Monday, November 21, 2022

Brand Names




This post is a follow up on my last post of  want vs. need. In that post I talked of keeping up with trends in house decor. This post will focus on brand names in other product areas. 

Nike, Polo, Guess, Rolex, BMW and many others are known brands throughout the world. Brand names are popular in everything you can possibly buy including cars, clothes, jewelry, perfume and food. Some brand names are known for their quality such as Rolls Royce for cars and Levi Strauss for jeans. Some brand names are know for their status symbols in society such as Rolex, Cartier, Gucci, Porsche, Montblanc, etc. 

Brand names cost you more just for the name itself. When you go to the grocery store you have the option of many popular brands such as Green Giant, Libby's, Kellogg's, Coca Cola just to name a few. All the name brands typically cost more than generic labeled foods that are similar. Brand name drugs are vastly more expensive than their generic version. 

When I was young I remember wanting to get Converse shoes to play basketball in. I, and most everyone on the team sported our Converse proudly while playing our games. Back in the 80's, Converse was the brand everyone had to have in basketball shoes. It was later replaced by Nike and numerous other brands. Today, there seems to be more choices than ever in athletic shoes and about everything else. In high school I always wanted a Pioneer car stereo and speakers. The shoes and the car stereo were about the only brand names that I really, really wanted at the time. As I got a little older I bought a few Polo shirts with the little Polo player on the chest. 

Besides the few brand names above, I haven't really gotten caught up on having to wear the popular brands or driving the popular brands. My wife and I do have our favorite brands with some food items. There are certain brands that do taste different than others. We will always buy French's yellow mustard over the generic. We will always buy Miracle Whip over other mayo products. We will always buy Oscar Mayer hot dog wieners but will put them on store brand buns. 

On a recent shopping trip to the grocery store I noticed that the shelves of store brand can goods were noticeably of less volume than the name brand. I believe people are being more price conscious in the current economy and are choosing the can goods that are 20 cents cheaper. The stacks of Libby's and Green Giant can vegetables were very full with only a few cans missing while the store brand stacks were about half gone with empty boxes left in the area. We buy store brand in many products including can goods, some cereal, pasta and other items.

In retirement, as we become more cost conscious, we may look at brand names differently than we used to. As we get older, wearing the current trends may not be as important as it used to be. There are probably times where you still want the latest and greatest. I imagine that a retired golfer still wants to wear the most popular brands and wants to swing the newest and best golf clubs. If you are comfortable with your finances in retirement, you may decide to finally get that BMW or Audi that you always wanted. 

I see a lot of older people that just don't care about brand names or about how they look at all. I see older people at Walmart in T-shirts that are 40 years old and sweat pants that they obviously also use for yardwork and painting. Just this week I saw a gentlemen sporting a Reagan/Bush '84 shirt. These people are definitely not worried about brand names of today! 

Are you more cost conscious when it comes to brand names than you were in your younger years? Are there certain brands, such as our French's mustard, that you must have over generic? Have you become more cost conscious with the recent uptick in inflation? And lastly, do you own a Reagan/Bush '84 shirt or something similar that is you go to favorite?

Monday, November 7, 2022

Want vs. Need



Our needs on the planet are pretty basic. We need water, food, clothing and shelter for basic living. If we have a roof over our heads and are kept warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer, we are doing good. If we have running water, electricity, natural gas and have food in the pantry, we are doing good. Another basic need item may be transportation to get to work, school and to shop for basic needs. After that, our needs become more like wants. In the U.S., I feel that most of us have the basic needs met and most of what we desire fall into the want category. 

In retirement once basic needs are taken care of, we can work on things we want. If you have sufficient funds you can now get the things you want for your hobbies and your well deserved free time. You can upgrade your car to something that will be dependable and last you many years. You can buy things you have wanted for years but never got around to getting. Recently, I purchased a lever action Henry rifle. This was definitely not a need and was just something that I thought was cool and wanted for the sake of owning it. My wife and I often go into our local Walmart to purchase things we need such as milk, eggs, coffee, etc. But, we always come out with twice as much stuff as what was on our list because we find so much that we want once we get to shopping! 

