Bargains

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Rent-A-Center LogoNot too far from my house, on the way home actually, the are a number of big old houses just like mine that have been transformed into multifamily homes, usually with 3 or 4 units. Maybe more, it’s tough to tell…

I swear, based on how often people are apparently moving in and out, it’s either some sort of month-to-month rental situation or they’ve chopped the houses up into more apartments than I can imagine. Maybe they’re crack houses — I really don’t know.

But I drive by them every single day and, more often than not, there’s a couch out by the curb. A real eyesore, let me tell you. I’m *so* glad that I don’t live on “that” street. Really.

So for the past few weeks, through all of the snowstorms we’ve endured, pieces of a big sectional couch have been sitting outside one of them.

I’m not sure if the city is coming to pick them up or what (you can request a “bulky” pick up a few times per year), but before the weather took its toll, it looked like it must’ve been a pretty nice couch.

Nicer than mine, anyway… And mine’s pretty nice if I do say so myself…

So today on the way home, there was a big delivery truck in the driveway. How it cleared the sectional still partially in the driveway is a mystery, but one thing is for certain — they were taking delivery of a sweet looking leather couch.

It looked like the couch of my dream living room. It was nice.

Yeah, I was jealous.

Then I took note of what the side of the box truck said.

R-A-C, it said, in big yellow letters.

Rent-A-Center.

In my mind, that’s where welfare folks get their furniture.

Perhaps that’s insensitive, and it probably is, but that’s exactly the way I feel about RentTown, Rent-A-Center, and every other similar retailer.

I can’t be certain, I was driving by at a pretty decent clip, but I think this is the couch.

Of course, the website doesn’t list a price, making it (the website) completely useless, but more often than not, I think stuff like this can be had for $25-$30 per week.

Throw in a 52-inch plasma television for another $25 per week, and you can live a life of luxury.

Such a deal!

Really, how do people fall for this? Why is it always the low income folks that fall for this?

It drives me insane knowing that they think they’re well-off all while they’re being ripped off.

But hey, that’s their problem, right?

I’ll just sit here watching the twenty-year-old 13-inch television I used to play Sega on…

It costs me $0 per week.

That’s a deal.

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$41.25This morning we headed to the grocery store at the crack of dawn to return bottles and cans.

Exciting times, let me tell you…

This was our first trip since August when we accumulated $45.40 in the span of an hour.

While there wasn’t any creepy old man drama this time, we had the place to ourselves, we didn’t come away with quite as much cash in our hands.

Total bounty was $41.25 (825 bottles and cans) and it took us about 45 minutes to feed the machines. Not bad when you consider that that’s a better reward than my credit cards offer!

But it’s frightening to think that we average over 200 cans of carbonation per month — that’s like a 6-pack per day?!

Holy crap — It’s a wonder that I still have my teeth!

(That last line was to remind myself that I have a dentist appointment next week.)

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Farewell to Steve & Barry's

Remember a few weeks ago when I went on my own personal Odyssey in search of an open Steve & Barry’s only to encounter a bunch of dark and shuttered storefronts?

Well, this past weekend, we actually came across one of their stores that was still open!!!

Woo-hoo!

Unfortunately, it was their final day.

Sure, things were 90% off — yes t-shirts cost less than $1 — but they didn’t have *any* adult sizes left. None.

All they had were a bunch of black puffy pleather Sarah Jessica Parker coats for $4 a piece… Might have been $1 a piece — I didn’t really bother checking for certain.

They still had all of the little display cards for their t-shirts...A great deal, either way, but no thanks. Definitely not my style…

Standing inside the store watching people that I guess could be considered “less fortunate” try the jackets on made me sad… Not only because they were losing what was probably one of their only “trendy” shopping outlets but because it was depressing just to see a store that, well, had fallen so far so quickly.

Yeah, it was cheap. Yeah, the stores attracted some pretty grubby people. And yeah, some of the stuff they sold was a little obnoxious, but the quality of much of it was higher than, say, the $40 tasteless t-shirts sold at Abercrombie & Fitch.

I *really* liked this chain — but I never really took advantage of it just “being there” because I’d just assumed that they’d be around forever.

I was wrong.

Now, where am I going to find a “Property of Dad” t-shirt for less than $5?

Really?

