Simplify and Pray to Say Hooray!

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I posted on my blog. It’s kind of a surprise and kind of not that I haven’t had the heart to really sit down and write anything. I want to say that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the chance. If I think about it so many things have happened since July 2014.

  • I ended up getting a promotion at Nielsen to a Program Manager. That in itself brought new challenges and new time constraints to my already busy schedule
  • We’ve taken a couple of trips to California. Each trip provided us with some new life that only family can provide.
  • We started our own ebay business and it’s actually pretty successful. Sure we’ve made some initial investments but for the past four or so months our selling limits have increased.
  • We also started our own craft business. It didn’t take off quite as well as we thought it would but we eventually plan to merge this with our eBay business. It’s all in our master plan 🙂
  • I found out just how sleep deprived you can get.
  • We got to meet our new nephew, Aiden last month. Such a great nephew and very talkative and interactive. We definitely will look forward to seeing him more.
  • We got to see one of my good friends, Andrew Keller get married. Both him and Lauren looked like the happiest people on Earth and that’s how your wedding should be.
  • We hit financial bumps in the road and discovered medical bills aren’t cheap. Yes, technically we knew this beforehand but it became more prominent as Krista’s health continued to decline.
  • We got a chance to go to a world class hospital to get some much needed answers to Krista’s health conditions. The flip side of medical bills not being cheap is that if you have good insurance, once you hit that out of pocket maximum, it becomes significantly easier… if you kind of forget about how much it took to get you there 🙂
  • We decided we’re moving to California… for good.

So as you can see, there was quite a bit going on there. I kind of jumped from point to point but that’s kind of how the year seemed to me. So many things happening at different points of the year kind of threw us in a loop and oftentimes we didn’t know how to best handle it except to pray and hope God would guide us through. You know what? We’re still here and God continues to not throw us anything we can’t handle.

I really didn’t get a chance to slow down. Handling a full time job, helping with a growing business, taking care of KristaRose and Twix, all of that can be a handful. It makes my head just jump from item to item, hopelessly trying to check off the items in my ever growing list. If I were to really sit down and think about everything I want to accomplish and everything that I need to accomplish, well let’s just say it may take awhile to do..

If there’s anything that I’ve learned in the past year is to get through everything, you need to simplify your life. Even as I write this I have to chuckle to myself because it really is great advice that I’m writing down but I am not perfect in executing it. My main point is this though: Simplify and Pray to Say Hooray! It may sound funny but it actually is a good way to approach things.

Simplify where you can.

When you have an overwhelming amount of things to do, the only way you can get through it is to really take a look at what is important and try to simplify things as best as possible. You can definitely take out certain items on your checklist and prioritize better in order to make sure you accomplish what is really important to you. For example, take your own life and think about what’s important. Is it family? Is it friends? Is it being able to pursue your dreams? Is it a simple walk with your dog everyday? Is it building towards a goal like running a marathon? Is it work? These are all important things but every single person has a different priority they would give to each of these items. Determine what is important to you and try to eliminate some other things in order to give priority to the most important things that matter to you. I’m not saying to completely drop other items, just make sure you are happy with how your life is balanced and make sure the most important things are not being neglected.

Pray often and in your way.

I’ve often heard from so many people that you need to pray often. I think fundamentally the statement is right but in my opinion, you really need to have a conversation with God and to do this, you have to pray in your own way. For me personally, there is a certain calmness that comes over me when I sit down and have a conversation with God. It’s not just about saying certain prayers, it’s about really taking some time during the day to connect with Him and tell Him your worries, your fears and what is on your mind. I find it refreshing whenever I do get chances during the day to just sit in silence and just reflect and have a chance to lay it all down for Him. This is the way I pray and I find that it helps so much. You may need to have a different method. Maybe you will find some specific prayers that really help you connect with God. Maybe going to Mass on a daily basis will give you that special time with Him. Whatever you end up doing, consider giving up some time for God each day to try to center yourself and ensure that you are living life in the image of Christ.

Say Hooray!

