« November 2009 | Main

2 posts from December 2009


My $380 shoes and why American manufacturing may not be dead




Recently, seemingly against all logic and reason, I purchased a pair of $380 shoes.  I had a gift certificate which helped a little, and I purchased them in tax free New Hampshire which helped a little more.  But the brunt of this purchase was taken by yours truly.  Now here’s the sentence you didn’t expect: these shoes were a tremendous value.


Those of you who know me personally know I have no fashion sense whatsoever.  I cannot recognize which brand names are in or out and I am usually a decade away from whatever is hip.  So why such a purchase?  One word:  quality.


I realize you think the shoe salesman took old Pete for a Kansas City Shuffle, tricking me into buying the priciest shoe in the store.  (It was actually the third priciest shoe in the store BTW.)  But truly, this brand of shoes will literally last me ten years.  (And since I am always a decade behind in fashion anyway this is the ideal fit for me.)  They’re real leather, hand stitched and most important to the point of this blog, made in the USA. 


Less than a year ago at the same store I purchased a pair of $85 shoes made in another country.  (I won’t say which but you can guess.)  And these “cheaper” shoes are already falling apart.  So you tell me, if I have to buy a new pair of these cheap sleds every year, which pair is really the better deal?


I’ve bought Wal-mart screw drivers and literally bent the metal on them.  Not bent the metal Uri Gellar style, I mean bent the metal trying to turn a screw.  The “price” of the screwdriver was terrific.  But was there any real value when it cannot do the job it was made for?  Ever bought a $65 DVD player that breaks after a 6 months?


America is not going to win in the cheap sandals price war.  But if manufactures can convince consumers that high quality and high price is actually a bargain, American manufacturing has a chance.  It’s not easy, but I hope this blog will help. 


The Art of Microbudgeting



If you’ve used micro budgeting before it was probably on a long vacation.  Perhaps backpacking through Europe, perhaps a trek across country or maybe just a week long spring break venture.  Vacation or not, microbudeting is an excellent way to keep your spending under control.


Most folks create a monthly budget because most bills (electric bill, cell phone, rent and mortgage) are paid monthly.  But the monthly format is hardly set in stone.  Why not make a budget for a week?  Or a day?  Even a night of just a few hours?  This is the essence of microbudgeting. 


When I traveled to Viertnam I had a budget of about $100 per day.  Why not do the same in your every day life?  Set a daily budget be it $20 a day, $40 or whatever.  As you go throughout the day subtract in your head every time you buy a coffee, hit the vending machine, or take a cab home.  If you go over by $10 one day then next day’s budget is $10 less.  Or if you conserve on Thursday you are more than welcome to splurge on Friday.


Some folks make microbudgeting easy on themselves by leaving their house with their ID and the amount of their daily budget in cash.  No credit cards, no ATM cards.  When the cash is gone that’s it.  (Yeah yeah I know, what about emergencies?  Well doing this for a day or two isn’t going to kill you.  Before you do it, tell a coworker your plan and that if emergency breaks out you might need an emergency loan.)  Once you’ve weaned yourself off the plastic you can start carrying it again.


The key to budgeting is not writing it but sticking to it.  Sometimes trying to stick to a budget for a month is tough.  Try instead sticking to a budget for just a few hours and see how well you do.