Can Online Shopping Help Shoppaholics?

I hope your Halloween weekend was eventful, fulfilled, and ended in a candy induced frenzy. And speaking of frenzies, Black Friday is only a few weeks away! As the end of the year creeps closer and closer, I we find ourselves with the one thing that we just can’t get enough of, and that is possibilities. In fact, there are so many possibilities during this season that most of the time, we don’t know what to do with them. While these possibilities aren’t only limited to what we can buy at stores, it does seem that this is where a large portion of our expanded choices stem from. With sales going up faster than holiday decorations, we find ourselves browsing through stuff that we normally wouldn’t and begin impulse buying at a ridiculous rate. Why? “Because it was on sale, duh!”

And here we come to one of the major dangers of shopping. Sales are obviously ways for stores to draw in and attract customers and for most shoppers, it may seem that there is zero harm in buying something that is marked down and that mentality stays with us throughout the day until we find that we’ve spent so much more money than we normally would have. Now of course, you have to ask yourself if this is even a real problem at all. For some people, going on a shopping spree and giving the wallet a workout isn’t that big of a deal. As for me however, I get a severe case of buyers remorse whenever I spend too much money. That is not to say that I regret getting new stuff, rather, I regret losing money and as a result, tend to curb my shopping habits.

As far as finding a practical cure for these “sale fevers” of the holiday season, the most effective solution is the preventative measure of self-control. However, if it were that easy, then marketers would have done away with the idea of “sales” a long time ago. But is there another way to shop without getting sucked into the myriad of holiday sales? Probably not, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t look for one. As you could have guessed from the trend from the past few weeks (or by looking at the title) Online shopping can be a probable solution.

As always, I will present both pros and cons of the argument, for the sake of a full discussion about the topic. First the cons:

The only major flaw with trying to save money while online shopping is the fact that the only method of payment is through debit or credit cards. This may seem innocuous, however to is a very important factor to consider. When you pay online you only see numbers on a screen that tells you the price of your purchases. For many people the significance of these numbers is lost on them until they compare it to their bank account statement. As a result, people may be more inclined to spend lots of money while shopping online because there isn’t the feeling of spending money isn’t emphasized. When you go to a store for example, and pay with cash, you are physically handing away your money, when making a purchase, thereby making the loss of money a real thing. Even when paying with a debit/credit card, we are forced to physically give over our cards and make the transaction a physical thing, rather than seem like a game on a computer.

Now the pros of online shopping: Firstly, sales tend to loose some power when making purchases online. On a computer, we see a marked down price, perhaps with some bold lettering that says “SALE”. However this is nothing compared to the sensory overload of going physically going to a store and being bombarded with dozens of giant “SALE” signs everywhere. Secondly, there is no peer pressure for spending money. Take Black Friday for example. Everyone’s favorite holiday, as indicated by the mass of people that line up outside stores before they open. When those doors are first opened, a wave of people swoop in to get to the best sales before they run out. Because of this pressure, people are more likely to make a quick purchase in fear that if they wait, they will miss out on a good deal. While this risk may exist in online shopping, such as lettering that indicates “ONLY 1 LEFT IN STOCK” the feeling of urgency is immensely mitigated by the fact that there is no physical rush. Lastly is that with online shopping, there is not as much temptation to browse items. Part of the fun of going to a store is to walk around the whole store and buy what interests you. While shopping online, there is a greater tendency to look for items that you need and browsing, while much more convenient, is a little more boring. Thus the chances of making a purchase on impulse is again reduced.

So with that said, I know many people will still probably go out on a spree on Black Friday, I know I probably will. But for those of you that want to build a thrifty habit, try shopping online and see if that helps you curb your spending spree.

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Have You Started Your Holiday Shopping Yet?

