Thursday, December 25, 2008


Ah, 'tis the Christmas-Chaunukah-Kwanzaa season. All those gifts. All that giving. All that wrapping and unwrapping. All that pretending to like what you've been given.

Gee, Aunt Ollie. An argyle sweater vest. Just what I've always wanted.

Why, Grandma! Another fruitcake! Yum. Yum. Yum.

An ashtray shaped like an Italian Greyhound! Isn't that special?

Little white lies masking disappointment. Phony smiles. Fake sincerity.

Have these people never heard of giving cash? Checks? Gift cards?

Sadly, no. Which brings us to our subject for today: The Fine Art of Regifting.

Once considered too tacky for words, Regifting is the new black.
Totally green. Totally cool. Totally acceptable. Totally CHEAPIOSITY.

Before stepping into the regifting breech uninformed, check out Motley Fool's excellent article outlining all th
e proper Regifting Do’s and Don’ts:

MSN Money weighs in on the subject:

Would you believe there’s even a regifting website? Check it out here.

And just when you thought you’d heard it all and read it all, get this. UPS offers a virtual regifter:
Sounds like someone has way too much time on his virtual hands and we're right there looking over his virtual shoulder.

Hoping all your gifts are wanted and worthy and well-chosen. And if they're not: Do your research and regift with our blessings.

One last thing: You can always donate all your unwanted gifts to charity and make a real difference.

Read more!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

PRICES ARE FALLING (well, at least in some areas)

While most of us continue to complain about rising prices, in some areas of the marketplace, prices are going down. We here at CHEAPIOSITY consider it our mission to keep you in the know; we live to point out that silver lining of the Recession/Depression cloud. (You say Recession, I say Depression, Let's call the whole thing off.)

FOOTWEAR - Shoe prices have declined by 3.9 percent, in large part to lower-cost foreign imports and the growth of discount outlets and big-box stores. Carrie Bradshaw and her minions must be dancing in the streets. And we're pretty sure their feet hurt.

TELEPHONES - The price of wireless telephone services dropped 31.6 percent during the past decade while the price of long-distance telephone calls fell 23.1 percent. The reasons are two-fold: deregulation and stiff competition. Reach out and touch someone.

PERSONAL ELECTRONICS - Prices are dramatically lower: Televisions (down 77.9 percent!); Computers (down a whopping 88.3 percent!); Audio equipment (down 39.3 percent!); and Videocassettes, Video discs and other media, including Rentals (down 20.4 percent). The reasons? The usual suspects: Increased competition and reduced labor costs, mostly due to overseas outsourcing. The good news: Prices are down. The bad news: Your job's been shipped to Asia, and you can't buy much of anything. Dang.

NEW VEHICLES - Reduced demand has caused the 6.6 percent drop in the price of new cars and trucks over the past decade. People are just not buying cars right now, so prices keep dropping. Wait. The auto industry is in trouble? We should really do something about that. Does the government know?

CLOTHES – The cost to clothe a family has dropped 11 percent in the past decade. Lower-cost foreign imports and volume buying by discount and big-box stores have helped contribute to the decline. This is particularly true for the cost of boys and girls clothing, which has dropped 23.3 percent and 18.6 percent in 10 years, respectively.
Costs to clothe our little Cheapiosity family have dropped a whole lot more; in this economic downturn, many of us have turned to thrift shopping pretty much everything but our underwear. We're going green and saving lots of green. A note: Go through your closets right now and donate any clothing you haven't worn in a year. It's the right thing to do.

WATCHES – High-end watches are taking a major hit in an era when a disposable Timex gets the same job done. The cost of a timepiece fell 6.2 percent in the last decade. Gee. If rich people don't wear expensive watches, how will we know how rich they are? This is terrible news. We should throw them a benefit or something.

TOYS - The price of toys has declined 44.4 percent over the past decade. Why? It's not just your imagination. Toys are getting cheaper, not better. Quality being sacrificed for profit, as evidenced by all the toy recalls and foreign outsourcing.
While this is terrible news, this explanation makes one of our partners feel decidedly less guilty; after years of essentially tithing to her local ToysRUs and Disney Store while spoiling her now-grown daughters, she had assumed those chains' recent decline was entirely her fault. Now, she can stop pressuring for grandchildren or at least refrain from using the "save the economy" argument.

So...the whole prices falling thing. Very good news, very bad news. Bottom line? If you have any money to spend, spend it wisely. Things are going to get worse before they get better. At least, that's the common wisdom. And in this holiday season, be especially aware that a lot of people have a whole lot less than they had last year. You might want to share the relative wealth. Just a thought. Happy Merry.

Read more!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Did you know that all shopping days are not created equal?
Team CHEAPIOSITY knows. And now you do too.

You can shop a lot smarter when you know which days are the best days to go shopping.

Here's the rundown, day by day:

CARS - Since most car sales happen over weekends, dealerships are pretty much dead on Mondays. You can take advantage of that fact. FYI: Car salesmen are particularly desperate to meet their sales quotas on the last Monday (and the last few days) of the month.

GROCERIES - Most sale items end on Tuesdays. Maybe something's on sale that you don't need right now. On the last day of a sale, the item might be sold out so you can get a raincheck at the sale price and redeem it later when you do need it. Tuesday's a great day to use your coupons from the Sunday papers; you're not so likely to forget or lose your coupons when you use them early in the week .

ENTERTAINMENT - Many movie theaters, museums and amusement parks offer additional discounts mid-week. Many offer additional perks on Wednesdays to entice an audience. For example, AMC Theaters offer their rewards members free popcorn.

GAS - Fill up before 10 a.m. That's when station owners tend to raise prices for weekend travel. The rats.

CLOTHING - Stores stock up for their weekend sales on Thursday evenings; that's the time you'll find the best selection and the best prices.

BOOKS - Borders (and other chains) release their weekly coupons on Thursdays.

DEPARTMENT STORES - Before closing on Saturday evening, stores tend to markdown for Sunday's newspaper circular sales. Ask the sales personnel to see the circular early, and if they haven't yet marked down a sales item, you may be able convince them to do it for you. Sneaky.

