Thursday, July 31, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Now that I've been implementing my own economic stimulus plan through my crack addict purchases of Botkier handbags, I've joined FreeShipping.com. Even though we offer this program through the company where I work, I was (and am) skeptical of anything with the word "free" in it. So let's be clear: the program is not free. It can, however, be financially beneficial if you shop online.
Here's how it works:
1) Membership is $6.99 / month, billed annually -- so $83.88 a year. They currently have a 30 day free trial so I'd recommend doing that -- why not. You can cancel the membership anytime. You can get up to $500 / year in shipping rebates, including return shipping.
2) When you shop, log in to FreeShipping.com and search on the merchant you plan to patronize. They have over a thousand merchants, big and small (I'd say they capture about 65% of my online purchases). Click on the merchant you are shopping, and you'll be sent over to their website. Complete your transaction.
3) Go back to FreeShipping and make a claim. This does require printing out your receipt and mailing it in, and I suspect their business model relies on the laziness of people and their inability to mail something in even if they get money back for it, but it's a great program for the miserly people who get profiled in the Famously Frugal section of Real Simple magazine. Or people like me, whose husband just got laid off, but who believes that by sending in these rebates I am actually earning money and therefore am entitled to another purse. $500 would buy me a mighty nice Botkier on eBay.
Look for more money-saving tips as I head toward financial ruin!
So a few weeks back, when I was struggling particularly hard with my purse habit (ok, I bought 8 purses to be exact, but this is how I feel when I buy a good purse --how can something that feels so right be wrong?), I had this idea for a purse exchange -- it would be a closed community of designer purse collectors, who, when they tired of their bags, could auction them off or exchange them for other high-end bags. The challenge of course would be to get a critical mass of users to make the place interesting. I did the economics and unless I charged what I thought were somewhat unreasonable prices, it was definitely going to be more of a hobby than a business venture.
Anyway, as with all my good ideas, someone else already thought of it. BagBanco, which is a venture of From Bags to Riches (a Bag, Borrow or Steal competitor), has put a marketplace together for gently used bags. There's no auction function -- they basically sell for you on consignment for cash or for credit -- but it's pretty close (I have to say I think the subscription fees are high, but based on the model I built I think they have to be this way in order for them to be reasonably profitable). I had purchased the URL http://www.pursehabit.com/ with the idea that I might actually build this thing, but for now it just lists the bags I need to sell in order to make room for my 8 new babies -- I'm sort of like the Angelina Jolie of purse collecting (at least one of each color, from multiple continents). Anyway, the other side benefit of staring PurseHabit.com would have been the need to build an initial stash of inventory in order to start activity of the site -- purse start-up capital, if you will. Now I'll just have to build my stash with no good excuse at all.
I know it's bad when you have to give away clothes in order to make space for your bags. My friend Jenny clarified that it's perfectly ok to give away your husband's clothes in order to make room for your bags -- but she also suggested selling my platelets to fund my bag habit. The thing that makes me feel better about it is not paying full price for a designer bag (then, as my friend Nina says, you'd be losing money if you don't buy it!). Here are the best sources I've found for discount designer purse shopping:
- eBay: When I was doing research around PurseHabit.com, the biggest stumbling block I came upon was how to compete with eBay. They are simply the largest and most sophisticated forum. And there are some really great deals on bags -- be careful though because there are fakes -- try the Authentication Forum at http://www.purseforum.com/ if you're not sure. They also have a nice search option that enables you to get automated messages when items that meet your criteria are listed.
- Bag, Borrow or Steal: They've got an outlet section (you have to register in order to view it) where they sell you refurbished bags with a satisfaction guarantee. Prices are typically higher than I see on eBay, but you're guaranteed authenticity. They get new inventory in each Wednesday, with additional discounts on Fridays.
- BagBanco: I haven't bought from them yet -- they don't have a critical mass of products yet , but the prices seem reasonable and you are also guaranteed an authentic bag.
- Bluefly: They have a decent selection, but I am somewhat prejudiced against them because they don' t have Botkier, though they do have Kooba. Average discount is between 20-50% off retail. I see the same selection on eBay, so I think eBay still wins out on price overall.
Feed the habit!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Ok, I can't take credit for this idea primarily because Ben Franklin already said it a little while before I did: "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." (By the way, I don't think Ben Franklin was 100% wise. For instance, he also said, "Eat to live, and not live to eat." I don't think that's right (said the woman who eats mayonnaise out of the jar).). Anyway, I've heard this quote since I was little, but I'm just not and have never been a morning person (but I do happen to be a very good night person). As luck would have it, I took a trip to Europe, and when I returned, operating on UK time, I awoke at roughly 4 AM. And you know what? It was great! I felt so productive. In fact, the idea that I had so much time ahead of me motivated me to be much more industrious than I usually am. I did a yoga workout on video, I made a real breakfast, I went to the grocery store (where I was the only shopper and had to pluck produce out of cartons because they hadn't finished laying them out yet -- and if there's one downside, it's that I couldn't buy lettuce because it was still somewhere in the nether regions of the grocery store) where I was congratulated at being the first shopper in store history to buy a fish from the fish department at 6 AM, and best of all, I wasn't screaming at the kids all morning.
