2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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2010 – Year in Review

To achieve a goal you must keep your eye on the prize. Financial goals are no different and require the same intensity, intention, and knowledge as personal goals. My wife and I have goals. We want to own a home, pay off student loans, save for our son’s college, have financial security, and most important to me… have options. At the end of the day money buys options.
To ensure that we have the options we want as we move forward I have created an end-of-the-year summary of our finances. This is a great way to communicate with my spouse, who has less interest in the day-to-day finances of the household, and ensure that she knows where we stand financially. This type of summary is a primer for those larger conversations about what we want 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years down the road. looking at our finances this way can also help us make sure we are headed in the right direction to achieve those goals.

Year in Review

I will now review the various sections by providing the narrative behind the numbers seen above.

Overview

Year in Review - Overview

Despite a $13,400 reduction in our income from 2009 to 2010 (we decided it was best to have B stay home with our son) we still were able to keep our savings consistent, seeing only a small decline from 13.85% down to 13.51% year-over-year.

This was due to our diligence in reducing expenses as our income declined. Many young couples in our situation (married, dual incomes, having their first kid) fall into a trap in which they cut back their income but fail to cut back their expenses. I am proud that we were able to achieve this, though I would be lying if our mid-month money discussions don’t involve eating through what is left in the freezer.

The fact that we were able to save an additional $9,200 in 2010 and make the significant impact on our debts from just cash flowing (paying down debts with only income from that month) was a team effort.

Revenue

Year in Review - Revenues

As you can see the reduction in income is very easy to identify. B’s income took a significant, and very expected, dip as she quit her job in July to have our son in August. She has done a few odd home studies since then, but her income is essentially gone.

There was also a small reduction in the “Misc. Checks” category which is made up of expense report checks from both of our jobs. Again, with B staying home this item took a small decline as she was no longer receiving mileage checks for her travel.

Our tax return also was significantly reduced. This, I believe, was largely due to the fact that in 2008 I had zero income as I was finishing my Master’s Degree and B’s salary was so small that we received all of her taxes back in 2009. In 2010 both B and I had significant increases in our revenue which of course means more tax liability. So while it was still good that we received money instead of owing, it was less than in 2009. (We anticipate 2010′s return to be better as we will have a child credit).

One time revenue received in 2009 included a Rent Deposit that was not duplicated in 2010 and Tuition return from college that would not be duplicated in 2010.

Expenses

Year in Review - Expenses

I provided a yearly analysis with a % of total income break-down to highlight any major shifts in expenses.

Fixed expenses was less than in 2009. This was found in $200 reduction in car insurance due to items falling off of our driving records. $1,500 less in grocery purchases.

We scaled our discretionary spending at stores, auto, restaurants, online, and other down.

Student Loans and Healthcare jumped on us year-over-year. Student Loans was due to our attempts to make the biggest dent in our loans before the 2nd income disappeared, and healthcare is largely due to the increase in our Flexible Spending Account and the birth of our son. (Most of our sons birth did not hit us until January 2011 due to some insurance concerns and will be reflected in the 2011 summaries)

Loans or Liabilities

Year in Review - Student Loans

What can I say… we made a $15,000 divot in our student loans in 2010.  The small decrease in the smaller interest rate is due to the full brunt of the student loans kicking in around June 2010. That means minimum payments had to start being made on all fronts.

Now that B has quit her job we have changed our strategy concerning the student loan debt repayments. Where we were paying over $1,000 each month towards the loans this has been reduced to a mere $400 monthly (still $25 more than monthly minimum) towards the loans. We are accumulating cash at the moment wanting to ensure we have all the options available if we are required to move again in 2011.

Assets

Year in Review - Liquid Assets

I label these categories as “Liquid” because the items found here can be obtained and turned into cash within a week if necessary. Included in these numbers are our savings, emergency fund, and cash flow for monthly expenses.

As mentioned above, we were able to save an additional $9,000 from income and still made some money in the stock market as of 12/31/2010 when this report was compiled.

Year in Review - Long Term Assets

This chart is not included in the numbers above and is inclusive of all items which would suffer penalties, time, or other barriers to their liquidation for cash. This report is not as impressive as 2009 good data was not being tracked as of yet, but there was a nice increase in my 401k. This is due to some modest gains in the 401k and the 3.5% match that is received once in the 2Q of the next year.

