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!