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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.....


O'Reilly Auto Parts vs. Advanced Auto Parts vs..... Walmart?

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

I drive an old pickup truck, she's now an antique in vehicle years, I call her Ol' Nellie.  She's not the purdiest truck around, but she runs good.  She has 129,000 plus miles on her, she's paid for (No, she's not that kind of truck....) she's not nickle and diming me yet (If only something else was that cheap....) and she gets me from point 'A' to point 'B' just fine.  So I aim to keep her as long as I can, I see no need for a new truck, Ol' Nellie is fine by me. 

I do a few do-it-yourself things for my truck, top off the fluids for example and she does have a bit of rust on her, so lately I've been working on a few body repairs. 

So who has the best prices for that kind of thing?

O'Reilly and Advanced are auto parts specialty stores (obviously), but guess what, you pay a little extra at 'specialty' stores.

The Walmart price for the same product is significantly lower and bonus, the hours are better, with many Walmart locations being open 24 hours.

Rain-xJust check out the price difference on something as simple as windshield washer fluid.  The price for a gallon of Rain-X brand, 2-in-1 All Season Windshield Washer Fluid is $4.79 at O'Reilly Auto Parts.  It will cost you $4.49 at Advanced, but just $2.87 at Walmart.  O'Reilly is gouging you on the windshield washer fluid.

PrestoneNeed some power steering fluid?  The price for a 32 ounce bottle of Prestone Power Steering Fluid with Stop Leak will cost you $6.99 at Advanced Auto Parts.  It's 'on sale' at O'Reilly for $5.99, but it's only $4.27 at Walmart.  That's ouch on the wallet at Advanced!

And it would seem that the higher the dollar amount, the deeper the gouge....  When it comes to Bondo, the project I'm currently undertaking, a person can pay WAY too much for a one gallon container of Bondo Body Filler.  It will cost you a whopping $29.99 at O'Reilly.  It's 'on sale' at Advanced for $21.99.  You can get the very same thing at Walmart for just $15.44.  On sale at Advanced means you're still paying far too much!

BondoSo if you do light work on your vehicle, items needed for an oil change or topping off fluids like windshield washer fluid, get them at Walmart.  Doing some body work?  Buy your Bondo at Walmart.  But if you do more tasking things yourself, like replacing an alternator, you'll have to go to O'Reilly or Advanced for something like that.   I would wonder though, am I paying too much for that alternator?

Spend Wisely My Friends.....

 

 


Shopping at Dollar Tree

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

20180308_094548(1)It doesn't get any cheaper than this folks.

Regular readers know that I'm a fan of Dollar Tree.  For typical household cleaning products, soaps, sponges, detergents, etc., and kitchen goods like paper plates, napkins, foil, etc., buying such things at Dollar Tree saves you A LOT of cash.  Not only do you save on the cash, but you don't have to give up on quality/product ability either.

Yesterday was a shopping/errand day for me, I picked up a few items at Dollar Tree in checking some things off my "To Do" list.

Check out what I bought and the price I paid.

20180309_152601Dollar Tree:  It doesn't get any cheaper than that folks.

You can't buy all those items pictured and listed right anywhere else for just $13.98.  You just can't.

Dollar Tree gets five out of five Bachelor on the Cheap stars

5 stars

Spend Wisely My Friends.....


Grill Shopping on a Budget

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

So I'm in need of a new grill.  But what kind of grill should I buy? Which is better, gas or charcoal?

Any kind of grill is better than no grill. A grill can be a piece of scrap metal and two cinder blocks standing over a small pile of charcoal, or it can be the latest stainless steel propane gas model with infra-red heat for searing and two side burners. Grills vary greatly in size, shape, fuel source, cost and most importantly, the ability to deliver flavor.

That last reason - flavor - is why I’m a charcoal grill enthusiast and my grill shopping on a budget will be done with that in mind. Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of useful information from this article if you’re a gas griller, but I’m here to tell you, charcoal grills deliver better flavor every time. Don’t get me wrong, gas grills have their place, but along with the great flavor charcoal delivers, charcoal has other advantages like the flexibility of using it to give big steaks that high heat sear, or using it to cook ribs low and slow. Another advantage charcoal grills have over gas is that you can easily add wood to the fire, putting another layer of flavor on that great looking piece of meat. You can add wood to a gas grill, but you’re pretty much restricted to using wood chips and you have to keep those chips away from the gas burners, almost forcing you to buy one of those gas grill accessories - the wood chip box. In my experience, the gas grill and those little wood chip boxes just don’t measure up to the flavors you can add using a charcoal grill setup. Here are some more advantages to the charcoal grill:
Grill advantage
You may have noticed, I left out electric grills in that breakdown. That’s because electric grills suck. Don’t buy one. They don’t deliver the heat they promise, you’re restricted to where you can plug it in and like the gas grill, they don’t deliver any flavor. Durability with electric grills is also an issue. I used to have an electric grill, I converted it over to charcoal after the element burned out.

