If you caught the 60 Minutes piece last week talking to Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, you already know that Amazon is working on the flying delivery of packages via remote powered drones called Amazon Prime Air. According to Bezos, these little drones known as ”octocopters” because of their 8 swirling blades, could be delivering packages weighing up to five pounds by 2015.
My mind immediately started racing with the potential problems, some hilarious and some tragic…
1. Pets Beware
My Basset Hound “Bo” would go absolutely nuts if an Amazon drone tried to land in our front yard. He would either run off in complete fear and get hit by a car or get waaaay too close to the eight swirling ear slicers. Tip to Bezos: Have the drones drop a dog treat before landing, maybe even drop the treat 30 feet away from where the thing actually lands. I mean seriously, our UPS driver is always armed with a pocket full of dog treats and Bo the Basset runs with delight when he pulls into our driveway.
Also, as has been previously documented, my family has two new pygmy goats here on the Rather-Be-Shopping.com ranch. What the heck happens if the drone gets off course by 30 feet and lands in the goat pen? We could be eating goat sausage for months. Going to have a hard time explaining that one to the kids. Not good.
2. Shoot’n Shop Time!
I live in a fairly conservative part of the country where folks love their Fox News and their guns. What’s to keep folks from taking out their shotguns and doing a little “shoot’n shop”?
I can picture it now, it’s Christmas Eve and you still don’t have a gift for your wife, just set up a lawn chair in the front yard and when you see a drone in the area, BANG!, shoot the thing down, wrap the contents, and stick’r under the tree. A little Uncle Eddie”ish” no doubt, but you can’t tell me people won’t do this, especially in rural areas.
3. Beware the Flying Guillotine
What is to keep this thing from lopping off someones noggin as they walk around the neighborhood? Nothing says Christmas like red blood in the streets. Yikes. Bezos even talked about this in the interview. The systems to make Prime Air work correctly would have to be pretty rock solid. One head lopping and the experiment is over.
4. Apartment Dwellers Beware
If you don’t have a front yard and instead live in an apartment you might end up with a drone banging against your sliding glass door, destroying your screen door, trying to deliver your Christmas packages. The logistics of Prime Air give me a headache just thinking about it. If this ever actually happens, I think the percentage of people and houses that will be approved for delivery will be exactly 34 homes nationwide. They will be large estates, with HUGE front lawns, inside the city limits of large metropolitan areas. Ironically, these will also be the only people who’ll be able to afford it.
5. What Do You Really Need in 30 Minutes?
Amazon promises 30 minute deliver on most packages with Prime Air. Let’s see, the list of Christmas gifts or everyday products I MUST have within 30 minutes? Pretty short list. Maybe Insulin. Rattlesnake venom. As for Christmas….maybe gravy. Nothing worse than carving up the turkey or prime rib and realizing you don’t have any gravy for the mashed potatoes. Prime Air to the rescue baby.
Ask the Reader: What do you think of Amazon Prime Air? Do you think you’d use it if the delivery costs were fairly reasonable? Not sure what “fairly reasonable” would be though. Kind of fun to think about.
By Kyle James
(I don’t feature many guest posts anymore but I thought this one was spot on and happy to include it today! Joey Brewer is a financial contributor who reports on the best holiday deals and writes about smart shopping tips and home budgeting strategies.)
Americans are planning to spend over $800 each on gifts this holiday season, according to the American Research Group. In addition to that, many are sure to dole out cash for airline tickets, car fuel, food and drink, and holiday entertainment. In short, we are prone to significant overspending between Thanksgiving and the new year – to the point that a January credit card hangover may soon become as dependable a tradition as pumpkin pie.
If you’d like to keep yourself from spending too much this holiday season, you’re going to have to do significant research, plan your celebrations prudently, and practice some discipline with your credit cards. If you succeed, you can save yourself from having to dig yourself out from under that wintry blizzard of credit card debt come 2014. Here’s how to get started.
1. Create Mini-Budgets
Creating a holiday budget is essential, but taking a broad approach won’t do you much good. Get specific. Instead of limiting your gift spending to $1,000 overall, for example, break your gift list down and assign each recipient a dollar amount. You’re not going to spend as much on a distant relative as you are on your significant other, so come up with a detailed budget and stick to it.
2. Get Deals After Black Friday
Just because Black Friday has passed doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on all the good discounts. Sign up for email newsletters at sites like BradsDeals, Rather-Be-Shopping.com, or Ben’s Bargains to get information on a variety of post-Black Friday shopping deals, both online and in retail stores. If you feel like taking a chance, consider saving some shopping for Christmas Eve when great last-minute deals are often available. Just make sure you’re ready with a back-up plan in case the gift you have your eye on is sold out.
3. Ramp Up Your Cash Back
Use your Discover it credit card to get 5% cash back on Internet shopping, your Target RedCard for 5% off all holiday purchases, and your Chase Freedom card for 5% cash back on department store purchases and anything you buy on Amazon. But don’t stop there. To get even more cash back, sign up at a website like eBates, which rewards you simply for accessing retail websites through its links – it’s truly free money, so take advantage of it.
4. Stick Your Plastic In a Drawer
Earning 5% cash back on credit card purchases is meaningless if you have to pay unnecessary interest charges – so don’t allow for the possibility. If you simply can’t overcome the temptation to overspend when using your credit cards, take them out of your wallet or purse and simply pay for everything with cold, hard cash. And don’t take more than you need. Plan your shopping route in detail, know where you’re going for exactly which purchases, and take only the amount of money you’ve planned to spend.
5. Scale Back the Gift Giving
This may prove challenging, especially if you try to keep up with the Joneses, but the best way to reduce your holiday overspending is to give fewer – or less expensive – gifts. Adopt a more modest mindset when deciding what to give, or spend more time finding out what your recipients really need, and devote your energy to saving as much as possible on those purchases. Consider offering the gift of service, as well. Offer your parents a month of laundry and house cleaning duties or give your spouse a month of home-cooked meals. By getting creative and eschewing that latest shiny object that hits the market, you can make your loved ones happy and save a good amount of money in the process.
6. Track Your Spending
Creating a holiday spending budget is essential, but it does you no good if you tuck it away on a shelf. Keep your budget front and center. Refer to it constantly, check items off, and make adjustments as necessary. If you overspent by $50 on a particular recipient, for example, you’re going to need to save $50 somewhere else, so make the necessary cuts. Writing up a budget you’re not constantly referring to is an exercise in futility.
Too many Americans overspend during the holidays with the understanding that their tax refunds can help bail them out of debt when the new year comes. This is not a wise money management strategy. Your tax refund is not prize money. It was yours to begin with, essentially an interest-free loan you gave the government when your taxes were withheld. That money should be devoted to building wealth, not paying off unnecessary debt. Tackle any holiday spending issues you may have today, and your long-term financial goals are going to be that much easier to achieve.
Ask the Reader: What budgeting tips do you have for preventing overspending over the holidays?
Holiday Budgeting Spreadsheet courtesy of Cleverly Simple.com. Thanks Lynette for putting this together. Even though it is from 2012 it will still work great!
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