Holdiay Shopping

Have you really not started your holiday shopping yet? Can it “really” wait? Well, if you say so…

Have you ever noticed that most of you do the most shopping at around this time of year. Think about it for a moment. You have Halloween: Candy shopping, Costume shopping, decoration shopping, and seasonal foods shopping (pumpkin pies). Then Thanksgiving: decoration shopping and Seasonal food shopping (turkeys). Then right after Thanksgiving there’s everyone’s favorite holiday… Black Friday: clothes shopping, food shopping, decoration shopping, tech shopping, and basically shopping for everything that’s marked down, because “hey, it’s on sale”. Then after the Most Wonderful Time of the Year we have Christmas and the shopping frenzy that it brings like: Christmas trees, christmas decorations, and present shopping. And finally there’s New Years where everyone has to have obligatory party hats, glasses in the shape of the New Year, and an almost unhealthy amount of Champagne. If we count that out, that’s five different major holiday events that most people (at least in the US) celebrate. And that all takes place in the span of about 8-9 weeks. The fact that some people can actually pull of going out shopping for five different events in the span of 8-9 weeks and still carry on with their lives is honestly amazing.

Yet of course it is obviously stressful right? I mean, how often around this time of year does a store “run out of an item” or is suddenly “out of stock”? Too many right? Suddenly your back is against a corner because your kid is expecting a ridiculous present from Santa but unfortunately the “elves” have run out of stock. Or maybe your significant other is expecting a romantic gift and delicious home cooked meal and suddenly your scrambling around town trying to piece together the ingredients for a perfect night. Whatever the situation, I’m sure most of us have been victimized by stresses that come with the three different celebratory seasons that are packed into these last few weeks of the year.

So is there a way to overcome the stress?

Well last week I compared online shopping with in-person shopping and ended my brisk comparison with the observation that neither is perfect, but each does have it’s merits. Well this week, I’m going to focus on how online shopping may actually be a lifesaver during the holiday season.

Let me preface this discussion first, by saying that in my opinion and as far as I know, there is no online shopping experience as of yet that can replace Black Friday shopping. I mean, the rush of going to a store at 5:00 am, beating people to the best sales, watching two people get into an actual fight over “the last pair of whatever”, getting some amazing discounts and ultimately walking away with a car-load of items that you bought mostly on impulse can not be replicated online. Maybe one day, but as of now it remains one of the few things that technology cannot replace.

However, for the less exhilarating experience of Holiday shopping, we can use the internet to our full advantage. There is of course the convenience factor of shopping online from your home, without having to make it a big deal. This takes about 25% of the stress out of holiday shopping because you can shop from your bed or couch and not have to exert yourself ( I know, sounds really lazy but, eh…).

Another very common problem with holiday shopping, in my experience, is the fact that stores run out of supply so quickly that no one can really keep up with it. Well thanks to the internet, certain stores can post their stock availability online. That way you’re not stuck running around for hours trying to figure out what stores are carrying the items you want. Thanks to the internet, you probably won’t even have to go to the store to purchase your items, because many stores now allow you to make purchases online and have packages shipped to your location.

Having the entire internet at your fingertips also means that you aren’t limited to what’s available on stores, but can also see what’s available on sites like amazon. Maybe they’ll have an item that isn’ available in any local stores, and if they do then you can be sure that they will ship it as fast as possible.

Of course, as I said last week, online shopping even during the holidays, does not (for the most part) have a social aspect to it. While it can potentially eliminate the stresses of holiday shopping you lose a bit of the experience like that random cheery holiday person at the store who gives you advice on delicious Thanksgiving recipes, or the overly helpful store worker who recommends good christmas decorations.

Once the internet can incorporate this into online shopping then it’s a done deal, but for now online shopping remains only the most effective way to unburden yourself from the un-cheery part of the holiday seasons.

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Why Should you Shop Online?

Shopping Stuff Collage

Shopping. It’s something that is universal in societies everywhere and it’s something that everyone enjoys doing. And whether we realize it or not, we spend most our lives working so that we can eventually go shopping. Whether it’s buying clothes, groceries, a new car, or even a house, we work to get money so that we can spend it on things we need or want.

