My Top Five Guilty Pleasures

Wikipedia defines a guilty pleasure as, “something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The guilt involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one’s lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes. Fashion, video games, music,movies and junk food can be examples of guilty pleasures.” I define it as something I like and get enjoyment out of, but would probably be judged for it and therefore, I don’t go around broadcasting it to the world…

or do I?

 

5. Rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher at work

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I’m not going to lie, we have a pretty crappy dishwasher at work. The “spokes” of the rack are spaced much too closely together and we have rather large/thick dishes in our kitchen. People are forced to shove their dishes into place and  the spokes become bent creating even more inefficiency. Regardless of the technical flaws with the machine, people just  pile their dishes into the dish washer, not really taking into consideration proper dish placement, an art form that I have definitely mastered. As a result, I spend approximately 5-10 minutes, probably every day, rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher. Honestly, it is really embarrassing when someone catches me doing this – I try my best to conceal. But the thrill of seeing all the dishes lined up properly, as well as the creation of more usable space, it really quite exhilarating. I know, working with me is pretty much a nightmare dream come true.

4. Refolding, sorting and color coding my clothing

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Every five or six weeks I tackle the project of reorganizing my closet. Most of the time when I begin this project my closet is pretty neat and organized. Or at least that is what most people would think, but not me.  I begin by piling everything onto my bed and begin folding, sorting, and organizing before putting it all back in place. The entire process can take a few hours. In the end, my goal is to have my closet look like the shelves and racks of a high-end designer boutique. I want all of my sweaters to be folder perfectly with a piece of tissue paper inside. I need matching coat hangers – at least within each “section” of my closets (i.e. dresses, skirts, blouses, tank tops, etc). And ideally things should be color coded. Basically, I want my closet to mimic that of Ms. Martha Stewart herself. When Matt and I moved in together this goal became much more challenging as I lost roughly half of the hanging space and now have to deal with his disorganized system, which includes metal hangers and shirts in plastic bags from the dry cleaners. I’ve yet to include his clothing in this re-org project, but I am not too sure how much longer I can hold off. Although Matt would probably be furious with me, the idea of having our entire closet organized is just too tempting.

3. Buying things on sale and bragging about it

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I love a good sale. The thrill of getting something at a discounted price is definitely a high for me. Even though there is typically a huge retail mark up, I think that because I am not paying full price, somehow I have “won”. After nearly every shopping trip where I have saved something, be in 5% off or 75% off, I need to brag about my accomplishments. Typically I call either my mom or my sister – they are the most likely to be impressed and make me feel good about my purchases. Sometimes, if I have purchased a really practical item, I will call my dad. I NEVER call Matt because he always makes me feel guilty about spending money – no matter how much I have saved (major buzz kill –  I guess it is something about perceived savings…) Just last week I called my mom to tell her about the great articles of clothing I got at the Gap, all at ridiculously discounted prices. She was appropriately impressed and even thought about making a trip to her local Gap store as well. Unfortunately in my haste to score a deal, I didn’t try on anything and ended up returning half of the things I purchased this afternoon. Sad. But hey, returning clothes is essentially like making money, right?

2.TLC

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Toddlers and Tiaras. Extreme Couponing. John and Kate Plus Eight. 19 Kids and Counting. Say Yes to the Dress. Sister Wives. Hoarding: Buried Alive. Sarah Palin’s Alaskan Adventure (I know, I just threw up in my mouth a little). You name it – I’ve probably seen it.

I’ve got nothing here – I just like trashy, low quality tv. John Hamm – please don’t hate me. I still love Don Draper.

1. Tween Music

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It began when I was a tween – New Kids on the Block, Spice Girls Britney Spears, ‘N Sync, Back Street Boys and 98°. It then progressed to Hanson, Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson. Lindsay Lohan, Jesse McCartney and Hilary Duff rounded things out as I ended the teenage chapter of my life and entered my 20s. Unfortunately, my love of the tween pop sensation stayed with me. Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, the Cast of High School Musical, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber  all  make regular appearances on my iPod.

And now, there’s Carly Rae.

Please don’t judge me.

Wedding Etiquette

Since Matt and I got engaged, I have become obsessed with weddings. Not only the process of planning my own wedding, but reading about other weddings, wedding vendors and looking at countless photographs. The main “feeders” of my addiction are wedding blogs: Once Wed, Snippet and Ink, and 100 Layer Cake. These are far and away the best wedding blogs out there. I also purchases a lot of bridal magazines when we first started the planning process, but now I limit my reading to the Martha Stewart Wedding magazine that arrives in my mail box every month.

While my father certainly sees this as an addiction, I see it more an informal research. Who knows when this will come in handy again. Knowing when it is appropriate to mail out save the dates (roughly six – seven months before the wedding), how many people to invite to your shower (only people who are invited to the wedding should be considered) and what are the Best Man’s responsibilities (throw the bachelor party, carry the rings – unless there is a ring bearer, and make sure the Groom actually shows up on time)! These are all crucial things that everyone should probably know.

