Love and Nostagia for the Cheaper Stuff

Sometimes the best things in life are the cheap things.

The Cost of Insomnia

For several months now, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night. I’ll look at my clock, and it’ll be 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., and I’ll close my eyes and lay still, hoping to doze off again to wake up at a reasonable hour.

Monday Check-in

And how were your weekends?

Friday Estimate

What are your estimations?

The Real Cost of Prescription Drugs

Last night, I left the office around 8:30 so I could make it to a pharmacy before it closed and pick up some prescriptions. The young woman behind the counter asked me for my name, and then her eyes got wide for a few seconds before she said:

“Your copays are insane!”

Upselling at the Dentist’s Office

On a recent weekend, I learned that one of my friends had just begun dating a dentist, and later, at a party we all happened to be at, my friend L. wondered aloud if it would be rude to ask him questions she had about her fillings.

Group Fall Getaways

Eight friends and I have started somewhat of a tradition of renting a house in the middle of the woods during the fall. It’s a chance to get out of the city, to watch the leaves change, and spend some time together before the rush of the November and December holidays.

Monday Check-in

And how were your weekends?

Friday Estimate

What are your estimations?

The Story Behind Costco’s Free Samples

When I was a kid, my father would devise a cheap lunch that consisted of taking me to Costco to snack on some free samples, and then we’d split the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo in the food court (it’s still $1.50 today—an amazing deal after taking inflation into account). This was done more out of necessity than frugality, though I was unaware of it at the time. I was more fixated on that fact that stores gave all those samples away for free.

The Atlantic writes that this is a tactic that actually boosts sales, builds loyalty, and occasionally gets people to buy things they wouldn’t have picked up at the store in the first place:

Ariely adds that free samples can make forgotten cravings become more salient. “What samples do is they give you a particular desire for something,” he says. “If I gave you a tiny bit of chocolate, all of a sudden it would remind you about the exact taste of chocolate and would increase your craving.”

But maybe the most interesting part of this story has less to do with the premise of the Atlantic article, which is to examine the psychology behind free samples; it’s about the labor behind free samples and you’d miss it if you didn’t read until the very end:

The Widespread Popularity of HGTV

Sometimes, at a dinner party, or at another kind of event where you are meeting friends of friends and engaging in small talk, you’ll start off by talking about what you do, and then where you live, and how crazy the real estate market is around here and how that’s reflected on shows like Selling New York, and then you suddenly realize that the acquaintance in front of you has also watched HGTV on more than one occasion, and have they seen Love It or List It or Property Brothers?

I don’t have cable, nor own a television for that matter, and yet somehow, I’m aware of all of this. I’ll be traveling for work somewhere and will find myself in my hotel room watching someone put up a subway tile backsplash in their kitchen.

Why do so many people watch HGTV? According to Pacific Standard’s Phillip Maciak, HGTV is “so watchable because it features attainably realistic ritual re-enactments of the American Dream every half-hour.”