Archive for November, 2011
I don’t typically participate in Black Friday. In fact, rather than buying lots of new stuff I typically spend the day cleaning out the house and gathering items for charity, but today I couldn’t resist a few collective buying bargains.
I purchased these deals:
November 25, 2011 at 11:55 PM
In less than six weeks our son has grown an additional two inches in length. This means that my tiny five and a half week old baby can no longer fit into clothes in the newborn to three month range. That’s right boys and girls my little one has moved up to the six month size already!
Unfortunately, this means that a number of his little outfits no longer fit and we are forced to move them into the “in case we have another child” pile. It’s crazy to think that he wore some of these items less than three or four times.
Worse yet we are receiving gifts from extended friends and family members that are already too tiny to fit. A lot of the little outfits are absolutely adorable, but as soon as I open the box and see that newborn or three month size I know the clothes will never make their way onto our baby’s little body.
Before our son was born I took a short trip over to a thrift store in my area that accepts donations. Although I’ve lived around the corner from it for the past ten years I’ve never actually stepped foot inside. I always drop my donations around the side of the building and then drive off. Well on one particularly rainy day I decided to unload my bags and explore.
There I found racks of baby clothes in ‘like new’ condition. I bought a couple of sleepers and even a Halloween costume. Now that I see how quickly he’s outgrowing his clothes I’ve absolutely fallen in love with that store. The baby clothes range in price from $1 to $3, versus comparable prices for new items that range from $8 to $15.
If our little one continues to grow at this rate there is absolutely no reason to buy brand new clothes for him to wear only three or four times. I have a feeling I’ll make another trip to the thrift store in the next week or so to purchase baby clothes in the next size range. In the mean time I might need to cut the little footsies off of some of the outfits he already owns.
November 23, 2011 at 3:30 AM
Before my son was born I could never understand why people entered their children in cutest baby contests. Now that he’s here I can’t wait to submit a photo of him. That’s just one of the many ways that my thinking has changed since the arrival of our little bundle of joy and I’m sure I’ll encounter more and more mind altering moments as he grows.
Of course I think he’s absolutely adorable. What parent doesn’t think their newborn is the cutest? In fact, I’m sure human nature requires us to feel that way.
In the best case scenario he wins a prize and in the worst case I wasted two minutes searching for the perfect photo, clicking the upload button and submitting a short form.
I received an email about an online contest from Tiny Prints and I’m pretty certain that I’ll submit a photo to the cutest baby category. The grand prize is $1,000 cash plus a $500 Tiny Prints gift certificate.
You don’t have to have a baby to enter this contest. They have categories for:
- Cutest Baby (From ages of 0-24 months)
- Cutest Kid (From ages of 25 months – 10 years old)
- Cutest Family
- Cutest Couple
- Cutest Pet & Owner
If you’re interested in submitting a photo for one of these contests you better hurry. Entries must be completed by November 21st. You can learn more about the Tiny Prints Talent Search Contest by clicking here. I’m off to figure out which photo to enter!
November 20, 2011 at 4:20 AM
As I’ve mentioned before I haven’t quite gotten the knack of bundling up our little baby boy and carting him off to wherever I need to go. According to the pediatrician I really shouldn’t be dragging him out and about anyway, so I’ve been doing my best to spend time in and around our home.
Thankfully the Internet makes this task easier than ever. I can order my groceries online along with any other household necessities. Amazon and Peapod have been able to provide us with just about anything we couldn’t otherwise live without.
Two weeks ago I used a free coupon code to order birth announcements from Shutterfly. I thought about shipping them directly from the website, but I wanted to personalize the cards and add thank you notes to some of them, so I had them shipped to my home first.
As soon as they arrived I added my personalized notes, addressed them and stacked them on the table to be shipped. I just needed one last thing… stamps. Unfortunately, we didn’t have quite enough stamps to ship all of the cards out, so I went online to USPS and ordered some more.
I figured the post office would send the stamps out right away and that within a day or two I’d be able to adhere them to my envelopes and send the mail on its way. I could not have been more wrong.
I ordered three books of forever stamps over seven days ago. Each day I waited for the mail to come and was disappointed to find that the stamps still hadn’t arrived. I looked up the status on the USPS website, but my order was labeled “in process.” I didn’t know if “in process” meant my order was being packaged or if it actually shipped, so after waiting for seven days for them to arrive I gave up, bundled our little one up and drove to the local post office.
When I arrived I dragged the baby out of the car, along with my cards and the diaper bag and everything else under the sun and saw a sign on the door that read hours of operation 11:00 – 4:00. I arrived at 1:15 so I breathed a big sigh of relief. It was short lived. It turns out that this particular postal store is closed from 1:00 to 2:00 for lunch.
