Sunday, March 2, 2014

Shopping at IKEA

In the last period, one of the ever-growing number of tasks on my list was to fill the empty space in my apartment with furniture, decorations and all things that a house might require.
Like any other consumer demand, there are quite a lot of big and small companies coming to satisfy this demand. The most popular, as you know, is IKEA.

So, how was it for me shopping at IKEA?

Well, they have their ups and downs. Lets start with the ups.



1. IKEA is big

I went to two IKEA stores in my life: somewhere near Stockholm, and in Bucharest.
It is quite nice when you have all the things you need in one place. You don't really have to go from one store to another to get all the things you want; all are there.

2. IKEA has a great on-line kitchen configurator

I never found a better kitchen configurator as the one IKEA has. It offers you the possibility to create the 3D plan of your kitchen and play with all the configurations possible. I think that we decided after 5, or 6 tries. So it's quite nice to see your kitchen done before you pay anything.

3. IKEA's interior decorations

 IKEA is very good at interior decorations, you can find in their stores a huge variety of all the stuff you would want, and more.

4. Bedroom closets

One of the things I liked at IKEA when I had to buy a bedroom closet was the fact that they offered a huge flexibility when it came to closet compartments. For me it is quite important to maximize the used space in a closet.


1. Pour quality

The quality of IKEA's products is not that great. You get the feeling of a cheep product, especially at the beds and couches. All seams to be made out of plastic, or very pour quality plywood. The mattresses are the type that will not last you for more then an year. The tables are very fragile, easily scratchable, and the colours and not that great.  Not all are bad, but if you are looking for high quality, look somewhere else.

2. Big furniture prices

 When it comes to big furniture like a kitchen, IKEA is not as cheep as they are promoting themselves to be. They have individual prices for all the small articles, but when you sum all up you will not get a small bill. So be careful and see what other options there are for you out there.

3. Size customization

You do have some options for sizes at IKEA but the variety is quite small. I felt this the most at my kitchen. I could only choose between 60cm or 45cm width of cabinets, 60cm or 90cm for hight, and so on. Sometimes your kitchen might require some customization which they do not offer.


If you want to finish your house fast and do not really care about quality then IKEA is the best place for you.

However, if you do care about quality then I suggest to look somewhere else. Don't get me wrong, you can find good things in IKEA, I was quite pleased with the kitchen, but I would never buy a bedroom furniture from them.

For me the alternative where the small furniture companies who are going all the way for their customers. Most of them will create custom furniture at the dimensions, shape and colours your desire. The prices are coomparable with IKEA but the quality is much better.

That's it for know!
Hope you found this information useful and, as always, keep your finances under control with Troosby!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Psychology Of Advertising

It's quite obvious that today's modern society is based on consumerism. It is very difficult to say if this is a good or a bad thing when you try to think about it in a very pragmatic manner.

For example, one can argue that "consumerism is bad" because it makes us buy things which we don't really need. That's a true fact which has multiple implications: distorted human value system, pollution, wasted natural resources, and so on.

On the other hand, one can claim that "consumerism is good" because it's sustaining the ever growing population of this planet.

Obviously, when we go shopping, we don't buy a TV because we think about some poor folks from Indonesia which will starve if the TV is not sold. We buy it because it is alluring to us,  because something in our brain is triggered and we choose that particular TV.

But what's that trigger? Do we decide to buy a particular product based on a rational set of thoughts which objectively decide that product A is better then B and C?

We like to thing that the answer is "Yes", but most of the time we are manipulated. That is not a bad thing, nor a good one, it is just the effect of the competition between companies for profit and their tool is called "The Psychology of Advertising".

Nowadays  the advertising and the psychology behind it is a stand alone business, and a science, which require many years of study and experience to master.
Without a proper education it's impossible to learn it just by browsing the forums and blogs, but we can scratch the surface and be aware of some of the methods applied.

Here is a very interesting video which deals with the methods of persuasion. The authors of the video have a very interesting website: Influence At Work. The video is based on the research of Dr. Robert Cialdini, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University.It presents 6 "short-cuts" which people use in order to take some decisions. These are:
  1. Reciprocity
  2. Scarcity
  3. Authority
  4. Consistency
  5. Liking
  6. Consensus
Watch the video and learn a little bit about these principles.

So next time you buy something, try to identify these persuasion methods so that your free will will have a higher percentage in the decision that you will take.

An other short funny video presents in a very easy-to-understand manner the theory called Elaboration Likelihood Model (E.L.M.). You can find out from here how colours are used in advertising.

That's it for today! Hope you've enjoyed this article, and, as always, keep your finances under control with Troosby!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Origins Of Black Friday

As "Black Friday" is getting closer and closer, I got curious on the origin of this day. I looked around online and found some interesting explanations. Here is a quick summary of what I found. You can follow the links, if you want to go into more details.

What is "Black Friday"?

 According to Wikipedia, Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Why "Black Friday"?