Sometimes with so much going on, it’s hard to celebrate the wins in life. You get up when your alarm goes off. Sometimes it takes multiple tries and snoozes. You get dressed, you eat breakfast and then you go to work. You work hard all day. You come home, tired and exhausted and just want to relax. The next thing you know, it’s already time for bed.

For some lucky people, this doesn’t happen and their whole day is awesome. For others, you might start seeing this as your routine. You have to watch for this and make sure that you celebrate the wins in life and say “Hooray!” once in awhile. You don’t literally have to say it but what I mean is you need to add some good conversations or good memories. Have a dinner with your neighbors. Go play with your kids outside and teach them how to ride a bicycle. Talk with your kids about their days at school. Be like my dad and tell your son, your wife and your siblings that you’re proud of them.

Life isn’t just about surviving, paying the bills and worrying about the future. It’s about celebrating with your family, your friends, with God. It’s about creating memories, not only joyful ones but sad ones as well (Yes, I am thinking of the movie Inside Out right now). If you are able to simplify and pray, you should be able to say hooray every single day of your life.

That’s where my life is right now. It’s the constant struggle of trying to figure out what to do next, what needs to be checked off on the list of things to do, etc, etc, etc. But as my wife’s smile always reminds me, none of that really matters in the long run. Work to simplify life to make sure you enjoy it. Pray often so that you remain humble and hopeful for the future. Say hooray so that you can pass on your joy to others. That’s what life is really all about. Memories, smiles, challenges, family, friends, God. Not chores to check off of your list.

Warm Regards,
Michael Lerma

P.S. – Just to let everyone know, I am working to simplify the blog a little bit as well. Both KristaRose and I are so full of ideas but I think I started to get away from the purpose of the blog in the first place which was to reflect and to motivate and inspire others.  While some of these ideas were great, the most impact comes from writing about experiences. This is the focus going forward and we hope that you will be along for the journey!

One Year Down, A Lifetime To Go

Yesterday, KristaRose and I celebrated our 1st anniversary. It’s a big milestone, it marks that even after a year, KristaRose hasn’t gotten tired of me and has decided to keep me! All jokes, aside, it is a big milestone to me but it’s just one of many milestones we will have in our lives. I wanted to take some time today (and I was starting to reflect a bit on it yesterday as well) to really think about what marriage means and how we’ve really grown in the past year.

The past year has been a journey for the both of us. I think there are really two main themes to the year and I think it coincides with our wedding theme as well.

Love is Patient.

Krista has gone through a lot of medical challenges and it’s been a learning experience for the both of us. I’ve personally learned the importance of keeping track of everything. I’m talking about medical bills, prescriptions, even the summary of your doctor visits. I don’t think that in the past year there was not a week where there wasn’t a doctor visit of some sort whether it be for a specialist, for physical or occupational therapy or for an acute visit. We’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals and there are a lot of times where I had to stop what I was doing either work wise or personally in order to take her to the doctor. It has given me a new sense of what it means to be patient. Sometimes you just have to wait your turn in the hospital. Sometimes you have to wait months for a new medicine to either work or not work. Sometimes it’s just a big waiting game in order to figure out what you have to do next in life.

I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to slow down and you just have to have faith that everything will turn out correctly. I think it’s one of the things that we all struggle with. We all worry about the future. We all worry about what’s happening in our lives right now. We all still worry about things that happened in the past. The truth is, you can’t really control a lot of it. It does not help to worry about what has already happened. You can’t change that. It does not help to worry about the future. You can think you can change it but in the grand scheme of things, no amount of planning will lead to a perfect day. God will direct the future as he sees fit and you can be certain that he will make sure you can handle it.

All of the medical complications have really strengthened me. It has made me realize that we need to be even more grateful for the love and support our family and friends have given us. We need to be patient and steadfast in knowing that God will lay out the path for us and we should not worry. Through all of this, we have each other. Love is patient.

Love is Kind.

One of the reasons I married KristaRose is because she is such a kind person. She might not believe it all the time but there are a lot of little acts that make up who she is as a person. I remember there was a time we were in Chicago and we passed by a homeless person. She had just purchased a blueberry oatmeal from Jamba Juice and was more than willing to give it up to the homeless person. It was a selfless act that I still remember to this day. This is just one example but I see it all the time. She might not be able to do as much because of all the medical limitations but her heart has not wavered. She will still help out people as best as she can.

