Smart Move Or Invitation For Junk Mail?

Is it really worth it?I have question for all of you out there. 

When you buy a new appliance or product and it has a registration card, do you actually send it in?

I have TONS of registration cards that came in the product manuals for the new items in my home.  Everything seems to ask for registration.  All of the kitchen appliances, washer and dryer, window blinds, and garage door opener, just to name a few.   Even the $10 vaporizer we got to help ease our colds a few weeks ago has a registration card to send in.   

In the past, I rarely sent in registration cards, especially on smaller items.  I didn’t want to lose out on the warranty but I was afraid it was just the first step to getting flooded with junk mail and advertisements.  Looking at the registration cards for some of these products only seems to confirm that suspicion.  Take for instance, the registration card for my GE cooktop.  It says:

Win $2500! It’s easy. Just register your new appliance and your name will be entered in a monthly drawing for $2500.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see things like this I immediately think there’s a catch.  There almost always is.  They must get some benefit from the registrations if they’re willing to pay a cash prize to encourage it.  I suspect my information would be promptly sold to multiple lists and the onslaught of junk mail would begin.  Something tells me they might not be so willing to spend $30,000 a year for these registrations if they were simply filing them away and not using that information in some lucrative manner.

Many of the registration cards ask intrusive questions that have nothing to do with their product.  Some of it is for marketing reports and some of it is to determine what junk mail you might be receptive to.  The registration for my toaster is an entire pamphlet, asking questions about my household income, education level, and if I enjoy cruises or stamp/coin collecting.  My storm door registration wants to know what credit card brands I currently use, when I’m planning on buying a new car, and how many magazine subscriptions I have.  I wonder why a storm door company wants to know if I’m interested in “moneymaking opportunities” or “casino gambling”. 

On the back of these cards I spotted a small note in the teeniest tiniest lettering.  It says:

Your answers will be used for market research studies and reports. They will also allow you to receive important mailings and special offers from a number of fine companies whose products and services relate directly to the specific interests, hobbies, and other information indicated above. Through this selective program, you will be able to obtain more information about activities in which you are involved and less about those in which you are not. Please check here if, for some reason, you prefer not to participate in this opportunity.

I love how it makes it sound like I’m going to be missing out on something awesome.  Opting out by checking that box might stop some of the junk mail but I noticed that it says nothing about being able to opt out of the special offers sent from the company you are actually registering with.

Some of the cards seem rather forceful, saying I must register my product immediately but they don’t specify why.  Some even give a deadline of 10 days from purchase.  Yet, on the back of those same cards in tiny lettering it reads:

Failure to submit this registration will not diminish your warranty rights.

In fact, all of the cards have that wording so it’s clear that failing to register my products will not void the warranties on them.  

So, what good does registering do?  On a positive note, there does appear to be some benefits to registering your appliances. 

This has me contemplating whether or not I should send in these cards, and if so, for what items.  

I’m thinking that I may register the large kitchen appliances.  I can see the potential for needing warranty work one day.  The large appliances came with a standard 1-year warranty and the home builder included a 4-year extension.  Because these appliances are big purchases and they have long warranties it may be worth registering them.

On the other hand, my toaster only has a 3-month warranty and that little vaporizer only cost me $10.  It hardly seems worth it to me to register these items unless I want to receive potential recall notices.  If the vaporizer breaks it would probably cost me more in time and shipping to get it replaced under warranty than to buy a new one.  I think the risk of annoying junk mail outweighs the potential benefit of registering these items for me.

What do you do with your registration cards?  Do you think it’s wise move to register your purchases or do you think it just isn’t worth it in the end?

Avoiding The Block: Get The Knives You Really Need

You don’t need a big block of knives. I would bet that you won’t even use half of them more than a few times. My old knife block sits gathering dust in a corner and I suspect it’s in good company.