 I found several explanations of the term. Here are the most interesting explanations:
  1.  Philadelphia police and bus drivers call it "Black Friday" – that day each year between Thanksgiving Day and the Army–Navy Game, due to the massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.
  2. Once-common accounting practices would use red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period when retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year's profits (the black).
  3. In the 1950s, some factory managers referred to the day after Thanksgiving as "black Friday" because so many workers called in sick. The day, noted one industrial magazine, was "a disease second only to the bubonic plague" in its effects on employees.
 So, as "Black Friday", is just around the corner, I have a few advices for you:
  • Black Friday means big discounts, so the temptation to buy stuff you did not plan will be big - make a list of things you want/need and stick to it
  • stay safe - Wikipedia lists a lot of violent acts during Black Friday
  • take the opportunity and buy during Black Friday the gifts you plan to give for Christmas

That's it for today, and, as always, keep your finances under control with Troosby!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Saving money while going in vacation

How many times each of you, after a nice well deserved vacation, when arriving home and did the maths realized you have went way over your budget due to some unnecessary spendings?

Well I for sure was faced with this situation many times, and the most annoying thing, was that those extra spent money did not improve the quality of my vacation whatsoever. On the contrary, many unnecessary spendings could have been easily avoided if I were more careful and organized better my holiday.

Here you can find some tested personal experience advices on how to save money when going in vacation.

1. Direct purchase of your plane tickets and accommodation!
Even if, at first glance, it may seem more comfortable to go to a tourist agency and buy a vacation package with flight and accommodation you must always bear in mind that in order to make profit all those agencies must add some extra taxes.This is why it is strongly recommended to surf the internet for flights and accommodation, and try to actually buy them directly from their websites.I personally do this all the time and I am very satisfied with the money spent.

2.Pay attention to hidden prices!
Be very careful when purchasing a plane ticket at an unusual low price! Many times these so called deals may cost you more that actually buying a ticket at an average price.For instance, the actual flight may be cheap but you need to pay extra money if you want to bring on another luggage besides your hand luggage, which you definitely need when going in vacation.

Moreover, be really suspicious when you see very low prices for, for instance, four stars hotels.Most of the times, these hotels even if they look really nice, they may be situated outside the city and therefore can bring extra costs such as the need to rent a car to get around or the very expensive public transportation fees.

3.Plan ahead all your vacation days schedule!
With a couple of weeks before going to vacation try to do some searching of what are the main attractions over there, what are the best affordable restaurants, how to get there, transport fares etc...In this way you can save plenty of time and money, have no unexpected "surprises" and really enjoy your holidays!

In addition, it is always a good idea to buy on-line tickets, to avoid unnecessary time-wasting queues.For instance when we visited Paris this summer, if we hadn't  bought  on-line tickets for entrance to the Tour Eiffel we would have wasted an entire day queuing with no guarantee that we would ever get to the top of the tower.

4.Avoid unnecessary costs!
Try to avoid all unnecessary costs such as buying cigarettes from a restaurant instead of buying them from a tobacco shop or buying all kind of snacks or cookies from a coffee shop instead of buying them directly from a nearby grocery store.

5.Never buy souvenirs in the first days of your vacation!
How many of you when reaching the end of your vacation realize that the exactly souvenirs you bought in the first days of your arrival could have been bought at a much cheaper price just at the souvenir shop a couple of blocks ahead? Well I for sure did, so this is why I try to avoid buying souvenirs in the first days. First, I try to find my way through the new city I am in, to visit a couple of attractions, to get to know more of the that place, of the prices...etc and only afterwards, at the end of my journey I buy gifts for the loved ones.
On the other hand, don't postpone buying the souvenirs on the last hundred yards when you are in the airport heading home because, as you may already know the so called "duty free" shops from the airports are not very cheap.

Sure hope you're gonna find these travelling money spending advices useful for your next holiday!
Wish you a great day and don’t forget to keep control over your finances with Troosby!

Monday, October 28, 2013

How To Protect Yourself From Yourself When Spending Money?

How many times have you set a monthly spendings budget for yourself?

For many of us the answer would be: too many times. And as that many times we went over budget.

The first solution that comes to our head when trying to solve the problem of staying within a fixed budget is to track all our spendings and compare all the time with the targeted budget. When we get close to the budget we start to make some cuts.

In theory this should work ... but experience shown us different. Because you earn more than you’re targeting yourself to spend, you may have the tendency to buy goods which you can afford based on your incomes, not on your fixed budget.

There is a simple three steps solution to this problem, and even if you might think of it as too rudimentary, it simply works!

The Envelopes Method

Step #1: reduce electronic pays to a minimum.

Avoid shopping on-line or use your credit/debit cards. Cards are your budget killers!
This is because you don't really feel that you exchange one of your goods (money) for some other goods when you press a button on a website, or when a cashier swipes your credit card through a machine and don't feels any lighter when you get it back.

Try to keep electronic pays only to the bare essentials like utilities bills.

Step #2: make envelopes with cash to spend per week.

