Shopping Feed

Shopping for a riding lawn mower - doing the homework

By Mike Thayer

John Deere Lawn TractorSo I'm in the market for a riding lawn mower for my property at beautiful Lake Viking.  The property is 1.5 acres and so a push mower just isn't going to get the job done and why push a mower when I can ride in luxury, right?  I purchased the land back in 2018 and I've used a lawn service up to this point to keep my property looking good.  But now that I have a shed lined up to be constructed on property to house a riding mower and my fishing kayak, it's time to shop for a mower I can have some fun with!

I'll be looking at classic lawn tractors as well as zero turn mowers.  My budget is $2,000 - $4,000.   Each mower type has its own uses and characteristics, so I need to pick the one that works best for my lawn.  All the major brands will be considered, including but not limited to John Deere, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, etc.

Husqvarna zero turnStay tuned as I do my homework on mowers, checking on prices, horsepower, blade deck width, the tractor vs. zero turn comparisons and more.  I'm looking forward to cutting grass again!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Related:  Shopping for a kayak

Related:  Shopping for a shed


Shopping for a shed - doing the homework, part 2

By Mike Thayer

Fishing at Lake VikingAbout a month ago, I wrote about the need for a shed.  Now that I have my customized kayak for fishing at beautiful Lake Viking, I need a shed at the lake property to keep it in.

So I've been doing some homework online and checking things out the traditional way as well, visiting the brick and mortar stores.  I'm in the market for a 10' x 12' foot shed - the maximum size allowed by the home owner's association.  It also has to be made of wood, no metal or plastic/resin kits allowed.  No problem there, I prefer sheds made from wood anyway.

I've already got a concrete pad in place, a nice foundation for the shed, but do I buy a kit that I assemble (option 1), or do I buy plans for a shed and purchase the materials myself (option 2)?  Another option, the most expensive one, is to buy an already assembled shed and have it delivered and anchored to the foundation by the shed maker (option 3).

Prices for a quality shed in the size I want range from $1,200 to $5,000, the latter being for the pre-assembled shed, delivered option. 

A little homework, Option 1 - buying a kit

Here are some options for 10' x 12' shed kits available at places like Lowe's, Home Depot, Shed Warehouse where I get to take the kit to Lake Viking and assemble:

Lowe's shed
Available at Lowe's - $2,087.00
Shed Warehouse
Available at Shed Warehouse - $2,999.00
Home Depot Shed
Available at Home Depot - $1,399.00

Right now, as far as the kits (option 1) are concerned, Home Depot would seem like the go-to place for a shed when it comes to price.  It's basic, but heck for the savings in price, I can install a couple windows if desired, just look at the price difference between the Home Depot shed vs. Lowe's, vs. Shed Warehouse.

A little homework, Option 2 - Get a shed plan and purchase all the materials myself

There are A LOT of shed plans out there to choose from and various shed features/options in those plans.  Some plans are free, some are pay for more detailed plans...   But as I started to research this option, the pricing of lumber and materials - COVID price hikes - has made this option cost prohibitive and never mind the labor involved.  Not that I wouldn't enjoy putting a shed together mind you, but I honestly would rather maximize my time at the lake fishing, not shed building.

Shed frame
Framing available at Walmart for $200, but it's not 2x6 lumber and the joints are plastic
TenByTwelveHip
I like the plans for this one, but materials are costly!

So in nixing option 2, getting a shed plan and purchasing all materials myself, it's on to option 3.

A little homework, option 3 - buying a pre-assembled shed, have it delivered and anchored to the concrete pad on property

Tuff Shed
This is the style I went for

This is the most appealing option to me, allowing me to spend more time on the water.  But delivery and installation comes with a higher price tag.  I checked out a number of shed building companies in the Kansas City area.  I can get pre-assembled sheds delivered and installed, some companies actually build the shed for you on property.  This option is going to hit the top end of my shed budget at $5,000, but I say it's worth it!  More time on the lake!  I went with a company called Tuff Shed, and my shed will be custom built!  I can't wait to store my fishing kayak in it's new home!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Shopping for a shed - doing the homework

By Mike Thayer

Fishing at Lake VikingLast week I wrote about the need for a shed.  Now that I have my customized kayak for fishing at beautiful Lake Viking, I need a shed at the lake property to keep it in.