Technology. It’s an integral part of our society. We measure the progress of civilizations based on their technological advancement. But what is it really? In simple terms, technology is any invention or discovery that makes life easier for people. Take the wheel for example – it is one of the earliest technological advancements of humanity that allows people to travel more efficiently and is such a useful tool that we still use it to this day. A more modern example and one of immense social significance is the internet. Now I don’t think anyone would disagree that the internet has revolutionized every aspect of society as we know it – and if you do still have doubts, just remember that you wouldn’t be able to read these words otherwise.

Now you’re probably wondering what shopping and technology are doing at the top of this article, both in bold as if they were equally significant and/or somehow related. Well firstly, technology – by it’s nature – is involved in literally everything, including shopping.

Don’t believe me? Go look back through previous articles and click on a few of the hyperlinks below the images. Where does it take you? Amazon.com – an internet website that launched almost 20 years ago where most people nowadays do their online shopping. Starting off as an online bookstore, Amazon quickly diversified their products and in the 2000s when internet usage became much more common, Amazon became one of the most popular websites to do online shopping.

In recent years, thanks to tech-advances like PayPal and Bitcoin, internet transactions are becoming almost as common as in-person transactions and as a result, the shopping industry is forced to accommodate. Almost every store (clothing, grocery, etc.) now has a website that shows what products are in stock and what certain prices are. Some grocery stores, such as Safeway even allow you to do your grocery shopping online and have it home delivered!

Now like all things related to technological advancement there has to be some sort of “Is technology ruining our lifestyles?” debate. Well since the question is always out there, why not address it, right?

So, “Is Technology ruining the way we shop?”

Now this may seem like a really ridiculous question. Online shopping is simply so much more convenient. You can compare prices of products from different stores, see what certain store branches have in stock and ultimately purchase your desired products, all from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to worry about the “store’s hours of operation” or be inconvenienced by driving around town just to get to different stores.

However, like all things tech related, there seems to b a certain lack of personal connection. Part of the reason some people go out physically shopping is so that they get to do a little bonding time with friends or family. Some people like to go to clothing stores to get the opinions of people on their outfit selections, and get trendy new fashion ideas.

Now I know I didn’t answer my own question but when it comes to physical or online shopping, each has it’s merits. The former represents the social aspect of shopping and the latter shows the efficiency and convenience of shopping through technology.

In my opinion, a marriage of these two merits is perhaps the ideal shopping experience. The social aspect plus the ease of the technological convenience.

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Are you Ready? Because Winter is Coming.

Winter Gear Collage

 

(Beanie – Under Armour Beanie, Gloves – North Face Gloves, Jacket – North Face Jacket, Scarf – Seth Roberts Cashmere Scarf, Hoodie Jacket – Leather Jacket with Removable hood)

 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the days seem to be getting shorter and all the warm summer days are becoming distant memories only to be replaced by chilly mornings and icy evenings. However, winter still has its charms. There are many things to look forward to like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and everyone’s favorite holiday. And winter finally hits, we get to enjoy all the benefits of the Christmas spirit such as peppermint flavored Starbucks beverages and the always fun holiday shopping rush. While it still may only be fall, it has gotten noticeably colder in the past few weeks. Depending on where you live, you might even already have a little bit of snow. Of course this mild snuggle weather is reason enough to start busting out the winter gear. So this week, I’ve made a short list of clothing items that I will be digging out of my closet and most likely be using almost every day.

1. Beanies. Beanies are generally a good idea to wear when its cold. While they people tend to wear them even in warm weather, they become infinitely more useful when the temperature drops to around freezing and the wind chill causes your nose to run and ears to go numb. Not only do beanies keep your ears from turning icy blue, but they are also very useful when you roll to of bed and have a bad hair day. Just throw on a beanie, hide your hair, and pretend that nothing’s wrong and no one will know that you’re having one of “those” days, at least until you have to take it off.