HOTEL ROOMS - Managers are looking to fill up rooms that haven't been filled for the upcoming week. Call the hotel directly on Sunday, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the cheap deals you can find.

Read more!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Yeah yeah, we know. Everything seems to be on sale this month, but there are some special bargains worth your attention and possibly even your hard-earned dough.

TV and HOME THEATER: You will see significant price drops in December. Some savvy shoppers advise waiting just a tad longer for your upgrade, assuming that the prices will drop even lower before the Superbowl telecast.
Remember that digital broadcasting begins in February 2009, so if you or someone you know (or an elderly neighbor or relative) still picks up TV signals "over the airwaves" with an antenna (this does not apply to cable or satellite subscribers), you may want to pick up a digital TV or that converter box we told you about in March. ( Do a good deed. We have visions of a nation full of technologically challenged grandmothers living alone in little apartments, befuddled, staring at snow on the screen, with no Wheel of Fortune, crying themselves to sleep. Don't make our nightmares come true.

VIDEO GAMES: Manufacturers release their new products at this time of the year so there's plenty of competition for this sought-after gift idea.

MAJOR APPLIANCES: Know why? We'll tell you why. During the colder months, in reaction to weather-related construction and remodeling slowdowns, major appliance purchases go down so sales are abundant.

PARTY GOODS: PAPER and PLASTICWARE: This is the best time to stock up for the year as the items go on sale. (A caveat: Think long and hard about using disposables; it's economical and ecological to go green as much as possible.)

BIKES and GAS GRILLS: We've mentioned this in previous months, and they continue to be on sale. We don't know why bikes and gas grills go together. If you think of a reason, let us know. We're stumped.

Like we have to even tell you this. Open any newspaper or circular. It's like Christmas.

LANDSCAPING TOOLS: Don't wait until next Spring when the stores are getting top dollar. Do it now when business is slow and prices are low. Plan ahead. To paraphrase Voltaire's Candide, Cultivate your garden. And do it CHEAPIOSITY-style: Buy a cheap hoe.

One other shopping note. If you're shopping online, there are many free shipping offers, so pay attention and save yourself a bit more. Those shipping costs, however nominal, add up. Shop around.

And Happy New Year. Drive safely.

Read more!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Here at Team CHEAPIOSITY, we're busy readying our cheap yet delicious Thanksgiving dinner and feverishly working out to be in peak physical condition for Black Friday sales. However, so as not to disappoint our loyal readers, here's a link to an article in Smart Money that can be quite helpful for shoppers at this time of the year:

Team CHEAPIOSITY wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving and even happier bargain shopping on Friday. Let us know what you find out there...

Read more!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Last week we told you about Black Friday. While the country’s financial woes continue, let's look at the admittedly very dim bright side. What’s bad news for Retailers is good news for Consumers.

Discounters like TJ Maxx, outlet stores like Saks Fifth Avenue’s Off Fifth and websites like have much better selections because of retailer’s excess inventory that’s not selling in brick and mortar stores. You’ll see Designer names like, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Jimmy Choo, and more at discounts up to 75% off. You’ll also see these bargains at rival discounters like: Ross, SteinMart, DSW and DFS Stores. And let’s not forget B&H Factory Outlet, Inc. on eBay, where dresses start at a shockingly low 99 cents!

These deals are not limited to fashion. Online sellers like have great deals on handheld electronics and has been buying cancelled retailer orders for the past 3-4 weeks. Check out their site for great deals on computers, monitors, LCD TVs, etc. Make sure you look at the bottom of their webpage for “edeals.”

Before you buy, we urge you to re-read our July posting about shopping online, to make sure you get the lowest price possible:

Check out:; they know their stuff. We urge you to subscribe so you too can look forward to reading weekly (or more frequent when the spirit moves) newsletter emails.

Walmart boasts on its site that the average family of four can pocket a whopping $2,000 a year by opting for bulk purchases instead of smaller sizes. We're not entirely sure that's true, but the theory isn't bad, assuming nothing goes to waste. (We suspect that the average Walmart family of four might be slightly bulky themselves if they manage to consume such large quantities without waste.) Since buying in bulk can be something of a risk for most of us, we'd like to offer you some tips before your next trip to your favorite warehouse store. Wandering around Costco and Sam’s Club, we tend to get hypnotized by all the "bargains" and free samples. Treat your warehouse store like a regular grocery store. Try to avoid impulse purchases as much as you can. Shop with a list. A bargain's not a bargain if you don't use it, and you're probably not saving any money if you wind up disposing of an unused portion.

At this time of the year, warehouse stores offer plenty of good gift deals, especially for those ubiquitous semi-anonymous obligation type gifts: co-workers, doormen, and teachers for example. Shop smart and you'll find significantly discounted gift cards (20%) to other retailers like Starbucks and See's Chocolates. If you're savvy, you can find terrific deals on gift baskets and other seasonal items as well.

Just remember our motto: No matter how deep the discount, it's not a bargain if you don't really need it. Be careful out there.

Read more!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


According to an article last week in The New York Times: “Sales at the nation’s largest retailers fell off a cliff in October, casting fresh doubt on the survival of some chains and signaling that this will probably be the weakest Christmas shopping season in decades.” Sales at luxury stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue were off as well as mainstream retailers like The Gap while deep discounters like Walmart posted gains.

For years, the day after Thanksgiving has been termed Black Friday because it’s one of the busiest (and most profitable) shopping days of the year. That’s how the day got its name. Merchants have historically relied on Black Friday to move out of the red and into the black, hence showing a profit. And dedicated holiday shoppers have taken full advantage of the bargains. If you've never braved the crowds before, this might be the year that the stores make you an offer you can't refuse.

Because of the state of the economy, some retailers are having Black Friday sales early. While we don’t wish our nation's struggling retailers ill, it is our mission here at Team CHEAPIOSITY to help consumers. Retailer's losses can be your gain, and your participation in the enterprise can be the gift that keeps on giving.

