A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Please Buy More, You Will Save Money, or how to keep your money

It is interesting listening to economists on the news. They have been much maligned, mainly because they try to make their pronouncements sound as if they are the final words on a matter. However, it does seem that most economists agree that we are in a recession. Just how bad it is, no one can say. On the other hand, most of us feel pretty good about our own finances. Is this because of the rebate and refunds that we are getting from the federal government? It could be.

I have noticed two trends that are taking hold even more when I go shopping: green friendly products that save you money; and buy one/get one free. The green trend was obvious starting last year, but “bogo” slogan seemed to be in only a few areas of the market. Now as I go through my grocery store, I see it on more products. You can be easily lulled into thinking that you are saving money with this purchase, since you got one free, right? Look at what you just put in your cart. Is it an essential good, like eggs or bread? More than likely, it is a product that you do not use that often, or at least not an essential. Stores have been very good at playing on our whims to buy items that we do not need, while the cost of eggs has risen over 33% from February to March. Most essential goods have averaged about a 2% increase during those months. We will never be able to buy those needed goods with a buy one/get one free offer.

I open my e-mails this morning to see that the mayor is hosting a Green Building Expo here in Houston. These Expos allow you to see many new products for the home, and most will use the tag line of saving you money over time. Most of these products have a high initial cost, so it has become standard in this industry to tout the savings over a lifetime, so you can see that the initial cost is not so bad. You do save with many of these products, and you should start converting over to goods like compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). I have noticed that more products are coming into the “green” field. Shirts from recycled soda bottles is one example. This is a good idea to me, but do you need that new shirt? Such products are playing on our emotion to save the planet, to be environmentally concerned, by suggesting that we need to shop more, which is the worst thing for the planet.

Times are already difficult if you are new to your home. There are expenses to contend with that you may not have considered. Since I have been inspecting many foreclosures lately, I see homes where the owners did not take care of them, but they did make some of these impulse purchases. If you are going to make an impulse purchase, make it a book on home repair. Many repairs are simple, and you may prevent further damage to your home by making them.

I hope that you are a thinking shopper. Do not let an advertiser seduce you into buying something you do not need. You may need a new shirt, then buy it, but otherwise, concentrate on the essential items.

Your Houston home inspector, Frank Schulte-Ladbeck 

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