Marketing Fail: Worthless Savings

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When you get an email from a business you just finished patronizing and the subject line of the email reads like the one above, you are going to open it and see what savings you are receiving because you know you probably will go back again.

Savings Inside

This little tag, phrase, sentence, whatever you want to call it, has become rather popular these days. You see it in your emails. You see it when you are shopping online but haven’t signed into the website yet. You see it in texts from stores you’ve agreed to receive marketing texts from. You’ll even see it on the outside of junk mail (of the “snail mail” variety) envelopes trying to entice you to open it in the hopes the contents will actually help you in some way.

I’ll admit, I am a sucker for a good deal and have a hard time passing it up when it is an actual, bona-fide, good deal. I like saving money, who doesn’t? I mean, if I had money to burn, who cares what the price is – money is no object at that point! But, like most of you, I find myself pinching pennies at the end of the month and getting creative with the budget. So, “Savings Inside” is enticing and it could be the next great deal.

The problem is that in many cases the good deal is anything but a good deal. Most companies just hope you haven’t done any shopping around or offer so little actual value that in the long run you probably would have just been better to not have purchased it in the first place. Some examples you may have seen:

  1. The exceptions/exclusions area of coupons – some of these areas have so many exclusions that you literally can only buy like four items in the entire store. (see a Best Buy birthday reward coupon)
  2. Bed, Bath, and Beyond – they like to run the exact same coupon every week (in email or mailer) of 20% off your purchase. Every week! They might as well just lower all their prices by 20%…makes me feel sorry for the people who shop there without a coupon.
  3.  Any store that offers 10% off of something – the saving is so low, you barely save the cost of the sales tax.

Anyway, back to the latest fail at marketing. This one is by the local Toyota dealership and it came about three days after visiting for oil changes on my cars. I just spent well over a $100 there, so I was looking forward to some savings for the next visit. Take a look at the “savings” in the “coupons” below.

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Did you read them carefully? See any savings? Yeah, me neither. Apparently the only savings here is “free information.”

The head scratcher here is that they bothered to put an expiration date on their “free information” and “coupon codes”, which of course are good for nothing.

I wish I could say this was a one-off, or a glitch, but I get these “offers” from the dealership fairly often. My guess is they don’t have anyone really paying attention to their marketing, even though they say they “are here for me.”

So, we are left to click and hope (or if you are into the snail mail thing, rip and hope) that there really is savings “in the mail.” In the meantime, make sure you read the fine print!

Do you have any worthless savings stories or examples? Share below.

Accountability of Weight: Update #1


This is the first update installment for the year-long project of returning my physical self to much lighter version of the past.

I’ll try to keep it short so as to not bore you with lots of details and try to just cover some of the lowlights and highlights, cutting to the chase at the end.


I am off to a slow start, physically, that is. I chose not to join a gym and I chose not to buy any exercise equipment. I figure if I am going to do this right, and do it for the rest of my life, that I should have a lifestyle change rather than a “quick-fix, make me feel good in the moment” type change. So, I set my step counter to a higher number than I had previously and attempted to reach that mark.

Yes, you probably caught the “attempted” in that last sentence. I say that because an every day effort in the last month has been difficult. I live in the Northwest and there is wet…and cold…and sometimes even snow and ice…and it is dark for major portions of the day. They sound like excuses, and they are of sorts. BUT, I have had at least one day a week where I go over my step goal and typically I have another day or two that are close. So, I am getting more steps in, but not really making a conscious effort at this point to make that happen.


I have purposely not done a lot of the physical activity because I have decided to start more with watching the type of food and how much of that food I put in my body. THAT is a big step because that not only requires a physical lifestyle change, but also a mental one.

My job now doesn’t lend itself to much movement and so I find myself getting munchie. It is easy to plow through snacks without really taking notice of how much I have consumed. So, food – type and how much – has been my focus this month. Places I have made changes and track in a food app:

  1. Eat some fruit or veggies for breakfast, to go along with my coffee (I never/rarely ate breakfast, so this has been a weird shift).
  2. I am aware of how much water I am drinking, or not, and aim to get three to four 16.9 ounce bottles of water.
  3. I am limiting the amount of calories during lunch.
  4. I am working on portion size and not getting seconds at dinner.
  5. I try not to eat after a certain time at night (except for maybe some popcorn, because popcorn is life).

