Saturday, 12 April 2014

Saving money online

Hi, (this post was started a few weeks ago - I ended up with a major virus leaving me housebound with me and sick kids for 2 weeks, with another week either side getting sick/recuperating)

I'm on day 9 of being housebound with a rotten virus. So I've had too much time online, some of it well-spent, like taking part in the Irish Cancer Society's "No make up selfie" campaign, some of it spending money on eBay, and some of it saving money on eBay, and waaay too much time on Facebook.
So what I'm particularly proud of is how I figured we could save money on a kid's toy I've read about for a while on US blogs, the Rainbow Loom:

Apparently it was THE craze of 2013 in the States among tweens, boys and girls alike, making bracelets, keychains and characters out of rubber bands woven together on this peg-board plastic loom. You use a crochet-style hook to loop the bands over each other in various patterns, and end up with things like this:

I love this:

And I know my eldest son will love these:

And my toddler will go mad for this:

So it's crafty, cheap-ish as hobbies go, requires a learning curve and concentration, and improves dexterity. What's not to like?! Bonus extra, it keeps the kids away from the tv and video games.

The Rainbow Loom is hard to get your hands on here in Ireland, the closest I could find was this Cra-Z Loom for 18.99 euros.

Which sounds almost ok, until I saw the limited number of bands (600 I think) and that the board and packaging was very girl-oriented. I hate the use of pink/purple/blue to denote the gender the toy is destined for, and my son is already aware of what's a "girl" toy etc.

Some bracelets need almost 80-90 bands to complete, so the Cra-Z loom would soon be needing a refill pack, which in Irish toy stores retails at 12.99 e for 2000 bands. Again, the packaging is very girl-centred, and the price seems steep for some little rubber bands.

So on to Amazon and Ebay I went. I was looking for the loom, hook and enough bands to do us a good while, didn't want to get stuck into a new craft to run out of essential colours and have to wait for replacements.

(From here on I wrote this post today)

I found this great storage box on eBay, with about 4000 bands, which should really do a lifetime of looming. Ok, it costs the same as the Cra-Z loom, but comes with more bands, so we shouldn't need a refill. Plus this loom comes apart to be reconfigured to make different patterns (Cra-Z loom is one solid piece) Yadda-yadda, this may be very boring for those of you not still in touch with your inner 10 year old, but my point was I am happy with the money I saved. I think it took about 2-3 weeks to arrive, I've lost count.

Now to the ethical question. We all (hopefully) are aware that almost everything we buy new is made by slave labour in Asia. The Rainbow Loom is no exception, and yes, by buying it I have supported that industry. But whether I'd bought it in the toy shop up the road or from a UK retailer, it still would have been made in the sweatshops of China. I've just cut out the middle man. I did spend a long while looking through all the seller's other products, and I avoided the shops selling real human hair too, as I've seen more about the ways the hair is procured and I'm really not ok supporting them. It's all shitty really when you look into it. We just buy most things second-hand or upcycle/recycle stuff for crafting, and this is one purchase that needed to be bought new.

So there you have it. I do this nowadays with most things we need to buy, spend a long time looking online and comparing prices, find the cheapest shop, and have it delivered if possible to cut down my running-around time. My days of walking/driving from shop to shop to compare are well and truly over.

Have you made any great savings online? Let us know!
And for the record, this is a bloody tricky thing to master. I spent ages making the Minion bracelet yesterday for my excited toddler, only to discover at the last step that I'd missed a loop early on (like dropping a stitch in knitting) and there was no way to recover it, so I have to start again now.

Hope you're all well, I'm getting out loads these days to make up for the ill weeks. Hence the tumbleweed on the blog. I have a load of posts half-written, but I didn't want to stick up the "moany, I'm sick" ones or the "look what an idiot posted on Facebook" ones, so I spared you a few negative reads!

Nee x

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