I should have bought one (or ten) when I had the chance…

In the end, even though I didn’t buy anything this past weekend, I’m glad that I got to shop there one last time. For closure, you know?

Anyway, here are a few more miserable photos from Steve & Barry’s final day in the State of Connecticut:

Steve & Barry's liquidation

Hopefully another store comes along to fill the HUGE void left in all of the shopping malls.

And hopefully they’ll have a better business model.

Farewell Steve & Barry’s… You were great while you lasted…

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Fake Reindeer Lights

Well, at this point, it looks at though we’re guaranteed a white Christmas this year.

After a foot of snow on Friday, another 6-8 inches forecast for tomorrow, and then another round due on Wednesday, I think I’ll get an entire season’s worth of shoveling in before the end of the year.

This shot was taken from our front window. The deer are across the street and the colorful orbs are reflections of our Christmas tree in the window. Made for a pretty cool sequence of photos.

Hopefully, after tomorrow’s snowfall, the one reindeer’s head will be hidden. That could make for some funny photos.

Speaking of the fake reindeer — I think the first time I ever saw one was about 15 years ago now.

I remember my parents pricing them out, but the price tag was prohibitive. They had to be over $100 each at the time and if you wanted one that had it’s head move up and down, well, those were over $200.

Now, it seems, or at least for the past few years, it appears that the tacky inflatable lawn decorations are more in style. The resulting good news is that you can now find fake reindeer just like the ones in the picture for around $14.99!

A goofy looking inflatable nativity scene will still run you $90…

Go figure…

Poor taste costs more.

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Axl Rose when he was somehow still cool.Guns N’ Roses were last relevant when I was in high school. That was a long time ago.

It was right at the beginning of my sophomore year that they released the albums Use You Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

On bus rides to Cross Country meets, it was as if everyone was listening to one or the other on their Sony Discmans.

I didn’t even have a real CD player at home yet, so I felt a little left out — that was okay though, I was a MUCH bigger fan of Metallica anyway like the metal-heads except I was never a metal-head… Made for some lonely bus rides…

Anyway, it wasn’t long, we’re talking maybe a week, before Nirvana came around and squashed them both…

In the case of GNR, I’d say that Nirvana all but eradicated them…

Until now…

Their long awaited album titled Chinese Democracy is set to come out tomorrow.

Yes, tomorrow!

OMG! OMG! Can you feel the excitement!

I, for one, am not that excited. Actually, I could care less — I just think it’s funny that something that has been talked about and hyped since I was still in high school is coming out now. And still has some hype…

I mean, why? It’s pretty apparent that it’s going to bomb.

Kinda like that last INXS album… How’d that song go? “It ain’t pretty…

No, it wasn’t…

But there is one good thing about GNR’s album release…

Dr. PepperDr. Pepper, in a silly sort of promo betting that the album would NEVER actually be released, said that they would give everyone in America a free Dr. Pepper when/if the album ever came out.

Tomorrow’s the date and Dr. Pepper is sorta pulling a fast one by only offering the coupons on their website for 24 hours (LAME!), so don’t forget to head over to DrPepper.com and print out your coupon.

But wait for tomorrow.

There isn’t any mention of the promo there yet.

Again, lame… like the album.

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When I woke up this morning, I told myself that this was NOT going to be another wasted weekend. I was all geared up and ready to go outside and rake, rake, rake, until both hands were covered with blisters.

Then I noticed that it was raining. Ever tried to rake leaves in the rain?

Yeah, it doesn’t work at all.

So my next target became *that* room.

Yes, that one. The room I’m ashamed of:

Off to the right hand side, behind the yellow bin and the plastic penguin, there was a big pile of crumbled plaster on the floor. You can’t see it, but trust me, it was there.

I cordoned off the room using the shower curtains, which you can see, put on my 49-cent dust mask, you know, for protection, and brought in a snow shovel from the garage and a shovelin’ I went.

I filled the air with the finest dust you’ll ever see (or breath) while also filling 8 trash compactor bags full of crumbled plaster and broken pieces of the wooden lathe that once held the plaster up.

I know that doesn’t sound like much, and it’s really not, but plaster is freakin’ heavy.

Each one of those bags, which I only fill half way due to the weight, weighs well over 60 pounds.

Backbreaking work, really, which is probably why we never “finished” the job when we tore the walls down in the first place.