Kmart just started offering a rotating array of deeply discounted specials and will continue to do so through November 23. Each week, 15 different products, including many home electronics, will be featured in store circulars, available in print and on the company’s Web site.

Deep discounting is going on at Walmart, too. The company just announced that it’s be rolling back prices on thousands of items, from food and board games to coffeemakers and toys, every week for the next seven weeks as part of a initiative called Operation Main Street. The rollbacks, according to Wal-Mart, amount to $200 million in additional savings for consumers.

On November 16, 2008, Sears is having Friends and Family VIP Night. Discounts abound both in store and on line. For details, go to:

In the meantime, don’t wait until the last minute to learn about Black Friday blockbusters at other stores. You can often check out many of the deals in advance at Web sites such as:,,,, and

Just remember our motto: No matter how deeply discounted, it's not a bargain if you don't really need it. Be careful out there.

Read more!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


The elections are over, and you know what that means. We can finally exhale. While some may start counting down the shopping days till Christmas, we’re more excited that our eight long years of Bush-bashing (and his eight long years of nation-destroying) are finally coming to a close. We enter this new historical era with high hopes, depleted savings accounts, gutted stock portfolios, mortgaged to the hilt, and with no real employment on the horizon. Still. We expect truly great things from our new President and we dare to feel optimistic. But enough bloviating. You want politics, go to the Huffington Post. We’re here to save you some money.

Before we offer our November bargain tips, we should remind you about items we mentioned in our September and October posts that are still on sale in November. If you’re in the market for BIKES, GAS GRILLS, TOYS and COOKWARE, this is still a great time to hit the stores or the web.

HEATERS: As cold weather approaches, stores are fully stocked with space heaters. Look for bargains now while there's the biggest selection and you can buy exactly what you need. Wait, CHEAPIOSITY. Are you sure we shouldn’t wait a while until the merchants need to clear the floor space for Valentine chocolates and lawn furniture so we can snage a deal? Here’s the thing: if you shop now, you won’t get stuck buying more heater than you want because the smaller, cheaper model is out of stock. Truly savvy shoppers would have purchased their ideal heater last year at the end of the season. But we weren’t there to guide you way back then. We’re here for you now, and that’s what’s important.

COMPUTERS: This month is considered a good time for cheap computers. In December, retailers will be getting computers with bigger upgrades and new gadgetry, so they are looking to decrease inventory to make room for next month's shipments. A WARNING: Check out all the offers thoroughly; sometimes these very cheap deals include very limited software bundles that will wind up costing you a big bundle. Read the fine print. Some computers are stripped down a bit and may provide you with the operating system only, no extras. It may cost you well over $100 to set up your system with Word, Outlook, Excel, etc. Suddenly that cheap deal becomes a lot more expensive. Of course, if you already have a computer, you can transfer most of the software you already have. Educate yourself before you buy. Caveat emptor. Duh.

BLANKETS: November is a good month to buy bedding and blankets in particular, so don't wait for the temperatures to now. Prepare yourself now for a long cozy hibernation. Lower that thermostat and snuggle up. Go green without turning blue.

WEDDING GOWNS: This month is an excellent time to find good deals. Why? Well, we’re here to tell you why. Many couples get engaged during the holidays, so business is comparatively slow right now, which is good for discounts. But I don’t have a fiancé, you say. Then step away from the bridal wear. Seriously. That’s just creepy. However, you have our tacit permission to check out Formal Gowns if you're in need. They’re also something of a bargain in November, and you won’t scare away any date who happens to sneak a peek in your closet.

TURKEYS: If you’re paying retail for a turkey, you don’t deserve to read any further. You're on the wrong website. (Of course, if you’re one of those organic-free-range-only-the-best-will-do-special-order-from-a-fancy-butcher-or-specialty-store chefs, we’re not really talking to you. And please invite us over to eat.) Supermarkets lure Thanksgiving shoppers in with offers that make the centerpiece of your celebration practically free. They depend on your spending the rest of your money in the store while you’re lugging out your free bird. Thank you, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Anyway, check around. You can save a bundle…and if you’re lucky enough to have a large freezer, put a couple away for the long winter months ahead. Gobble gobble.

Read more!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


These days nobody wants to throw anything out unless it's absolutely necessary. Real Simple did a great story on 77 items. Print it up and post it in your kitchen. Maybe you can even make it a guessing game for some cheap family fun.,22304,676079,00.html

Read more!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Halloween is just around the corner. So, say some experts we know, is a recession/depression. Keep your ghosts and goblins; we're plenty scared already.

Common wisdom tells us that Americans spend more Halloween than any other holiday except for Christmas/Chanukah. Guess what. As with most common wisdom, that little factoid is patently untrue. (FYI: You also can't catch cold by sitting around with wet hair, and chewing gum doesn't take seven years to pass through the human digestive system. Watch this space for more mythbusting.)

Here are the facts according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Americans spend an average of $60 each for Halloween, a third of that amount goes to purchasing candy, adding up to a whopping $5 billion a year. That total places Halloween sixth among holiday sales leaders, behind the following: Winter holidays: $457.4 billion, Mother's Day: $13.8 billion, Valentine's Day: $13.7 billion, Easter: $12.63 billion and Father's Day: $9.01 billion. (Any way you slice and dice it, that's a lot of cards, flowers, neckties, jewelry, and chocolate.)

Our guess is Halloween won't start catching up with all the other holidays until merchandisers manage to convince us that exchanging pricey gifts is an integral part of the Halloween tradition. Handing out pencils and candy to marauding trick-or-treaters, dressing up, and decorating our homes can't compete with all that gifting, greeting card, and florist action.

If you're interested this year in cutting your Halloween spending without cutting any of your Halloween fun, we have some suggestions. We're not going all Martha Stewart on you. We just like making our own costumes and decorations. Keep it simple and fun. After all, Halloween isn't just for kids, and it doesn't have to mean a trip to the costume shop.