2. Gloves. Most people don’t think to bring a pair of gloves anywhere unless they are going to go skiing or snowboarding, but in my experience having a pair around can be very handy (pun intended). Instead of having to walk around everywhere with your hands in your pockets and being scared to touch anything that looks metal – like door handles – you can walk around knowing that your fingers won’t feel like they’re about to fall off. And lets be honest, gloves are all around trendy to have.

3. North Face Jacket. Probably one of the most common winter jackets you will ever see, but for good reason. North Face jackets are both comfy and warm yet they also look pretty cool. The only problem is that because North Face is such a popular name brand, they tend to be a little expensive, with prices running up to around $200. They are also a little thin, meaning that if you see snow falling you might want to search your wardrobe for something a little thicker.

4. Scarfs. Some people think they are a little ridiculous to have, I happen to think they are extremely comfy and add a snazzy look. These cashmere scarfs are also very very soft and incredibly enough, are able to keep you warm even in freezing cold winds. Wrap it around your neck neck or pull it over your face to keep your cheeks from going numb. However, you chose to use it, a scarf will keep you toasty and help you look good while doing it.

5. Leather jacket and hoodie. Leather jackets don’t exactly hold up in intense sub zero weather, however they are very good at keeping you warm when its chilly and windy. Having a hoodie also lets you keep your head safe. These jackets also are also thick enough to keep out the cold for a little bit but not so thick that you feel like your suffocating in your own clothes. Plus theres also the fact that you leather which instantly adds to your awesomeness.

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What Makes a Good Halloween Decoration?

Halloween Collage

(Halloween Lights – Dim Orange LEDs, Skeleton Decor – Set of 28 Bones, Pumpkin – Realistic Jack O Lantern, Spider Webs – Cotton Webbing and Spiders, Tattered Cloth – 4yd x 30” Creepy Cloth)

It’s finally October. The month when everything is suddenly pumpkin flavored and orange is the new black (not the TV show). The month when giant orange squash probably becomes the most sold vegetable, but no one actually ever eats it, and when it becomes socially acceptable to go to a stranger’s house dressed up like who-knows-what and beg for candy. And of course we get to see how creative (and possibly crazy) our neighbors can be when trying to decorate their houses for Halloween. But whether your neighborhood ends up looking like something out of a cartoonish Tim Burton movie, or a horrifying Rob Zombie film, the point is that there’s no escaping the Halloween spirit. So why not get into the spirit yourself and start decorating for Halloween this year? And if you need a little inspiration for getting started check out the Halloween decor below.

The important thing to remember when decorating for Halloween, is that your imagination is your best friend and playing around with the decorations is always half the fun.

1. The Jack O Lantern. Is there even a more recognizable halloween decoration? Jack O Lanterns seem to be one of the most popular Halloween decorations and are often featured in some form in many Halloween themed movies. Even the poster for the original Halloween (1978) film featured a creepy Jack O Lantern holding a knife. Their popularity is only furthered by the tradition of pumpkin carving. This “do-it-yourself” Jack O Lantern making method has become a popular activity for families to make creepy or funny halloween decorations and is a real boost for pumpkin farmers. However, pumpkin carving isn’t exactly a clean and simple activity, so some people have taken to buying ceramic Jack O Lanterns and placing candles inside them in order to avoid the mess and smell of cleaning up the pumpkin guts.

2. Dim Orange LED Lights. The darkness can be very spooky, but it doesn’t really help if people can’t even see your halloween decorations. Conversely, too much lighting kind of takes the fear factor out of creepy Halloween decorations. So finding a middle ground is important when trying to light up your decorations. Having dim orange colored lights can really set the mood for your decorations and can really dictate the atmosphere of any Halloween themed parties.