I think the biggest thing though is how she helps me to be kind. I must admit that I don’t get a lot of sleep. Between work, trying to develop myself personally, doing chores around the house, taking care of Krista, taking care of Twix, there’s just not a lot of time that I can have to sleep. It’s harder than you think to have a consistent schedule especially if things happen late nights or there is an unexpected doctor’s visit. Because of the lack of sleep though, I may have developed a bit of criticism when driving. I notice a lot of things more often but Krista is always telling me to be kind on the road and reminding me that we shouldn’t be spreading negative thoughts on the road. It’s a difficult thing to do but her love is always kind and always helps me to bring me back to where I need to be.

Love is Everlasting

Finally, as I conclude my thoughts, I just want to make a comment about marriage in general. I think that in this world, there is not enough love. Even in marriages, how many times have we heard that a person is getting a divorced or that they’re going into their second or third marriage? How many times have we been kind of been beaten in the head that divorce is ok? It seems like the media and really the world is migrating more towards thinking that marriage and relationships are only fleeting. I personally think that we need to take a look at why people get married. For me it stems from the spiritual component and the connection you have to God.

When I got married, I decided that I was going to become one with KristaRose. That’s what happens in a marriage. Through thick or thin, through sickness and in health, you stick by that person for the rest of your life. You don’t give up with the going gets tough. You don’t just leave because you get frustrated with your wife or husband’s point of view. I knew going in that things weren’t going to be easy. We were going to have a lot of difficulty. But together with God, you become one unit and you grow together. For me, this is so very important. Without that connection, the marriage is meaningless.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone else’s marriage isn’t valid. I’m simply saying that you need a connection with your spouse. It can’t be superficial. When you say your vows, you have to mean it. You have to know that you will stick by that person to the very end. You have to know that person will help you along and make you a better person. You have to go into it always thinking, this is the one, there is no one else. Otherwise, what’s the point of a marriage? Why even go into it if there’s even a chance that you’d consider a divorce?

I know why I went into this marriage. I am looking forward to many more years where I can share my love. I’m looking forward to continuing to be more patient and more kind. I am looking forward to more smiles, more laughter, more tears, more struggles, more triumphs. It’s about that connection. I know it has gotten stronger over the past year and will only continue to get stronger for the rest of our lives.

Where Have All the Smiles Gone?

I don’t mean to paint a bleak picture but everywhere I go, it seems that people are unhappy. We are being dominated by technology and I think it is having some negative effects. People look down at their phones, stare at a big screen, spend all day in front of a computer. Don’t worry, I know I’m in that trap. I’m in it right now as I stare at my computer. I feel that a lot of us have gotten out of touch with how to interact with one another, with how to feel proper emotions. A smiley face on a text message doesn’t equate to a smile in real life, nor should it ever. We actually feel emotion and live it when we interact with one another. When we see someone that we haven’t seen in a long time, a smile will appear on our face. When we receive a physical package or letter in the mail, a small smile may appear. When we get excellent service at a restaurant, smiles start to appear across the table. Smiles are around but they stay hidden until something prompts it.

I ask the world, why does it have to be like that? Why must we have to experience something in order to smile? Why must something positive be the impetus to turn that frown upside down? Why can’t we just smile every once in awhile? Why can’t we savor the present because that’s the only thing that is guaranteed? Why can’t we dig up past memories in our heads and reminisce and smile about the feelings we had at that moment? Why can’t we actively put ourselves in more situations in order to smile?

I can tell you it is tough to smile when you have a lot going on in your world. If you spend all day worrying about your big to-do list and you keep chipping at it, sure you’ll get through the list but will you be happy? Will you feel satisfied?

Life is never easy and everyone goes through a different set of problems. There are times it just sucks. There is no other word to describe the situation. The one thing that I’ve learned though is that you have to keep hope alive and you have to smile.

You have to smile in order to make yourself feel better.

You have to smile to make others in the room feel better.

You have to smile because even through adversity, there is always a lesson to learn, a person to thank, an end result that teaches you.