Start with a brainstorming session. Think conceptually, not literally. Consider what you already own. Decide whether you want to costume a group or as an individual. A young lady of our acquaintance masqueraded last fall as the nursery rhyme Three Men In A Tub. A few friends, a trip to the thrift store and a rummage in some closets, a little face paint, a cardboard box, a lick of paint, a few balloons, a fertile imagination, and check out the award-winning results:

We're big fans of starting with basics. This winsome caterpillar started with a simple green T-shirt, shorts, and tights. Add a little tape, face paint, and pipe cleaners to get:

A group of friends wearing basic white lab coats dirtied up and worn backwards, gloves with the fingers cut off, teased hair with lots of hairspray, dark eyeshadow liberally applied, black nailpolish applied and wiped off while still wet, and you've got a bunch of scary asylum inmates.

Basic thrift store finds shredded and painted make a lovely harridan. A little white and black face paint, some hairspray, and...well, a picture's worth a thousand words.

Halloween costumes don't have to be scary. A pretty dress, a few well-chosen props, exaggerated makeup, and you've got a living doll.

And don't forget the family pet. Oh sure, you could easily drop twenty bucks on some lame costume at the store or you could come up with something truly worthy. We found these particularly entertaining homemade dog costumes online; we wish we knew who to credit. We don't. But we hope they inspire you to think outside the box.

You get the idea. Don't waste your money on a store-bought costume. Use your imagination. If you don't have an imagination, look around the internet and borrow someone else's. Then please share your costumes with us here.

Happy Halloween.


Read more!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Our loyal CHEAPIOSITY readers may have noted that we’ve been missing our usual weekly posts for a while now. Blame Mercury in retrograde. We’ve been hiding under the covers, waiting for things to change. Seems our fervent prayers are going unanswered for now so we’re venturing out into cyberspace with this tiny offering. Like throwing a pebble hoping to stop an avalanche, but hey, it’s the best we can do.

Oh, and this. Don’t panic. Vote early and often. And don’t lose hope. The economy will recover eventually. And meanwhile, we think you’ll look quite fetching in one of those barrels.

We take our commitment to you seriously so we’d like to share a Business Week article that gives you 25 more ways to save:

Read more!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Hmm. Quite the month. Quick. Before we lose our will to live. Let’s state the obvious and remind you that leaves aren’t the only things falling this autumn. (Stocks, retirement funds, and our net worth, for instance.)

On the off chance you still have money to spend and the will to shop, Team CHEAPIOSITY wants to make you aware of what’s on sale this month besides pumpkins.

Also: under the heading of making lemonade out of lemons: Sadly, small and large retailers are failing all over the country; don’t miss out on ubiquitous clearance and going out of business sales. Their losses are literally your gain.

JEWELRY: The best time to buy jewelry? Savvy shoppers do it during the months where there aren’t traditional jewelry-buying holidays. Don’t buy around Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Mother’s Day. Plan ahead. Be on the lookout for sales this month; Halloween and Thanksgiving aren’t big jewelry holidays. Yet...

MAJOR APPLIANCES: As we told you in September, the new models come to the stores in the fall so now’s the time to take advantage on marked-down 2008 models.

TOYS: Toys for the holidays hit stores full force in September, and holiday shopping early improves your chances at scoring the hot toys kids want. During October, retailers feature plenty of promotional sales. Don’t wait until after Thanksgiving when inventory starts to get scarce.

COOKWARE: In October and November, retailers feature big sales on all cookware. If you need to buy or replace cookware items, now’s the time to find a bargain.

JEANS: Back to school sales are over, and retailers need to reduce their overstock at this time. Shop around. (And seriously reconsider the whole ultra low-rise thing. Nobody needs to see that much of anyone's butt. We know this has nothing to do with our primary mission, but we want to be a force for good bargains and good taste.)

SCHOOL SUPPLIES: You’ll find really deep discounts after back to school season. Retailers need to clear their shelves for the holidays, and you’ll find super deep discounts.

FISHING GEAR: The season is over, so go angling for a deal. You just might reel in a big one. Ha ha. Hey, have we mentioned we've been hiding under the covers for a few weeks? Re-entry might take us a while.

CARPET AND RUGS: Watch the newspapers for sales and promotions.

TIRES: You’ll be seeing promotions at this time of year as consumers prepare for the winter months.

Read more!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


As the price of energy continues to go up and our economy goes down. We read an article in Consumer Reports that we'd like to share. It gives you 25 ways to save on energy and we agree:

Read more!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So you sprung for a brand new cellphone, gaming device, digital camera, computer. Whatever. Congratulations. Use it in good health.

Now you have to get rid of your old one.
You can’t just throw it away. That would be just plain wrong.
You could put it on Craigslist.
You could donate it to a charity.
You could give it to a nephew or a neighbor.
But we don’t have to tell you how to give things away.
You already know how to do that.
Besides, we’re here to make you some money.

It’s the right thing to do.
It’s the smart thing to do.
It’s the CHEAPIOSITY thing to do.

We know that making money is a surefire incentive for you CHEAPIOSITY readers to go green. You may not make a lot of money, but a little something is better than nothing.

Before you recycle for free, we suggest you check out these sites:,,, and

Most of these sites will take your device for recycling (and most will pay the postage for you) even if they won’t pay you for it. Some of these sites pay cash, some pay with gift cards or through Paypal, and some encourage you to make a charitable donation. Most provide free shipping, and some provide free packaging. If you are worried about sending a device loaded with personal information, these websites may not be for you. Most sites say they will delete your data, but there’s no way for you to really confirm that promise. Comparison shop to make sure you’re getting the most money on your transaction. Be sure to check all the website policies, terms and conditions before making your deal.

Gazelle, VenJuvo and BoneYard accept different electronics; check with each site to see what they will take. As of this publishing date:
Gazelle purchases: Cell Phones, MP3 Players, Digital Cameras, Laptops, GPS Devices, Gaming Consoles, Camcorders, Satellite Radios, and Portable Hard Drives.
VenJuvo accepts: Game Systems MP3 Players, Digital Cameras, GPS Systems, Laptops, and HDTVs.
MyBoneYard will recycle your: Music Players, Laptops, Cell Phones, PC Systems, and Flat Panel Monitors.