Over the last month, the changes have been good and I anticipate they will continue to improve as I develop good habits and find what works, and doesn’t work, for me.

The Chase:

210 = official starting weight 2/15/18

-5.2 = pounds lost as of the morning of 3/11

204.8 = current weight

Thanks for you thoughts and encouragement as the journey continues!

Anniversary: A Travel Cup Commentary


Some things in life are worth holding onto. Some things in life are worth letting go.

Most things, just aren’t made they way the used to be. Those old things, those are the ones worth holding onto, most of the time.

Week day mornings for the last 10 years have mostly started with the same object in my hand while I commute from home to work. It has travelled as far as I have over those years.

My trusty Starbucks travel cup bears the signs of use, and lots of it. It has kept me company in the car and has made my mornings that much easier to deal with the day ahead. Sure, it isn’t as pretty as it was when it was new, but I like it just the same.

When it was new, it was blue. The color has been long since worn away and now it is just a plain stainless steel, double walled shell. It didn’t have dents along the bottom ring, or a chipped lid. It certainly didn’t have a nose print (yes, that ring is a nose print) or a whisker burn on the lid. Some of the wear and tear has come from riding in a cup holder, taking dives off the top of the car, being tossed into the back seat, shoved into a bag, or just plain doing what it is supposed to do. But it has withstood all the travel and abuse.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t leak! The original rubber ring that closes the seal between the lid and the cup is still intact. The rubber nub that keeps the air hole closed on the lid is still intact as well. Not only does it not leak, but it also keeps my coffee hot for my entire commute (provided the coffee lasts that long), which can sometimes be more than an hour.

My wife gave me the cup just a little over 10 years ago for my birthday. We had just started dating then and it was the first of my birthdays we had been together, so who knew what kind of life it, let alone we, would have since then. She told me the other day, when I mentioned it was now 10 years old, that I should get another one. My response? “No way! I love this cup.”


The thing is, there really isn’t anything special about the cup. It is, after all, just a cup. But, what is special about the cup is that my wife gave it to me and it has been a part of my mornings for so long, I can’t imagine using a different cup. It is kind of like that old pair of sweat pants or shoes, that old t-shirt or sweatshirt that is so worn out and thread-bare, but you just can’t give it up. Why? Well, because it is comfortable. When you wear them or use it, it just feels right. It is a piece of you, to some degree, so giving it up would be like giving up a hand, or leg. Ok, well maybe not that drastic, but you know what I mean.

I get it. Some people would say, “But there are new ones. New is better. It has more bells and whistles. It looks better.” I say, let them say it. Replacing something just because it is old, isn’t the answer and it is over-rated. Period.

They don’t make them like they used to…and some things are just worth holding on to.


What thing or things do you have in your life that is worth holding onto because it is familiar, comfortable, and just plain made better?

The Accountability of Weight


There is a birthday coming around the corner, and it is high time something changes.

Number 46 comes on February 14 (yes, the one that is tomorrow) and I have been thinking about this for a while. The thing is about this birthday, as opposed to say some major landmark like 50 or 60, is that I feel like this one is scary. Not because I am getting older, but because there are things in my life that need to change and by putting it out there (as in, bringing it up on my blog and other places) I am going to have to do something about it. Accountability…I don’t fear it, but I do when it comes to this.

I am overweight and something needs to change.

I know. I have known it for a while. Now, I’m not grossly overweight – though the current standards on obesity certainly indicate that I am, in fact, grossly overweight. I don’t really feel it (all the time), but I know that my clothes just don’t fit well any longer and that the prospect of buying bigger ones that do fit, well, that isn’t all that appealing really. So, I am at a crossroads.

According to several websites, the ideal weight for my age & height ranges somewhere between 130-145. To me, that doesn’t sound reasonable because it is too low. The reason it doesn’t sound reasonable is because that is the weight (130) I was at when I graduated high school. At the end of high school I was a lean, mean wrestling and baseball machine and I don’t really have any intention of going back to being that lean. But, it does give me insight into what I think would be a much healthier me, maybe 15-20 heavier than the “ideal weight.” I mean, let’s be honest here, I am going to have to have some muscle! I don’t care if it is toned or sculpted or whatever they call it these days. I just want to feel better and have more energy. So…

I would like to lose 46 pounds in the next year. Yes, that’s right, I want to lose one pound for each year I have been alive and I want to do it in the next 365+/- days. That would mean this:

Currently I am 208 lbs – 46 lbs in 1 year = 162 lbs as a final weight.

