Archive for October, 2008

Chicago’s Michigan Avenue is home to some of the priciest stores you’ll find anywhere, along with hundreds of mainstream retailers and restaurants. Generally, the city puts a lot of effort into keeping the area clean and upscale-looking. But there’s one glaring exception: the incredibly annoying “musicians” that park themselves in front of the high-traffic stores, […]

If you live in a city where Peapod is available, you’ve probably seen one of their delivery trucks. You might also have noticed that the online grocery retailer does a great job at turning each truck into a moving ad for their website. In particular, they have prominent branding and a call-to-action right on the […]

Though I rarely travel during the holidays, people always talk about how Christmas Day and New Year’s Day have low passenger traffic and cheap flights. Well, I checked out some flights for a potential trip to Florida anytime from mid-December through early January, and everything on Southwest was at least $400 per ticket. That’s about […]

When you call a company on the phone, they’ll sometimes tell you that you’ve tried to reach them during a very busy time. For instance, they might say that call volume is highest on Monday morning, and recommend that you call at another time if you don’t feel like waiting. While this isn’t a perfect […]

Even though we’re in the middle of fall, I did some spring cleaning recently. In the process, I was reminded of the incredible variety of documents that we tend to acquire over the years. And if you’ve ever read up on the matter, you know that most of these papers are of little value after […]

After a few recent conversations about the rapidly increasing cost of healthcare, I learned that many people are unfamiliar with a very useful math shortcut. It’s called the Rule of 72, and it helps you quickly calculate how long it will take for your investment — or your expenses — to double. To use this […]

Hidden pockets


Last weekend, I went shopping for a new winter coat. I’ve been wearing the same coats for almost a decade, so I figured it was time to find something new. In particular, I wanted a mid-weight coat for when the temperatures are in the 30s or 40s. I located a good match rather quickly. But […]

Sidewalk taxes


During the warmer months, many of Chicago’s restaurants set up outdoor dining areas. Normally this works out fine, and there’s plenty of room to walk around the makeshift patios. But sometimes the restaurants go too far, blocking more than two-thirds of an already narrow walking path. In the absence of any regulations, they have every […]

The next time you see a sign that says “Under construction” or “Pardon our dust while we remodel”, check for one more thing. Specifically, see if they’ve provided a picture of what the work is going to look like when it’s completed. In my experience, this is a rare find — maybe 10% of construction […]

With retail sales slumping in a difficult economy, many stores are running sales and providing significant loyalty discounts. Typically, they would offer something like $20 off $100, or another promo based on single-day purchases. However, I’m surprised to see that almost nobody is offering cumulative purchase discounts. What am I talking about? Instead of just […]