TechForward works a little differently. Consumers pay a fee in advance to ‘lock in’ a buy-back price they promise to pay you in the future. Make sure you read all the terms and conditions and remember to contact them in the future when you upgrade your equipment because you’re paying them a nonrefundable fee upfront. While there is no penalty incurred if you don’t recycle through TechForward, they keep your upfront fee. Caveat emptor.

And if all this just seems like too much of a hassle, you can find out where you can take your electronics for recycling locally by checking this website:

Think green.

Read more!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Kiplinger.Com has listed 30 free goods and services for their readers.

Since we here at CHEAPIOSITY can't do any better than FREE, here's the link:

Did we mention? It's all FREE.
Which happens to be our all-time favorite price point.


Read more!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Bikes: Since the 2009 bike models start arriving in September, many bike stores discount last year's models. True biking afficianados may appreciate the improvements, but we biking muggles can save a bundle buying older stock. Merchants need to floor room.

Major Appliances: Like bikes, the new models debut at stores in September and October. Unlike bikes, old major appliances take up large amounts of floor and warehouse space. Savvy shoppers can find deeply discounted appliances if they're willing to settle for state of last year's art.

Housewares: As houseware companies launch their Fall/Winter lines, be on the lookout for sales on Summer lines. Do you detect a theme?

Grills: Barbeque season ends after Labor Day, so look for major markdowns on grills.

Small Electronics: In the fall, many manufacturers release at least one new attention and watch prices drop on last year's model.

Trees, shrubs and perennials: Most nurseries don't want to hold onto these until the Spring, so pick up bargains now while the ground is still warm.

Wine: Starting in September, wine makers will be releasing wine from last year's harvest, so look for price reductions particularly in the high supply wines.

So…the CHEAPIOSITY bottom line. Ride your new slightly outdated bike. Replace your older major appliances and housewares with last year's models. (Don't replace major appliances for nw bells and whistles. Be environmentally responsible, and hang onto them until it makes sense to replace them.) Cook outside in the fall and winter on your new grill. If it's miserable out there, your stash of cheap wine will keep you warm, and new plants will provide cover from any inclement weather. Oh, and use your savings to treat yourself to a new-ish phone.

If you're the kind of person who needs the latest and greatest to boost your ego and impress other people with your blatant “I stood in line to pay retail” consumerism, face it right now. You are reading the wrong blog.

Read more!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


It’s that time of year. College students are heading back to campus, taking most of their parents’ hard-earned money with them. After ponying up for tuition, room and board, there’s one more big outlay to start off every semester – the textbooks. While a parsimonious parent conceivably could convince his or her progeny to take classes that don’t require any reading, this little economy might ultimately impact negatively on the student’s quality of education.

Brace yourself for some serious sticker shock. A college student typically spends an average of $700 to $1,100 on textbooks annually. The market for new textbooks is estimated at $3.6 billion this year. According to a 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office, the price of textbooks nearly tripled between 1986 and 2004, rising an average of 6 percent a year. (During this same period, inflation rose a mere 3 percent a year.) In California, the state auditor reported last week that textbook prices have skyrocketed 30 percent in the past four years. WOW! Last month, Congress passed legislation forcing textbook publishers to release more information about their prices. The legislation also requires selling textbooks separately rather than packaged with a companion CD or workbook that makes for a more expensive purchase. However, these provisions will not take effect until 2010.

Here at CHEAPIOSITY, this kind of information turns our stomachs (and simultaneously drains our family coffers – a founding staffer’s daughter is back East matriculating in private college as you read this post) so we’ve sent our crackerjack staff out to the worldwide web to bring you some alternative solutions that will help you and your almost-grown yard-apes. After negotiating your financial aid package, you can hardly bargain-shop on the big-ticket elements of higher education like tuition, room and board, but you might be able to save some serious moolah on textbooks.

Electronic Textbooks:

Six of the major textbook publishers (including McGraw Hill, Pearson, Cengage, etc) have started a website,, which sells subscriptions to digital copies of textbooks. You purchase subscriptions for the length of time needed, and there’s a limitation of how many pages you can print, and they can’t be returned. offers free online textbooks and charges students fees to download or print them. Also take a look at and Check individual publishers to see if they have eTextbook sites, as well as, and don’t forget to ask your college bookstore if they offer access to eTextbooks.

Price Comparison Sites:

Since almost anything can be bought online these days, take a look at price comparision search engines specific for textbooks, like:,,,, for both new and used books. Let’s not forget Barnes & Noble ( or Amazon ( or eBay (

Textbook Rentals:

When their school term is over, most students head back to the bookstore see what they can get for their unwanted books.

Another solution is to rent textbooks. At sites like:,, and, students pay as little as a third of the retail price and then return it at semester’s end. Buying a used book can be even cheaper than renting so compare prices before making your decision. Remember too that renting may not include supplementary materials like workbooks or CDs, so know exactly what you’re renting. Finally, keep in mind that you are renting the book. You must return the book in good condition or you will have to buy it outright. If you habitually tend to go highlighter-crazy or break the spines or dog-ear pages, renting might not be the ideal system for you.

Free Downloads:

Yes, you can actually get free textbooks to download. Sites like,: offer free downloads by selling advertising to supplement their costs. Sites like have over 25,000 titles. These titles are older or out of copyright texts. The problem with these sites is lack of selection, but it’s definitely worth a look.

The Bottom Line:

Remember to comparison shop. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy used then to rent. Know what you’re buying or renting….does your purchase include the workbook or CD you need? Maybe you want to buy a used textbook and a new companion workbook. Mix and match, buying only what you need and avoiding bundled items if you don’t need them.

If you do buy textbooks, used or new, take it easy on them. Condition counts.

