Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer Checklist

Here we go again. Barbara is about to burst another bubble. I don’t know how to break this gently for you, but summer is NOT just for fun and games, or vacations, or full of lazy-hazy days. Sorry.

Summer is a time for:
Putting Security in a Box
Getting Ready for the Rainy Day
Being Brainwashed by Barbara.

OK, I’ll give you part of summer. The other part of summer needs a Summer Checklist. Now is the time to start developing the “Squirrel Syndrome.” Now is the time to prepare for cold, winter, storms, miserable cold wet rain, and different kinds of storms. (You choose.) Knowing that winter and all of the above are coming, now is the time to put the verb “prepare” into high gear. I’m not the rocket scientist telling you the theory is that preparation usually happens prior to the event! I’m sure it is now more than a theory.

(Pause – this is where you go and get paper and a pen that works or a pencil with lead… …… ……. Hummmmmm ….. Okay!)

So then, let me help you with just a few reminders to add to your Summer Checklist. There are more, but these should get you started.

First thing to do is to get your list of needs in place so that when right prices comes along you can grab those items. This also means it would be a good idea to stash a few dollars each payday to have a “preparedness fund” to draw from instead of totally devastating the grocery budget or plundering the piggy bank, (especially one of the kid’s)

Evaluate your storm patterns. How long do you estimate you will need emergency light. Do your lanterns, flashlights or equipment need mantles, wicks, gaskets, oil or batteries? What about those tiny, little, often overlooked bulbs? Are the ones you have reliable? How old or how dim are they? What else will you find that you really need as you scrounge through that box?

Batteries, even though they are getting more expensive, can be added to every shopping list between now and the first snowfall or hurricane to insure you have needed power on hand.

Wicks, mantles and gaskets can sometimes be found in yard sales and/or flea markets, as well as department store sporting goods sections, hardware stores and camping supply outlets. Make sure you know the size and kind you need before you buy.

Camping gear is often offered at “clearance sales,” at the end of fall, just before the holiday craze hits. Sometimes the best sale prices are found as a side aisle or end of aisle for products that won’t fit into “present categories.”

How cold does it really get in your area? Do you have enough sleeping bags or heavy blankets that are not scout outing reject ragbags? (You can tell we’ve had scouts in the family.)

Sleeping bags, and camping blankets are often put on clearance sales after the “outdoor summer season.” If winter sports and hunting gear are part of the sales in your corner of the world, watch for “loss leader items and prices.” This means a price so good it will get you to go to that store. In order to have buying power, go in and buy only the sale items you need and have planned for . (Or I will haunt you J )

Your second home could be a tent. If you already have a tent, make sure that it is in good shape, patched and ready to use – in an emergency. Many times if there is a violent storm or earthquake and you have such a “second home,” you can stay in it and protect your property while using the supplies on hand. This type of situation could be if there has been damage and you need to have authorities say that your home is safe to occupy. Sometimes just the security of being able to be “at home” is comforting. And of course, it would mean that the weather is cooperating and it is bearable for you to remain outside. A lot of people stayed in tents in their yards until the violent shuddering stopped and they knew the walls weren’t coming down in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Know the difference between a Case-Lot Sale and a Sidewalk Sale. This time of year there seems to be a lot of both. Your money does matter, so take the time to evaluate what you are buying.

Case-lot sales are usually food items or products carried in the grocery stores that are brands and products you are familiar with. The rule of thumb used to be that case-lot sales were seasonal, occurring the same time every year. Anymore with the economic roller coaster going crazy, price wars are going on between stores and case-lot sales are popping up multiple times a year. You need to do your pricing homework ahead of time to take advantage of them when the sale prices are good prices. Keep in mind some items are “on sale,” many are just “for sale.”

Many times, especially with Back to School promotions, sidewalk sales spring up in malls and of all places on the sidewalks or mall walks in front of stores. Be aware that some retailers bring in inferior merchandise to promote large “perceived” price reductions. This often means that sometimes the products, clothes, supplies, health and beauty aids, you name it, are not products taken off the shelves or racks and brought out to be “on sale!” They are for sale! Pay attention, especially if you are trying to stock up on things such as socks, underwear or basics such as
T-shirts. Markdowns could be because all – or most- of the items are irregulars. And that is okay for underwear – usually.

Get enthused now. Start your lists now. Check them twice or even three times in order to stretch your buying power. Then when I’m in the stores in a few weeks and I hear “Yahoooo” echoing through the aisles I’ll know someone else just found the bargain of the week and bought fourteen cans of pork and beans and three pair of socks at real bargain prices! (That means they had enough left over for some chocolate, doesn’t it.)

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