Where to Find the Best Deals This Weekend

 

 

Everyone wants to get a deal.  We all take pride in showing off our shiny new things to our friends, neighbors, and other on-lookers only to say, “I only got it for…”  As a special gift to you and your family, this holiday season, I’m going to tell you where you can get the absolute best deal for any gift worth giving.  There’s one slight catch: I’m not going to reveal this nugget until the very end of this post.

Last year I wrote an article titled, Stay the Hell Home! where I observed the major retail stores in our country attempt to breeze past Thanksgiving and start the shopping season early.  I pledged not to frequent any of the stores who stayed open for Thanksgiving for the entire holiday season.  This became a personal mission of mine when a friend told me he would not be seeing his elderly grandmother for Thanksgiving because her employer, Walmart,told her she would be out of a job if she failed to report to duty.  In other words, she wasn’t asked to volunteer to come in and earn time and a half, she was being forced to work through the holiday.  This year I am dismayed to see retail stores continue this same trend and I am once again pledging to take my business elsewhere UNLESS the CEO’s and Executive Board are also working through Thanksgiving.  I have sent letters to the corporate offices of major retailers including Target, Walmart, and Best Buy informing them of my one man boycott.  While I doubt the Board of Directors will be behind the register when Macy’s opens at 6 pm tomorrow, hopefully I can inspire you to stay home.

Here are a list of facts you may want to consider before you leave your family at the dinner table:

  1. SHOP ONLINE – I realize I may be biased but my website, www.philtasticshopper.com is designed specifically to help you get the best deal.  There are specialized tools like comparative shopping and shop buddy designed to specifically save you money at your favorite stores.  Understand, I’m not trying to change what you buy, just how you buy it.  In exchange, many partner stores offer up to 50% cashback.  Money in your pocket for something you were already going to buy.
  2. You aren’t necessarily getting the best deal –  Stores have figured out how to work the average consumer up into a frenzy and then, through the power of marketing, direct your focus to the items allowing the most room for profit.  Due to the advent of social media, companies really didn’t lose any money on me ignoring the ad because some pixel addled person will line up to buy the expensive piece of plastic they really don’t need in addition to one or two games to go with it.
  3. Unless you’re waiting  outside of the store now, they are most likely out of it–  Stores tend to get limited quantities of hot items.  Unless you are one of the first people in line at the store, chances are you probably won’t be getting it.

The absolute best deal you will get this holiday season, as promised, is not found at any store or on any website no matter what time of day you look. The best deal ever is right in your home.  Once your done reading, commenting, sharing, and praising this post ( shameless yes) shut your computer or phone down and walk into the dining room.  Sit with your spouse, your children, and relatives- even if they don’t have anything in particular to say or if they’re sleeping.  I don’t remember the Christmas mornings where I spent all day burning my retinas while staring intently at a Gameboy.  As cheesy as it sounds, I remember moments like how my Grandmother’s cooking smelled, how my Mom made sure the house was meticulously decorated each year, and the time when my Dad wrapped my present in about 7 larger boxes like a Russian doll.  Instead of buying objects, make some memories.  The luster of the shiny new things will fade away in weeks but good quality family time will shine on in the recesses of our minds for years to come.  No matter how hard a corporation or store tries they can’t manufacture memories of time will spent with family.  In the end isn’t family what Thanksgiving is all about?

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists.  Phil wishes you and your family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.  

 

Words Never Said – The Story of Fireflies and Flux

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I have a friend I have not seen in a few years. Who or why isn’t important, not to this post at least. I can’t say for sure if I ever will see her again, my heart says maybe my head says probably not. Rather than dwell on uncertainty I choose to make my own future. Let my fate be driven by my actions and thoughts rather than random acts put into motion by others. Still there is a conversation I wish I had with this person a long time ago. Let’s call this person Flux to avoid any further uncomfortable grammar. The rest of the details are irrelevant.

When I met Flux, Flux was very shy especially towards men. Flux had an issue with an abusive man and as a result had a fear of all men, even those in Flux’s family. Overtime Flux and I grew very close. I treated Flux like a member of my family and Flux did the same. One evening we were coming home from a night at the movies. I was in my car and Flux was in another. I didn’t see a “no turn on red” sign and was pulled over. I arrived at Flux’s house about twenty minutes later to find Flux was upset It was obvious Flux had sever separation anxiety and was afraid something had happened to me. A few months later, I was gone from Flux’s life. It wasn’t because of anything either of had done. The reason is irrelevant. I miss Flux a lot to this day and often regret I’m not part of Flux’s life any longer but I know the circumstances which separated us and know I did everything I could. There is one thing I was I had said to Flux. It haunts me now sometimes but I have faith Flux knows this because I have no other choice.

