Posted: 3:08 p.m. Monday, June 3, 2013
By Theo Thimou
Clark will be the first guy to tell you he's just one man with an opinion about personal finance, and that you have to do your own research and have your own experiences to make the best buying decisions for your life.
With that in mind, the following is a highly subjective list of things I've done in my own life that fly in the face of Clark's usual advice. But I've made them work for me.
Get a feature phone, not a smartphone - Anybody who knows Clark knows he is obsessed with smartphones. We're talking Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction obsessed. Clark's latest phone is the ridiculously large Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Before that it was the Google Nexus 4.
The guy practically has a smartphone for every season, but with good cause: To let you know about the best deals out there in the marketplace.
Yet isn't the best deal of all paying less for less functionality?
I have no problem not surfing the web on my phone. So I've opted for a simple feature phone instead of a smartphone. I know that puts me in an increasingly small group of consumers, but I love only paying $25 a month -- that includes all taxes -- for unlimited talk and text through a Metro PCS deal that is no longer active. (I'm including the link for information purposes only; you can't get this deal anymore, to my knowledge.)
Sure, I could use Republic Wireless and pay $19 a month for an entry level smart phone, but it doesn't fit my lifestyle. And that $19 would quickly become about $22 a month with taxes and regulatory fees tacked on.
Plus, I believe that having a smartphone actually encourages you to spend more money than it can possibly save you in showrooming, e-coupons, etc. I know most people don't agree with me, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Maybe I'll explore that idea in a future story. (Hint, hint!)
Shop at malls, but stick to the anchor stores - Clark has famously stated that he's allergic to malls because he believes they're overpriced. But that's not necessarily true. You can stick to the clearance racks and find discounts of up to 50% and more on brand names.
Anchor stores like the Macy's and Sears typically offer the best mall deals on a daily basis. Bonus: You can get in and out of them quickly because they almost always have their own entrances from the outside.
Let me tell you how sticking to anchor stores at a nearby mall paid off for me. During a recent trip to Macy's on May 18, right around Armed Forces Day, I found a pair of designer jeans on the clearance rack. The original list price on this pair from Ralph Lauren's Denim & Supply line was $89.50. The clearance price was $44.75, a savings of 50% off list.
But because of my timing around the military holiday, I was able to contribute $3 to the Macy's Got Your 6 fund-raiser that helps veterans with jobs, mental health care, and more. By making a $3 contribution, I got a coupon for an additional 20% off, bringing my final purchase price to $35.80.
Sure, I could have two pairs of Kirkland Signature Jeans for even less than that, and have money left over for Costco's famous $1.50 hot dog and soda deal…but despite what C Hizzle says the K Swizzle jeans have nowhere near the style of my designer threads. And I like my meat organic and I avoid high fructose corn syrup like nobody's business.
Plus, the $3 I contributed to get the extra savings went to a good cause!
Demand higher quality for a higher price - Clark talks about how he adores paying less for lower quality. But I say you've got to draw the line somewhere…and that line just might be at hot to-go cups for coffee and tea.
While shopping recently at Publix, I was very excited to notice the store's own brand of 16 ounce hot travel cups. As I examined the Publix cups, I could clearly see that both the bottom of the cup and the separate plastic lid were prominently branded with "Solo" -- the name of the more expensive national brand.
People believe as an article of faith that store brand goods are made by name brand manufacturers. But this was the first undeniable proof I've ever seen! (Have you ever blatantly seen any other instances of store brands clearly bearing the markings of brand names? I'd love to hear your stories.)
Anyway, I gladly bought the Publix to-go hot cups and was excited for my wife to sip her 365 Everyday Value organic green tea (Whole Foods store brand) in a Publix store brand cup.
But the Publix cups must have been the true dregs of Solo's production lines. The interior of the cup was so cheaply made it seemed like it would have melted when faced with hot water.
So back to the store the Publix cups went, and I wound up buying the more expensive name brand.
By the way, I took a picture of the Publix to-go hot cups, but it's trapped on my feature phone. I refuse to pay Metro PCS an additional $5 a month to add picture messaging to my plan just so I can get it off the phone!