3. Skeleton decorations. This one may seem a little macabre, but if you’re looking to go down a more realistic or spooky path with your decorations, having some fake human remains can really set the mood. Unlike a pre-built skeleton, these bone sets can be configured in any way you see fit making it much more convenient if you don’t have too much space for an entire skeleton to be hanging around. Just don’t get too carried away and start talking to the skull, that’s just creepy.

4. Spider Webs and spiders. Spider webs are good space filler decorations and can turn really anything into a part of a halloween decoration. Got a random lamp in the middle of your otherwise decked out halloween decor? Throw on some cotton spider webs and turn it into part of the scenery. Does your patio or balcony look bland? Throw some spider webs on it and make it seem more festive. No halloween decoration is complete without spider webs, and lets be hones, in reality spiders and spider webs are probably one of the scariest things you can encounter.

5. Tattered cloth. These can be used in a similar fashion to spider webs. However, instead of taking advantage of our arachnophobia, they create a drab and creepy atmosphere in order to make your place look like a worn down, creepy, old house. They’re meant to add an air of spookiness to places that would otherwise seem inviting. Throw some tattered cloth over a doorway and you’ve instantly made it a hundred times spookier. Place some tattered cloth over a wall or some family pictures and you’ve got a Adam’s-family-type house.

So tap into your inner Edgar Allen Poe, let your imagination run wild and start planning your Halloween decor.

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Filed under Decor, Holidays

Must-haves for Amateurs in the Kitchen

Cookware Collage

 

(Grill – George Foreman 2 serving Grill, Cookie Sheets – Faberware Nonstick Cookie Sheets, Knives – Ginsu 14 piece knife set, Pots & Pans – Cook N Home 10 piece nonstick cookware set, Cutting Boards – Totally Bamboo 3 piece cutting board set)

 

As a young adult I love eating out at restaurants, ordering late night takeout, or ordering pizza delivery. As a college students, however, I enjoy saving money; and let me be the first to say, that it’s really difficult to save money when you’re spending $20-25 at restaurants. So, mostly out of necessity (and by necessity I really mean thriftiness), I learned how to cook some basic meals at home using the minimal amount of cookware necessary. Since many kitchen appliances can be very expensive, I have tried to make do with what little was available in my apartment kitchen, however there are some basic kitchen materials that I, as an amateur cook and college student, would say are necessary to cook any real meal. Now bear in mind, that I am no expert chef, so when I say “real meal” I’m really talking about some steaks,  grilled chicken and steamed vegetables in portions that serve one or two people, and not full spread, three course dinners for large families. So the items on this week’s list are really more for you bachelors/bachelorettes or hungry college students that are sick of fast food and tired of breaking bank at restaurants.

1. George Foreman Grill. Now this is not like the gas powered portable grill that has been featured in several of my other posts. This one is a smaller electric powered grill that is probably small enough to carry around in a backpack. The beauty of this little appliance is that you don’t need to know how to barbecue or grill something like you would if you were operating a gas powered grill. It is as simple as placing your food in the grill, plugging it in, closing it, and letting your food cook for a few minutes. A simple-to-use and inexpensive alternative to an open flame grill, the George foreman is an amateur cook’s best friend.

2. Cookie Sheets. As the name suggests, you often use these to bake pastries (or cookies). In general, however, I use cookie sheets whenever I need to cook something inside an oven. Since most ovens don’t allow you to place food directly on it’s surface, a cookie sheet is needed to place your food on. And trust me, I use these all the time whenever I attempt to make a baked meal like baked chicken, or baked salmon, or even if I just want to heat up some leftover food. The non-stick surface of the cookie sheets also means that your food will be neat, and you won’t have to scrape it off the bottom of the oven.

3. Kitchen Knife set. This one should be self explanatory. Kitchen knives are essential when attempting to cook something that isn’t a sandwich or burger. Whether you need to chop up vegetables or dice some meats, you will almost always need a good pair of kitchen knives. And don’t bother buying cheap knives! Invest in a durable, high quality knife set that will last a long time and you’ll be sure to feel more like a pro in the kitchen.