The vehicles are also weighted low as I put them both at “fair” condition where they would most likely be graded one level above. I am anticipating needing a new “work” vehicle within the next two years which would come from the “Liquid” asset categories above if needed.

One Time Expenses

Year in Review - One Time Expenses

I like to keep a small list of one time expenses as these items help highlight some of those “cost” that are often unbudgeted in a monthly budget, but were required for various reasons.

The cruise was our baby-cation and birthday present for my wife. An investment in our relationship and family.

Nebraska and Graduation, again, investments in family and memories.

Stove because we enjoy eating food not cooked in a microwave occasionally and our rental did not supply a stove (who has heard of a rental not having a stove…).

The camcorder was to share our family memories. My family is spread throughout the United States and to ensure they are a part of my sons life it is important to keep them updated as he grows through Skype and the occasional youtube videos.

Summary

In summary we had a great year. We had our first child, let mom stay home, saved a bit of money, paid down some debt, and were there for some of our family’s milestones throughout the year.

Amazing what a bit of faith, planning, hard work, and supportive friends and family can help you accomplish in life.

If you have questions or want to know how you to can take control of your finances and make them work for you please feel free to contact me at Odysseustoday@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Posted in Education, Expense Management, Finances, Financial Tools, Monthly Report, Personal Finances, Student Loans | 1 Comment

Financial Web Site Tip of the Month – Retailmenot.com

Since my wife and I have had our child in August she has stayed home 100%. We both felt the benefits of having a parent home for the child far outweighed the financial hardships of going to a single income household.

That being said we have been searching for ways to cover our expenses and way of life on a tighter budget. A site I stumbled upon this morning is www.retailmenot.com.

What is RetailMeNot.com?

RetailMeNot is a site is a clearing house of online codes and coupons to be applied at nearly all major retailers. The way I stumbled upon this site was while I was checking out on a Christmas gift for my wife I had a code, but it was only a 10% discount at check-out. I did a quick search for Google for other promotional codes and found RetailMeNot.com. Not only did this site have my current code, but it had an additional code for 15% off. So I quickly changed the codes out and saved an additional 5% on a $100+ purchase. Not a bad savings for 3 minutes of work.

This web site will surely become a last second check on all purchases we make going forward. I personally am a bit skeptical on coupons as I still have a nagging feeling they in the end make you send more than you typically would, or buy products you would not normally purchase. But for those instances where you were going to buy an item anyway coupons and online codes cannot be beat!

Going forward RetailMeNot.com will become part of my morning routine with Slickdeals.net and Cowboom.com. These three sites alone have paid for themselves time and time again.

 

 

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Moving Expenses- Cost of moving 0.9 Miles

In mid-June my wife and I found out that our landlord had run into financial hardships and needed to move back into the house. We were not evicted nor given a 30 day notice, but rather had until the end of our lease (November 2010) to find a new residence to call home.

Great… right? Well, we were caught between a rock and a hard place. Because we had been prudent financial managers we were not caught without the money to facilitate the move, but rather we were caught between a pre-baby move or a post-baby move. So we took the plunge and decided to move while still pregnant.

Still, being the financial prude that I am I wanted to know what this unexpected move was going to cost us. Below you will find my financial accounting of the expenses associated with the move of 0.9 miles.

The additional rent is due to a week overlap of our two houses to allow for the move. I did not take any time off during the process and instead spent many hours at night doing load after load in our small CRV to get the stuff over. Also, the deposit figure is somewhat understated as the true cost was $800. I took the deposit returned from our previous house (approximately $500 of $700 original deposit due to carpet and stove cleaning) and subtracted it from the $800 for the true cost of the new deposit.

The transfer fees were unexpected and a bit frustrating, but again what can one do. In South Texas you must have air conditioning, water, and cable (as my wife would argue).

The new house we moved into allowed us to drop our ongoing natural gas bill as it is equipped with an electric water heater. I have heard that the electric water heaters are a money sink and will soon figure out where the temperature nozzle is so that I might adjust the temperature to something reasonable (thinking 120 degrees). The house also has a dish washer which was not present at our old house which will require additional energy and cost over time. So the true cost of this move will be shown over the long-term monthly payments which will be reviewed during my Month-End statements (June, May, April).