“What about smokers?” you ask. This article focuses on grilling, smoking is a whole different level of backyard-cooking-meat-with-fire-experience.

So now that I’ve covered the advantages and disadvantages of the two main grill types and you now know that charcoal is the way to go, let’s talk about grills available with a budget of $150.00.  I've got enough space on my apartment patio to comfortably fit a decent sized grill, something with enough cooking grate space to prepare a delicious grilled meal for 4 - 6 people.

In shopping around, I found the following grills meeting my criteria: 

Weber Kettle GrillWeber Original Kettle Premium 22" Grill:  $149 at Ace Hardware, Cabela's, Home Depot, Walmart.  On sale for $134.10 at Lowe's.  This grill has a well-deserved reputation of durability, a 363 square inch cooking surface and an enclosed ash catcher that is easily removed for disposal.   The Premium model also comes with a hinged cooking grate that allows you to easily replenish charcoal without removing food.

Char-broil Charcoal Barrel GrillChar-broil Charcoal Barrel Grill:  $140.98, Walmart.  With 568 square inches of cooking space, this grill features adjustable fire grates and dampers, as well as a removable ash pan. The grates are cast iron, which are great for searing. It also has a swing-a-way warming rack and a handy side shelf.

Kingsford GrillKingsford 32" Charcoal Grill:  $129.98, Jet.com, Walmart.  It's $185.91 on Amazon.  This grill has a 495 square-inch primary cooking area, to include a cast iron cooking grid which is adjustable.  There is a pull out charcoal pan and you can keep your space organized with two, fold-able side shelves that include a convenient tool hook and a bottle opener.

Royal Gourmet GrillRoyal Gourmet Barrel Grill:   $128.03, Home Depot.  With a compact design this grill can fit on most patios, balconies and decks.  There is an offset smoker box but just 182 square inches of cooking space. 

All grills came with multiple online reviews, but Weber comes out on top with better overall and higher scoring reviews.   And while I take caution in putting too much stock into online reviews, they do provide a gauge of sorts in prepping for a purchase and a number of negative reviews on a specific product does raise some red flags.  There were a few red flags here, with one manufacturer for example shipping their grill without all the required parts to properly assemble.  Another manufacturer shipped defective parts.  Those kind of red flags are important, because unless you want to pay extra for an assembled unit, you'll be doing it yourself and you'll want to have all parts available and fitting properly. 

So what grill did I end up buying?

20180303_081530I went with the Weber Kettle.  There is a reason this is the most popular grill in backyards across the country.  And it doesn't hurt that celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Steven Raichlen prefer Weber as well.  Taken care of properly, this grill is going to last a very long time, it truly is built for years of service.  The Weber Kettle is also probably the most versatile of the grills I listed, I can grill, roast, smoke and I can stand up a whole chicken on a can of beer and still get the lid on!  Weber has also done a nice job of making the Kettle easy to accessorize with the Gourmet BBQ System. The array of GBS inserts, such as a pizza stone, wok, and griddle, will turn you into a grill master. 

20180303_081632

Spend Wisely My Friends..... 

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George brand men's pants provides an excellent, inexpensive, business casual look

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

George PantsI've got the George brand men's flat-front wrinkle-resistant pants in my closet.   It's a go-to in my wardrobe, they are designed for a classic fit, they're comfortable and I bought them at Walmart.   Made with cotton blended twill, they are fade resistant, easy to maintain and they last a long time, as in the threading doesn't fall apart after a couple washes like some of those discount clothes tend to do.  The George pants line also includes a pleated front design, come in a wide range of colors and includes Big & Tall sizes. 

Prices are in the $12 - $15 a pair range, depending on your selection.  That's Bachelor on the Cheap friendly!

For social gatherings or business casual, the George line of pants are a great addition to a well-rounded wardrobe! 

George pants get 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars

4 stars


Shopping for a chest freezer

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

The freezer compartment in the typical apartment size refrigerator/freezer just doesn't have enough storage space for a guy like me who likes to cook and grill.

So in dire need of more freezer space, I've been on a quest to find the best deal for an 'apartment size' chest freezer.  It's a Merry Christmas present - to me!

I've been doing some shopping 'homework' online, checking out Best Buy, Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot, Menards and Target.....  Target?  Yes, Target sells freezers, I was surprised too.