In addition, I have learned that as a wedding guest you never wear white, always show up on time, don’t take pictures during the ceremony, RSVP promptly and send gifts either before or after the wedding – don’t bring it to the wedding. And while my list of “wedding guest skills” doesn’t include amazing dance moves, it does include, “amazing gift giver.”

As I wrote about earlier (see previous post) I have a talent for finding deals, especially when it comes to wedding presents. I am happy, yet slightly embarrassed to say, that I put these skills to use yesterday.

Conversation with Jamie (one of my bridesmaids):

Me: I am the best wedding guest ever.
Jamie: Why?
Me: Because I find deals and buy sick wedding presents.
Jamie: That does make you a good wedding guest. I can’t wait to invite you to my wedding.
Me: Yes, agreed. I am happy I invited myself to my own wedding. And I just bought myself two of my place settings as a gift.
Jamie: Umm, what?
Me: They were on sale at Macy’s… buy one place setting, get another free! That is just too good to pass up.
Jamie: That is a good deal, but I think the whole point of a wedding registry is to have OTHER people buy you presents.
Me: It is? Interesting…

Thank you Macy’s for randomly deciding the carry a limited amount of my china, at an incredible discount.

    

And for those of you who hate shopping and never know what to get off the registry, my services are available on a consultation basis.

Cyber Monday

After the turkey has been carved, the parade has passed Macy’s on 34th street and the relatives return home we come back to work on Monday, a little rounder around the belly. While we have enjoyed time away from the office, many people will return to work exhausted from the holiday festivities. And this is only the beginning. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we can focus on the remainder of the holiday season. For many of us, this means stringing lights, hanging ornaments and breaking out the Christmas music. It is the most wonderful time of the year and sometimes the most tiring. However, I for one, think it is entirely worth it.

After Thanksgiving, my mom sister and I participated in the craziness that is Black Friday. While my mom and Abby stocked up on Christmas presents for nearly everyone on their list, I concentrated on myself (talk about holiday spirit). As they walked around the store finding things for cousins, aunts, grandparents and friends, I walked around the stores picking up things for myself. This year, I am having a hard time coming up with good ideas for presents, and since I know what I want, it was simply easier to shop for myself. And clearly, I was trying to make the most out of the great sales! Unfortunately, when we returned and looked at our purchases, I realized that I was no closer to being complete with holiday shopping.

So now I am sitting at work, scanning the websites of stores. Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The term made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a Shop.org press release entitled “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”. In 2009, it was reported that consumers spent $887M online on Cyber Monday (excluding travel), the second highest spending day of 2009. Data has shown that Cyber Monday online sales have always been driven by considerable buying activity from work locations. That pattern hasn’t changed. After returning from the long Thanksgiving weekend with a lot of holiday shopping still ahead of them, many consumers tend to continue their holiday shopping from work. Whether to take advantage of the extensive Cyber Monday deals offered by retailers or to buy gifts away from the prying eyes of family members, this day has become an annual ritual for America’s online holiday shoppers.

So for anyone else who is sitting at work scanning the sales, here are some of the top deals going on right this very instant. So make yourself some hot chocolate, set your Pandora to Christmas music and let the festivities begin! (Please note that the first three sites are all part of my registry – what a strange coincidence!)

Crate And Barrel 

The Deal: Stemware, barware, dinnerware

Houseware giant Crate & Barrel is offering 25% off on all kinds of items, across the store, from martini glasses to starter dining sets.

Macy’s

The Deal: The better question is, what isn’t on sale?

The magic of Macy’s includes clothing, jewelry, home goods and kitchen tools. Just enter the code “CYBER” into the coupon code before checking out.

REI

The Deal: Up to 30% off winter gear, clothing and camping supplies!

Great gifts for all of those outdoorsy relatives. Check out the steep discounts on Padagonia jackets and Smart Wool socks. Just in time for winter!

Kohls

The Deal: Pillows, mattresses, watches, outerwear

Retail giant Kohl’s slashes prices on its site 35% to 60%, on everything from watches and jewelry to outerwear and home goods.

Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft

The Deal: 40% off EVERY THING plus free shipping

For the fashionista on your list. Use code “ENJOY” at checkout.

Victorias Secret

The Deal: Dresses, jackets, shoes

Victoria Secret is offering up to 70% off select bras, underwear and sleepwear. Shoppers who buy sleepwear will receive a free pair of slippers if they use the code VS10SLEEP at checkout–and anyone can receive free shipping on their order if they enter the code SHIPVS1. Get your holiday jammies before it is too late!

Check out these sites for other great deals:

Handmade gifts

Photo gifts

Sports gifts

Unique gifts

One Day Sale

I am sure that all of you have seen a Macy’s commercial that is similar to this one. They advertise the “One Day Sale” and make shoppers believe that is it THE ONE DAY where items in the store are on sale. If you miss it, the deals will be gone and you will  have to wait until there is another one day sale. The thing that they don’t tell you is that EVERY day at Macy’s is a sale day.

This year has been the year of weddings for me and Matt. We have traveled to South Bend (twice), Boston (twice), Vermont, Chicago and Ohio. The weddings have all been extremely inspiring to us, as we start to plan our own wedding. We are so lucky to have so many great friends to show us the ropes and support us as we enter into the next phase of our relationship and life.