Ok, ok, let’s just round that number to 165. There. That is my goal. I have one year to get it done.

Now, I don’t want this to turn into a blog about my journey to/thru weight loss, so I am body_deadline-2not going to write lots of regular updates here. I don’t think you want to be bored with that kind of info. But, what I do want is some accountability, so I am going to try to post an update on my progress about once a month (hopefully progress, and not lack thereof). Approximately every 30 days you should hear something from me about how it is going. Hold me to it! If you don’t see something 30 days from now, email me and remind me. Please. Pretty please. Thank you please.


I was talking with a friend last night and he has lost 95 pounds in about 14 months. Man, that was a motivator too! I can do this…I just gotta put my head to it and my nose to the grindstone…

If you see me with food that is bad for me, slap it out of my hand and punch me in the nose. Ok, that would be good accountability but I don’t think I really want that. Maybe.

Any advice as I go into this? I mean beyond the typical eat right and exercise. I know that part. Food tips? Exercise tips? Motivational tips? Music? Apps? What do you know and recommend? Comment below!

School Picture Thievery


This school picture thing is a pretty big racket if you ask me, and if you’re a parent you know what I am talking about. If there is any place you know it and can feel yourself being ripped off but can’t do anything about it, it is definitely with school pictures and sports team photos.

I have felt this frustration in the past, but it kind of boiled to a head this year when I went to order my daughter’s school pictures. It usually isn’t a big deal trying to order them, but being the “non-custodial” parent who usually gets the information second-hand sometimes it takes a while to get it done. (Yes, I realize I could just have photographer friend take the photo and avoid all the trouble so I guess I am a glutton for punishment).

Anyway, I logged onto the website with my special code and wanted to just download the image to my computer and then go have them printed in the quantities and styles I desired. So, I selected the outrageously overpriced digital image – $22. Say what? Yeah, you read that right…let’s do some quick math…

If a school has 300 hundred students and the photographer can get 60 students through a line and photographed per hour, then the photographer would work for five hours. The photographer is, most likely, using a digital camera to take said digital images @ $22 each, therefore making $1320/hr, or $6600/day. That is of course presuming that each parent purchases just the digital image, let alone one of the other overpriced packages they offer. Now we know not all parents purchase the pictures, but you get the idea.

So, after choosing the digital image for download I get to the check out page only to see that I am going to be charged a “Shipping and Handling” fee of $7. Uh, wait, what? I am downloading a digital image. Why is there a shipping and handling fee? What’s worse is that I can’t remove the fee either. The radial button is greyed out. I either pay the fee right now, or wait until the next day to call them. So, I opted to call the company the next day since surely the fee for a digital download isn’t $7 bucks…

I called the next day and waded through their automated answering system until I got to a real person to talk to. I explained my situation and asked if there was some kind of error on their website that wouldn’t allow me to remove the shipping and handling fee. The response?

“No, that is a flat fee we charge for all late orders.” 

Late? Yes, it is true I didn’t order when the pictures were taken in the fall, but your website says they can be ordered at any time until following fall AND there is nothing to indicate this is a “late” order on the website. I was a little dumbfounded. I said, “You’re joking right? How does downloading a digital image warrant a $7 late fee or even a shipping and handling fee?”

“Well, we do have to mail you the rights release so you can have the picture printed.”

So what you’re saying is that you are going to charge me $7 to mail me a sheet of paper and an envelope that costs, at best, a stamp or maybe two? I said, “Listen, I understand it costs money to send a piece of paper and envelope out to me but I have ordered digital images from other photographers in the past and they didn’t charge me an extra fee for the rights release, they included it with the digital image download. Surely you have the ability to do that right? So, why would I need a piece of paper mailed to me? It takes less than three minutes to compose a generic email and attach two image files to it.”

“Ok, I suppose I could waive the shipping and handling fee. What email address would you like the images sent to?”