You have to smile because you are alive today.

You have to smile because you have a chance to live tomorrow.

You have to smile because you have a chance to keep changing people’s lives and making a difference.

That’s why even when the day is bad, you just have to smile.

I hope that you smile today!

~The Lermz

Spreading Inspiration One Postcard at a Time

It has been a busy time for KristaRose and I as life has really gone by fast. Between doctor visits, work and everything else, it has just been an absolute blur and wouldn’t you know it, it’s almost July! That means it’s almost our one year anniversary! Now that is a crazy thought! Maybe I should go start planning for it right now 🙂
Anyway, we are actually really excited to be telling you all about our latest project. We have always been believers in giving inspiration to everyone that we see. Whether it is your server in a restaurant, a homeless person on the street or a coworker that has been extremely helpful. It is just a good thing to do. It feels good everytime you say something positive and it inspires a person to either be better or to pass it on to another person.

We have worked in the past couple of months on products that do just that. I don’t want to put a shameless plug in here for our other products because I want to focus on one where we don’t care if we make a profit. We like to call it project #RandomInspiration.

What is #RandomInspiration? To put it simply we want to inspire everyone, including random people we don’t even know. We are creating postcards that remind a person how awesome he or she is. It’s a simple gesture but it means a lot especially in this day and age where getting mail is kind of rare and exciting again. The front of the postcard contains the inspiring message and then the back explains why we’re doing this. We encourage anyone who receives the postcard to post a picture to our Facebook page and tell us how they felt when they received it. For just $1, we will send out two postcards to completely random people. We won’t include anyone’s name except the recipient. If a person really wants to send it to a specific address, we’ll do that. We are pushing ourselves to send out as many as possible. We’ll start the count at 33 since our first batch just went in the mail.

 

If you have ever wanted to spread inspiration and asked yourself how you can do it, this is a great way to achieve it! Think of how many smiles random people across the country will get when they receive this postcard. They may be inspired to send some postcards to others too!

If you want to support our project, please think about purchasing some #RandomInspiration. Regardless of how many donations we get towards the project, we will continue to send as many as we can each month and will soon put a counter to show how many we have sent out. We want to inspire the world and we hope that some others will be there with us for the ride!

Store URL for #RandomInspiration: http://kreeations.storenvy.com/collections/754188-our-inspirational-projects

Facebook URL for KrazyKreeations: https://www.facebook.com/KrazyKreeations

Cheers!
~The Lermz

 

Chasing a Dream

Everyone has a dream or perhaps many dreams that they want to accomplish in their lifetime. Perhaps you might even have a bucket list of items such as climbing Mount Everest or going skydiving (btw those two are not on my list :D). With how busy life can be sometimes we push aside those dreams to focus on other immediate things. It is a shame though because you can look back at your life and feel regret about not chasing after those dreams. Sometimes in life you just have to force yourself to allocate even the tiniest bit of time towards something you believe in. For me, I think I’ve done just that and that’s why you haven’t seen us quite as active on the blog as in the past.

If you haven’t heard yet, KristaRose and I opened our own online shop. We wanted a place to give out inspiration to others and help them encourage those around them. We came up with the concept of “Thank You” mini-cards that allowed you to at first compliment waiters at restaurants or others that have done a great job for you. We have since expanded to be broader and allow you to hand these cards out to others who have just made a difference in general. It could be for a person who just opened the door for you or maybe it’s for someone that helped you move to another place. They’re meant to be something that is relative inexpensive and inspirational.

In the future we plan on expanding the use of the cards even more. We realize we can specialize who they are for. Think of the possibilities: teachers, parents, family members, dentists, police officers, those who serve in the military. There are a lot of people in this world that deserve our gratitude and this card can help. We’re also thinking of making full sized cards and postcards so that it is easy to mail someone and tell them your gratitude as well.

In addition, we’re adding some fun hobby items as well. We’re both pretty crafty so we’ve both made some pretty unique things.

The biggest part of our store is giving back to the community. We’re donating 20% of all our profits to a different charity each month. It is very important for us because we want to make an impact on people’s lives. This dream isn’t about us making money, it’s about us getting more people inspired and smiling. Trust me if I had all the money in the world, I would give away a lot of these items in our shop!