Along with inspiration comes the wedding gifts. I LOVE going registry gift shopping. It is always interesting to see what people chose for plates, knives, bakeware, sheets, towels and coffee makers. Nearly everyone registers at Macy’s, and quite frankly, how can you blame them. You can register for EVERYTHING at Macy’s and with their 365 different One Day Sales, your guests can get some fabulous deals. And your purchases help to support to world’s best parade. It is a win-win.

A few months ago, I went online to buy a present for one of the weddings. I saw that their china was buy 2 pieces, get a third free. So I decided to order 3 pieces for them. Unfortunately, when I added these items to my online shopping basket, the deal was not applied. I promptly called customer service and asked to speak to someone who could solve my problem. While she was working on it, I found a coupon code online that earned me an additional 15% off AND free shipping. Then when my customer service rep came back, she told me that she fixed the problem and that I would get a free bowl for everyone ONE I ordered. Well, that wasn’t a deal I was going to question. In all, I ended up ordering nearly 600 dollars of china and paid only 150 dollars. SICK!

Today I went back to Macy’s to buy another wedding present. With very little effort, I found a toaster and a waffle iron that we both on sale (20% off), did a google search for a free shipping coupon and happily made my purchase. I ended up saving over 120 dollars.

Honestly, I think I should quit my job and become a personal wedding present shopping. Obviously, I have a gift :)

Perceived Savings

When I was a freshman in college, I had no idea what I was doing…pretty  much when it came to everything related to college. I thought wearing sweatpants and my swimming parka to class was appropriate. I was fine with the idea that the girls on the swim team would be my only friends.  For some reason, watching Primal Scream seemed like a good idea. And I thought that “Ec 10” sounded like a fun class. I mean, all of my friends were taking it, so I figured I should too.

I had taken economics in high school. The main reason I signed up for this class was because Mr. Leonard, the football coach, taught the class. And while Mr. Leonard can’t really compare with, Mr. Schuester (my new favorite teacher, on Glee) he was a favorite among the ladies (in a non-creepy way!) Unfortunately, his teaching abilities or depth of the class didn’t go much more than how to create a supply and demand graph. For those of you who are familiar with my neat handwriting and anal charting skills, clearly you know I did well in this class. So when it came time to enroll in college classes, I figured I would dominate EC 10. Unfortunately, Economics is about a bit more than graphs.

In this class, I learned that just because a professor is world-renowned in an area, it doesn’t make him a good teacher. Thank you Martin Feldstein for teaching me this invaluable lesson! I also learned that I love Indian accents. My TF (also known as a TA) was from India and I spent most of my time in section trying to hide my laughter as opposed to paying attention. Many of our examples were about the supply and demand of “pizza,” which to this day brings a smile to my face just thinking about the pronunciation.

Other than that I didn’t retain a lot of information from this class. The one term that has stuck with me is Perceived Savings. I remember learning about this, and I believe we used baseball tickets as the example. If I remember correctly, we discuss the following idea:

If you are offered baseball tickets at 50% off, you think “Wow! This is great, I just saved 50% of the cost of the tickets.” However, if you hadn’t been offered that deal, there is a strong possibility that you wouldn’t have purchased the tickets to begin with. So while you think you are saving 50% of the cost, you are actually spending more money (the cost of the tickets) then you would have if you didn’t buy them at all. So while it may seem like a deal, your savings are simply perceived, not realized.

From the moment this theory was introduced, I didn’t like it. Of course you are saving money! You are gaining the value of the tickets (say 100 dollars) and it is only costing you 50 dollars. That is a deal! Who cares that you are out 50 dollars… you now have the experience of attending a baseball game (Go Red Sox!) AND the knowledge that most everyone sitting around you at the game paid twice as much as you did for that same experience. If that isn’t a win-win situation, I don’t know what is.

I experienced actual savings this weekend. Matt and I made a trip to Banana Republic for some new jeans. I left the store with the following:

– Jeans: originally 79.95 – I paid 35.50 (Savings of 44.45)
– Cardigan: originally 69.50, I paid 29.25 (Savings of 40.25)
– Tights: originally 25.00, I paid 18.75 (Savings of 6.25)
– Tee Shirt: originally 20.00, I paid 3.95 (Savings of 16.05)
– Skirt: originally 59.50, I paid 17.95 (Savings of 41.55)
– Black pants: originally 59.50, I paid 30.55 (Savings of 28.95)

So, what should have cost me 313.45 dollars, actually cost me just under 150 dollars (stupid New York taxes). Or in other words, I saved 163 dollars, or 52%. What a deal! And while some (aka Matt) might think that I spent 150 dollars that I didn’t really need to spend. I can assure you, the enjoyment that I will get out of my cute new clothes and the value that I place on getting “good deals” far exceeds the 150 dollar charge that is now residing on my credit card account!

If there is one good thing about the recession, it is the amazing sales that you find on a daily basis. My wardrobe has certainly benefited from these troublesome economic times.