Prime Day 2018: We Spent More At Target Than Amazon

Prime Day 2018 is in the books.  Hopefully you scored any deals that you might have been looking for.  At our house, we had no plans, so it was pretty low key.  As mentioned in the title, Target actually won in terms of spending!

Two Items Purchased At Amazon

  • Tablet – We actually had no plans to do any shopping.  Then, as luck would have it, one of our kids Fire Tablets broke on Monday evening.  It was dropped, and although it gets dropped often, this one cracked the screen.  As luck would have it, the warranty had run out, so we couldn’t get a free replacement.  We were able to purchase a basic tablet for $29.99, saving us $15.  Good timing for bad luck, I suppose!
  • Gift Card – I saw on Slickdeals that you could get a $5 credit after purchasing a $25 gift card.  I knew we’d spend $25 at some point, so I nabbed it.

That was it for Prime Day at Amazon

A Bunch Of Items At Target

As would be expected, many stores offered their own deals on Prime Day.  One of these was Target.  They offered 25% off basically all bath and body products.  This also included sunscreen.  So, we stocked up!  We bought things from toothpaste to shampoo.  It was all stuff that we would buy in the next couple of months, anyway.  It saved a bundle.

We also bought a new set of sheets for one of the beds in our camper.  The current set is old, scratchy, and pilly.  Again, with 25% off bedding, it was the perfect time.

It was interesting how Amazon goes for the gadgets as their sell.  It seemed tablets, fitness trackers, household management, and such were there items.  Target went totally opposite.  They went for the everyday items.  I didn’t see much crossover.

For us, since we had no desire to purchase anything, Amazon really didn’t have much to offer.  Even though they had good deals, the best deal for us was buying nothing.  Or, as close as we could realistically come to it.

Readers, how did Prime Day work out for you? Did you buy anything extra that day?  What about at other stores looking to compete?  


Build-A-Bear Did Literally Everything Wrong

By now, any parent has likely heard about the Build-A-Bear fiasco that unfolded earlier today. They were offering a Pay Your Age day where any kid up to the age of 14 could build a bear and would only pay their age.  Pretty cool!   Except the whole thing went belly up before it even started.

My wife told me about it because she went.  As did, it seems, half the entire world.  My kids didn’t get bears.  As was the case for a majority of the people that showed up.  You had a lot of angry parents, disappointed kids, and overwhelmed workers.  It’s all over the news.  Social media coverage is everywhere, and most is very negative.

So, what went wrong? Well, it was really everything, but here’s a few highlights.

Too Good Of A Deal

Build-A-Bear is pretty expensive.  You can pay upwards of $100 for a fully outfitted customized bear.  So, the Pay Your Age is a fantastic deal.  You’re getting probably anywhere between 50-95% off the base price.  It’s a fantastic deal.

But that’s the problem, it was too fantastic of a deal.  When you offer that great of a deal, everyone wants to come.  My wife talked to people that had driven 90 minutes from their home.  The deal was that good.

Way Overpublicized

I’ve been seeing this deal all over the place for the last few days.  I saw it on Facebook.  News articles promoted it.  The deal was on the local news.  It was literally everywhere.

Normally, getting the word out is a great move except when it cause chaos.  Like what happened at every mall that has a Build-A-Bear location hours ago.

Misunderstanding Their Own Product

Here’s the thing.  These promos can sometimes work.  Deals like this come up on Black Friday at every store everywhere.  And, rarely do they lead to the chaos that you had today.  But this deal was doomed from the start at Build-A-Bear.  Why?  Because the product itself can’t support it.

Have you ever gone in and built one of these bears?  They take time.  It’s not like when a customer wants a TV that’s half off and can just grab one, pay for it, and leave, even if they have to wait in line.  This promo involved kids having to stay there and build the bear.  This process can take a long time.

Now, they did seem to anticipate this and offered that people could buy an unstuffed bear, and come back and do the rest later.  But, this was not a well thought out alternative.  Kids want things now.  It’s just how kids are.  So, I’m sure most kids wanted to build their bears today.  Plus, remember all those people that drove 90 minutes.  Do you think they wanted to trek out another time to stuff the bear?  Probably not.

The head honchos that planned this seemed to ignore the intricacies of their own product.

Big miss.

Long Term Fallout

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Build-A-Bear.  When promotions with good intentions go wrong, it can hurt a company long term.  This promotion looks like it was an utter fiasco.  Their Public Relations staff will likely be putting in some long hours over the next few days.  It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with.

Readers, did you stand in line for the Build-A-Bear promo?  What was your experience?  Do you think that Build-A-Bear can just shrug it off? Or will they have to deal with long term fallout?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

You Should Pay More To Shop At A Small Hardware Store

Lately, I’ve been going to a small hardware store on the way home from work when need arises.  It’s convenient and the service is great.  Still, they’re a bit higher priced.  The other morning I was going to meet my dad for breakfast.  Across from the restaurant is a Lowe’s.  I figured I’d stop in and get a few things to save some money.  What a big mistake.

