Flowchart: Should I Buy This?

Don’t let Black Friday deals and holiday gift-giving pressure get to you. Here’s the ultimate answer for your shopping dilemmas

I used to pride myself on two things: scoring really great bargains, and giving really great gifts. But this summer, something snapped. Preparing for a cross-country move, I found myself mired in cardboard boxes, drowning in stuff: A soup tureen I requested on my wedding registry, six Champagne flutes snapped up for $11, a ceramic monkey sculpture from my college roommate. Never having considered myself a person of extravagant taste (granted, a porcelain soup tureen and champagne flutes should have been clues), I was suddenly confronted with the fact I had way, way too much crap.

But some of this “crap” came from friends and relatives in the form of thoughtful gifts. And, let me be clear, it is stuff that I treasure, but in the end, it is just stuff. I then realized that, as much as I liked giving gifts, they too, were just stuff that someone else now had to deal with. I wondered how many of the gifts I had given over the years became a source of aggravation. Or worse, how many ended up in some landfill? If, as they say, it really is the thought that counts, then why not treat your friend or loved one to a dinner, or a movie, or a dinner and a movie? That seems a lot more fun than a gift gathering dust on a bookshelf or in a closet.

“But it’s a good deal!” I know that refrain well, but with Black Friday ready to kick off another holiday shopping season of sales, us bargain hunters should remember that it’s only a deal if it’s something that you really need. Otherwise, you’re paying good money for something of little personal value. During the bombardment of doorbuster days and present-giving pressure, my gift to you is this printable flow chart. Refer to this any time you ask yourself, “Should I buy this?”

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet