by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Angel Fire, N.M.
July 9, 2008
STRETCHING YOUR BUCK IN A BEAR MARKET
ANGEL FIRE, N.M., July 9, 2008 -- Okay, you asked for detailed recommendations in a Bear market.
Here is my short list, and yes, I practice what I preach, and the word "stock" or "bond" will not appear past this point:
PAPER GOODS: Proctor & Gamble (Bounty, detergents etc.) have announced steep wholesale price increases because of increased transport and raw materials. I expect these price hikes will hit your discount, wholesale, or retail store before Labor Day picnics.
It is time to hoard. K-Mart had a 2-for-1 sale on paper towels, toilet paper (sorry, in my housing project in Brooklyn, where people named Levine still called themselves "luh-Veen," we never called it "bathroom tissue"), and paper napkins. I filled up the mini van. Pay now or pay lots more later.
RAINCHECKS: Use them or lose them. Stores advertise and then sell out featured items. For example, I like some stuff called Tile-X. Spray it on the shower and forget it. But I don't like paying almost $4 per bottle.
I noticed Arm & Hammer put out their own non-scrub shower cleaner. I bought one bottle priced at $3. Maybe not quite as good as Tile-X but pretty good. The next week it was on sale for $1.74. The shelf was empty.
This is the tough part: I pulled the item label and price tag off off the shelf and took it to the manager. This way I didn't have to answer questions about "where was it?" or "are you sure of the price?"
"How many do you want?" the manager asked. "How many can I buy?" I responded. She looked in some inventory book and answered, "No limit."
Okay, I am not opening a commissary so I reserved four bottles at $1.74 and she handed me a rain check for my next visit. The economy is killing us. This is war.
GUERILLA SHOPPING: There are no, as in none, as in zero, supermarkets near me. Twenty miles away in Taos, N.M., there are four supermarkets within two miles of each other. Three of the four are within one mile of each other. They all have circulars in the local newspapers or in my post office box.
I really shop in my Barca-Lounger. I circle the sale items at each store. Then I plan a late afternoon shopping trip. I try my best to never, ever, ever buy anything that is not on sale. I bought a 9 cu. ft. deep freeze for $155 to store the stuff on sale.
One store is a gourmet organic palace. I rarely go there. One store is a SuperSave low-end working class store. Lots of ethnic stuff, some unusual produce, and great sales on generic canned goods. I watch the sales.
Two blocks away the great Raley's closed down and was taken over by Albertson's. I've loved their produce for years, and miss the large selection of Raley's Angus beef, but watch for the "choice" beef sales in the "family pack." Save a dollar per pound or more, buy the family pack and take it home and divide into freezer bags.
Less than a mile away is Smith's, owned by Kroger, with the friendliest folks, and a discount card which gives me 3 pennies off per gallon at lots of gas stations.
Watching for the sales, I stock up on pasta, sauces, juices, etc. Their holiday food platters are excellent and cheaper than cooking from scratch. It takes time, but I make fewer trips to town and save by not buying "impulse" items, just stuff I need that's on sale.
THAT LUBE JOB: Let's say it is totally my imagination. Sue me. After I leave the Jiffy Lube shack and pay my $39 my truck or van runs better and smoother. If it doesn't get better mileage it probably pollutes less. If it doesn't pollute less I've helped the local economy. Keep the car tuned up, check tire pressure, change the oil and fluids. And regarding tires, you can still get a nice set of 40,000 mile UniRoyals for $300 or less. Riding on rotted, squared, balding, or crappy tires is also costing you money.
HEAVY STARCH: Out here they call it "cowboy starch." If you still send your shirts and blouses out to a laundry or cleaners the heavy starch resists soil, stains, stays fresher longer and looks better. Why? Ask a chemist, or a ship steward? Heaven forbid, unless you are wearing the shirt while you compete against "Phoenix" on American Gladiators, or sweat like a liberal at a Russ Limbaugh appearance, you might even wear the shirt more than once. Use underarm deoderant.
'PRIORIT'-IZE: Depending upon what you pay and where you live, lots of FedEx, UPS, and DHL absolutely, positively does NOT get there overnight.
There are plenty of times when you really and truly want a packet or envelope to arrive in two or three days and don't feel the urgency to pay $13 or $26 for "overnight" service.
Send it USPS Priority Mail. The bad news is that depending upon your local post office, time of day, and day of the week, "priority" on rare occasions means five or six calendar days. The good news is that even out here in the-land-that-service-forgot Priority mail often arrives in two or three days and sometimes overnight.
There are "all you can stuff" Priority envelopes and flat-rate boxes starting at under $5. This is a great deal for personal or business mail.
NEVER PAY RETAIL: I needed a tail-light lens for a Chrysler. Cost: $174 without installation. Most online auto part sites, $174. One online site $54 but it was not a "certified" site and I had never heard of it.
I clicked on a Google-endorsed wholesale auto parts site. They didn't care if I owned one Chrysler or a fleet of 2,000. Price: $71.40 with free standard shipping.
No, Virginia, I could not care less if the red plastic is an original Chrysler product. Virtually anything you see online or in a store is manufactured somewhere by someone (religious, healing, and prayer sites are exempt).
Go to the manufacturers' home page. I have purchased things ranging from electric toothbrush replacement chargers; coffee machine carafes, and a $4,000 (retail) grandfather clock direct from the manufacturer or one of their reps at huge savings.
Often a Web search will take you to retailers who specialize in national or global sales of your product. After chopping wood, bailing slash, or clicking the tv remote I slather on Tiger Balm in the big hockey puck size tin. For years I ordered it at 60% less than "discount" from an "Asian" grocery market in California.
You can add your own ideas...food and restaurant costs are up 27% or more in the past two years, gasoline has gone through the headliner and roof, and your savings and investments are earning less...
I have no pride of pronouncements here. Suffice it to say that,
Pssssst...don't tell anyone, but I like Dunkin' Donuts coffee at $1.55 better than Starbucks at $3.46.