I had a pretty small list:

  • Screws to mount a small TV
  • Pesticide for our rose bushes
  • Globe light bulbs for the bathrooms
  • Rubber gloves

It was a pretty small list, so I figured the extra 25 minutes I allowed myself would be plenty of time.  Turns out I was horribly wrong.


We bought a small TV for the camper after the old one gave out.  The new one fits the old mount, but it’s lighter and skinnier than the old one.  So the screw holes are a bit smaller.  I took the old screws in, just needing some a bit shorter.

I looked all through the aisle but of course wasn’t finding anything.  Giving up, I wandered around a few aisles looking for someone.  Finally in the section where they sell wood flooring I found someone.  I asked for help, and instead of paging someone from that department, she came over to help.

Fifteen frustrating minutes later, she happened across a section of screws and I located the ones I needed.  She clearly was as lost as I was.  At one point she did try paging Gary from Hardware.  Gary never actually did arrive.


With only ten minutes to go, I walked over to find the pesticide that I needed.  I knew the bugs that are eating the leaves.  It took me about 3-4 minutes to look for them.  This was probably the least hassle item I had.


I needed a new box of disposable gloves.  We keep a box in the camper for when it’s time to empty the waste tanks.  I figured they’d be around the cleaning area. Nope.  I figured the next best place would be in the paint section.  Turns out I was right, though it took a couple minutes to get someone’s attention to tell me where exactly they were.

And, as far as being cheaper, these definitely are not.  Next time, I’ll order them from Amazon in advance.  Still, I needed them so away we go.

Light Bulbs

All three of our bathrooms have decorative globe bulbs.  I had a good stash of them, but it started to get depleted.  I wandered over to the light bulb section and looked.  And looked.

Finally, I found the shelf where they would be.  If they would have even had a single bulb.  They were completely out.  Literally three empty shelves, out of stock on every variety from every manufacturer.


Long Story Short

I was late meeting my dad.  The store didn’t have everything I needed.  And, I didn’t feel like I saved any money.  I left feeling annoyed and unsatisfied.  Unfortunately, this is more common than not at these big box stores.

Our little hardware is about one-tenth the size of Lowes.  Yet, I’ve never been let down.  If I would have walked in, someone would have helped me in five minutes.  I could have handed someone the screw, explained what I needed, and would have had the right ones in my hand in probably three minutes.  I know they sell gloves.  They definitely sell light bulbs, and I’d imagine rose pesticide would be there as well.

The small hardware store seems to be fading.  I’d imagine that one day mine will close, as well.  This will be a sad day.  But until then, they’re going to get my business.  If you have the opportunity to support a small hardware store in your area, please do. It’s worth it.  I promise you.

Readers, do you frequent a small hardware store?  Or is it a big box store for you?

Guess Which Replacement Fitbit I Got?

Going to the water park for the kids mid-winter break has become a tradition.  This year we went to Kalahari instead of Great Wolf Lodge.  Both are in Sandusky.  But that’s a post for another time.  This year, unfortunately, I lost my Fitbit.  My band broke, and I stuck it in my pocket.  A couple of hours later, I went to check it, and the Fitbit was gone.  The band was still there, but the Fitbit must have slipped out.  So what replacement Fitbit did I choose?

The O.G. Fitbit Flex

I got my Fitbit in 2014.  I picked the Flex.  At the time, it went for $100 and was pretty cool.  Of course, now it’s pretty basic compared to what they have.  I call it the O.G. which stands for Original Gangster, and is a slang term for something once cool that’s now a throwback.

While it sucked to lose my Fitbit, it gave me an opportunity to consider what I wanted to do.

Option 1: Upgrade to a fancier Fitbit

My wife has the Charge 2.  Actually had the original Charge and has since upgraded.  This is a pretty cool device.  This not only tracks your steps, but also has a bunch of other features.  It will track how many flights of steps you make every day.  It can remind you to get up and walk if you’ve been inactive for too long.  One of the nicest features is a heart rate monitor.

Still, the cost is $150.  That’s no small cost, especially when I hadn’t been planning on upgrading.

Option 2: Get a replacement Fitbit Flex

My kids recently wanted to get trackers of their own.  A while back my wife found an original Flex at TJ Maxx for $25.  When she went to look, they still had them available.

This option was appealing because it was something I already had and knew.  Plus, I had a few spare wristbands that I’d already paid for.  And, heck, it was only $25, a far cry from $150.

Option 3: Do Nothing

I also could have not bothered getting a replacement at all.  I know many people have bought them and they’ve since made their way to a drawer.

The only real benefit here would be that it wouldn’t cost me anything.

Image from morguefile courtesy of Alvimann

What Option Did I Choose?

In the end I picked Option 2.  I paid $25 for a replacement O.G. Flex.  Here are some of the thoughts that went into my decision.