As someone who cooks A LOT and has worked in commercial kitchens I know that there are only a few knives you truly need. The other 20-or-so knives get sporadic use at best and even then, one of the three essentials could probably have accomplished the same job. Depending on who you speak to, having an army of knives suited for specific tasks could be either luxurious or cumbersome. I’ve even seen a knife specifically meant to cut sandwiches. But when you are on a budget and want the biggest bang for your buck the true “everyday” kitchen knives are the way to go.

I believe that cutlery is one area where quality and functionality trumps sheer quantity. You may think that cheap set of 30-knives is giving you more for your money but it just isn’t true. Are those “disposable” knives likely to last through the years and when you think about it, is it really a good deal to buy the entire set just to get a few core knives? Buy individually through “open stock” – get what you need and forgo the extra clutter.

Don’t spend money on knives you will barely touch. Stick to buying the knives you will actually use and eliminate the excess. Here are the three knives that I feel every kitchen needs.

The Essentials

Chef’s Knife1. Chef’s Knife – This is your go-to knife for all things chopping, dicing, mincing, slicing, etc. This is the knife I use the vast majority of the time. Fine mincing becomes an easier task with this knife because it allows you to use a smooth rocking motion due to the slightly curved blade. This is the knife to spend the money on. A good chef’s knife can last a lifetime when properly maintained.

Look for an 8″ or 10″ version that is non-serrated. Make sure that the metal of the knife extends through the handle (“full tang”). Hold the knife before you buy it to make sure it feels comfortable and balanced in your hand. Avoid super lightweight knives – you want it to have some heft for ease in cutting through tough gourds or bones. To learn more about these knives check out Wikipedia.

Paring Knife2. Paring Knife – This knife is needed for the more delicate or detail oriented work you might do. I use mine for de-veining shrimp, cutting/peeling fruit, or for anything too small for the chef’s knife. This is also what I use for trimming the fat from meats as I find the size of the chef’s knife can interfere with precision jobs. No need to drop major cash on this knife – just make sure it is super sharp, non-serrated, and slightly flexible so it can follow curves (like when peeling an apple).

Serrated Knife3. Serrated Knife – You need a long serrated knife primarily for slicing breads. Serrated knives “saw” rather than “cut” which is perfect for slicing through tough crusts without flattening your bread. If you have ever tried cutting fresh bread with a chef’s knife you will understand what I’m talking about. Serrated blades are also recommended for slicing tomatoes and other fruits that are easily bruised or crushed (although I find a properly sharpened chef’s knife does the job just fine). There is absolutely no need to buy an expensive serrated knife; the cheaper ones will do just fine. Just make sure the knife is well put together and that the blade isn’t too thin and flimsy.

Runners Up

Carving Knife – I rarely use this knife and although a chef’s knife can fill in I find that the carving knife’s thinner width and longer length helps keep the meat from sticking to the blade while carving. This is not essential but it comes in handy with large birds and roasts.

Boning Knife – If you cook extensively with fish that requires boning this may be an essential for you. This long and flexible knife can help make quick work of fresh fish. A boning knife certainly makes life easier but I haven’t had to use one consistently in my household.

Santoku Knife – This is listed as a runner up for an alternative to the chef’s knife above. A santoku knife does a good job slicing because the hollows help cut surface tension which can stop food from sticking to the blade as you work. This is especially useful for “wet” vegetables and some meats. This knife is lighter in weight than the chef’s knife so it is less appropriate for certain tasks requiring heft. Although a chef’s knife can do the same tasks as a santoku I felt I should include it since it is popular alternative these days.

KapooshHow should I store the knives if I don’t get a block set? Just don’t throw them in a drawer: it ruins the knives and it dangerous. I use a Kapoosh. It is a universal knife block that keeps the knives of my choice protected. It is an awesome way to store knives when you are avoiding getting an entire set. Because it fits any size or kind of knife it allows you to buy just what you need rather than buying whole kits.

You will save money by properly storing your knives and having them last longer. Many people who have a hodgepodge of knives don’t know what to do with them so they throw them in a drawer. This dulls the knives quickly and can mean a trip to the professional knife sharpener. A Kapoosh solves that problem.