes, cut your losses and leave.

And a bonus lesson: Anything that is fun (and we happen to find IKEA to be fun) is even more fun if you add Baby Lillian!  Here she is checking out an IKEA high chair in a demo kitchen:

First ASK Lessons of 2012

Yet again, the lesson is ASK!

First I learned a lesson the last time we forgot to put the parking pass in the car window at Sally’s apartment and it cost us $50, and we have never forgotten since.

Then Carolyn told me that her friend just told the town she had a pass and forgot to use it, and they waived the fine!   I swear I could have learned just as well if I had known to do this!

Also this week, I asked Shutterfly for a good deal on a replacement photo calendar for a relative who lost hers due to an odd string of misfortunes, and they gave it to me, and shipped it, for FREE!

IKEA Survival Guide

Marathon?  Triathlon?  Hundred-mile trek through the desert?  No.  IKEA is the ultimate endurance event!

I learned so much in my 4.5 hour shopping trip with veteran IKEA shopper Sally and newbie Dott!  I will share it all here!

1. Go prepared.  Travel light: no coats or big pocketbooks.  Pop your wallet in your pocket and leave the rest in the car.  You can bring your cell phone but don’t count on reception!  Because of this, stay with your party or be VERY specific on where to meet up.  Bring some shopping bags that fit in your pocket.

2. Know the layout and have a game plan.  The first/top floor is a VERY long one-way path through display rooms.  The restaurant is there.  The second/bottom floor is the marketplace, where you actually buy the small stuff and then pickup the really big stuff, and check out.

3. Coming into Floor 1, accept a big plastic bag, but don’t take a cart.  Most of the stuff is just display here, but there are lots of  “end cap” items throughout.  Until this trip, I would have said don’t pick anything up on this pass, just keep moving and get it later in the Marketplace.  I have since adjusted my strategy on this one: If you want it, or think you might want it, take it now!  Hence the bag.

4. Pick up an order slip and pencil.  Use it to write down items you may want.  Make sure to write the aisle and bin number, Sally taught us, as this is going to save lots of time later.  Consider writing down alternatives, in case your first choice is out of stock.

5. Know the path shortcuts.  There are signs around that show them.  You can skip a section (but if you’ve come this far you probably won’t) but more importantly you can cut over to the rest rooms or cafeteria more directly, and come back to where you were, later.

6. Take a break.  Eat the famous meatballs.

7. Outside the cafeteria, sign up for IKEA Family at the kiosk.  Don’t forget to grab the card, as it is retracted quickly if you walk away.  Score some free stuff.  For us it was a frozen yogurt on this trip.

8. When heading down to the Marketplace, now you can get a cart.  If you see something you think you might want, put it in the cart.

9. DON”T GO BACK.  This is why you are taking what you think you might want.  You can ditch it later. I tried to go back to the display floor to get an item that we all three saw in bulk, but never found again.  I will spare you the details but will just say that it was just like one of those nightmares where you are running, running, running and never getting to your destination.  Complete with people telling me that it didn’t exist.  Sally eventually beat a display model out of someone but we never found the box we all remembered seeing.  So if you see it, take it, and never go backwards.

10. Pace yourself in the Marketplace.  How much time do you have left?  What did you really want to see?  Make sure you get to that today if you’re not coming back soon.

11. In the stocked aisles, get help with the heavy stuff.

12. Load your big stuff with the labels facing forward

13. Examine your cart.  Unload anything you really don’t want.  Don’t feel bad.  It’s part of the business model.

14. Pay with your debit card and get a substantial credit for next time. Keep your receipt.

As you can imagine this is fun for some people, such as the three of us, the polar opposite for others.

Did I miss anything?

Same Water, Just More Plastic

I learned another reason not to drink bottled water.

A few years ago, both Sally and Alexis taught me to rethink how I look at buying water encased in plastic when we live in a place with perfect water flowing from our taps.

Since then I’ve noted some places where bottled water makes sense: on a plane, at Fenway Park, at a concert.  Generally places where it would be difficult to bring and/or refill your own bottle with good cold water.

But on this day I saw what has to be the worst scenario for bottled water.   I was at my gym when the truck pulled up, delivering case after case of plastic bottles of water, each one designed to be used once and recycled (at best) or thrown away.

This time, I learned exactly where the water came from, from the company name on the truck.  It was bottled a half a mile away, using the exact same water source (our town water) that was in the cold bubbler next to the cooler holding the bottles!

And all this give me another idea… see the next post.