This was an important step for us to take because sometimes things get too hectic in our lives. When things get hectic, you start to lose hope and you start to give up on your dreams. We’ve refused to do that. Even if this venture fails we won’t look back at it with regret. We shouldn’t either, we’ve made a few sales already and our inspiring words and thoughts are no doubt making at least a few people smile somewhere. My advice to everyone else is to make sure you don’t give up on your dream. Take small steps to make it a reality. It won’t happen overnight in most cases but if you at least keep the dream in your peripheral, you will be energized by it.

If you would like to check out what we have on our shop, please go http://kreeations.storenvy.com . If you support what we are doing, feel free to make a purchase or tell a friend about it!

~The Lermz

Love from a Man’s Best Friend

For one reason or another I was checking my Facebook today and I happened to click a link that told a story about a Veterinarian who was wrestling with the decision of whether or not to put down his own dog. His dog was already 15 years old and it was discovered that he had some small internal bleeding that would escalate into a larger issue. At that point there was nothing he really could do for his dog except try to give it some good days before it was his time to go. In the end, he decided to put his dog to sleep in order for him to not feel the pain that was coming.

It was a sad story and the thing is that this happens all the time. It’s one of the worst things about being a pet owner. The realization that one day you might have to make a tough decision like that and potentially will have to see your best friend put to sleep. Honestly, I’m not sure what I would do in that situation. Twix is like a son to us. I know it might sound weird if you haven’t been a pet owner but I think if you have owned any kind of pet whether it was a dog, cat, fish, etc, you get this emotional attachment. Your pet is dependent on you, much like a child would be. In my honest opinion, a pet has the potential to be the most loyal thing in your life.

Twix, for example, is always very happy to see us when we come back home from the store or from shopping. He would always come up to the door with a smile on his face and his tail wagging in all sorts of directions. (Maybe I should take that back, with older age he sometimes can be lazy and just wait for us to get to the bedroom before greeting us). He is dependent on us giving him food, water, and love. He seems to know when we’re having bad days and will cuddle with us when that happens. He can be a troublemaker but you just know that he loves you with all his heart.

It makes me sad to think sometimes that I yelled at Twix. For the times that he’s gotten into the trash or barked like a crazy dog at other pets. There were plenty of times but you know thinking about it.. it’s probably not fair to Twix. You have to be able to shrug things off sometimes. You just have to because you never know when that day will come that your friend isn’t by your side.

It might be bold of me to say this but maybe we all need to be more like dogs. Maybe we need to have that unwavering loyalty. Maybe we need to be happy every day and be grateful to see another day. Maybe we need to know when to comfort someone and be there to do that.

Maybe we need to love like a dog.

I think that’s what we need in our everyday life. More love. More smiles. More loyalty. That’s what makes this life worth living. That’s how God meant us to live our lives.

blogentry_michael

Save time for a hobby

blogentry_michaelI started growing an indoor garden a few weeks ago. I’m not sure what prompted the need for me to buy seeds and try my hands at producing fresh vegetables but I’m glad I made the choice to. I’ve found that if you have a hobby and you can actively do it day in and day out, it brings a sense of fulfillment to your life. In my case, the routine of turning on the grow lights and making sure the crops have enough water is a nice start to the day and gives me something to look at if I need a break from my computer monitor.

Like any novice farmer, I have to spend some time at least describing my crops. I started out with just a few pots, some potting soil and tomato and sweet pepper seeds. We got a set at Walmart where they were just small clay pots. I didn’t really like that concept and probably with good reason because if you really want to ensure your crops grow, you should start them either in the pot you’re going to have them in after they’ve grown or start them in a greenhouse seed starter kit. So I planted cherry tomatoes and cilantro in the greenhouse kit. The tomatoes shot up like crazy and were ready to be transplanted. I took a 3ft pot and placed 6 tomatoes in there. That was probably a mistake since they really should be spaced out more. But after I placed them there I made sure I took care of them well. I got self watering pots where you put the water from below so that the roots would be the first to get soaked in water. I turned on the overhead fan so that I could simulate wind and make the stems even stronger. With all of these things going on, I felt very proud of what I’ve done.

