Friday, March 23, 2012

Rule of Thumb

 As a rule of thumb, it is pretty safe to assume that any bargain offered to the poor is a bad bargain.  As a corollary, any bargain that is hyped or advertised heavily is usually also a bad bargain.

As I noted in a comment in response to an earlier posting, my trepidation about the Dollar Store is this:
1. They present bargains to the poor.

2. The poor are usually presented with the worst sort of bargains.

3. Ergo, anything at the Dollar Store is likely to be a bad bargain, as it is something offered to the poor - who get the shittiest bargains around.
This is not to say there no good bargains there, only that, in general, there are likely to be some real stinkers - and my experience so far has proven this right.  You can sell the poor anything - so they do.

Rules of thumb always have exceptions, of course.  But in general, they can be useful in helping you parse data and make decisions without having to yank out a calculator every 45 seconds.

And as a rule of thumb, buying anything that is targeted toward the poor is probably a bad bet.  Why?  Because the poor get the worst sort of deals imaginable, in terms of bargains, interest rates, and the like.

So you know off the bat, that Payday loans, rent-to-own furniture, pawn shops, title pawn loans, rent-to-own bling rims, check cashing stores, and the like are all bad bargains, without even having to resort to doing the math (which I have here, in the past, and shown them to be bad bargains).   They are hyped and advertised heavily, and are located in lower-class, lower-income neighborhoods.

So, if you want to stay out of trouble, stay out of the places the poor go for bargains, because, chances are, they will not be good bargains.  And the one or two possible good bargains that might be there (but likely aren't) are not worth the hassle or risk.

A similar Rule-Of-Thumb can be applied to anything advertised on the radio, particularly those loud blaring and deceptive ads.  You know, the diet plan that purports to be an "interview" with a local doctor.  Or the car ad that rips through a paragraph of "fine print" at the end of the ad.   Almost anything heavily advertised is a bad bet, simply because the cost of advertising is padding the price.

But, alas, many of us are raging true believers.  "Say, maybe they are having closeout deals on new Hyundais this labor-day weekend!  And free hotdogs for the kiddies!"   But you go there, and 10 hours later, tired and worn out (with two very cranky kids) you come home with the temp tags on a car or SUV you never intended to buy, at a staggering interest rate, at a price that is, well, you don't even know what the price was, exactly.

Sometimes the best bargains are rarely advertised.   The wireless companies will beat you over the head with their "low low monthly rates!" of "only" $39.99 (some restrictions apply, taxes, fee, phone and wireless plan, extra).   Meanwhile, AT&T never even advertises its GoPhone plan, which, for someone like me who rarely calls, works out to about $100 a year.  For that $39.99 you could talk 400 minutes a month - with no added fees.

But that doesn't get a blaring ad, does it?