Mar 24, 2011

The Thrift World: Status Update

Dear fellow thrifters,

I write this letter with mixed excitement and disappointment.

My very talented cousin has offered to give The Thrift World a much needed face-lift for a bargain of a price. An exact look is not quite nailed down quite yet, BUT the new site will be up and running by mid to late May - that is a definite. The Thrift World will be newly cleaned, polished and thrifty as ever in less than 2 months, going full steam ahead.

Until that time, I regretfully announce I be taking a pause in blogging. While my cousin is designing, I am finishing final projects for my masters degree. It seems like a natural time for a break in writing.

In an effort to keep in touch and get status updates on the new website, please "like" The Thrift World on Facebook to engage in thrifty banter and discussion. I will continue to post new ideas and thrifty thoughts via that medium.In the meantime, look on the left hand panel of my blog for "thrifting categories" to read up on previous thrifting posts you may have missed. You can also check out a new online magazine I'm a writer for called The Modern Domestic.

Thank you all for your support & thrifty ideas. I look forward to future blogging this May!


Mar 15, 2011

Explore local restaurants for cheaper

Just about every person I know enjoys eating and drinking out. I love exploring new pubs/restaurants in the area and supporting local businesses. What I don't love is paying the bill after my visit. How can one combat this conflict of interest? Two words: weekly specials.

For example, every Tuesday night my friends and I venture out to a local pub for 1/2 price appetizers and $3 micro-brews. I suggested we try another pub and some friends knew another local place with 1/2 price appetizers, $1 off micro-brews, 75 cent PBR beer. I said, sounds like a winner already!

Lots of restaurants and pubs have weekly food and drink specials. You've heard of them: all you can eat wings, 1/2 price appetizers, $1 off beer/wine, and other special deals on certain days and certain times. It may seem like a simple peice of advice, but if you want to check out a new place, why not go when food and drink is cheaper? So, when embarking on a journey to explore your city, first pop on locations' website. Find out which days and times you can get the best bang for your buck, and enjoy the new spot without dreading the bill.

In case you're you're a regular reader of my blog and you're keeping count, you might realize I blog about saving money on liquids a lot. I just realized this myself. I have 2 previous posts on beer, 2 posts on water, and 4 on coffee drinks. Check 'em out by clicking on any of their links below.

Boston & Beyond: Get free beer
Get free beer (part 2)

Thrifty alternative to restaurant beverages 
Kick the habit: bottled water

How to save money at coffee shops
The lure of buying iced coffee
Beware: Keurig single-cup coffee maker
Starbucks Rewards program review

Mar 10, 2011

Dominican Republic: What are we thrifting for?

We all have a problem in this country: we are addicted to money. Can I tell you how I know this?

We rely on our morning Dunkin' to get us through the day. We shop for fun. We need to organize, sell, donate, and clean out our stuff regularly because we have so much of it. We are aware of the fact that there are people in the world who have nothing, not even fresh, available water on their streets and yet we are reluctant to give.

On this trip to the Dominican Republic, I was struck by the fact that I spent 0 dollars the first 3 days we were there. I didn't buy a coffee, or a sandwich, or ice cream, or any gifts. In fact, I never even brought my money with me when our team went out. Our meals were provided for us, and we were face to face with people who were willing to do anything for a good education and a fair opportunity at life. Buying a latte never crossed our minds.

Our team walked the streets of Los Tres Brazos, where naked children ran down the streets unaccompanied, with glass and trash stacked on the corners. We reached a farther section of town where a local told us "this is the part of town where families have no well access". We saw a man and women, together, carrying buckets of water to their homes because they simply had none in their homes or on their block.

I've been to third world countries before, but not like this. We walked into peoples' homes who had not even 200 square feet of living space. One home had only a cramped bedroom with a dirty uncovered mattress for the family to rest their head and a small television set that broadcasted the lives of the "haves" to the "have-nots".
I'm planning to save money my entire life and be thrifty and save money. But, for what? What's the goal? I want to live simply. I want to give. I want to make a difference with my money. 

Now, how can I break this to my pleasure-seeking self?

Mar 4, 2011

It's good to invest... others. Sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves that we forget to invest in others. If we ever think our financial situation is bad or our life is not working out so well, consider there are always those who have less and are in tougher situations than you.

I will be unable to blog in the next few days because I am taking a trip to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. I am heading there with my masters program to try to create a 3-5 year strategic plan for the community. This community is impoverished. I am sure to see plenty of people who have much less than me. It will be like stepping into a new world...

But from what I've heard, the people have much joy in their lives, though at this point, I cannot say how or why. I'll have more to report when I return next week. Until then!

Mar 2, 2011

Your purchase broke? Write a letter!

I made an "investment" a few months ago, or so I thought. I bought a $12 Nalgene bottle. If you've read my blog about water bottles (read it here), you'll know that I made the switch from disposable to reusable bottles a while back and this has saved me a decent amount of money over time.

Anywho, I spent $12 on this Nalgene, and though it may not seem like a lot to you, I felt like it was a lot of money to spend on something that ended up breaking a couple months later. The cap busted and quickly my "investment" turned into a waste of money.

I was pretty annoyed to say the least. BUT, unlike every other time this happens, I actually decided to do something about it. I decided to write to Nalgene. And I did, using very harsh words about how I bought a Nalgene due to high recommendations from friends and was an extremely dissatisfied customer because it broke so quickly. I'm not sure the wording matters in this case, but I had fun making it sound like a really serious issue.

Less than 1 week later (I'm not kidding), I got this in the mail:

Nalgene sent me a new cap for my bottle, a couple stickers with a hand-written note explaining a strategy on how to make the cap last longer this time around. I was impressed, though i'm not sure what to do with the stickers?

The point of this story is, if you buy something and it breaks sooner than you think it should, try writing a letter to the company. Tell them you're dissatisfied. I know people who do this all the time and usually get back vouchers for free stuff, get new replacement parts or sometimes even full refunds. The letter-writing took me a good 10 minutes and the cost of a stamp. It saved a $12 water bottle and the cost of buying a new one.

Next time you don't like what you paid for or something breaks, write a letter! It's definitely a thriftier strategy than going out to buy a new product. It's worth a shot!
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