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this Hannukah break the supply chain

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...

At least once a holiday season, I walk past the shuk and see the beautiful baskets on sale for the holidays.  It takes me a short moment for the pleasantries to sink in, but when it does, I usually have the following reaction:

“90 shekels?!  This person is selling bamaba, two mikupelets and a bad bottle of wine in a basket for 90 shekels?!  Who in their right mind would pay for this?”

But of course someone does pay for this; otherwise the sellers wouldn’t make the gift sets every holiday.  These sellers are making money by utilizing the supply chain.

The supply chain refers to the various steps needed in order to purchase, produce and distribute an item.  If you were making cars, your supply chain would include your goods from suppliers, your assembly equipment, your assemblers, your delivery people and your sales people. 

The same principle can be applied to buying Hannukah presents.  In the case of a Hannukah present, the supply chain includes the items for the present, the compilation and the delivery.  And while everyone loves one stop shopping you’d be surprised how much you can save by breaking apart the supply chain.  Let me give a few examples:

Sending photos abroad:  If you have a mother or grandparents abroad, few presents can compare to sending some pictures of yourself (or more importantly, your kids) via snapfish.com or a similar service.   Sending photos allows you to share your time and life with someone abroad in a more tangible way than phone calls alone.  But if you look at these sites, you’ll notice where the supplier strikes it big: packaging.  Frames on these sites are typically jacked up as much as 300% retail price, and sometimes over 500% of what you can find in a local store.  I would recommend (1) finding a frame from another source (amazon.com, ebay.com) and sending it separately or (2) not sending a frame at all.  Your mom and grandma already have lots of frames sitting around in the house.

Sending flowers abroad:  1-800-flowers makes their money on pretty much every piece of the supply chain. They charge more not only for the flowers, but for the vase and delivery as well.  Alternatively, you can call your local store (which may even be the safe affiliate 1-800-flowers uses), tell them your limit (including tax) and then build the bundle of choice.  Want free delivery?  Ask your old neighbor lives next to the recipient to lend you a hand a pick it up. He or she will probably be glad to be part of the giving process and will end up saving you $15.

Sending a gift basket to a local friend:  So here we are, right where we started.  Just compare the cost of buying a basket (₪3 shekels) cellophane (₪2 shekels) and candy (₪10 shekels) and some wine (₪20 shekels, ₪40 if you’re really generous) to buying a pre-made basket with bad wine for ₪90 shekels.  Similarly, if you shop at a place like beauty care and a local super-pharm, you can make a nice basket with massage oils, creams, and beauty products for around ₪50 shekels.

The trick is to use your imagination.  And most of all, next time you see an item for sale and think “I can make it for half the price,” go out and do it.

On a similar note, I am trying to put together a post for some good gifts for Hannukah, and extract some money saving ideas.  If you would not mind, please contact me with some of the successful presents that you have either given or received.  You can e-mail me at jonnydegani@gmail.com or just leave a reply below (note: if you reply to this message with a gift idea, I will not print it below in this post, but save it for the coming post.)  Thanks.


4 Comments

  1. Jo Guy says:

    surely there is cost in someone having to go to numerous stores to find the items they want for their basket and putting the basket together. surely the vendors who go through all this legwork and time deserve something for their time, which they are, after all, saving you.

    all you’ve done here is explained opportunity cost…

    • jonnydegani says:

      I partially agree with you. On one hand, there is an opportunity cost spared by having someone else do all the legwork for you. On the other hand, uaually all of the stores with the items you want are only a few minutes apart and your opportunity cost is far less than the amount extra that you pay. Keep in mind that opportunity costs does vary with time (for example, an hour on the weekend may be worth a lot more or less than a work hour during the week, depending on your schedule and demands.) I think that when people do not have so much money to spare, they can spare some time (yes, at some opportunity cost) in order to give something more personable, and more valuable. Part of living the frugle time is realizing the flexibility of your opportunity cost and maximizing the payoff at the right times times.

  2. Dena says:

    You mentioned using websites like snapfish.com to print pictures. I was wondering if you’ve found anything comparable in Israel in terms of price. It seems that from my research it is much cheaper to print pictures in America on one of these websites and have someone bring them over. I’d prefer, however, to support the Israeli economy and not get into the habit of constantly ordering abroad and waiting for someone to bring it over. Cost is crucial to me, so I’m willing to do what is cheapest. Any advice? I don’t want any of the extras like albums or frames — just prints — a lot of prints! I have about 800 I’d like to print.

    • jonnydegani says:

      I don’t know of anything in Israel. You can walk into most photo shops with a disc or memory card/stick and ask them to print (you can even bargain on price.) I will try to find a service in Israel on line. I will, God willingly, try to have a better answer by next week.

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