You can always sell them at your student bookstore or online with a click of your cursor on an online site like: Amazon. (For busy students, Amazon has even come up with an even easier system to sell all your unwanted textbooks called EasySell. You ship them the textbooks you don't need any more, and, for a nominal charge, they sell and ship them for you.)

Think of it as recycling with benefits. Think green. As in dollars and the environment.

UPDATE AS OF 9/2009: Take a look:

Read more!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


In keeping with our motto of living a first class life at economy prices, we thought we should talk about buying high end items. (Here at CHEAPIOSITY, we’re not really high end clothing shoppers. We wear our CHEAPIOSITY uniforms to work in the testing lab, and we express ourselves on Casual Fridays, and of course once a year, we break out the good stuff for the office Christmas party. That said, it is our understanding that some people actually enjoy spending big bucks on designer clothing and other big name big ticket brands. We can only assume that such really big spenders might enjoy their purchases even more if they got really big bangs for their really big bucks. Hence, this post.) High end bargains can be found in the USA and around the world. And we have scoped them out especially for you.

Bear in mind that this post is only focusing on high end items, so don’t write us that we left out your favorite outlet mall. (You never write. You never call. Is it something we said?)

The first place to look is; these are Premium Outlet Malls both in the USA and parts of Asia and Mexico City. They are pretty well spread out throughout the US, so it may be worth an outing to the one nearest you. If you find yourself in Tokyo or other Japanese cities, or Seoul, Korea, you’ll find high end bargains galore.

When in Milan, Italy, it would be well worth your while to visit There, you will find discounts of 50%, but you don’t have to travel as far as Milan to find Marni. They have stores in many other countries where deflated dollars and inflated Euros go farther. Also in Milan, check out: D’Magazine ( This outlet is in the Fashion District, and on a good day, you’ll find Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gucci at up to 90% off. Still have room in your bag for more bargains? 50 kilometers from Milan, on the Italian/Swiss border is Foxtown ( in Mendrisio, Switzerland. Not only are there outlet stores (Dior to YSL), but restaurants and a casino to keep you busy. (Don’t mind us; we’ll be back here, thrift shopping, eating leftovers from TGIFriday’s, and buying Lotto tickets. Sigh.)

If Prada ( is your thing and you’re in the area, a trip to Montevarchi, Italy may be in order. There you’ll find discounts of 50% or more. Now, don’t get confused, the Prada outlet is called Pellettieri d’Italia. Non-Prada-philes may ask why. Well, little ones, before Prada was Prada, Miuccia Prada’s fashion house was known as Pellettieri d’Italia, and they kept the name for the outlet. You will also find discounts on their second-tier line Miu Miu. The outlet store is in the Tuscany region of Italy, 45 minutes to an hour's drive from Florence.

Now that you’ve traversed Italy, you’re looking damn good. Time to trek north to Helsinki, Finland and do a little something special for your house. You don’t want your house to feel neglected, do you? Check out Helsinki’s famous Arabia Kitchen and Bath outfitters? There you find discounts up to 70% off on everything including the kitchen sink. They even have a shipping service to help you shlep it all home to wherever.

While the fabled bargains in Hong Kong are not what they used to be, it would be worth a trip to Joyce Warehouse at Horizon Plaza for find discounts on designer clothes starting at 40% off.

Well, there you have it. While no list can be all-inclusive, this is a good place to start for some of the best high end outlets around the world. Happy shopping! Drop us a postcard. Sniff.

Read more!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Unless you live in total isolation and haven't seen a newspaper, circular or TV, you have already realized that it's BACK TO SCHOOL sale time. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that August's the ideal month to stock up on school and office supplies, clothing, furnishings for dorm rooms and student apartments, school related electronics and computers. If it's school- related, now's the time to buy it.

We miss our school days...buying our new Buster Browns for fall, shopping for our school wardrobe and fighting with our moms in the Sears dressing room, wondering who our teacher might be, worrying about missing the school bus on the first day, plotting how to keep the schoolyard bully from stealing our lunch money, choosing just the right lunchbox and notebook -- cool enough to fit in yet ironic enough to amuse our close friends all year long. Maybe we're actually relieved to have survived the trauma. But we digress. As is our custom.

In the retail world, summer is over*, so look for clearance sales on summer-oriented items from bathing suits, clothes, to outdoor grills. Retailers need space for the fall items, and you can still get a couple months use out of them this year what with our new and vastly unimproved Crazy World Weather. (Oh sure, President Bush, there's no such thing as global warming. Let's call it global weirding.)

*In the real world, summer is almost over so it's high time to lower those standards and have that last desperate romantic summer fling. Summer isn't summer without some regrets.

August is our Nation's harvest time, so make it a point to visit a Farmer's Market or stop at a roadside stand or just take advantage of the abundancy of fresh produce on sale at your local supermarket. Of course, if you want to be really cheap like we are, this is the perfect time to start canning and freezing the fresh produce for the winter. We're sure that's what domestic goddess and icon of home and hearth Martha is doing right now. (Bringing in the harvest singlehandedly and canning for the winter wearing a cunning little apron she sewed herself and a hat she wove out of twigs and berries. How festive.)

Do you know what Peridot is? Yeah, we didn't either until we Googled it. It's August's birthstone, it's green, and many Jewelers have them on sale for gifts this month.

Finally, there are less than 150 days before Christmas. (Before you get your P.C. panties in a bunch, Chanukah starts December 21, and Kwanzaa is December 26.) But who's counting? We're counting. Call us crazy, but here at CHEAPIOSITY, we plan ahead so the financial bite of our overwhelming generosity doesn't kill us in December and January. It's never too soon to start thinking about the holidays. The stores are already decked out in full-on Halloween. Time flies in the marketplace. Our year tumbles to a close, accelerating exponentially. So start your smart holiday gift-buying now.

Read more!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


A few months ago, we taught you how and why to handle your own Identity Security without paying a third party to handle it for you.

