Random geekery since 2005.

Husband, father, programmer, speaker, writer, blogger, podcaster, collector, traveler, golfer.

#3: Customer Service, Combustible Cats, and Cash

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Customer Service Can Be Amazing.

I mentioned in the last letter that we decided to purchase a new stove, microwave, and refrigerator.  They were all over 15 years old, had faded (yellowed) from their original white color, but were still in good enough condition to donate.

When shopping for appliances, I don’t have a specific store that I generally go to. There are plenty of “appliance” stores, and even Best Buy has a decent enough selection, but for some reason, I decided to check out Sears first.  (I haven’t purchased something other than tools from a Sears store since my parents were still buying me clothes for middle school, I’d imagine.)

Let’s take a step back.  Nearly all of my shopping is done online anymore.  Rarely is there a time where I absolutely need to see and test a product before I can purchase it.  Home appliances are certainly one of those exceptions, however, and I figured Sears would have a good selection.  I was not disappointed.

This story isn’t about selection, or products at all actually.  It’s about customer service.  My first visit to the store had me chatting with a guy named Steve*, who knew the products inside and out.  We wanted to go with some higher-end appliances, which would have a combined retail price around $6500 before tax, delivery, etc.  Obviously, those aren’t real prices.  Sears frequently runs sales, marking down those prices to more “reasonable” price points.  The sale price would have taken these items down to about $5500.  This is when I was surprised by Sears.

Steve told me not to buy anything that day.  He explained that these prices were only on their 2nd, maybe 3rd best sale.  If we waited two weeks, there was a better sale coming up that would get us everything for well under $5K.  So we waited.  He emailed me about two weeks later, with the exact pricing for the things we wanted, based on the new sale that was starting the following week.  They were marked down to $4300 total.

Not only that, but he then accepted a few email coupons I had received, knocking another $250 off of the price, and the way they price delivery & installation eliminated the tax as well.

I have never, ever walked into a store of any kind, offered to purchase something from a commissioned salesperson, and had them tell me to leave and come back in two weeks when the price will be better.  Never.  But I did.  And the guy saved me over $1500 in the process.

In short, I can’t recommend Sears enough.  Not only did I have this great experience, but their Shop Your Way Rewards program earned us another $450 in store credit that we can use for other things.  Now I just need to make room for some more tools. 🙂

* Name changed in case he’d get in trouble for his discounting wizardry.

Exploding Kittens is Going to be Awesome.

Just yesterday, The Oatmeal and two other guys launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new card game they invented called Exploding Kittens.  It’s a variation on a Russian Roulette game, but with the humor and illustration you’ve come to expect from Matthew Inman.  The game is sold two ways, one with the original, family friendly version, and the other with additional cards that make it a bit more “not family friendly.”

You can guess which one I selected.

If you want to get in early on this, check out their Kickstarter page.

How to Save More Money

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to find a way to save more money.  Not the “we need to save for college” money, and not the “we need a rainy day fund” money.  I’m talking about the “I want to go golfing this weekend” money, or “the guys are going to the casino this weekend” money.

For years, my wife and I have had a pretty effective plan.  Each pay period (every two weeks), we receive $100 in cash.  That is YOUR money.  You can spend it on whatever you’d like.  New clothes?  Check.  Out to lunch?  Yup.  Lego Death Star?  Only if you save it all for two months. 🙂

What I found, however, was that my money seemed to just evaporate.  Because I knew it would be replenished every two weeks, I didn’t see an issue with subscribing to things like LootCrate, even though I just ended up with a box of stuff I didn’t want at the end of the month.  (I have since stopped that.)

So this year, I started a personal savings plan, so that I can start to accumulate enough money to do something bigger and better.  It was actually something I stumbled upon on Pinterest, a site I use rarely, but often find amazing ways to spend my money when I do.  This time it taught me how to save.

The basic idea of the savings plan is simple.  There are 52 weeks a year, and you just put some money away every single week.  In week #1, you save $52.  Week #2?  $51.  Each week, you reduce the amount you’re saving by $1, until you hit the final week of the year, where you’re only saving a single dollar.

At the end, you’ll have almost $1400.  $1378 to be exact.  For some, maybe putting away $50 in any single week is too much.  That’s fair.  What if you just did $25 each week, all year?  That’s the same amount.  Take it one step further:  what if you just saved $4 a day?  Think about the things we spend our money on each day.  A coffee?  $4.  Lunch?  $8.  Gas station roller taquitos?  2 for $3, and an evening of diarrhea.

Anyways, even if you can’t do that much, you can save something.  And that’s what’s important.  Even $1 a day will net you a cool $365 at the end of the year.  And who couldn’t use $365 dollars all at once?

There’s a concept called denomination bias that states that we are FAR more likely to spend 100 $1 bills than we are to spend ONE $100 bill.  The author of The Fault In Our Stars, John Green, has a great take on this, and why the $1 bill should be eliminated in favor of a $1 coin.  Stop letting this bias waste your money, and start paying yourself first!

Save some money this year!


25 Things I Want To Tell My Daughter – Jen Myers

New Atlanta Stadium Flythrough – If you haven’t seen this yet, look at the palace they are building in ATL.

Why Tipping Should Be Banned – Adam Ruins Everything talks about why tipping is bad.

What Is Your Password? – Jimmy Kimmel gets normal people to tell him their passwords.

Ohio Against The World – yes, I ordered one.

Microsoft Band Charging Stand – this is how 3D printing should be.  Power to the people!


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