Merry Christmas to me - a freezerI've got enough space in my kitchen/dining area to comfortably fit a 5 cubic foot chest freezer and my budget is less than $200.  Why a chest freezer and not an upright/stand-up you ask?  While some jokes from the stand-up would be welcome.......  Sorry, couldn't resist.....  A chest freezer performs better than a stand-up and uses less energy.  Besides, with a unit in that size range, it's actually easier to retrieve items from a chest freezer for a taller guy like me.  Lastly, price....  Stand-ups in the 5 cubic foot range start at about $190, busting my budget after taxes.

In shopping around, I found the following 5 cubic foot freezers, all with manual defrost:

Best Buy:  Insignia - $149.99

Costco:  Danby - $249.99

Home Depot: Magic Chef - $169.00

Lowe's:  Idylis - $148.00

Menard's:  Criterion - $162.99

Target:  Frigidaire - $159.99

Walmart:  Arctic King - $169.

All freezers came with multiple online reviews in the 4 to 5 stars range, with an overall average rating of 4.7.   While I take caution in putting too much stock into online reviews, they do provide a gauge of sorts in prepping for a purchase and a number of negative reviews on a specific product does raise some red flags.  No flags were found in this search.

In doing the home work on this, I was surprised to see Costco being the most expensive, a bit surprised by the Walmart price too. 

I went with the Idylis freezer at Lowe's.  It's Bachelor on the Cheap friendly with the lowest price, the online reviews were favorable and right in line with all the other brands and Lowe's is actually the most conveniently located store for me (along with Walmart, in the same parking lot in fact).  I purchased the unit online using the 'pick up at store' option.  I made my purchase at 6:30am and picked the unit up at my convenience at 9am that same day.  After letting the freezer set for 24 hours before plugging in per the instructions (due to tilting in the loading and unloading), I'm pleased to report the freezer is happily freezing some veggies, cheeses, chicken, chicken & beef stock, etc., quite nicely! 

Make meal planning and prepping an easier task with a chest freezer!

My Happy Freezer

 


Looking Good with Hanes

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

HanesGuys, you're wearing a t-shirt under that dress shirt right?  Nobody needs to see the outline of your nipples....

Don't be the talk of the office (in a bad way), do some online shopping at Hanes.

You can't beat their prices, they frequently have sales and free shipping.  In fact, I've got a t-shirt order right now that is on back order.  It's testimony to how good their deals are!  They have sizes for everybody and a color selection for all.

My order is for two tagless t-shirts for $5 and free shipping.  That's not $5 each, that's $5 for two t-shirts.  You can't beat that deal, not even at Walmart and these are quality t-shirts, not those thin, cheap, tees that start falling apart after a couple washes.

Dress in quality, shop at Hanes.

 


Christmas Shopping - Give the gift of 'Freedom of Choice"

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

If you hate Christmas shopping, you're not alone.  Trying to figure out what to buy for everyone, budgeting for it all, fighting the crowds while thinking about something else you'd rather be doing with your time....  I know, not a very holiday friendly mindset, but it is the reality for many folks.

Enter, gift cards

Some people think gift cards aren't personal enough, that not enough 'thought' was put into the gift....

Horse manure.

Gift CardsGiving a gift card means the recipient gets to purchase what THEY want, spend the free money as THEY choose.  You can't GET any more personal and suited-to-the-individual than freedom of choice.

Don't worry about Mom giving you the, "Tsk, tsk."   If she was to really think about it, there is no downside to giving a gift card.  Just about any retailer takes a Visa or Mastercard giving the recipient the freedom of choice to shop where they want and yes, you can even personalize gift cards these days.  If you know a person's favorite store, you can get them a card for their favorite store because just about all the popular retailers offer gift cards. 

And here are the best reasons to give the gift of gift cards:

  • It's a virtual guarantee the person you gifted will get what they want.
  • It's a lot easier to budget your Christmas shopping.  While it's true there is no mystery in a person knowing how much you spent on them, there's no more surprise to you in learning how much that drone costs and still feeling obligated to buy it for little Johnny and then having to adjust (reduce) your budget for everybody else.  With gift cards, everybody gets 'X' dollars and you can't get any more fair than that.  
  • It's far easier to be able to focus on just gift cards for everyone, speeding up your shopping experience.  There's no going from one store to another, from the mall to that plaza, to that downtown boutique or specialty store across town.  You can pretty much get any kind of card you want in one trip to the grocery store.  You'll be done faster, able to focus on other holiday things, like decorating, volunteering, spending time with family, visiting with friends you haven't seen in awhile, going to a party you might otherwise miss, baking up goodies.
  • Gift cards are far more easily mailed.  There's no standing in long lines at the post office needing to mail a bunch of packages.  Just drop a Christmas card with that gift card enclosed at the drop box from the comfort of your warm car.

Gift the gift of a gift card for Christmas, it's freedom of choice for the recipient and greater holiday freedom for you.