Poker teaches important lessons about saving and investing. Foreclosures are better than mortgage modification programs. Debit card overdraft fees are good for consumers. PMS is responsible for impulse purchases. There is no shortage of strange theories out there—and some of them are actually plausible.
Saving & Spending
Among a certain group of consumers, it’s becoming a DIY world. To save money, they’re reevaluating many of the services the rest of the world has grown accustomed to paying.
One of the frustrations of modern life is that often, you must spend money simply to get your money. I speak of the $3 fee for using an ATM not affiliated with your bank. Now, there are apps for the iPhone and other smartphones to help you avoid ATM fees, as well as other charges, including the ever-annoying overdraft.
Back-to-back stories in the NY Times point out two interesting trends in the automobile market. First, brand loyalty is long gone. Second, for many consumers, the car itself is gone as well.
Flat-panel TVs, laptops, camcorders, GPS devices, and video-game consoles are all being sold at record-low prices. As we head into the heart of the holiday shopping season, Wal-Mart is planning on big price reductions on toys too.
Most of the Halloween costumes at Toys R Us are on sale already. Examples: A Transformers 2 Revenge of the Fallen Deluxe Bumblebee outfit is $9.99 (originally $39.99), and a Lil’ Vampire costume is just $4.99 (originally $19.99). Free shipping on most items too.
That $150 panini press looks really cool. But guess what? A $15 George Foreman grill will do the job just as well.
Amazon is already duking it out with Wal-Mart and Target in the competition for new book sales, and now Sears is getting in on the action in a big way with its “Keep America Reading” promotion.
The upcoming winter holiday period is shaping up to be one of the most competitive, wildest shopping seasons ever. Stores started hosting Christmas displays way back in July, and toy store skirmishes are already well under way. And now, preeminent online retailer Amazon is fighting battles on several fronts.
Also, the $23 stove, the $2,200 automobile, the $43 water-purification system, and the $20 cell phone with 2¢-per-minute rates—all courtesy of India, where engineers and innovators are coming up with ingenious products that are within reach of the country’s poorest citizens.
Much like bottled water, plastic shopping bags are viewed as wasteful and bad for the earth. They’re natural (unnatural?) targets for environmentalists and tightwads alike. Starting on November 1, all Target stores in the country will begin giving customers a discount for every plastic bag they don’t use.