Thank you. Now was that so hard and how about you waive all shipping and handling fees for all digital downloads from here on out? I probably speak for everyone who has encountered this ridiculous fee. There is no reason for it other than you can, and you have families over a barrel. I would venture a guess that many people just pay the fee, which is sad.

Highway robbery, I tell ya, only there was no highway and the bandit holds parents and other family members hostage every dang year around school picture time.


Christmas Stories (and others) Told Well

I admit it, I am a sucker for a good story. That’s probably why I like movies and probably why I enjoy reading books, though I don’t do the latter as much as I probably should.

I have a recommendation for you today, on Christmas Eve 2017. I have been listening to these stories each week for just a little over a year now and if you haven’t already discovered them, or the story teller, then I suggest you give him and them a listen.

You see, back when I was a kid I used to listen to stories while I sat at the lunch table while I was at my grandparents’ house. We visited often and my grandfather would come home from the orchard for lunch each and every day. During that lunch hour, he would turn on the radio and the stories would begin. Paul Harvey, you may have heard of him, would catch us up on the news and tell stories. Paul would end that time by stopping the story before the end…which would cause us to tune in later (late afternoon, before dinner time if I recall correctly) and then Paul would start the second broadcast of the day with, “…and now, the rest of the story.” He would proceed to finish the story he had started earlier.

Those are some great memories and ones I cherish very much.

These days, story tellers are hard to come by. Not many people take the time to tell them, let alone listen to them. But, I believe there is going to be a come back, of sorts, and that might just come from the source I mentioned earlier.

Mike Rowe, at, has a podcast called “The Way I Heard It”. Yes, you know this Mike Rowe, I am sure, because you likely have heard his voiceover on Deadliest Catch, or saw him as the host Dirty Jobs. It is the same Mike Rowe with the same awesome, story telling voice. He is nearing 100 podcast episodes now, but there are TWO that I would like you to consider this day – Christmas Eve, 2017.

Two episodes you should give a listen to TODAY (or tomorrow, if you like) are Episode 88: The December Missiles  and Episode 86: Francisco’s Flakes.

They are both Christmas stories, about things that will be familiar. I believe you will enjoy them and, at the very least, will probably even make you smile a little. I have shared them with my family, but why stop there? I think more people need to hear them!

Thanks for stopping by and reading this blog once in a while. I appreciate it.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, to you and yours.

The MOVEMBER Experiment (sort of)


November has come and gone and you probably heard about a lot of men doing the Movember thing…it’s where they grow a mustache in an effort to bring awareness to prostate cancer. I think it is sort of the equivalent of everything turning pink during breast cancer awareness month, only not as widely advertised. If you want to know more about Movember, check out the Movember Foundation. Apparently the “rules” say it should be a mustache, but I think it should be expanded to all facial hair, but what do I know?

Anyway, that brings me to my experiment. I don’t do mustaches…I have grown out the facial hair in past and shaved all but the mustache and I just couldn’t walk out of the bathroom with that look on my face. I mean, my ugly mug doesn’t need any more help in disrupting traffic and scaring small children. So, why punish people with a mustache hovering between my nose and upper lip?

I, therefore, have taken it upon myself to expand Movember to include all facial hair. Now, that being said, it isn’t all that unusual for me to allow the hair to grow a little during the winter months for short periods of time because I get lazy. I don’t really like shaving, so it is a good excuse to just let myself, I mean face, go. This year I had a purpose, a goal, if you will. I wanted to try a look I had not done previously but I know my dad has a one time and, apparently, was rather popular in the past.

The photo above shows the four phases of the month. #4 is the standard beard and doesn’t take much upkeep. I have been known to wear this look for weeks, so it wasn’t all that much of a stretch for this little experiment. #3 is also an old reliable for me. I have also been known to wear this on my face for weeks at a time and, again, not much of a stretch.

That brings me to #2. I am talking about them in reverse order here because that is really the order I wore them on my noggin. I had never worn #2 in the past, but because it wasn’t much of a change from #3 I thought it was a relatively easy look to pull off. I have to say that it wasn’t much of a favorite among the family or co-workers. I didn’t really like it all that much either since my two-tone facial hair seemed to get highlighted by this particular iteration of cowboy style. Maybe if I had been living in the dusty southwest and had a cowboy hat on I could have made it work.