We incurred a small capital purchase as the new house had no stove. With our old house we had to purchase a washer, dryer and refrigerator unit. So now with the move and the requirement for a Stove we have completed our appliance collection. When we move again in the future our plan is to liquidate these appliances and look to get new units wherever we may be.

I want to take a second and thank everyone who pitched in over our 5 day move. Community is very important and we have been very lucky to have people in our life who can be relied upon in a pinch to help out.

As you can see even the easiest of moves can still ring up a pretty penny when you consider all of the expenses associated. At the end of the day this situation showed us how valuable financial security is. This move had relatively no impact on our finances, did not push us into the red for the month and required no dipping into our savings to cover the cost.

A fun addition to our growing family is an orange tree that is growing in the back yard. For some strange reason I find myself concerned for this trees well-being. Maybe the father instinct is just kicking in as the baby’s arrival is less than a month away. (The oranges are hard to see so I took the liberty of highlighting those green balls of goodness)

Cost to Move 0.9 miles
Housing Additional Rent (1 wk overlap) $264.63
Additional Deposit $297.42
$562.05
Utilities Transfer Cable $  40.00
Transfer Electric $  54.50
Transfer Water (Off, On) $  25.00
$119.50
Clean up Old House Cleaners $  80.00
Lawn $  35.00
$115.00
Movers Brother (gas/time) $150.00
Wife Friend (gas/time) $100.00
Babysitter $  50.00
$300.00
Total Cost: $1,096.55
Posted in Expense Management, Finances, Financial Tools, Home, Personal Finances, Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Financial Web Site Tip of the Month – CowBoom.com

You might be asking yourself what a CowBoom is… and if you do know please leave me a comment because I have no idea. Maybe a play on the word “Kaboom”?

The web site Cowboom is a clearing house for the inventories of Best Buy. I was turned onto this site through a copy of Money in box highlighting sites for great deals. They also referenced slickdeals and redlazer which I have highlighted before.

Being a man of numbers I of course started to track their deals. As the site updates daily with new “Deals of the Day” in which there is often very attractive savings I would record the price on CowBoom and then take the price and compare it to Amazon or Pricegrabber. Below are my results:

As you can see the savings are significant. The only catch is there is no control over the type of products being offered. Also the technologies tend to be about an year or more older (though still functional today). So if you are a person who has to have the fastest and newest technologies this would not be the site for you.

If you decide to check out CowBoom spend some time surfing the site. There is also a section with an E-Bay quality where you can bid on items located at various Best Buy stores that they may be trying to liquidate. So the ability to have even more dramatic savings than the “deal of the day” but the chances are slim as these items move quickly.

To truly take advantage of the web site I would also suggest checking it daily before you head off to work or with your morning coffee. The hotter items that are presented often sale out much quicker than the more mundane items. I personally check CowBoom and Slickdeals every morning before going to work. The key is to not “need” anything. This gives you the power to browse, click, and save when the right deal pops across your screen.

CowBoom PriceGrabber or Amazon Savings Savings %
SONY DPFD70 7in Widescreen LCD Digital Photo Frame $      24.99 $                                  111.97 $    86.98 77.68%
HP (Hewlett-Packard) Mini 1101 Netbook $      89.99 $                                  299.96 $  209.97 70.00%
Grace Digital ITC-IR1000B Wireless Internet Radio $      85.99 $                                  124.95 $    38.96 31.18%
Sony PSP-3000 Core Pack System – Piano Black $      89.99 $                                  169.00 $    79.01 46.75%
Creative Sound Blaster External USB Sound Card for iTunes $      39.99 $                                    98.39 $    58.40 59.36%
Apple MB829LL/A Magic Wireless Laser Mouse $      29.99 $                                    57.99 $    28.00 48.28%
Altec Lansing BackBeat Pro Noise-Isolating Ear Bud Headphones – Metallic Black/Gold $      12.99 $                                    41.75 $    28.76 68.89%
Samsung DualView TL220 12.2MP 4.6x Optical Zoom Digital Camera w/ LCD on Front & Back $      89.99 $                                  184.99 $    95.00 51.35%
Posted in Education, Expense Management, Finances, Personal Finances, Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

June Financial Report – Stash the Cash

June Financial Report – Stash the Cash

The Table

As you can see we had another very good month. Some quick highlights are as follows:

Revenue vs Expenses

  • In our Revenue we showed a nice pick up compared to prior month due to largely a triple pay period by my wife. We had planned at a minimum she would work through the pregnancy until t he end of June to take advantage of that third pay check before she went on leave. (She gets paid every two weeks, so it may “feel” like she got paid 3 times in June she really did work those 3 pay periods at some point)
  • My income was slightly less this month compared to prior due to the correction from May in which 8 hours of my PTO time was not deducted from a previous pay period. So this is a neutral change, but does reflect on our June revenue statements.
  • Expense management continues to be a high point for the month of June as we were able to come in our lowest month yet since we have been tracking our finances as shown in the below graph. This is doubly impressive as we were able to do this while still making a $735.60 payment towards our student loans.