Now there’s a new trend. Companies are offering to Fix Your Credit, and their fees can reach the thousand dollar range or higher. Once again, with a little help from your good friends at CHEAPIOSITY, you can do it yourself for FREE. Safer, cheaper, and better. When these companies claim to “fix your credit”, basically what they’re saying is that they will help you raise your Credit Score. Your Credit Score is also referred to as your FICO score. We’ve all heard that term without really knowing what it means. FICO stands for Fair Isaac & Co., the firm that created this credit rating system now widely used by lenders of all stripes for a quick read on your creditworthiness.

Complaints against credit repair companies have risen for three straight years, increasing more than 38% since 2004 according to the Better Business Bureau, so buyer beware.

While the FICO system is widely used, it’s far from perfect. Good lenders use it as a starting point, and each one has their own ideas about how high your score should be. They may also base their decision on other information not contained in the score — like how long you’ve lived at your current address or held your current job.

In general, you’ll pay higher interest rates the lower your score. In theory, the lower your score, the higher the risk to the lender that you won't pay the loan back. FICO scores range from 300 to 850; the median score is 723. To get the best rates, you’ll usually have to have a score of at least low- to-mid-700s.

Your credit score is compiled from information collected by the three major consumer credit agencies, and each one calculates scores a little differently. So you probably have slightly different scores with each agency.

The first step in raising your score is to make sure the information used to calculate it is correct and up-to-date. For that, you’ll need to get copies from each credit agency; you can get one free every year by going to — a Web site set up under a federal law requiring the credit agencies who collect all this information on you to give you access to a free copy of your reports once a year. You’ll see a number of other pitches out there for "free" reports; when you get to the fine print, you have to supply a credit card, sign up for a "credit monitoring" service, and then cancel after they've charged your account.

Once you get your report, look it over carefully. Are there records of past- due payments you can show you made on time? Are there accounts still listed that have been closed? Worse: is someone else’s account or address listed under your name? One good reason to check your report is to see if identity thieves have been opening accounts in your name. If you find any mistakes, write to the reporting agency and ask to have the information corrected. You should get a response within a few weeks; if not, give them a call.

So now you know what your report says about you and you’ve corrected any mistakes. Unfortunately, while the law gives you free access to your credit reports, you’ll have to pay to get your FICO score. Some lenders will provide your score when you apply for a loan. But if you want to know beforehand, you have to go to and pay $15.95. (You can sign up for a free 30-day trial once.)

While the exact formula for calculating your score is not public, the basics are available on the Fair Isaac & Co. Web site, along with guidance on how to raise your score. While there are companies out there selling “credit repair,” you don’t need to pay to have someone else raise your score for you. Here are the types of information the formula takes into account, how much weight it gives each category, and what you can do on your own to raise your score:

Payment history: 35 percent.

The single most important thing you can do is the simplest: Pay your bills on time. More than a third if your FICO score is based on your payment history: how often you’re late paying credit cards, car loans, mortgages and student loans. The later you are, the more you hurt your score. FYI: closing an account with late payments after you’ve paid it off doesn’t get rid of the damage to your score any faster than leaving it open.

How much you owe: 30 percent.

The next biggest chunk of the score is based on how much you owe. The simplest solution: Pay down your credit cards and other installment loans. Moving money from one card to another won’t help: you have to reduce the overall balance.

Credit issuers also look at how much of your borrowing power you’re using. Even though you’re keeping up with monthly minimum payments, if you’re at your limit on one or more cards, you’re at greater risk of getting in over your head — which will likely be reflected in your score. On the other hand, if you can get your bank to raise your limit, the extra headroom on your account should help your score.

Length of credit history: 15 percent.

This one is hard to speed up; lenders want to see a track record of timely payments. Even if you have had credit for along time, a lot of newer accounts will lower your score. That’s why closing old accounts may reduce your score: it may shortens the average length of your credit history.

If you’re just getting started, stick with one or two accounts and gradually add more. If you can get yourself added to an account of a relative with good credit, that may help. And if you have no credit history, you may want to start with a secured loan or credit card. By keeping money in a savings account with the same lender — and using it to back your loan — you’ll lower the risk to the lender, get a better rate, and start building a good payment history.

New credit: 10 percent.

Opening up a lot of accounts all at once can also hurt your score — even if you pay all your bills on time and don’t carry big balances.

You may also hurt your score if you’re constantly changing cards and chasing a lower rate. Your score can also take into account how many inquiries lenders make to credit agencies asking about your credit. Too many requests for information may mean you’re embarking on a borrowing binge. On the other hand, Fair Isaac says it doesn’t count inquiries from lenders who want to pre-approve you — without your approval. And shopping among several lenders all at once – without opening more than one account — also shouldn’t have an impact, according to the company’s Web site.

Types of credit: 10 percent.
Most people have different kids of credit — credit cards, mortgage, car loan, student loan, etc. Open-ended credit — like a credit card -- is called revolving credit because it doesn’t have a fixed number of payments. A car loan or mortgage, which does, is known as an installment loan because when you finish the payments the loan is closed. Lenders want to see how you handle both kinds of credit. But opening more accounts won’t necessarily help offset a spotty track record of payments on existing loans.

No one can erase negative information if it’s accurate.
Only incorrect information can be removed. Accurate information stays on your record for 7 years from the time it’s reported (10 years for bankruptcy). Even information about bills you fell behind on but now are paid will remain on your report for these time periods.

Credit repair services can’t ask for payment until they’ve kept their promises. Federal law also requires credit repair services to give you an explanation of your legal rights, a detailed written contract, and three days to cancel. (This applies to for-profit services, not to non-profit organizations, banks and credit unions, or the creditors themselves.)

Be cautious about emails for credit services.
Many unsolicited emails are fraudulent.

You can add an explanation to your report.
If there is a good reason why you weren’t able to pay bills on time (job loss, sudden illness, etc.) or you refused to pay for something because of a legitimate dispute, give the credit bureau a short statement to include in your file.

Know that you can’t create a second credit file. Fraudulent companies sometimes offer to provide consumers with different tax identification or social security numbers in order to create a new credit file. This practice, called “file segregation,” is illegal, and it doesn’t work.