In the next couple of weeks we ended up adding yellow onions to the mix. The yellow onions I’ve actually kind of failed at because even with the stem growth, some of the bulbs actually were rotten and so I ended up not having great luck. We added an orchid and another tropical plant which the name of has slipped my mind. This new hobby of mine has really brought a fun addition to my morning routine.

I think the reason why I’m writing about hobbies is because in our busy lives I think it’s good to have something that is not work related and not family related in your life. Life is all about giving to others but you do have to take care of yourself as well. By having a healthy hobby such as my gardening or volunteering at a church group or at a homeless shelter, you are giving yourself a chance to be proud of yourself and passionate for something in your life. It’s a great way to wind down a day or start up a day.

So if you don’t have a hobby or if you haven’t been able to keep one going because you’re busy, try blocking out part of your day or part of your week towards a hobby. It’s definitely something that will make you happy and in turn make others around you happy. It could even be something that helps others unintentionally, like this blog!

blogentry_michael

Healthy Eating Makes for Healthy Living

blogentry_michaelI was not known to really be a cook while I was growing up. My mother and father were always the ones cooking for me and I really didn’t learn how to do anything except bake muffins when I was a child. That slowly changed when I started college and especially when I met KristaRose. She’s always been a great cook and to this day I’m still kind of baffled that she can just take whatever items are out there and create great. I think it probably comes from experience and probably she picked it up from Mom and Dad.

In any case, I started to learn to cook a few items in college. Mostly around baking more items but I also learned how to cook some Filipino food. Lumpia, Pancit, Adobo, those were all staples of date nights that we would have from time to time. Then I guess I sort of regressed once I got out of college and was living on my own in Chicago. It was hard to really cook for one person and almost impossible in my first apartment. Let me tell you, that first apartment I moved into was a complete mess! I had bug problems all the time and I still remember just the sheer number of small little roaches that kept appearing even after having the landlords come in and spray. Anyway, to say the least, that deterred me from really cooking. My second apartment that was in Arlington Heights on the other hand had a nice kitchen with a nice island countertop. I did do more cooking but I think I relied too much on frozen TV dinners still.

Fast forward to the present and now the need to cook most meals is more evident than ever. KristaRose has a lot of allergies and we have been trying our best to avoid them. The biggest one and really the hardest one to avoid is corn. Think of everything that has some form of corn in it. It could be corn flour, corn syrup, corn starch or just plain pieces of corn. It’s everywhere! When you go and eat out, you will find that corn is almost in every single item that you eat. To avoid this, we tend to cook and eat at home more often. It’s easier and it leads to less reactions for her which is always a good thing.

Now even when we got to South Bend, I was still not an expert cook. I knew how to cook spaghetti pretty well. I also did a mean bowl of cereal. Slowly though I started to experiment with other items. I would buy just some plain chicken thighs from the grocery store and mix it with various herbs and spices. I learned that it’s pretty easy to just get some garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and olive oil and slap it onto the chicken and bake or fry it. It creates an easy meal that doesn’t take too long and you can pair it with rice, couscous, veggies, you name it. The same can be done with steak. You don’t really have to throw in a ton of things and simplicity tends to be the key.

After discovering that, I started experimenting with other types of dishes. I’ve made chicken marsala and different types of stir fry that I must say can taste better than what you can get at a restaurant. I’ve also really gotten into making easy dishes for breakfast. A quiche is fairly easy to do if you prep it easily. Also, if you want to have a nice snack, stick slices of apples in croissant rolls and add some cinnamon sugar. It’s a healthier version than some of the pies you can get at stores and restaurants.

It’s especially easy nowadays to go on the internet and find some recipes matching what mood you are in. I find that eating home cooked meals is a lot healthier and it just somehow makes you feel better. I guess the worst part or the hardest part would be finding the time to do this. I have a weird schedule nowadays because of various appointments and how work is going. But I try to find time during the day to put something in the oven or on the stove and keep doing my work while food is cooking.