I don't know about you, but mornings at my house are generally crazy. They're probably the worst part of the day, tied with the 5 PM - 7 PM witching hour when the kids start to melt down and I start to look for a cocktail. And one of the reasons I dread weekdays is that they all start off so crazy, trying to make sure everyone gets dressed, brushes their teeth, eats their breakfast, has a lunch packed -- in addition with trying to appear human myself for my appearance at the office. Add to this the fact that there is a punishment for the parent from the school for being late (I won't get into it, but trust me, it is bad), and the whole thing is just plain stressful.
So since I got back from my trip, I've been making myself get up early. And you know what? My whole day is better! I'm relaxed in the morning, I eat a real breakfast, I talk to the kids, and I just have this general feeling that everything is really ok.
The downside is that I'm avoiding social activity, fearing it will interfere with my bedtime...the good sleep habits rule, as suggested by my college professor Dr. James Maas, is that even if you have a late night, you should make yourself get up at the same time every morning. I fear this. I have a known love for sleeping in, and I'm afraid that this will bring me back over to the Dark Side.
Well, sleep tight. I'm sure some of you do this already. I'm a little slow -- it took me about 10 years to notice that Brad Pitt was "kind of cute". You know, by the time everyone else had moved on.
Sometimes I just want to eat mayonnaise. Not just any mayonnaise -- I like regular mayo well enough, as an accompaniment to a sandwich, or a seafood cocktail -- but this mayo from the Ojai Cook -- called Lemonaise -- is so good that I want to eat it on its own. Ok, I confess -- I did eat it on its own. Tonight, in fact. Off a knife. In front of my kids. I put it out as an accompaniment to a poached salmon, but really, it was all about the Lemonaise. It's similar to the mayo you get in France -- and I think just as good as the mayo my mother-in-law, who used to run a cooking school in France (Why does that have such a nice ring to it? Better than, for instance, "...run a cooking school in Germany?"). Anyway, it's tangy, it's creamy, and it's got mustard seeds in it. It's sooo good. It's so good that you'll see the link I have it going to on this page has it sold out. And one of the reviewers says the only thing she doesn't like about it is that she has to have it shipped.
One of the benefits of living in California is that I can actually find it at my local grocery store (Henry's Marketplace -- I love that place so much it makes me want to cry). I hoard it too -- I always make sure I have at least two spare, because once I really wanted some and they were (gasp) out of stock.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Remember when people would tell you that you'd know when you found The One? It happened to me last month. Suddenly, with no warning, I fell fast and hard for Botkier handbags -- until the pure supple lambskin-y, design-y perfection of them was too much for me to handle.
I first saw them online during a sale. On sale they were about $475, so I hemmed and hawed about the Botkier Bianca until they were sold out. I then proceeded to kick myself for missing out, for the Biancas are nowhere to be found on the primary market, and I began scouring eBay for them, losing several auctions in the last 5 seconds because apparently other Botkier obsessed are faster typers than I am. Determined not to be defeated yet again, I actioned on a Buy It Now for the Sophie bag in Raisin (pictured), which is now in my possession. It arrived at my door during a particularly bad my-career-is-in-the-toilet-now-that-I-have-kids kind of day, and as my friend Jenny so aptly pointed out, it would match perfectly with the bottle of vodka I'd be carrying.
Still outbid though on the Botkier Bianca (I wanted it in nude snakeskin), I desperately settled and pulled another Buy It Now on a Cherry colored one. That one is coming on Tuesday, the day before I leave town (it also involved begging the seller to expedite the bag so I'd get it before I left). I then set an auto-search on eBay to show me daily all the new Botkiers that were on the market. This has resulted in two additional bids for Botkiers, as well as a membership in The Purse Forum.
And I can't stop talking about them. I dragged a gay co-worker into critiquing a few I was considering. I email my friend Alice (who just gave birth two days ago) updates and opinion requests. It is truly an illness. Weirdest part is that I was never that into bags.
But then I made a startling discovery: there seem to be a bunch of purse addicts out there, who buy new purses, carry them for a couple of weeks, and then stow them in their original dust covers with their authentication tags, and resell them on eBay once they're back in season again. Brilliant! I felt enabled. Like I had an excuse to buy more bags.
Continuing to troll the net for Botkiers, I stumbled upon the Chloes. Whoa. If Botkiers were my Ivana Trump, Chloes are my Marla Maples. So I'm just waiting for those Koobas to hit me over the head...