So I pack the baby and all my junk back into the car and drive down to the next nearest post office. There I waited in line and finally ordered and paid for three books of stamps.
Buying stamps just shouldn’t be so difficult. The mailman comes to my house six days a week, so why on earth did it take over seven days to receive a book of stamps? Argh!
November 19, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Imagine you’re in the grocery store and you hand the cashier a coupon for a particular product, but the register doesn’t recognize it. Do you tell the cashier not to worry about it and move on or do you ask her to call a manager to help you resolve the issue?
How large does the coupon amount need to be for you to wait for a fair resolution? Does it matter if the coupon is 10 cents or 1 dollar? What if the coupon were 5 or 10 dollars? Would that make a difference on how hard you would fight to be able to use it?
A friend of mine couldn’t believe that I followed up with a local store after they refused to accept my $5 coupon. In that particular case I pursued the issue with two quick emails and a short trip to the store, but my friend assured me she wouldn’t hassle with a similar issue just to save $5.
I certainly weigh my projected savings against the amount of time and effort I have to resolve a problem, but I must say that more often than not I’ll take a minute or two to save a few dollars.
I once returned a small carton of cherry tomatoes that were moldy the day after I purchased them. The entire container only cost $2.50, but it was $2.50 I didn’t want to flush straight down the tubes. If I had to drive out of the way to get to the grocery store I probably wouldn’t have pursued the issue, but since the store is on my way home from work I saw no reason not to stop in.
I won’t always fight to use my manufacturer’s coupons, but if a couple fail in a given transaction I’ll certainly stop by the customer service desk on the way out of the grocery store to find out why. If the line is long I’ll hold the coupons and receipt until my next visit.
A couple of times the cashier has forgotten to provide credit for my reusable bags. At only 5 cents a pop I’ve only followed up with customer service once when this happened and it was on an order where a few sale items didn’t ring up properly.
I’m not sure that I have a minimum threshold for haggling, but I know I won’t wait in line for 10 minutes to earn back 10 cents. In those cases my time is much more valuable than the money.
How about you? What is the minimum amount of money you would fight for and how much time and effort would you put into fighting for it?
November 13, 2011 at 4:15 AM
Since my beautiful little boy arrived I’ve nearly abandoned bargain shopping. Of course, I’d rather stay at home listening to him snore and coo then drag him around town in search of saving a few dollars on toothbrushes and shampoo.
Luckily I stocked up on a bunch of toiletries and personal products a few weeks before his birth. In fact, I purposely used my last CVS Extra Care Bucks and Rite Aid UPs a week or so before he arrived so I wouldn’t have to worry about my coupons expiring.
I haven’t taken advantage of a bargain in the three weeks since he was born. In fact, since his arrival I’ve found myself shelling out full price for items on more than one occasion. When he developed a slight diaper rash I rushed out to the store to buy A&D ointment and when he started struggling with stomach troubles I headed to the drug store in search of anti-gas medication.
Not only did I buy both items at full price, but I actually bought extra tubes and bottles of both products so we wouldn’t find ourselves running out of either item. I have to admit that it felt rather strange to find myself shelling out $40 for four items that weren’t on sale and for which I didn’t have coupons. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to pull out my credit card to help my little one feel better.
I’m still clipping and sorting coupons that arrive in the newspaper each Sunday, but I’m not sure when I’ll return to hunting for bargains. It’s a lot more difficult to make a run to the store with a little one in tow and now that he’s arrived I don’t want to waste too much time hunting for the best deals.
I assume I’ll find some happy, middle ground once the baby gets a little bigger. I’ve always been a bargain hunter so I can’t imagine I’ll stay away from the deals for too long.
November 10, 2011 at 11:25 PM
It’s been nearly three weeks since our beautiful baby boy was born and I have only driven to the store twice since his arrival. It’s simply too much effort at this point to leave the house with him. My sleep schedule is never consistent. In fact, at most I get two hours of sleep at a time, so I’m pretty exhausted a lot of the time. I try to nap when he naps, but a lot of the times I find myself laying down but not actually falling asleep, which means I’m just that much more tired the next day.
I take the baby outside at least once a day. Since I’m still not feeling well enough to walk around the neighborhood I typically sit on the back patio with him. It feels good to get a little sunlight and fresh air, without the hassle of packing him in the car. I’m not the best at getting him in and out of the back seat or remembering to pack his diaper bag prior to leaving the house. Luckily, we haven’t gone far and we haven’t needed to change him while we were out, (other than the doctor’s office), yet.
A few days after he was born my husband and I took him to Babies-R-Us to look for newborn outfits and I took him to Rite Aid to exchange a few packs of Huggies for Pampers. Other than that we’ve stayed in and around the house.
