Simmering Hope

Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Nov 28, 2007

Christmas shopping on a budget

Christmas is around the corner, so is the lay off-time-of-the-year. Contrary to what you read in the paper, Canadian economy it’s not booming, it’s taking a beeline to the rock bottom.
Therefore, when your kids start talking about what Santa is going to bring them, instead of pulling your hair out, think a new strategy: second-hand or discount buying.
So what if a toy or a book is not new? You compensate with a nice and shiny wrapping and a bigger ribbon.
Seriously speaking, there are many things around that don’t have to be new to enjoy them.

DVD and CD
Yeap, I am an old dinosaur and still purchase DVDs and CDs, vs. copying them from the net. Nowadays I am digging into the boxes of ‘hot deals’ at Wal-Mart or Superstore or any other store that may be offering still in-box (as in new) DVDs and CDs at low prices.
Or I check the online sellers. With online retailers the problem is that even if the discs are cheap, being used, the shipping and handling is more expensive than normal and what you save on the disc’s cost you spend on shipping. It happened to me when I checked Amazon market place. So you have to do your homework and compare. Don’t forget the duty you have to pay if the content of your package is more expensive than 20 USD.
Another source might be Rogers video or Blockbuster video rental stores. It’s worth trying anyway.

Books
Normally you read a book once, maybe twice if you really like it or you suffer from some sort of brain fart and can’t remember the action, so when you reread it it’s like new to you (been there, done that)
Library sales, online retailers (like abebooks, check: www.abebooks.com), Amazon market place, Value Village, anything may be a source of cheap books.

Toys
With kids you never know what might be a success toy story. My son enjoyed a toy purchased for $1.99 at Ikea and did not play much with a big, remote-controlled, expensive car. On top of that they get bored pretty fast and most of the toys will end up at the bottom of the toy box in no time.
A good quality second-hand toy will work just as fine as any new one.

Software and console games
If you have the patience to wait a few months after the release of the newest gizmo or game, you will get it cheaper for sure. Another benefit: whatever bug the device, software had, it would be fixed by then. Now, if your kid goes to school and all his peers boast about the newest Xbox they got, he may feel really unhappy with his outdated version. Again, put in balance what is important and act accordingly.
You have to be careful as well because some manufacturers restrict the number of computers the software may be installed, which can make the transfer to the new owner more difficult.
Cars
We got our BMW X3, ex-leased, for a good discount. If you are in the market for a new car, at least new for you, an ex-lease is a viable option. Of course you have to do your homework and check the depreciation value. Be realistic and don’t expect a Hyundai to perform as well in time as a BMW, Porsche or Mercedes.
Don’t expect that the dealer will voluntarily disclose every weak point the car has and have a good, objective mechanic verifying your car.

Timeshares
It’s the time of the year when Canadians are not getting too much sunshine. Seasonal depression is in full blast and everybody dreams about that perfect vacation on a hot, white, sunny beach.
Numerous families are contemplating purchasing a timeshare as well. Like in the car’s case, you have to do your homework and check resale values on line. Take with a grain of salt what the agent may tell you about the expected depreciation. Most of the timeshare will loose value in time, as high as 70% of the original cost. Exception may be some high-end properties in exclusive resort.

My tip for not going over board with Christmas shopping: CASH.
I promise you will think twice before throwing lots of stuff in you buggy.

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