I am fortunate that I have a good retirement pension and our needs are easily met. I need to cut down some of my spending on items that I want at the moment. I know there are many people in retirement that do struggle to meet needs. Those living on a low fixed retirement income or those that have lost the higher earning spouse due to divorce or death are certainly watching the pennies on a regular basis. In retirement, we all need to have a good balance of satisfying the wants and not get so carried away with spending that we jeopardize our future retirement years. On the other hand, if you have the funds, now is the time to enjoy spending your hard earned funds to a certain extent.

I've always heard that those who lived through the depression years were frugal for the rest of their lives based on that experience. Even as a young child my family did not have the funds to purchase a lot of extra things. Our basic needs were met and we didn't live poorly, but we did not get everything we wanted. Christmas and birthdays were special times where some of the things I wanted were gifted to me and dearly appreciated. In this day and age most of us jump on Amazon or some other website and purchase about anything we need or want and have it delivered the next day. What a spoiled society we have become. 

My son was recently looking to buy his first house here in the OKC metro area. He started looking months ago when houses were selling within hours and they were selling for above list price. My wife and I went with him to several showings and open houses to give him company during this time. We went with him to one showing of a house built in 1966. The outside was nice and clean and well taken care of. The windows had wrought iron deco along the side of the front windows for a shutter effect. As we entered the house, we entered a time capsule. This house was just as it was when first built in 1966. As we entered the bathroom, we noticed the tile was original as well as the tub and showers. The second bath also had the original "vintage" tile. The light fixtures through most of the house were original. The woodwork and built in wood shelving were all original to the house. In the kitchen, the stove and oven also looked to be the original appliances. The only thing that I saw that was an update was a whole house generator on the back patio. 

The owners of this home had lived in that house since 1966 and must have asked themselves the question of "Do we need it or do we want it?" and only did something to the house if it was a need. They did not rip out the tile every time a new trend came along. They did not get new kitchen appliances because Better Homes & Gardens said stainless was in style this year. That 1966 stove heated up the meals as well as the new stainless stove would. The bathroom tilework did it's job since 1966 without any need to change the color for the sake of changing the color. I can only imagine what the owners could have spent the remodel money they would have spent over the last 56 years. Maybe they took a few trips that they wouldn't have been able to afford if they had remodeled every 10 years. Maybe they helped send their grandkids to college. The home was a very comfortable feeling place as we walked through. I'm sure many family gatherings were held there and many good memories were made. And, since they didn't remodel and tear out the original tile, fixtures, etc., the house is back in fashion as the mid century modern deco becomes popular again.

I need to remind myself to reuse, repurpose and recycle instead of throw away and replace as I often do. Have you ever been into a house like the one above and been amazed that major changes were never done to keep up with trends? The same want vs. need can come into play with about any product. Cars are another item that are often replaced for a newer version when the old can be used for many more years with no problems. Every once in awhile I see an older person driving a car from the 60's or 70's that still looks original and in great shape. I'm not talking about a restoration or collector car, but just an average car that had been used to get around town for decades. When I think of someone driving an older car because it still works, I think of Sam Walton who drove an old 1979 Ford truck even when he was a billionaire.  

Do you remodel to stay up with current trends? Or, have you resisted remodels and live in a house from the 60's and 70's that is still decorated like the Brady Bunch house? Do you drive an older car or know of someone who still drives an older car every day? What is your take on wants vs. needs in your retirement years? Have you made a purchase of a major want now that you are retired?

Thursday, November 3, 2022

The Rock

 


When my wife and I first moved from North Texas to Oklahoma City, in 1992,  we purchased our first new home in a nice little neighborhood. Two houses down from us was a couple who had twin boys the next year and we became good friends with the family. Later with the birth of our daughter and then our son, we traded off babysitting for date nights and did a lot of things together. That friendship has lasted through today and is one of our most cherished relationships. Sometime in those first few years, our friends held a garage sale. They had a lot of items of their own and some items contributed by their parents. I decided to go take a look at the treasures for sale and noticed several round rocks for sale. Yes, rocks! I gave them a hard time about selling rocks and told them I would start gathering rocks for my next garage sale. 

A day or so after the sale, one of the rocks was gifted to me. They thought it would be funny to give me a rock that I wanted so bad at their sale. We kept the rock for awhile and then regifted it back to them in some form or fashion. The rock has passed back and forth now for over 25 years! It shows up when you least expect it. Sometimes it shows up as a wrapped gift. Sometimes it just shows up on the front porch with a new decoration or two. We just sent the rock back to our friends with it wrapped like a pumpkin with candy inside the wrapping. That poor rock has Easter stickers and smiley face stickers attached as well as tape with the family name and year it was regifted. 