Yesterday I considered going to the grocery store, but I didn’t want to drag the baby through the isles. The pediatrician recommended that we limit his contact with strangers since his immune system isn’t strong and it’s the beginning of cold and flu season.
While our stock pile will continue to cover us for months, our fresh fruit and vegetables were really dwindling. I finally decided the value of fresh fruit outweighed the hassle of driving to the grocery store and convinced myself to head out in the afternoon after lunch.
Well after lunch I took a brief nap and when I woke up I found a Peapod coupon delivered by the mailman. The coupon provided $20 off my first order. It also provides 60 days of free delivery for every order after the first. Since the prices are comparable to those in the physical grocery store it is actually cheaper for Peapod to deliver the first order to me than it is for me to drive and shop myself.
With this little coupon I can avoid the grocery store for another sixty days. I don’t know if we’ll actually stay away for that long, but with free delivery I certainly won’t feel guilty about using Peapod’s services!
November 7, 2011 at 12:10 AM
The latest issue of Newsweek magazine has an interesting article about a person’s ability to delay gratification. A group of neuroscientists and psychologists asked volunteers if they’d prefer to take $20 now or wait for more money from $20.25 to $110 at some point in the future. The scientists discovered that the brains of those individuals who were willing to delay gratification reacted the same whether they were thinking of taking the money now or waiting for a later point in time. However, in those volunteers who chose immediate gratification the brain activity patterns were different based on the options presented.
What I found most interesting in this article was a description of a 1960s study called the marshmallow experiment. In this study psychologists placed a marshmallow in front of a 4-year-old. “If the kids waited to eat the marshmallow until the experimenter, who stepped out of the room, returned in a few minutes, they could have two marshmallows.”
The study continued to track these children until their 40s and found that those who waited to eat the marshmallow scored higher on their SATs. “The reward delayers were also less likely to be obese, to have become addicted to illegal drugs, and to be divorced – outcomes that are more likely in people who go for immediate gratification.”
My husband and I have actually talked about being born with the ability to delay gratification because we’ve both had the tendency to save since we were quite small. While my brother and my husband’s cousin grew up spending money the minute they earned it, we both piled the money into our piggy banks even though we didn’t have specific goals in mind. We’ve often talked about how strange it seemed for them to spend money so quickly and how natural it seemed for us not to do the same.
The Newsweek article also mentioned that those individuals with good short term memories are typically better savers because “achieving a goal requires keeping it in mind”. It’s a funny thought, but it actually makes perfect sense. If you can’t keep your eye on the prize, then you certainly won’t be able to continue to save for it.
Through experimentation psychologists and neuroscientists have found that individuals can become better savers when specific portions of their brains are stimulated. They also found that an injection of oxytocin makes people more patient and therefore more willing to delay gratification. According to the researchers “this tells us that people who are happier and have greater social support save more.”
I certainly think that happiness is a factor of spending. If you are already content with what you have and own then there is no reason to buy other items you don’t need. However, if you aren’t feeling particularly happy with yourself, your weight, or your life you may spend money to fill the void. If you don’t have a solid social support group then you might feel that buying things will help you attain more friends.
The end of the article questions whether today’s generation will have a more difficult time saving money and delaying gratification, because technology places everything directly at their fingertips and ensures that they don’t have to wait long for anything. That’s an interesting question. Based on the research discussed throughout the article I would imagine that those born with the ability to delay gratification would continue to be able to do so. However, it seems to be a question of nature versus nurture. If technology is always providing people with what they want when they want it, then it’s plausible to think that the brain may begin expecting immediate gratification and thus overrule the tendency to delay gratification.
November 4, 2011 at 9:15 PM
I found another silver lining in my company’s decision to lay me off. I’ll actually get a few hundred free dollars from my FSA account. My FSA account is pre-funded so I am able to spend the entire amount at any point in time throughout the year.
I have roughly $1,000 remaining in my account, but the entire amount will be utilized to cover the costs of copays and hospital bills related to the birth of my son. Since all of these expenses were incurred prior to my lay off date I can expense them all through the FSA plan.
Normally I would make contributions to the account with every paycheck, but this year I’ll be laid off before I can make the final four payments. I contribute roughly $160 each pay period to FSA, which means I’ll forgo paying the remaining $640.
If I hadn’t used all of the funds before my termination date I could have extended my FSA account through a COBRA plan, but I’d have to pay to continue with post tax dollars, which defies the purpose of using an account like this in the first place.
Luckily I used all of my medical dollars well in advance of my termination date, so I am able to use the entire pre-funded amount without having to contribute all of the money.
November 3, 2011 at 2:00 AM