Student Loans

  • We made a small dent in our student loans this month paying down $735.60 towards the loans. The goal is to hit at a minimum $500 towards each month going forward and the minimum balance due is about $390.
  • On a good note we have been approved for the “Diamond Program” in which our interest rate on both loans is reduced by .25% for each loan as long as we continue to make payments on time. While this won’t make or break the bank it is another example of how the world works in your favor financially when you have your moneys in order.
  • You may also notice a large bump in our student loans as the new balances are $8,424.91 and $20,981.68. Now that all of our student loans have fallen out of the g race period it makes no sense to delineate between subsidized and unsubsidized loans as I did before. So the new number is much higher than the $17,000 and $3,000 broken apart, but the change is largely academic.

Cash Flow

  • June was a stable month in that we did no major money movement between accounts. We continue to keep out savings accounts at a minimum as they value is just not there at the moment.
  • We again horded cash which is very important. We learned that our landlord needed to move back into her home and we needed to find a new place to live. We have until November to find a new home but after some discussion we decided that it would be in our best interest to move before the baby is born rather than after. So the extra cash we have built up will make this potentially stressful situation bearable financially, though still a stress producing situation. (I will make a future post on the cost of a rental move to give our readers an idea of what the simplest of moves can cost a family)

Investments

  • From May to June we saw about a $400 improvement in our stock position with PDLI. Again, I am not to concerned as this is a late fall stock play for the special $0.50 dividend that will be presented. I am anticipating a gradual return in value which our break even point is at about $6.45.
  • Over the past month both of our 401k plans made a small gain. What is interesting is a 401k plan my wife had from her previous job finally became fully vested so we noticed a $300 gain overnight in that account.
  • My 401K plan peaked over $4,000 for a moment in June, but the market quickly corrected and pushed it back down. I am continuing to do a 6% contribution and largely ignoring the fluctuations in the market as retirement is a ways off.

Net Worth

We broke into the positive!

O.K. so maybe not 100% into the positive, but our Long Term Net Worth did break that Zero line which is exciting. We calculate our Long Term Net Worth as our liquid net worth (Checking, Savings, Stocks, Money Market Accounts) + long term net worth (401ks) – our liabilities (student loans in our case). So if one of us were to die tomorrow we could pay off our debts! Kinda a morbid sentiment, but still reason to celebrate.

This change in net worth is again due to largely building our cash assets by spending less than we earn. There was also some minor gains in our stocks and 401ks that helped push this over. This may bounce back under that evil zero mark as money is diverted to covering a new rental house (rent and deposits) and the medical bills from the baby’s birth, but was still an exciting blip non the less.

Conclusion

June was the final month in which we were true DINKs (Dual Income No Kids), as my wife quits her job on July 2nd, and we made every effort to capitalize on our changing financial dynamics by proactively reducing our expenses well before the big date giving us a decent cash cushion.

July will be an interesting month for our household as we go through an unplanned move. Since we did have the cash reserves already built up the stress will not come from the financial arena, but rather just the stress of trying to move while 8 months pregnant. The silver lining is it will be an in-town move and both my wife and I have made many friends who will help alleviate the moving stress.

Another goal of ours was to build up enough cash to cover the birth of our son in August (due August 19th). This is unnecessary as with the job I currently have the hospital bill is written off so we will only be liable for the physicians fees. I am figuring these cost to come in somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000. That will be further cushioned by our Flexible Spending Account which we proactively loaded at the beginning of 2010 with $2,000. Now by August the balance will be closer to $1,000, but that $1,000 will go a long way in covering the medical cost. Also it is fun to think that the government will be helping pay 25% of the cost due to the pre-tax nature of the Flexible Spending Account.