This little back and forth has been fun over the years and I hope will continue for another 25 years. It is a dumb little thing we do, but does bring a smile to our faces when we open the door to the rock. I have heard stories of similar traditions over the years. I have heard of family members passing some awful Christmas gift around every year. Some awful vase or necktie gets regifted every Christmas to another family member to enjoy for a year. 

The rock, to me, does not only represent a little silliness. It also represents a great friendship. A friendship in which one couple will take the time to pass the rock back again someday. As long as the rock gets passed back and forth, we know we will continue to have contact with one another. The rock is also a tradition that our kids have loved to be a part of. It is something simple, but something fun that has lasted for 25+ years. The rock is a very small part of the relationship we have with this family. We have all enjoyed good times and shared heartache in bad times. We have supported one another through births, deaths, job changes and much more. I look forward to what the future holds for us all and to share in their lives as long as possible.

Does your family have any similar tradition? Or, have you heard of other friends or family doing something like our trading of the rock? If you have ever thought about starting such a tradition, now is a good time to start!

As the rock sits in it's other home, I already miss the little guy. Hopefully he will return back here again someday!

Monday, October 31, 2022

Halloween and Candy

 


Halloween is here! Happy Halloween everyone! Last night our family had a small Halloween party and decorated sugar cookies and then posted them on Facebook to be voted on. Our son-in-law won the contest with a nicely decorated ghost with a blue tie. We also had a chili dinner with a family chili cook off competition. My wife won with her Turkey Chili. We all had a great time and made a huge mess with our cookie decorating!

Now, it is Halloween and we have our candy bowl ready to go. We never know how many trick or treaters we will get. Some years we have a lot, some not so much. After our kids had grown up and were out of high school we did a few Halloween nights of turning the lights off and spending that evening at the movie theater. 

Some people go all out for Halloween and fill their yard with decorations and blow up figures. We have a few pumpkins in the yard for a Fall display and a few pumpkins on the porch. We have a few small Halloween decorations inside the house. Do you go all out for Halloween? Or, do you have few decorations or none at all? Do you host a big Halloween party? I think I have only been to two Halloween costume parties. I was a robot at one and Fred Flintstone at the other. 

How about candy for the treaters? This year we have a large bowl of mini chocolates and a bowl of miscellaneous suckers, Smarties, etc. Of course, with the chocolate my favorites will be the last to be given out just in case there are leftovers that I'll need to dispose of in the coming days! I've always heard that there is a house or two that give full size candy bars. I never found that house as a kid! I always found the houses with the old lady who would give you one piece of candy at a time. The worst was getting that cheap peanut butter candy like the picture below!





Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Fingerprints On The Glass

 



My wife and I keep our three granddaughters through the week. The oldest is three and a half and I'll call her V in this post. Her twin sisters are about ten months old. I probably don't have to say this, but......they keep us busy! I have a study that has a large desk with a glass top and two sets of Ikea bookshelves with glass doors. The study also has a fifteen pane glass door from the front entrance into the study. Our coffee table in our living room has four large glass panes as the top of the table. 

Our oldest granddaughter, V,  likes to sit in a chair at the coffee table to eat her breakfast and her afternoon snack using the glass pane table top as her dining table. By the time she leaves for the day, the glass is covered in crumbs and sticky substances and smudges. Clear evidence that a toddler sat there enjoying her snacks!

I remember when my kids were young and we had fingerprints and smudges on every glass surface they could get their little hands on. My daughter's favorite thing to do was to rub her fingers all over the window glass in the car where she sat high in her car seat. That window always looked a mess. She would draw pictures in any fog condensation on the window or would wet her fingers in her mouth and draw on the window. I don't know how many times I cleaned her car window over a few years time!