If you have credit problems, get counseling. Your local Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) can provide advice about how to build a good credit record. The CCCS may also be able to make payment plans with your creditors if you’ve fallen behind. These services are offered for free or at a very low cost. To find the nearest CCCS office, call toll-free, 800-388-2227, or go to

Read more!

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Movie night isn’t cheap these days. Not with full price adult admissions running $12-14 in some cities. The smallest container of popcorn goes for around five bucks...a couple more bucks to quench your thirst with a soft drink…and why is that patented movie theater room-temperature low-pressure water fountain always on the blink? Throw in parking fees and a babysitter, and it’s little wonder the multiplex aims almost exclusively for free-spending teenagers.

Netflix and Blockbuster are viable options….but sometimes you want to get out of the house and let someone else pay for the air conditioning. Besides, some movies just plain play better on a big screen with a big crowd.

A family of four rushing out for the latest Pixar or Disney offering on opening weekend can expect to shell out upwards of $75, not to mention the ubiquitous marketing tie-ins. Talk about sticker shock. Paying full price for movie tickets is tough to justify, knowing you’ll probably own the video for around ten bucks in six months.

Here at CHEAPIOSITY, our team of experts have pondered the issue and come up with a few tips that just might make your next trip to the movies a little less expensive:

Seek out free showings. (Well, duh, CHEAPIOSITY. Free would be cheap. But how...?) Major movie chains sometimes offer free family matinees. Regal Theaters offer Free Family Film Festivals, for matinee showings of family films, mid-week. Check your local theater chains to find out if such programs exist near you.

Clip coupons. Check all circulars (grocery stores or otherwise) for discount coupons. Once you’re on the lookout, you’ll be surprised you never noticed them before.

If drive-ins still exist in your area, check them out. (Good luck finding one.) They may have per-car specials, children generally get in for free, and the price of admission will be cheaper and so will the concessions. And so will the picture and sound quality. But hey, it’s a night out. Sorta. We love a drive-in. Are we dating ourselves even suggesting this option? Probably...

Look for Independent Theaters. They will offer current films, a few weeks after release and at much reduced prices….sometimes as much as 70% off a chain’s price. Very often they will feature special matinee prices as well.

Many chains offer discounts on tickets if you buy in bulk. Also, Costco and other warehouse stores sell movie tickets in prepackaged quantities at a discount. Not-for-Profit organizations sometimes get bulk deals from Theater Chains at greatly discounted prices. There is one downside to this: these tickets are not always good for special engagements (like the first 2 weeks of a movie’s release) so always check for restrictions before making your plans and purchases.

Avoid on-line reservations sites. Almost all of them charge a surcharge of a $1 or more per ticket. They are sites like,, etc. However, sometimes you can buy directly from the movie chain online, where there is no handling charge. Policies change from chain to chain, so check their sites carefully.

If you going to buy snacks, buy the largest sizes and share….at least you’ll get more bang for your buck. Some nefarious CHEAPIOSITY staffers sink so low as to sneak in snacks and avoid the concession inflation problem altogether. Other more scrupulous CHEAPIOSITY staffers have heard tales of folks getting tossed out on their ear for violating theater rules in this regard. Your call.

Go to the movies at off-times. Weekday matinees are discounted. Some chains have “twilight” showings (so you can go right after work) at a discounted rate. It goes without saying that weekends and holidays are the days to avoid if you want to save a buck. ). One of the ‘senior’ members of Team CHEAPIOSITY wanted to see a well reviewed foreign film at his local art theater and discovered a Senior Matinee price on Wednesdays for $4, considerably cheaper than the usual senior price of $7, and a whopping 60% less than the normal $10 adult admission.

Join theater chain loyalty clubs, so you can take advantage of discounts. Check theater chain websites (You can find links to most of the major chains here: Check these sites for discount coupons to print out and take to the box office and other offers and contests worth your time and pre-planning. For a few examples, Regal Entertainment group is offering a sweepstakes online for a free year of movie tickets, and their super saver tickets will save you up to 40%. Southern California's Laemmle Theatres offer significant discounts on admissions and concessions bought online and in large quantities. AMC Theatres offer Summer Camp bargains and the usual bulk discounts on tickets and concessions. Our local art film theater provides a frequent viewer card as incentive; after six tickets, the seventh movie is free.

Another way to get cheap movie tickets is to see if your employer has a corporate program with any of the big movie theater companies. Many companies make a corporate arrangement with theater chains, allowing employees to purchase unrestricted movie tickets for only $6 each. It doesn’t hurt to ask. A perk's a perk.

If you’re self-employed, see if your home business can get in on a corporate purchase plan with area movie theaters to get cheap movie tickets. You may need to buy your tickets in batches of twenty five or fifty, but if you see movies frequently, the savings will pay off pretty quickly. If you’re a member of the National Association for the Self Employed, you can also get cheap movie tickets (as well as other terrific advice, support and information) through them.

If you belong to a credit union or business association, see if they offer a discount movie ticket program. If you’re a student, see if your school has cheap movie tickets to offer you. Many banks, unions, clubs and other associations participate in bulk discounting as well. Ask around.

Check with local community groups and schools to find Entertainment Books; these fundraisers are filled with a wide range of coupons and usually include heavily discounted movie theater tickets.

Free movie tickets are often part of cross-promotional campaigns. Some brands (usually cereals and soft drinks) and supermarket chains offer free tickets with purchases. Watch out for these offers and plan ahead. For example, the famous chocolate maker Hershey’s advertises an offer in which one must collect 16 points from specially marked packages of Milk Duds Candy, Whoppers Malted Milk Balls, or Hershey’s Bites Candies to exchange for one free movie ticket.

Free movie screenings are available in many cities; you can look for passes and opportunities online. There are plenty of sites to check; try this one: FilmMetro

As you can see, there are ways to avoid paying full price. So go to the movies. Just don’t be a chump about it.

Read more! - The internets fastest growing blog directory Blogging Fusion Blog Directory My Zimbio
Top Stories