So expect from me in the month of July a brief run down of what those cost could be for the most basic of housing moves, rental to rental in the same city, and another financial update in early August.

Be sure to keep track of our progress by reading some of our older Month End statements below. Always fun to read over these again to see if your predictions come true.

May

April

Posted in Education, Expense Management, Finances, Financial Tools, Monthly Report, Personal Finances, Resources, Student Loans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

May Financial Report – Cash is King

Alas, I have found some time to sit down and give an update on our Household’s finances through the month of May (Yes I do know it is four days till the end of June). I have previously made post using graphs to visually illustrate how we have been progressing through our financial lives and thought this month I would put together a one stop shop table to highlight our financial positions changes.

The Table

As you can see we had a very good month. Some quick highlights are as follows:

Revenue vs Expenses

  • In our Revenue we had a slight bump due to an account issue in which my PTO day was removed from my normal hours. So I got paid for 88 hours in one pay period which was corrected in June as I was paid 72 hours the next one.
  • Expense management continues to be a high point for the month of May as we were able to come in our lowest month yet since we have been tracking our finances as shown in the below graph. (Though not the lowest month ever when one considers months in which no student loan payment was made this month was the lowest realized month in expenses to date)

Student Loans

  • Did not pay anything to Student Loans this month as currently working out a $300 discrepancy between their two systems. In Grace Period until June 17, 2010. This in turn had a significant impact in improving our savings and cash position for the month of May.

Cash Flow

  • Made a major movement of cash and savings into the Stock Market. Previously, we had been keeping $1,000 in a Bank of America Savings Account (0.20% Annually) to back up our Checking Account for overdraft. If you have followed us for any time we keep our Checking Account relatively flush with cash so the chances of us tapping into our BoA Savings were nil without us knowing making that cushion of cash not needed. So we decided to move that asset into the stock market and purchased more PDLI in anticipation of the November special dividend of $0.50 per share. Also accounts for the loss of $500.00 in our money market account as that too was used to purchase additional shares.

Investments

  • We now have a significant stock position which is our future down-payment on our first home. As we understand it we are approximately 12 to 18 months away from a potential move and thus have time to do some medium plays in the market.
  • We made a major play diverting funds from non-producing assets and investing into the market. While we are not anticipating any immediate returns, and are even prepared for some short-term losses, we are 90% confident that we will return our equity with a 5% to 10% ROI in the months of October or November.
  • Over the past month both of our 401k plans took a small beating. This is not to worrisome as we are both in our 20s and will surely recoup any losses over the long-term.

Net Worth

The nature of net worth is such that as long as you are deliberate in your money management you can improve it by saving or spending. This month was a saving change that results in a dramatic net worth improvement.

As this graph illustrates, despite the loss in our 401ks, we are still on track to break into a positive net worth within the next 2-3 months. Also, if you take a second to consider that this graph is only one years worth of data it is striking to see how much progress we have been able to make over such a short period of time.

Conclusion

Now May was a great month for our financial household, but one would be foolish to consider the present with no thoughts of the future. We have two major events coming in the near future that will have a huge impact on our finances.

  1. Wife will be quitting her job at the end of June
  2. Baby will be arriving in August

My wife and I have talked though at length what kind of impact her staying home will have and both are in agreement over the long-term it will be the best decision for our family. We both find extreme positive value in having a parent home full-time to raise a child and by taking off from June until delivery will give her time to unwind from her professional worries and finish the nesting process.

We continue to work towards reducing our monthly expenses to bring them into line with our future reduced income and have made great strides, as demonstrated above, in reaching those goals.

We put our student loans on hold with only a few more days left of the grace period before the full weight of the principle starts to accumulate interest. This was a decision we made in order to build up a larger cash position in preparation of the delivery and the unknown expenses it may pose.

Additionally, going forward we will likely be reducing our student loan payments from the supercharged $1,000+ amounts down to a more reasonable $500 per month (minimum due is around $390) rate and see if our budget can handle the additional payments while still making accelerated payments towards the principle.