So I've been doing some homework online.  I'm in the market for a 10' x 12' foot shed - the maximum size allowed by the home owner's association.  It also has to be made of wood, no metal or plastic/resin kits allowed.  No problem there, I prefer sheds made from wood anyway.

I've already got a concrete pad in place, a nice foundation for the shed, but do I buy a kit that I assemble (option 1), or do I buy plans for a shed and purchase the materials myself (option 2)?  Another option, the most expensive one, is to buy an already assembled shed and have it delivered and anchored to the foundation by the shed maker (option 3).

Prices for a quality shed in the size I want range from $1,200 to $5,000, the latter being for the pre-assembled shed, delivered option. 

A little homework, Option 1 - buying a kit

Here are some options for 10' x 12' shed kits available at places like Lowe's, Home Depot, Shed Warehouse where I get to take the kit to Lake Viking and assemble:

Lowe's shed
Available at Lowe's - $2,087.00
Shed Warehouse
Available at Shed Warehouse - $2,999.00
Home Depot Shed
Available at Home Depot - $1,399.00

Right now, as far as the kits (option 1) are concerned, Home Depot would seem like the go-to place for a shed when it comes to price.  It's basic, but heck for the savings in price, I can install a couple windows if desired, just look at the price difference between the Home Depot shed vs. Lowe's, vs. Shed Warehouse.

Stay tuned, there's more homework to be done in considering option 2, buying shed plans and costing out the materials myself. 

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Shopping for a shed

By Mike Thayer

Fishing at Lake VikingNow that I have my customized kayak for fishing at beautiful Lake Viking, I need a shed at the lake property to keep it in.

I'm shopping for a shed!  I'm in the market for a 10' x 12' foot shed - the maximum size allowed by the home owner's association.  It also has to be made of wood, no metal or plastic/resin kits allowed.  No problem there, I prefer sheds made from wood anyway.

I've already got a concrete pad in place, a nice foundation for the shed, but do I buy a kit that I assemble or do I buy plans for a shed and purchase the materials myself?  Another option, the most expensive one, is to buy an already assembled shed and have it delivered and anchored to the foundation by the shed maker.

Prices for a quality shed in the size I want range from $1,200 to $5,000, the latter being for the pre-assembled shed, delivered option.  I'll be doing some more homework online in my search for the best shed option, stay tuned for more shed information!

Log cabin shed
A shed possibility

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Shopping for a Fishing Kayak: Lifetime Envoy 106

Kayak purchase
Lifetime Envoy 106

By Mike Thayer

A couple weeks ago I wrote about shopping for a fishing kayak, needing a kayak to enjoy on the water of beautiful Lake Viking while on vacation. 

With an original budget of $700 to $900 I did some homework online and narrowed down some kayak choices, my short list is below.  After researching fishing kayaks and based on the type of fishing I'll be doing - on a lake, dealing with a few waves from motor boats and water skiers - I went for a wide bodied, sit-on kayak.  The sit-on style will give me better stability on the water, in dealing with the occasional boat waves and also provides the ability to stand up in the kayak to cast.  Other pluses to a sit-on vs. a sit-in kayak are they are easier to get in and out of, I'll be sitting higher giving me a better view of the water, and sit-on kayaks are easier to customize and accessorize.

Kayak fishing rod holder installation
Installing flush mount rod holders

The ability to customize was the key. 

After watching some YouTube videos on how to customize ordinary kayaks for fishing, I tossed my list of fishing kayaks and bought a regular kayak.  Why pay extra for fishing kayak bells and whistles when you can accessorize a regular kayak for far less? 

I went with a Lifetime Envoy 106, Sit-On-Top Tandem Kayak.  It cost me just $299.98 at Sam's Club.  With paddles included, that price just couldn't be beat!  Here's another bonus to my kayak purchase, with most fishing kayaks, paddles are sold separately and that's an added expense of at least $50 so there's some additional savings and in my case, money to accessorize my kayak with!  I got a basic kayak and added rod holders, extra carrying handles, paddle clips and some nylon eye straps so I can tie some things down with as needed.  Along with a milk crate and some Carabiner clips to hold fishing tackle in place, my basic kayak quickly became well equipped!