4. Pots and Pans. Ramen noodles may be considered a broke college student’s best friend because they are so affordable, but pasta isn’t that much more expensive and it tastes so much better. The only problem is, that unlike ramen, you can’t cook good pasta in under 2 minutes in a microwave. That is where having good quality pots and pans comes into play. If your kitchen is stocked with pots and pans, there really isn’t anything you can’t make. Whether it’s pasta, soup and noodles, fried chicken, or even french fries, a good set of pots and pans will make sure that you never run out of options to cook.

5. A cutting board. This is probably the most underrated kitchen appliance on the list. It’s such a simple thing that some people don’t even bother having one in their kitchen. However, cutting boards are always a necessity when cooking food. They keep your food and your countertops clean while also ensuring that you don’t leave knife marks everywhere. A good cutting board is one that is easy to wash and will endure several years of chopping, slicing, and dicing.

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iThink iWant to get an iPhone 6

iPhone 6 Collage

 

(iPhone 6 case – 4.7” Otterbox Case, Wallet – iPhone 6 (4.7”) Verus Wallet Case, Armband – iPhone 6 (4.7”) EnGive anti-slip Armband case, Screen protector – iPhone 6 (4.7”) IQ Shield LiQuidSkin)

 

If you happened to walk by an Apple store earlier today and saw a massive line of people waiting to get in but had no idea what those people were waiting for, let me explain: Apple just released the new line in their iPhone series, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Now that you’re caught up, let me just admit right now that I am really excited about this and have decided to write a short article on just a few iPhone 6 tech-cessories that I’m considering to get (in case you didn’t notice the iPhone paraphernalia above).

Without falling into any boring and pointless iPhone vs. Android debates, or “Samsung did it first” arguments, I present four accessories for the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 that I might purchase…. once  I actually get the phone.

1. The Otterbox case. All cell phones are expensive and sensitive pieces of equipment. iPhone users are probably more familiar with this than most (especially the expensive part). So it would make sense to at least put in a little effort to protect your fragile and costly piece of tech right? The Otterbox is a durable three layered case that protects the entire phone from scratches and dust as well as a little extra protection for those “Oh S—” moments when your phone slips away from you and plummets to the ground. The built in screen protector also prevents annoying little cracks from developing on your screen.

2. iPhone Verus Wallet case. I’ve seen many people use these cases and I’m having a difficult time deciding whether or not these are beneficial. While it is very convenient to have both your phone and wallet in the same place, it could be a problem simply because you have your phone and wallet in the same place. On the plus side you’ll never forget to bring your phone or wallet because they’ll be one and the same and you’ll have fewer things to carry around with you, however in the event that you lose your phone, which honestly probably happens more times than anyone would like,  you will also end up losing your wallet.

3. iPhone 6 Armband case. This little device is perfect for workouts. iPhones only seem to get bigger and bigger every year making them a more and more annoying to have in your pocket when trying to run or bike somewhere. Instead of having a giant 4.7 inch, 127 gram block of expensive and delicate technology rattling around in my pocket during a run or bike ride, i’d rather have it secure somewhere safe but close enough that I can still use it, like strapped securely to my arm in an anti-slip armband.

4. iPhone 6 IQ Shield screen protector. These screen protectors essentially cover your phone screen with a thin layer of a form of polyethylene terephthalate, which is chemistry-speak for a polyester that is flexible, transparent, and durable enough to keep your phone screen pristine. These screen protectors are particularly nice because once installed, you hardly notice that it’s there. The PET film sticks directly on your phone and is thin and clear enough that it appears that nothing is there. They also work to keep dust and oils off your phone, meaning that you won’t get as many annoying dirty fingerprint marks all over your screen. It is also worth noting, that the IQ screen can be used without or with additional cases for protection, however, if you are looking to protect your phone from fall damage, they should not be used alone.

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Filed under Electronics