Once I’d cleared the room, I broke out the shop vac to get all of the fine dust (that had settled) up and out. Yep, I even vacuumed — that’s worth über bonus points with the wife!

It was at this point, she mentioned that we should get a new rug for the room. Not really wanting to throw money at the room, as a temporary fix and all, I was hesitant, but she twisted my arm and off we went to a super discount store that if I were still in high school, well, I’d never admit to having been inside. Ever.

The store is called Ocean State Job Lot.

This place makes Walmart look like Neiman Marcus — you know, the store where Sarah Palin shops

Yeah, it’s rough.

But it’s always had some decent, not great, but decent area rugs. And today, it didn’t disappoint!

We walked out of there with a modern looking patterned 8′ x 11′ rug for $125. We could’ve gone the oriental route, but I’ve never really liked how “busy” they look.

Maybe that’s just me.

Once home, we unrolled the rug. It’s not exactly what either of us had in mind, I’m sure, but it’s a definite improvement. From there, I decided to “hide” the largest windowless wall with the photo backdrop that I used on Halloween night.

Then we moved an extra couch into the room. (Who has an “extra” couch? Seriously…)

And, finally, I plugged in the arcade game for a quick game.

Here’s how it looks now:

Going for a high score!

Not great, I know, but still, it’s an improvement.

And to think, it only cost us $125 to take it to that unfinished-but-sorta-finished basement look!

And can I just mention that I suddenly find myself getting some decent use out of January 2007’s dumbest purchase? How about that!

Oh, one more thing, why does the carpet smell like Elmer’s glue? That’s gonna fade, right?

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Credit ReportThis past weekend while listening to some local financial talk show on the radio, they mentioned AnnualCreditReport.com.

A few months ago, I’d visited the site, submitted all of my information, and selected Equifax as my report of choice. Things seemed to be working great — until they forwarded me on to Equifax’s website.

Once there, they tried to up-sell me (not unexpected), and they asked for a user name and password. I didn’t have one — and I didn’t want to sign up for anything either.

No way around it, they weren’t going to display my report.

It left a bad taste in my mouth — I felt like I’d been ripped off even though I hadn’t spent a dime.

So on Sunday, with prompting from the radio show, I went back to AnnualCreditReport.com for another try.

I entered all of my info, steered away from Equifax — choosing Experian instead, and clicked ‘Submit’.

Experian also tried to up-sell me with monthly updates and stuff like that. Down at the bottom, though, was the link for “No thanks. Show my report.”

Click!

And there it was!

A lot longer than I’d expected… but nothing negative on there…

It lists 17 accounts, all thankfully in good standing — 4 Bank of America accounts, 2 BMW Financial Services accounts, 3 Chase Bank accounts, 1 Countrywide account, 1 First USA account, 1 McCue Mortgage account, 2 Sears accounts, 1 Toyota account and 2 Citi accounts.

Does that add up to 17? I sure hope so.

For each account, it tells you when you opened it, what the credit limit is, what your balance is, recent payment info, whether you’ve ever been late on a payment, whether the account is open or closed, and lots of other fun stuff.

Nothing real earth shattering, but still some neat info to leaf/scroll through.

Thankfully, while I don’t exactly remember opening all 17 accounts, nothing seemed out of the ordinary and little additional thought explained each and every entry.

For one of the Chase entries, I would have been 9 years old when the account was opened…

Hmmm… Identity theft?

Well, no.

It’s obviously one of my parent’s accounts where I’m an authorized user — likely used while I was in University. To their credit, the status for that account is: Open/Never Late.

Fantastic!

As I get my “stuff” more together (in preparation for the remodelling), I’ll detail the, well, details…

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The Pumpkin Patch

I don’t know how many places still give you a free hay ride out to the pumpkin patch, or how much longer any of them will continue to do that sort of thing, but it sure beats buying a pumpkin at Walmart or at some roadside stand.

There’s really no comparison.

This past weekend, my wife and I went in search of the “Great Pumpkin“.

Due to our Florida trip the previous weekend, we were a bit later in the season than we usually are so there were slim pickins out in the field — as you plainly can see.

No matter though, we still picked out our “Great Pumpkin” for under $10 and now we’re ready for Halloween.

So if you haven’t picked up your own “Great Pumpkin” yet, I really suggest you find a local pumpkin patch — it’s just a lot more fun making an event out of it.

Can You Dig It?

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