Kayak carrying handles 2
Adding extra carrying handles

Here's what I got for $300, paddles included and customized for another $35 for a total of $335.

Lifetime Envoy 106

Length: 10’ 6" | Width: 36” | Weight: 77 lbs. | Retail: $299.98 (Sam's Club price)

Kayak paddle clips 1
Added paddle holding clips

My Lifetime kayak is a bit heavy at 77 pounds, but I'm able to get it in and out of my truck and into the water no problem, made easier by adding extra carrying handles.  It's a very stable kayak on the water, even when hit with rude boater waves from folks who have no appreciation for fishermen.  Everything I need from another rod, to a different lure to a bottle of cold water is within arm's reach.  The tandem seat set up is easily adjusted to a solo set up, takes about 5 seconds.

Here was my short list for fishing kayaks, until watching those how to customize your kayak videos on YouTube.   Look at how much money I saved!  I got a wider kayak, a more stable kayak that tracks well in the water.  And did I mention it came with two paddles?

Pelican-catchPelican Catch 100

Length: 10’ | Width: 34” | Weight: 54 lbs. | Retail: $649

The Pelican Catch 100 features a tunnel hull for amazing stability, making it easy to stand while casting. Well-planned-out accessories help keep everything conveniently stowed, and yet it’s light enough for most people to carry and launch on their own.
 

Pelican premiumPelican Premium the Catch 120 Kayak

Length: 11' 8" | Width: 34" | Weight: 69 lbs. | Retail: $749

Make sure to take out the Pelican Premium the Catch 120 Kayak the next time you fish. The RAM-X™ PREMIUM material tunnel hull resists wear and tear out on the water, and a tank well with a bungee cord and a quick-lock hatch provide additional room for your gear. The Ergocast G2 dual-position seating system can be adjusted to sitting or standing, and an antislip carpet and stand-assist strap help you safely stand when it is wet.

AscendAscend® 12T Sit-On-Top Kayak
 
Length: 12' | Width: 32" | Weight: 77 lbs. | Retail: $779
 
To craft the updated Ascend® 12T Sit-On-Top Kayak, our designers took our most-popular sit-on-top kayak and refined it to be even more stable, more functional, and more comfortable. The advanced tunnel design with a wide transom and flared bow sections bring a fishing kayak so stable, you can stand up and cast from it. The same design also produces outstanding tracking and couldn't-be-easier paddling. While you're standing, you'll stay comfortable thanks to the non-skid foam deck mat.
 
LifetimeLifetime Sport Fisher Angler 10ft Kayak
 
Length: 10' | Width: 36" | Weight:  60 lbs. | Retail: $688
 
The 10 ft. Lifetime Sport Fisher™ is one of the most versatile fishing kayaks on the market. The comfortable tiered seating allows for the kayak to be paddled solo or tandem and can even transport a 3rd smaller passenger in the center seat. The tunnel hull design boasts 500 lb. of weight capacity and is incredibly stable making it nearly impossible to tip over.  The Lifetime Sport Fisher™ includes two kayak paddles, two padded backrests which can be moved to any of the three seating positions, three flush-mounted fishing rod holders, and a 6 in. hatch for added storage access beneath the deck.
 
OutlawPerception Outlaw 11.5 Angler Kayak
 
Length; 11' 6" | Width:  35" | Weight: 77 lbs. | Retail: $749.99
 
With a wide-open deck and an expansive standing platform, you’ll be sure to love the Perception® Outlaw 11.5 Angler Kayak as you’re out angling this season. This sit-on-top fishing kayak is best used for lakes, slow-moving rivers, streams and calm coastal waters. Its folding and removable framed seat provides all-around convenience and the perfect stow position for your gear when the seat is removed. With three solo moint recesses, two double-barrel rod holders and more, the Outlaw ‘yak is perfect for making your next big catch!
 
Kayak on the waterI'm really pleased with my purchase, I saved A LOT of money and making the modifications to the kayak was not only easy, but fun!  The most fun though, BEING ON THE WATER!
 
$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Shopping for a Fishing Kayak

By Mike Thayer

Lake VikingSpring is here, the ice on the water has melted off, it's time to go fishing at beautiful Lake Viking!