Finally, that brings me to #1. Oh, the Mutton Chops….yeah, I can see why these are no longer popular. The looks I got from strangers…perhaps they thought I had escaped from a mental institute. The looks I got from co-workers…well, that mostly falls into the camp of “So, when are you going to change that?” (I am not sure if they were talking about my facial hair or my face.) Last but not least, the looks I got from my family. To quote my sister, “It is slightly entertaining, but mostly just creepy.” Of course, my mom just puts both her hands on my cheeks and says, “When is this going to go away?” Ah, but my wife, but especially my wife…the look of horror on her face when I came out of the bathroom before heading off to work said it all! She actually stated, “I can’t believe you are going to leave the house like that.” Mind you, I only sported this look for FOUR DAYS, but she definitely expressed over that time the desire for it to never be repeated again.

I guess I’ll never do that again…or perhaps I will. It’s all in fun and, after all, it’s just hair and it, unfortunately, just grows back. So next year, how about I go with the Friendly Mutton Chops? (you can look that up if you like)

What do you think? Do you participate or know someone who does? What facial hair style to you like, either to try or like on men?

Goodbye, Gramps


I knew it was coming, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. It was just a matter of time, but it’s a time you never want to arrive.

He turned 91 just this past September. He’d had several episodes of going in and out of the hospital, but he always came back out – sometimes not quite the same as he went in.

I have been extremely blessed with something I know a lot of my friends and acquaintances haven’t had – until last week, all four of my grandparents were still living. It is something really special for someone to know their grandparent(s) into adulthood. Many people only have vague memories of their grandparents while they were children, or visited so infrequently they never really got to know them. Often, the memories aren’t really memories so much as they are memories given/created by others via conversations and stories, pictures, or maybe a video. So, I am keenly aware of how lucky I have been.

I am struggling with what to write as memories come rushing back to flood my mind, and my eyes, with happiness and joy.

I guess I don’t really need to say much about those.


I told him to smile for a selfie…this is what I got!

I just need a place to express remembrance and appreciation for a man who loved his wife (their 69th wedding anniversary was the day before his passing) and his children. For raising my dad in a loving home. For raising his family in a home of Christian faith and passing that legacy on to the rest of his family. For working hard, at two jobs (a fruit orchard and a factory) and teaching his family the value of hard work. For having a wry sense of humor and a mischievous smile. For all the time spent camping, and fishing, and playing cards, and laughing. For all the stories of life on the farm. For going back to the family farm in South Dakota and telling us about his younger life in a sod house on the prairie. For the story of outrunning and catching a jack rabbit in the orchard. For the times of sharing meals. For the quiet times sitting on the patio, sharing conversation, a sunset, a cool breeze, and sometimes even a beer. For the garden goodies he grew every year. For his mealtime prayer that never changed and I will forever hear in my head, “God is great and God is good and we thank Him for this food.”

Now, he is home in Heaven with his Savior. He is in His presence, praising the One who gave him life. He is whole again.

I am sure he is now fishing, gardening and farming, playing cards, talking with his parents and the son he lost to cancer while a toddler. He is hanging out and laughing with the siblings that have gone on before him. He is, no doubt, preparing a place for those who will come after him as well – because that is the type of person he was.


Tools of my grandfather – bench vise and a pole saw he used on the farm.

Saying goodbye to Gramps is, after all, not really a goodbye. It’s just a “see you later.” Cliche, I know, but I believe it really is the truth. I know that one day we will sit together again and do the things we enjoyed here on Earth, because we have been given and accepted a promise.


A few quiet moments with Gramps, hours before he joined his Heavenly Father.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

I hope you have that knowledge too. The knowledge and assurance that death is not the end for a loved one, or for yourself. That one day you will be reunited, because it sure takes the sting out of death.

Am I still sad? Yes, of course. Not because I have no hope, but because of the missed opportunities I could have had with him or the opportunities my own kids will miss too. But, with the sadness comes rejoicing as well. How can I not be happy for him as he continues to live, living in triumph over death? There is still a funeral and memorial to come, but for now this will do. Goodbye is so hard to say, and yet…

“Welcome to Heaven, Harold! You are going to be missed down there because you were really loved. But don’t you worry, your family knows where you are and they are celebrating too. We have lots of time and I’ll show you around in a bit. But first, how about I show you a thing or two at canasta…”

Goodbye, Gramps.