How One Local Brick and Mortar Store Is Keeping Up With The Times

The apparent death of the brick and mortar store is well documented.  And, with pretty good reason.  At least once per week, we see another big name store closing up shop.  Toys R Us.  Payless Shoe Source.  Gymboree.  These are just a few of those that hop right out at me without even looking anything up!  And I know there are tons more.

However, not all brick and mortar stores are content to sit back and let online businesses take them away.  I am pleased to mention one such experience.

New Running Shoes

I run about 10 miles per week.  Lately, I’ve noticed that my shoes have started to feel a bit worn.  They have around 500 miles, which is honestly around the top end for running shoes.  My shoes are pretty sturdy, so that is actually about right.

running shoes
Does a brick and mortar store compare to online options for new running shoes?

I had bought my last pair at a local store called Hanson’s Running Shop. They specialize in shoes and gear for runners.  I had a great experience and they found me a pair of shoes that offered extra support.  This is important to me given that I’m prone to plantar fasciitis

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How We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund (And What We’re Doing With It)

Have you done your 2018 taxes yet?  Are you one of the unfortunate people who are seeing a smaller tax refund this year?  If you are, I hope that it won’t impact your finances in a negative way.  Thankfully, we were able to avoid a smaller tax refund this year.

tax refund checklist

How We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund

When we got our tax forms back, we were happy to see that we’re getting a little more back than last year.  While many people think getting any sort of refund is bad thing, I actually welcome a refund.  We don’t count on the refund.  For us, it’s just nice to have money that isn’t a temptation to spend during the year.  The removal of that temptation is worth the small interest we’re foregoing.

So, how did we avoid a smaller refund? There were two main reasons.

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Don’t Pay With Cash Unless You Have To

Do you pay with cash or swipe a card?  Some will swear that paying with cash can save you money.  After all, you’re only spending what you have on hand.  This is definitely true, but that doesn’t mean cash is king.

Why We Don’t Pay With Cash

For our spending purposes, we rarely pay with cash.  The only times we do is when we have no other choice.   We don’t think paying with cash is necessarily a bad idea.  It just seems that using a card works better and offers us a few more advantages.  Here are a few.

Credit Card Rewards

We do most of our spending on three different cards. They all provide different rewards.  We pick the card we use in order to maximize our rewards.

credit card rewards
Reward credit cards can give you freebies.
  • Costco Cash Back Visa Card.  We use this card primarily for gas, restaurants, travel, and Costco shopping.  The reason is simple.  It provides 1% for all spending, but provides between 2-4% cash back on all of those categories.
  • American Express Blue Everyday Card. This is the card we use mostly for grocery shopping.  Same deal as the Costco card, in that it gives 1% on everything, but for grocery shopping you get 3%.  With our family of four that includes two very fast growing children, that extra amount adds up.
  • Southwest Visa Card.  Most of our other spending goes on our Southwest card.  This gives you one mile per dollar spent.  I’ve done the math, and at least last time I checked, the standard ‘cost’ of a flight using miles works out to be about 20% cheaper than paying in cash. We took an anniversary trip to Cancun a couple of years ago with no cost whatsoever.

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Thoughts On Selling On Facebook Marketplace

In the past, I’ve sold some items on Craigslist.  While I love selling online, it’s no longer my go-to site.  I have started selling on Facebook Marketplace.

Why Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace was rolled out a couple of years ago.  With so much selling going through Craiglist, eBay and the like, it was natural that Facebook would want to get in on the game.

I like Facebook Marketplace for the following reasons:

  • Familiarity – I use Facebook almost every day.  So do many people.  You don’t need a different login to sell (or buy items).  You don’t need a different app.  It’s all right there.
  • Real People – When you’re buying or selling on Facebook Marketplace, you’re using your regular profile.  So is the other person.  You instantly have a name and a face.  It seems to make things more personal.
  • Size – Facebook is huge as it is.  So right away you’ve got a built in audience.

It’s been a cool experience so far.  But, I have some observations.

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How We’re Trying To Support Local Business

As more and more stores close, one thing is clear.  It’s important to support local business.  During our last recession, Michigan was hit very hard.  The recession here started a couple of years before it hit the rest of the country.  Unemployment was worse than most other states.  That’s what happens when the economy is based on one industry that was hit very hard.  As it was, a lot of local business didn’t make it through.  Those that did can often find it tough to make it through.

Still, it’s important to support local business.  Here are some ways we have.

Shopping At Local Hardware Stores

I wrote an article about this a few months ago.  Local hardware stores, simply put, are a treasure.  You get helpful and knowledgeable people.  There are times to shop at the big box store, that’s true.  But I think paying a little extra now and then is well worth it at the mom-and-pop hardware.  There’s hardly any better way to support local business.

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What’s On Your Amazon Subscribe And Save List

Amazon.  It’s not just for impulse buying, is it?  Nope, they’ve taken it one step further.  With a subscribe and save list, you can have things delivered regularly.  Convenient for you, and a guaranteed income stream for Amazon.  We have a subscribe and save list.  Here are some of the things we currently have, as well as what we’ve used in the past.

Diapers

This is a great item to put on a subscribe and save list.  You get an automatic 15% off, which is great.  On top of that, diapers are pretty cheap on Amazon to begin with.  Back when we bought diapers regularly, this was our place.  The drawback is that sometimes you can’t predict exactly how many you need.  Also, you can sometimes get caught with too many if sizes change.  Though slightly risky for these reasons, they’re still a great deal.

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