I need a boat, a fishing kayak to be precise, so before I hit the water I'm in the market for a nice fishing kayak. But what kind of kayak should I buy?  Which is better, a sit-in or sit-on style?  Do I go with a 10 foot kayak, 12 feet?  What features and accessories are essential?

Just about any kind of fishing kayak is better than shoreline fishing and the kayak choices out there vary greatly in size, hull material, seating, features and accessories.  I don't want just a base level Kayak which I could get into for about $400 but I don't want to spend too much either, with bells and whistles kayaks going for $1,400 plus.  I want something I can get into the water with right away and can upgrade as I choose, later. That $400 buys me a basic plastic boat, a molded seat, minimal storage and one rod holder.  I need to spend more than that to get a few features to make my on-the-water fishing endeavors more enjoyable, better than just "good enough," so I've set my budget at around $700 to $900.

After researching fishing kayaks online and based on the type of fishing I'll be doing - on a lake, dealing with a few waves from motor boats and water skiers - I'm going for a wide bodied, sit-on kayak.  The sit-on style will give me better stability on the water, in dealing with the occasional boat waves and also provides the ability to stand up in the kayak to cast.  Other pluses to a sit-on kayak are they are easier to get in and out of, I'll be sitting higher giving me a better view of the water, and sit-on kayaks are easier to customize and accessorize.

Here are a few choices in getting started on my search for a fishing kayak, details and descriptions from the respective kayak makers:

Pelican-catchPelican Catch 100

Length: 10’ | Width: 34” | Weight: 54 lbs. | Retail: $649

The Pelican Catch 100 features a tunnel hull for amazing stability, making it easy to stand while casting. Well-planned-out accessories help keep everything conveniently stowed, and yet it’s light enough for most people to carry and launch on their own.
 

Pelican premiumPelican Premium the Catch 120 Kayak

Length: 11' 8" | Width: 34" | Weight: 69 lbs. | Retail: $749

Make sure to take out the Pelican Premium the Catch 120 Kayak the next time you fish. The RAM-X™ PREMIUM material tunnel hull resists wear and tear out on the water, and a tank well with a bungee cord and a quick-lock hatch provide additional room for your gear. The Ergocast G2 dual-position seating system can be adjusted to sitting or standing, and an antislip carpet and stand-assist strap help you safely stand when it is wet.

AscendAscend® 12T Sit-On-Top Kayak
 
Length: 12' | Width: 32" | Weight: 77 lbs. | Retail: $779
 
To craft the updated Ascend® 12T Sit-On-Top Kayak, our designers took our most-popular sit-on-top kayak and refined it to be even more stable, more functional, and more comfortable. The advanced tunnel design with a wide transom and flared bow sections bring a fishing kayak so stable, you can stand up and cast from it. The same design also produces outstanding tracking and couldn't-be-easier paddling. While you're standing, you'll stay comfortable thanks to the non-skid foam deck mat.
 
LifetimeLifetime Sport Fisher Angler 10ft Kayak
 
Length: 10' | Width: 36" | Weight:  60 lbs. | Retail: $688
 
The 10 ft. Lifetime Sport Fisher™ is one of the most versatile fishing kayaks on the market. The comfortable tiered seating allows for the kayak to be paddled solo or tandem and can even transport a 3rd smaller passenger in the center seat. The tunnel hull design boasts 500 lb. of weight capacity and is incredibly stable making it nearly impossible to tip over.  The Lifetime Sport Fisher™ includes two kayak paddles, two padded backrests which can be moved to any of the three seating positions, three flush-mounted fishing rod holders, and a 6 in. hatch for added storage access beneath the deck.
 
OutlawPerception Outlaw 11.5 Angler Kayak
 
Length; 11' 6" | Width:  35" | Weight: 77 lbs. | Retail: $749.99
 
With a wide-open deck and an expansive standing platform, you’ll be sure to love the Perception® Outlaw 11.5 Angler Kayak as you’re out angling this season. This sit-on-top fishing kayak is best used for lakes, slow-moving rivers, streams and calm coastal waters. Its folding and removable framed seat provides all-around convenience and the perfect stow position for your gear when the seat is removed. With three solo moint recesses, two double-barrel rod holders and more, the Outlaw ‘yak is perfect for making your next big catch!
 
