STAPLES UPDATE: Once again, Staples has some good back-to-school sales, and as always Slickdeals is on top of it. This week’s deals:
- 2-pack Sharpie Fine Permanent Makers $0.25
- 8-pack BIC Round Stic Grip Ballpoint Pens $0.25
- 70-sheets Staples Poly Cover 1-Subject Notebook $0.25
- Really Useful Products 0.14-Liter Storage Bins $0.25
- 120-sheets Staples 8″x10.5″ College or Wide Ruled Filler Paper $0.50
- 70-sheets Staples Poly Cover Composition Book $0.50
- 2-pack BIC Velocity Gel Pen $0.50
- Westcott Preferred 7″ Scissors $1
- 15-pack Staples Binder Clips $1
- 140-sheets Staples Side Coil 3.25″x4.25″ Memo Book $1
- 120-pack Staples Paper Clips $1
- Westcott 12″ Plastic Ruler $1
- 4-pack BIC Great Erase Dry-Erase Fine Tip Markers $1
- 3-pack Pentel Hi-Polymer White Handheld Erasers $1
BEING HOMELESS FOR FUN AND PROFIT: Over on Quora, somebody asks if being homeless would be a good cost-cutting strategy, and the question elicited an interesting answer from a product designer named Kurt Varner:
I recently concluded a 4 month adventure of living from my car in Silicon Valley. Don’t listen to the naysayers. It can be done, and it will save you a ton of money. I did this out of choice, also while bootstrapping my startup.
My monthly costs were a grand total of $219. $100 for a 24/7 co-working membership, $39 for a 24/7 gym membership, and $80 at the grocery store.
If you’re at all curious, he goes into a lot more detail of how everything worked, including videos of his sleeping arrangement. There’s also a write-up of Varner’s adventure in Inc. magazine.
HOW TO MAKE $400/HOUR: A great way to make money is by convincing people who have a lot of it to give some to you, and the New York Post has the scoop on one such method:
Posh Manhattan moms and dads are taking parental obsessiveness to new heights — by hiring $400-an-hour recreation “experts” to organize play dates for their children.
These pricey pre-planned play times are monitored by instructors who teach them the proper way to socialize with their well-heeled peers in order to maximize their chances of getting into New York’s elite private schools.
“Some kids need a little bit more work” at learning how to play, said Suzanne Rheault, the CEO of one of the firms that organize play dates, called Aristotle Circle. “Sometimes [parents] hear from our experts that there are some areas to improve.”
It is not surprising that “experts” who make $400 per hour identify areas for improvement. But later, we find out what this is really about:
Rheault’s pricey play dates involve groups of three to five 4-year-olds playing in a room. The experts closely monitor how the kids share crayons, color, follow directions in Simon Says, and hold a pencil.
All this child’s play is deadly serious for parents, because the toddlers will be judged on these skills when they apply to top-end schools, such as Trinity and Horace Mann.
“Given that admission rates [to elite kindergartens] are so low, parents don’t want to leave anything to chance,” Rheault said.
Manhattan is nuts.
GOOD TIMES WITH MCDONALD’S MONOPOLY: McDonald’s is once again doing its Monopoly game, America’s #1 source of a free medium fries. Last year, Brandon at Bargaineering conducted an experiment. McDonald’s lets you get game pieces for free if you write them and include a self-addressed stamped envelope, so Brandon sent them 100 SASEs. The whole thing is meticulously detailed here. The results:
Breakfast Sandwich – 5
Medium Fries – 22
Regular McFlurry – 1
Small Frappe/Smoothie – 5
Redbox – 4
My Coke Rewards – 2
Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese – 4
2 Snapfish Prints – 2
But the more important question: was it worth it?
Would I make any money back?
Answer: Nope. Actually, I lost money. My total expenses (not counting man-hours) was $117. My total earnings in instant-win prizes only tallied up to $90.62. So I have an ROI of -$26.38. Yes. I made negative money. This was actually surprising. I figured that with the “1 in 4 wins!” claim, I’d easily match and probably offset all my expenses in food earnings. But even at a decent 22-23% success rate, I wasn’t able to break through.
But there’s more to life than just money:
Was this a fun experiment to do?
Answer: Definitely. I’m still glad I completed this stunt. I learned plenty about the process of a sweepstakes, and the amount of time and attention required to participate. Though I didn’t win anything substantial, I’m still amazed by the outcome, and how the numbers worked out (or didn’t, technically ).
As somebody who’s thought it would be entertaining to do something like this just to see what would happen, I’m glad Brandon completed this stunt too.