When I was a child and the warmer months were upon us, my sister and I would go outside at dusk and chase fireflies. We would try to trap one to watch their body illuminate before releasing them back into the night. On one occasion we were visiting my Grandmother, as we did weekly, and I had gone outside to catch fireflies. I managed to trap one in a small jar. I ran inside the house excited to show my family my new pet. My aunt and uncle ( brother and sister) sat me down and explained I had to release my firefly. I was only six or seven years old at the time but they explained to me somethings can’t belong to one person. They are there temporarily to appreciate and then are gone. Twenty five years or so later I realized I learned something important about people one summer evening at grandma’s house. People are like fireflies. They come into our life and they may brighten things up for awhile or they may just fly away. What makes them so special is the time we share amazed by their glow, not the time we spend missing their absence.

Flux is a little older now. I hope this is something Flux has come to realize. Every time I miss Flux I think about fireflies and say a quick little prayer hoping Flux is doing well, knowing if we are meant to be in each other’s life again, God will make it so. Until then, Every summer night when I see a firefly glow I will think of Flux and smile. Although I wish I could snuggle up next to Flux and play games like we always used to, I have to settle on this.

Spread Your Luck this Weekend

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In prior posts, I’ve mentioned I have pretty big goals for myself.  These goals and desires came out of wanting to do more, earn more, really just be a more well-rounded person.  There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious or wanting to leave your mark on the world but it’s also important to take a moment and appreciate what you have in life.  About two years ago, I came to a really simple but personally profound realization: I am one lucky guy.  I’m 35 years old young enough to still be on the go but old enough to avoid the pitfalls of youth, I live in a fairly quiet suburb of New Jersey with safe neighborhoods and access to anything I desire, and I’m healthy.  My parents are still with us and supportive of all my endeavors whether they agree with them or not, I have amazing siblings who inspire me in their own ways, and I have a large extended family I’m close with.  I live in a country where I can worship any religion I want, have any political opinion I’d like, and not worry about the consequences.  Don’t believe I’m so lucky? Stop and think about the young kid who has to walk to school everyday through a rough area, think about the millions of people living in poverty and squalor all over the world, and think about those stricken with mental or physical ailments preventing them from living a normal life.  I know it sounds a bit dramatic and heavy but these humbling thoughts help me be more appreciative of my lot in life.  I’ve always been a person who feels obligated to give back to those less fortunate, in the spirit of stewardship.  As a young adult I joined multiple non-profit organizations, some local and some national, with a thirst in my heart to help others.  I’m not as active in any of said organizations currently for a multitude of reasons, but I still look for the opportunity to volunteer or donate whenever I can.  Sadly, an opportunity to help another has come to my attention recently.

The precious baby pictured above is 7 month old Jackson Silva of Garwood, NJ.  Jackson suffers form a terrible disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy otherwise known as SMA.  Jackson has been diagnosed with Type I, also known as the Werdnig-Hoffman disease.  It is the most severe form of SMA and is the number one genetic killer of children under the age of two.  SMA destroys the nerves in the body by depleting it of SMN protein, essential for motor control.  In Jackson Silva’s case he is unable to move his arm and legs. He also has difficulty holding his head up.  Much of this information I obtained from a flyer given to me by Dave and Maria Silva, Jackon’s Grandparents. I did some additional research on my own and found additional grim and upsetting details about this truly horrible disease.  Sadly of those afflicted by type I SMA, only 10% are known to live into adolescence and adulthood.  Those who do survive have a greatly diminished quality of life.   Worst of all there is no cure for SMA.

Although I don’t know the Silva’s very well their resilience and faith during this extremely difficult time is very moving and a testament to their family and their beliefs. I will be participating in The Steeplechase Distance Walk/Run this coming Sunday (09/28/2014) in Hillsborough, NJ.  If you live in the area, Sunday is supposed to be a beautiful day, come participate in the events or purchase a t-shirt to support Team Jackson and SMA research.  The last time I posted a link to my blog, my page was suspended for a few days but if you’d like more information go to www (DOT) steps-together (DOT) org, do a web search for “Jackson Silva SMA” or better yet- like and share “Jackson’s Journey”on Facebook.  For additional fundraising info or support contact Jackson’s Grandpa, Dave Silva, 908-482-5500 or email ABetterWay2Live@aol.com.

In closing, please consider the following: you too may very well be a lucky person, and I hope you are.  I can’t make you to do something but I’m a firm believer in “paying it forward.”  Even if you can’t attend the walk this weekend, please consider supporting Team Jackson in any way you are able to.  Spread your luck, awareness, and prayers for Jackson Silva and all infants suffering from Type I SMA.  Share Jackson’s Journey posts on Facebook, share this blog post, and really draw attention to this vile ailment.  Whether or not you attend the upcoming event, please share your experience with SMA or ideas on how we can help Jackson Silva below.  In the words of Horace Mann, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.”

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Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like-minded optimists. Phil supports Team Jackson and hopes to see you at the Run/Walk for Jackson on Sunday Sept 28th in Hillsborough.

Facebook Helps Bring the Limbs on my Family Tree Closer

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” – Alex Haley It’s easy for someone to hate social media.  It may not have a practical purpose other then to let people who have too much to say talk to much about what their favorite movie is, how high … Read more