Stay tuned for additional details on these kayaks and others, as I narrow my search and find the kayak that suits me best.
 
$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Kohl's offering 30% discount to Veterans this weekend

By Mike Thayer

Fila ShoesSo in the need for a new pair of sneakers, I went to my neighborhood Kohl's to do some shoe shopping.

I like Kohl's for this because they usually have the best deals on shoes, I've tried other places, but overall Kohl's has the best selection, shoe quality and pricing.

My budget was $50 and after looking at the various offerings by Nike, Adidas, Sketchers and other brands, I found what I was searching for, another pair of Fila shoes, my go-to brand.  They look good, they feel good on the feet and the price was right.

The regular price for these shoes was $49.99.  I picked them up for $34.99 on sale, but to my pleasant surprise when I got to the check out, was an additional 30% off my purchase because I'm a Veteran.  Kohl's is saying thanks to Veterans this Veterans Day weekend with the special offer.  Walking out the door, my shoes only cost me $26.45, WAY under my budget of $50!

According to the company, the 30% off in-store discount is double what Kohl’s offers year-round for Military Mondays, when all active and former military personnel, Veterans and their families receive a 15 percent off in-store discount.  The 30% discount special is good through Monday, November 11, 2019.

Thanks Kohl's!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Royal Oak Charcoal - get some while supplies last

Royal Oak Charcoal
What a great deal!

By Mike Thayer

Don't pass up a great deal at Walmart going on this Memorial Day weekend, a twin pack of Royal Oak charcoal for just $8.88.

That's two 18 pound bags of quality charcoal.  There's no better price around and a lot of grill masters actually prefer Royal Oak over Kingsford. 

My trip to Walmart was to pick up a few fishing lures and some plants for my patio garden, but when I saw the stack of Royal Oak and the price.....  In the cart it went.  I was already pretty well stocked on charcoal but you just can't pass up a deal like that!

This "every day low price" has been going on for a bit and who knows how much Royal Oak your local Walmart has on hand....  It's while supplies last I'm sure.


Save big bucks on shirts - buy them off-season

By Mike Thayer

Short sleeve shirtIt's fall and all the stores where you like to buy shirts have no doubt put all their fall and winter shirt selections out on the floor.  You might be thinking it's too late to pick up a couple of summer shirts, stores have packed those away in the back room, you'll have to wait until next season to get any.

Think again.  Now is the perfect time to buy summer shirts!  Most stores don't pack away seasonal shirts, they don't have room in the back (more winter items are still coming in) and what they have on hand might not be quite as trendy next summer so on the floor they stay, deeply discounted.

Look around that sales floor, among all the flannels, long sleeve shirts and pullovers, there's a rack or two, perhaps a display table somewhere with summer shirts on it.  Shirts that were normally $25, $40 or $50 and up are now $5, $10, $15.  We're talking name brands too, IZOD, Stafford, PGA Tour, Adidas and more.  The selection won't be like as for the beginning of summer, but you'll find something to your liking.  And like I said, what's available might not be THE trend setter next summer season, but hey, we're guys, we like our favorite shirts right?  Trends be damned.  And if you're like me, I tend to wear short sleeve shirts year-round, they make up the bulk of the shirt selection in my closet.  I can't have enough short sleeve and summer shirts!  Buying them deeply discounted and/or on clearance only makes sense and yes, I'll wear them out-of-season!   SHOCKER!

And the same thing that works for buying summer shirts when tree leaves turn color works for fall and winter shirts too.  Wait until spring to get those.

Spend Wisely My Friends.....


Shopping for truck tires with a budget in mind

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

When I bought my 1992 Ford F-150 three years ago, she had 112,000 miles on her and about a half life left on a set of Goodyear Wrangler tires, which are rated as a 50k tire. 

Pushing 136,000 miles now, 'ol Nellie needs a new pair (set) of shoes!

I've been impressed by the ride and treadwear of the Goodyear Wrangler.  It's considered to be a tire that falls into the 'budget' category of tires, and while a new set of Wranglers was definitely on my shopping list, I was open to other budget-friendly tires without sacrificing quality.