May Budget Review
Total Revenue: $  6,554.66 Date: 5/31/2010
Total Expenses: $  3,354.70
Net Savings: $  3,199.96 48.82%
List of Assets: Change from PM Revenues:
BoA Checking $  5,212.56 $          (239.44) Job 1 $3,239.69
BoA Savings $     209.44 $          (790.93) Job 2 $2,461.00
BoA Credit Card $     244.68 $             87.25 Merril Lynch $   500.00
ING Savings $      20.97 $               0.06 Misc. Checks $   353.97
Stocks $15,755.58 $        4,552.08 $6,554.66
Money Market $        1.60 $          (519.35)
$21,444.83 Expenses:
Fixed Expenses $1,572.62 46.88%
List of Long Term Assets: Stores $   563.03 16.78%
401K (Job 1) $  3,727.76 $            (37.18) Auto $     45.78 1.36%
401k (Job 2) $  1,726.46 $          (114.67) Entertainment $     84.41 2.52%
$  5,454.22 Restaurants $   352.66 10.51%
Gas Stations $   156.13 4.65%
List of Liabilities: Online $          - 0.00%
Subsidized $  8,500.00 $                  - Cash $          - 0.00%
Subsidized $17,000.00 $                  - Tithe $   423.34 12.62%
Unsub @ 6.8% $  4,378.95 $       (1,718.22) Student Loans $          - 0.00%
$29,878.95 Other $   156.73 4.67%
$3,354.70 100%
Posted in Expense Management, Finances, Monthly Report | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

BRB – Life Happens

To my readers,

A lot has been happening in the last few weeks resulting in no post for some time. Do not worry for I have not lost interest. I am working on doing a review of our May finances and bring you up-to-date on the current financial happenings over the next few days.

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Free Market Strikes Again – UPC Codes

The UPC code has been an ever present placeholder on the products I purchase. Until recently this has been nothing more than a small square with some black lines that stood for some sort of coding. As technology has increased what was once a tool used only by the stores and manufactures to track inventory and items has now become a powerful purchasing tool for the consumer.

Recently, I wrote an article highlight resources for those interested in learning or practicing better financial principles. One of these resources I discussed was Redlazer. This iphone application uses the picture taking capabilities and marries it with the access to the internet to allow any individual to take a snapshot of a bar code, have it decoded, and then compared to other internet vendors prices. This allows the consumer to price shop within the city they live in, but can now price shop across the entire world finding the best bang for their buck.

I have found this works extremely well on items that traditionally get a large mark up to help off set the overhead of running a brick and mortar set up. Items include books, dvds, cds, bluray disc, and primarily electronics in general. You would be very pleasantly surprised how much more you may be paying for the exact same item buying it in the store vs purchasing it online.

Now industry is not dumb, and foremost they do not like losing money. Over the past two months since I have downloaded and used RedLazer on my wife’s iphone I have noticed a change in two major ways.

This last weekend we were in a Container Store looking for items to help us get organized before the baby arrives. As I walked around the store with the iphone in hand I kept running into an issue. I would find an item, attempt to scan the upc, and then get frustrated with the numbers did not correctly sync up with what the app was asking for (typically 7 or 12 numbers long). If you do not have the correct barcode the app will not function.

  1. Upon closer inspection I noticed what the issue was. It appears that businesses have noticed an increase in price shoppers, like myself, and have devised a strategy to thwart our efforts. What I found is that the Container Store had ever so carefully applied a new internal barcode that works off of a different numerical system than what the traditional barcode numbers are set at. They then placed this new internal barcode over the preprinted barcode present on the package upon delivery.  Once I figured out the ruse I carefully peeled back the sticker and EUREKA the correct barcode could be found, submitted, and tested for prices.
  2. Businesses have gone to purchasing “business specific items” with unique barcodes. While at the Container Store I saw a wire rack that could be quickly assembled and dissembled for basic storage. As I scanned the price I got three hits. The current store I was standing in ($29.99), ContainerStore.com ($29.99) and pricegrabber.com vending on behalf of ContainerStore.com ($29.99). What businesses have done is effectively taken out the potential for price competition by competitors by obtaining “unique” items in their own prepacked and labeled boxes. This destroys the consumers ability to compare prices, at least via a barcode comparison product.

So if you have been relying on products like RedLazer or other mobile price comparison products be wary of the every evolving market. On one hand the app has become less effective at what it was designed to do, but who can blame the market on responding, in what I would consider some ingenious ways, to curb their loses in brick and mortar establishments.

What other ways have you seen businesses adapting to respond to this much more connected world we live in today? Do you believe that brick and mortar businesses will be an item of the past?

Posted in Expense Management, Financial Tools, Resources | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments