Articles from September 2011

How to Put Half Your Neighborhood on the Unemployment Line

A recent news article from the Associated Press tells the story of an Ohio restaurant going out of business after 70 years. Another failed business is not a new story these days, and the reason, in general, is because the U.S. economy is not doing well right now. The reasons for this can be found aplenty in any number of newspapers and books written by economists from every point of the political spectrum, but I won’t go into any of that here.

What I want to talk about is how our saying the economy is bad somewhat obscures the element of individual human suffering that has quickly become a part of the lives of everyday Americans like you and me, especially in the last two years or so. We stand in the supermarket aisle gasping at the price of food, wondering if the children can get by with a little less protein or fewer vegetables. The companies we work for have had to make cuts, and we’re standing in line at the unemployment office wondering how we’re going to pay the mortgage this month.

In hard times, our parents and grand-parents did something simple and effective to combat rising food prices, sky-rocketing gas prices, and job loss: they stuck together. They joined with their neighbors, offering help and services, sharing what they had, and giving their business to the struggling shopkeepers in their own neighborhoods. In this way they hoped to keep everyone afloat—because everyone floating on a rickety homemade raft is better than most everyone drowning.

America is a great land populated by great people. We are like a neighborhood, where families live and work, stopping off at the neighborhood bakery after church on Sunday, or grabbing a couple of burgers at the neighborhood joint after a Saturday at the ball field with the kiddies.

But what happens to that neighborhood bakery and burger joint when we decide to pay for food at the larger fast-food chains? What happens to the florist down the street, or that cozy little book store on the corner when we buy from the “big guys” who import inferior—and therefore cheaper—products from overseas?

And this problem is not seen only on your street or just in your town. Online businesses run by Americans also suffer. For instance, fine linens sold online by American small businesses have a hard time competing with inferior linens imported from sweatshops overseas and then sold in major discount chains. When we buy foreign goods from overseas companies, we are “leaving the neighborhood.”  We are chasing each other to the welfare offices and helping to put each other “on the dole.”

Let’s keep our neighborhood businesses running. Let’s keep our Country running. Let’s buy American.

Consumers Paying More, Getting Less

If you’ve been to the mall lately to do a little clothes shopping, you may have experienced a bit of sticker shock. That’s because retailers are raising clothing prices 10% on average to offset rising costs of materials and labor. The bottom line is, you’re paying more, but you’re getting less. According to Consumer Savings Expert, Andrea Woroch, some manufacturers are cutting down on the quality and extras, and instead applying inexpensive tweaks to con shoppers into thinking they are getting more for their money, when in fact they’re not. They’re using less material, cheaper fabrics and different items on the clothing to make it less expensive.

Some examples of this are:

Skinny Jeans and Pants – these are promoted as a hot new trend for fall and back to school, but what you will notice is that they are softer and there is less material. Although the softer denim is a lot less expensive, there is a subtle price increase.

Unfinished Clothing – yes, believe it or not, many items are not completely finished such as hems on pants, skirts, and jackets. Also, cheaper quality stitching is used on pockets to save on thread. These are being marketed as a new look, but according to Woroch, the real reason is because it costs less to manufacturer unfinished clothing.

Zippers vs. Buttons – surprisingly, zippers are less expensive than buttons, so when it comes to mass production, manufacturers save a lot by making little tweaks and using zippers in clothing instead of buttons.

Use of alternate materials to replace cotton – with the rising cost of cotton, more clothing is being made with rayon. It’s a soft fabric and many people like it, however, the real reason it is becoming popular these days is simply because it is a less expensive to manufacture.

Less fabric in clothing – this is especially noticeable with many of the women’s clothing. For example, blouses and shirts are low cut and more revealing, once again saving on manufacturing costs.

So, how do we combat “con-flation”? According to Andrea Woroch, here are some tips to help you get more for your money.

Coupons – look for coupons online that are printable. Many stores offer them.

Swap, don’t buy this is a great way to save money on clothing for youngsters who quickly grow out of their clothes. Visit and

Hold out for the holidays – this is when you will find the best deals on fall and winter merchandise.

Wait for Online Sale Days – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Free Shipping days will offer the best deals.

Shop off season – the fall is the best time to shop for summer clothing when the left-over items are on sale. Likewise, late winter, early spring is a great time for winter clothing sales.

Outlet Malls – this is a great place to shop for brand name items at discounted prices. Factory outlet malls are the venue manufacturers use to sell their items directly to the public, saving you money.