The shopping criteria was $90 - $125 per tire, all terrain, rated for at least 50,000 miles.  Sure, I could get tires cheaper than $90 each, but they would be rated under 50k....  For those of you that live in Valley Center, that means a properly maintained 50k rated tire is expected to last about 50,000 miles.  Quality truck tires start at $90 and up.  I'm budget-minded, not cheap. 

Now 'ol Nellie is a 2WD, she drives a lot of city miles, a fair amount of highway miles, a few country miles, hauls a load once in awhile and needs to navigate roads for all conditions, wet, dry, muddy, slushy, snowy.

Here's the homework/evaluation info, starting with what I'm already familiar with first:

Goodyear WranglerGoodyear Wrangler:  All Terrain, 50K, $96 per tire - Cost for 4 prior to install:  $384.  As stated earlier, I like how they ride, I've been impressed by the tread wear and I'm not bothered by any tread noise.  Wranglers have gotten me through all kinds of weather and on all kinds of road surfaces.

Firestone DestinationFirestone Destination:  All Terrain, 50K, $116 per tire - Cost for 4 prior to install:  $464.  I'd be shelling out another $80 for a set of four of these tires vs. the Wrangler, that's almost another tire in price!  And for the same mileage rating of 50k?  No thanks.  I dismissed this tire on price alone, outright.  The tread pattern, the ride, the road noise, all became irrelevant, immediately.

BF GoodrichBF Goodrich Advantage TA:  All Terrain, 65K, $114 per tire - Cost for 4 prior to install:  $456.  This tire isn't quite as expensive as Firestone's and it has a better mileage rating.  But is another 15,000 miles worth the extra $72?  Will I even still be driving 'ol Nellie at that point?  Shhhhhh, don't tell her I said that!  And is this tread pattern aggressive enough for all terrain needs?  If this tire can't throw a little mud, I have no use for it.

Cooper DiscovererCooper Discoverer:  All Terrain, 55K, $123 per tire - Cost for 4 prior to install:  $492.  This is the most expensive tire of those evaluated.  I would be paying out $108 more for a set of four of these tires vs. the Goodyear Wrangler...  Not only is the price of a tire far higher, but it's for just 5k more in a tire rating.  No thanks, and like the BF Goodrich tire, I don't see this tread pattern as being aggressive enough for all terrain.

General GrabberGeneral Grabber:  All Terrain, 60k, $99 per tire - Cost for 4 prior to install:  $396.  The price is attractive, so is the tread pattern and for just $3 more per tire vs. the Wrangler I could get another 10,000 miles in tread wear....  But the online reviews steered (get it, 'steered'?) me away from buying this tire.

The online reviews for all the tires researched were all over the map, from ratings of 1 to 5, a 5 being the best.  In reading some of those low ratings however, I have to question the knowledge of the buyers, saying things like the tread didn't last long, already gone after 11,000 miles.... That's horse manure!  Hey Sherlock, perhaps you need an alignment and try checking your tire pressure once in awhile!  Tire ratings for mileage are pretty accurate folks, something you can count on - IF you take care of your tires! 

I take caution in putting too much stock into online reviews - they include bad ratings from stupid people who don't know what an alignment is, for example - but overall, they do provide a gauge of sorts in prepping for a purchase and a number of VALID negative reviews on a specific product can raise some red flags.  A higher average rating is a good thing but be sure to look at the number of reviews.  Volume matters, the more, the better.  Don't take a high average rating with only 12 reviews too seriously.  Here's how the online rating averages stack up from a variety of review sources to compile at least 100 reviews (1=sucks, 5=great):

  • Goodyear Wrangler: 4.9
  • Firestone Destination: 4.8
  • Cooper Discoverer: 4.6
  • BF Goodrich Advantage TA: 4.2
  • General Tire Grabber: 3.7

Why was the General Tire Grabber so low in the online reviews you ask?  For the most part, the negative reviews were about the rough ride and tread noise.

So which tire did I decide on?

The Goodyear Wrangler.  The price was right, the reviews were good, confirming what I already knew about Wranglers.

'ol Nellie has a new pair (set) of shoes and she looks PURDY!

Related:  https://www.tirerack.com/tires/reviews/MenuServlet?search=surveyComments

Related:  https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/tires.htm

Related:  https://www.1010tires.com/Tires/Reviews/Light+Trucks+and+SUVs 

Spend Wisely My Friends.....