Her daughter, V,  is now doing the same thing in our car whenever she gets the chance. Not as bad as her mom, but she still has the same talent. When I'm at my desk checking email, blogging, etc. on my laptop, V likes to come over and ask me to hold her. I grab her up and set her on one knee to spend some time with her. Her latest thing to do at my desk is to draw robots and robot dogs on a pad of paper that I jot my to do list on. While sitting there, she will also have a few TicTacs from a side drawer in the desk. By the time she leaves she has done a number on the glass top. After she leaves for the day, I will glance into the study and see the fingerprints and smudges all over the edge of the glass top on the desk and then I head to the kitchen to get the glass cleaner. 

It dawned on me today that those daily fingerprints and smudges will only be around for a short time as V and her sisters get older. I envision that sometime in the future V will no longer want to sit on Pawpaw's knee or hang out with me like she does today. I know that I need to savor every moment I have with these three angels and enjoy the fingerprints and smudges. Those things are evidence that she was here and that she left her mark. V has left her mark on the bottom edges of the TV as she began to stand up and walk in her earlier years. She has left her mark on the bottom portion of windows as she was learning to pull up and stand up so she could look out the window or pat her little hand on it.

V's twin sisters are now beginning to leave their little prints and smudges as they crawl and pull up to those same windows and sit with me at my desk. I enjoy these times and know they will pass quickly. I figure that my wife and I have a short window of a few years with them in which we are a large part of their world.

These little angels are also leaving their fingerprints on my heart in the form of sweet memories and I hope that my wife, Nana, and I are leaving fingerprints on them that will help form and shape them into awesome people. 

So, I will continue to clean the glass daily or weekly with a smile on my face, knowing that three little angels have passed through this space! The twins just woke up from their nap and they have taken their turns helping me finish this post. Both have left new tiny fingerprints on the edge of my desk top. 

Do you have grandchildren or great grandchildren that leave their mark in your home and on your heart? What are the prime years that grandchildren think their grandparents are awesome? Do you feel that your time spent with them has helped guide and shape their lives?


Thursday, October 20, 2022

Cruising Ducks

 




On our last cruise I found a duck with a tag attached to it. My granddaughter had found one on a cruise about a year earlier. That was the first time I knew of such a thing as a "cruising duck". The tag says "Oh what luck, you found a duck! Keep or hide, you decide". The tag also asks you to post a picture to Cruising Ducks Original Facebook page and has the name of the person or family that hid it. I posted a photo of me and my duck from our last cruise and then joined the Facebook group. I never knew that cruising ducks were such a big deal. I was very excited to find this duck and looked for another the rest of the cruise. The Facebook group has postings of the duck collections that people are taking on their next cruise. Some take 20, some take 100 or more. It's crazy! 

Some recent posts show people that have bought 3D printers to print ducks. Some are bedazzling their ducks with small jewels. Some are knitting ducks or making duck jewelry. The cruising duck scene has a life of it's own. The posts that show people who have found ducks are heartwarming. You can see the joy on their face as they display the duck they have found. Some have found one duck after searching for them for many cruises. Some have found numerous ducks on one cruise. It is all great fun!

We have a cruise coming up in a few weeks. I decided we would hide a few ducks to get in on the fun. This will be our first cruise to hide ducks and I'm excited to make someone's day. I've already gotten carried away with buying a wide variety of ducks. I have stopped buying and will take about 45 on our trip. Some are small and came 4 to a package. Some are a little bigger and are different colors. The last 5 I bought were blue and had snowflakes on them. I figured these were perfect for a November cruise.

If I'm successful at hiding them and find a few myself, I can see this turning into a fun thing to do on all future cruises. Has anyone out there found a duck on a cruise? I don't think the trend is very old and just got started the last couple of years. It is a fun thing for all cruisers regardless of age. Have you heard about this "cruising duck" craze? 

Have you heard of or experienced any other similar trend in your travels? I recently saw a news show about Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island where a local glass blower hides glass orbs every year along a walking path. The story showed proud owners of the orbs and talked of people who have hunted for the orbs for years without finding them. Have you heard of any other "treasure" hunts like this that are ongoing? All of this sounds fun and I would love to find one of the glass orbs some day. For local retirees, this would be an awesome walking activity while looking for orbs!





Friday, October 14, 2022

Say A Nice Thing!



Another short post to as a follow up on the last post. Last post I challenged you and me to do something nice and report back in the comment section. This time I challenge you and me to say something nice to someone. Make an effort to go out of you way to look for something to compliment someone about. Compliment someone on their appearance, their lawn, their attitude, etc. and then report back in the comment section.