  • Price.  I couldn’t beat the price.
  • Bands. I already had a set of bands.  That would probably last at least another 6 months based on how quickly I’ve gone through them in the past.
  • Deal Timing. I searched around to see if there were any deals on the Charge 2.  There were deals that came up which were as much as half off!  That would make it $75.  Sounds like a sweet deal, right?  Well, it really was.  The only catch is they were all last year on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  So, if I get the itch to upgrade, I can probably wait nine months and save some big bucks.
  • Motivation. For me, having a Fitbit is truly life changing.  I know many laugh at that, but I think it’s a real thing.  I have a step goal of 10,000 steps and have hit it every day since July 1, 2016.  So, I want to extend that, and need to track that.  The device also keeps me active just tracking it.  There’s an element of competitiveness when I compare my steps to those of my friends or family.  But, it’s not competitive in an annoying way.  It’s motivation for me.  I walk more. I run more.  It really does make a difference for me.

In the end, I’m happy with my choice. I think I would have felt very guilty had I spent more money, knowing I can probably get better deals in November.

Readers, do you use a step tracking device?  What do you have?  


What Are You Doing With Your 2017 Tax Refund?

We are lucky enough to already have our taxes done and filed.  I anticipated that we would get a refund (which we’re OK with).  Now the idea is how are we going to apply our 2017 tax refund.


Our goal with our tax refund has always been a mix of things.

  • Boost Savings Goals.  When there is something big we’re saving for, money gives us the chance to help things along.  This has helped us when we needed big projects done around the house.  Examples: A new roof a few years back or exterior painting last year.
  • Offset Spending Needs. If there is spending we know we are going to do regularly, sometimes this can give it a push.
  • Repair.  Getting this fixed or maintained is something I’ve always used when applying refund dollars.
  • Enjoyment.  As you’ll see below, putting our refund to use for vacations is a strategy we use.


Without going into exact figures, here’s how things shape up:

  • Vacations.  We are allocating roughly half of our refund toward vacation funds.  This actually applies to four different areas:
    • Our 2018 Disney Trip.  We’re going on a trip next month and this will help complete the payment.
    • A 2019 Florida Trip. Disney is a treat this year. Normally, we rent a condo down in Florida.  We’ll have to put a deposit down a year in advance. This will fund that deposit.
    • Anniversary Trip. We sometimes go away for a weekend around our anniversary.  This will help set money aside for next time we do this.
    • Camping Trips. This helps fund our summer trips.  What we put aside will fund about 10 days of camping.  That definitely helps!
  • New Camper. We’ve had our current camper for around seven years.  It was used when we bought it.  Eventually we’d like to look at an upgrade.
  • Car Repair. Throwing a little toward eventual car repairs and maintenance?  Why not?
  • Home Repairs. We don’t have any projects planned.  This will help with any just-in-case things, or for future projects.
  • Kids Activities. This is for things like summer camps and such.
  • Repairs. We have two things we’d like to get repaired or in for regular maintenance.
    • Lawn Mower
    • Clock. I have an antique clock wind-up clock that needs repair. It’s likely over 100 years old and is a family heirloom.
image from Morguefile courtesy of jackiebabe

Boring And Proud

This might sound like a pretty boring list.  In fact, it really is. But, I’m kind of proud of that!  I would like to think that this is helping us get a mix of several things.  We are using it to enjoy ourselves.  We are using it to take care of our stuff.  And, finally, we are using it to save for future goals.

If that’s boring, then sign me up!

Readers, what are you doing with your refund money this year?

7 Ways To Save Money At The Drugstore

My wife and I were talking about drugstores the other day.  We tried to remember if they were always expensive places to shop.  I thought that they used to be a little more reasonable on everyday prices.  But, she wasn’t so sure.  Regardless of who was right, there is one fact that’s clear.  Shopping at the drugstore can be very expensive.  But it doesn’t have to be a place to avoid.  You can save money at the drugstore.  Here are some tips.

Sign Up For Rewards Programs

Rewards programs will often give you money back after a certain level of spending.  You can even get bonus rewards on certain items.  Just keep an eye on their weekly flyers.

Figure Out How The Rewards Program Works Best

Many rewards programs are pretty easy to figure out.  But there are some that take some time to learn.  If you take some time to research the rewards program, you can gather tips and tricks.  These can help you know how to really use them to your advantage.

Check Out The Flyers

Speaking of the flyers, make sure to look them over. While I’ve found that everyday prices on most items are higher than other stores, you can score some deals.  Many times they’ll have B1G1 offers that can help you save.

Go Online

Many times you can clip coupons to your reward account by going online or using an app.  This can double up savings on top of sales.

Use Regular Coupons

Some stores don’t accept manufacturers coupons.  Drugstores do.  Take them along.  In fact, you can often stack a coupon on top of a store coupon on top of a sale.  These triple savings can yield you some items practically for free!

Use Rain Checks

Drugstores, like every other store, will often run out of items that are on sale.  Sometimes I think they hol

image from Morguefile courtesy of lightfoot

d back on stocking sale items on purpose.  But, fear not, as many drugstores will issue you a rain check for out of stock items.

Look For Pharmacy Deals

Drugstores really want you to use their pharmacy.  If you do so to either fill a new prescription or transfer a prescription, this can mean big time rewards.

Readers, do you shop regularly at the drugstore?  Do you ever find deals?  What are your tips and tricks to keep money in your wallet at the drugstore?