Put in separate envelopes the cash you want to spend in each week of the month.
Don't be too optimistic and set a very low budget. This is a sure recipe for failure. Just set a slightly smaller budget than what you spent last month.
Leave your cards at home and try to live only with the money from the envelopes.
In this way you will see all the time how your physical money are less and less as you go through the week and you can take necessary actions.

If you saved some money in a week add them to the envelope of next week. This will be your bonus.

Step #3: re-iterate.

Don't expect to be successful from day one; practice is what makes us better.
At the end of each month see when you used electronic pays and decide if you can reduce them. Just keep in mind that electronic pays are the biggest threat to your budget.

Set a smaller budget than what you had before. Don't decrease it with more than 10%, a realistic decrease can be just 5%.


If you want to cut out on your spendings sprees then lose your cards and spend only cash.

Use a money management platform, just as Troosby to track how much you spent and on what, but limit the money you have available at you on a weekly basis and try to pay with cash – you don’t see the money leaving your pockets when you use cards.

That's it for today! Keep your finances under control with Troosby ... and envelopes :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How to save money when buying clothes!

As a woman I can tell you, from my own personal experience, that a great deal of my finances goes away on clothes.

That wouldn't bother me that much if I actually wore and enjoyed all of them. But the thing is, that every now and then when I make a review of my closet I feel amazed of how many clothes I have purchased and never wore. And in terms of finances this all translates in a lot of no purpose wasted money.

In order to reduce the amount of money spent on unnecessary items and to actually enjoy and make maximum use of the clothes you buy I came up with a list of suggestions/tips/advices which you might find really useful.

1.Make a strict inventory of your wardrobe and get rid of unnecessary items!
At every end of the season I try to make an inventory of the clothes I have in the wardrobe at that moment.I sort out the clothes I have worn in that season and the clothes I barely used. If I haven’t used them all season long it is really clear that there are small chances I’m gonna use them next season, so the best thing is to give them away.
There are plenty of people who might need them and in that way you can tidy up your wardrobe a bit and actually be able to have a clear view of your clothes and wear some of them more often.

2. After reviewing your clothes make a realist list of the items you need to purchase in the near future!
Make an inventory  of your favourite clothes combinations for different situations and  then try and make a list of all the clothes you need in order to complete some missing clothes combinations and never back down from that list. Even if you see in a store a very lovely  dress, if it is not on the list forget about it, you don’t need it, it’s only gonna be a waste of money and it’s gonna crowd your wardrobe unnecessarily.

3.Shopping on sales , the best way to get some really good deals!
  Shopping on sales is always a good idea if you want to spend less money.For instance you can buy cold season clothes at the beginning of spring when all the winter clothes are on sale, and you can pack them nicely during the summer and begin wearing them next winter. But dealing with sales also has a tricky part: sometimes you can be tempted to buy a lot of things you don't actually need just because they are cheap! In this situation always bear in mind to stick to the  list of things you really need.

4.Readjust some of your older clothes and wear them as new!
Many of us may have in the wardrobe some clothes we just can't let go of but we can't wear them either due to the fact that they are too tight/ too large and need some adjustments.That's why it is very helpful to go to a tailor and readjust these clothes according to your tastes .This way you have some "new" clothes in your wardrobe which you can wear and they don't cost as much as actually buying a new item.

5.Borrowing clothes from a friend is always a good idea!
When you have an event to attend to and you don't want to be seen in the same dress as last year's wedding party, instead of going to buy a new dress which you are going to wear on just one occasion you can better turn your attention to borrowing an outfit from a good friend. This is an excellent opportunity when you want to save money!

I sure hope theese advices may help you in your financial decisions regarding buying clothes.

Wish you a great day and don’t forget to keep control over your finances with Troosby!

Monday, October 14, 2013

How To Buy a Smart TV?

I started looking around for a new TV, and, as I don't shop for a TV every month, I realized that a lot has changed from the last time I jump into reviews, forums, and online-shops.

You now have a lot of options to choose from: HD, Full HD, 3D, web browsing, incredible remote controlsSkype, TV apps, file sharing ... and the list goes for ever.

All these nice features are quite attractive but the question is: will I still use them one month after I bought the TV?

Deep down inside I know already the answer. Even if I have a tone of options, my audio-system settings are all on default, I only use just one program on my washing machine (out of 15), I only use two programs on my dish-washer (out of 9), I never touched "melt chocolate" button on my cooking stove ... you get the point.

If you step back for a minute and see the big picture you will realize that all these SmartTV features are just a not very good and non-flexible implementation of a Smart phone.

The alternative: buy an Android media player box and an ordinary, non-smart TV!

Having Android enables you to install any app you want as you can find tones of apps on Google Play.

So instead of buying a 2000€ Smart TV, be smart and buy a Non-Smart TV with 1400€, get yourself a 150€ Android TV box and save 450€.
You can get with less money a TV with better image quality then a more expensive Smart TV for which a lot of your money paid for "Smart" not for "TV".

There are a lot of Android media players out there for you to choose (e.g. Himedia, PNI), just google it.

That's it for today, hope you find my alternative for buying a Smart TV helpful!

Keep control over your finances with Troosby!