We started tracking what we eat on an app called MyFitnessPal. When I say we, I really mean KristaRose. I’m still not 100% there since I have a million things on my mind usually. It’s a great little app that allows you to enter in what you’ve eaten for the day and it has a huge database that’s populated by its users. You just select what you’ve eaten, what portions or serving size and voila. You can set your target goal calorie wise as well.

Something seems to be working because as of right now, I’ve lost a good 10-12 pounds and KristaRose has lost about 6-7 pounds. I’m hoping that if we continue this healthy trend of eating and I discipline myself to cook instead of eating out that we’ll continue to see these results and most importantly not see the weight come back. I think if maybe we can add some more exercise to the equation especially when Krista is feeling better, we might in turn feel a lot better and have more energy.

So really my ask to all the readers is to really take a look at your diet and see where you can make some improvements and take out a fast food meal here and there. Look into making simple dishes for yourself and watch the savings weight wise and on your pocketbook. I think you’ll be glad when you do!

blogentry_michael

Sale, sale, sale

blogentry_michaelI think one of the biggest gripes that I have about the economy today is the shopper mentality. It seems that nowadays everyone is looking for a bargain whether it is on clothes, food, or services. I think that’s fine to look for the better deal but the way companies are approaching it now is becoming almost criminal in my opinion. Let’s take a look at some stores for example.

I think the biggest example of the excessive sales is Kohl’s. They have all kinds of promotions and clearances going on every single day. In fact when I go into the store there’s not a lot of things that don’t have a red “Sale” tag on it. Kohl’s is really guilty of bumping up the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) and then claiming you save 40% or more. It’s like an addiction because at the cash register when you ring up all of your items, they tell you that you’ve saved a ridiculous amount of money. Just from listening to some other people’s orders you can save like $300+. Are you really saving that much money though? Let’s take a simple polo from Kohl’s. They usually advertise it for around $13 after a sale. That’s after saying the MSRP is around $19. You’ve saved $6. That sounds like a good deal doesn’t it? However, if you do some comparison shopping to other stores for the quality of the polo you just looked at, you’ll usually find that the price should be around $13 or maybe even lower if a store has a true sale. With Kohl’s, I find it difficult to commit to buying anything because it’s really so hard to figure out if something is a good deal or not. I have to always look at the “sale” price and ask myself, “Is this really a good deal? How much would it cost at other places?”.

Another example of excessive sales is JC Penny. I actually really liked this store when it had the fair pricing scheme from a couple of years ago. Prices for everything were held constant and you knew what everything was really worth for every day pricing. It was a fresh change at least in my perspective. That ship has since sailed though. Prices are back to being on sale for everything. There are very little items in the store that aren’t marked as a sale and just looking at the MSRP, you can tell the prices are inflated. I mean come on, $60 for a mediocre quality dress shirt? The one thing I will say about JC Penny though is when something is truly on clearance you can get great deals. When things are out of season, that’s the time when you should buy. It’s also when I found a great strategy to know if something truly is on sale.

Do you ever notice what number a price ends in? Most items end in a 9 because they are worth like $5.99 or $6.49. That usually would indicate that it’s a regular “Sale” price. However, when items end in another number like 8 or 7, that’s usually an indicator that they’ve been given an extra discount. I’ve seen it happen at JC Penny with many of their discounted items. They usually end in a 7. There’s an article about the codes they use in Costco and what was found is the following:

  • Prices that end in 97¢: These have been marked down from the regular priced items, which end in 99¢
  • Odd pricing, such as 79¢, 49¢, or 89¢: These indicate specially priced items that Costco got a deal from the manufacturer. Rapoport says these can be better deals than at other stores, but not usually better than the 97¢ markdown.
  • An asterisk* on the upper right side of the sign: The item won’t be reordered.
  • 88¢ or .00 endings: Manager markdowns. Sometimes the company uses these to move a product very fast.

(Source: http://lifehacker.com/save-even-more-money-at-costco-by-knowing-their-secret-800666594)

It pays to really look at the items and discern whether or not they’re really good deals. In today’s society it seems that companies have to fight more and more to get your business and they try to do so with pricing. Don’t get fooled into good deals, go with your instinct and don’t buy into the shopper’s mentality.