Posts filed under ‘thoughts’
Dear readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one…
Here’s the scenario. you receive duplicate gifts at an event, after noticing the duplicate item a family member turns to you and says “is there a gift slip in the bag?” When you answer “no” they say “I bought mine at Target, but I don’t have a receipt, so just take it to Walmart. They take back everything there.”
This reminded me of a story from long ago. Way back in 1997 my boyfriend received a computer game for Christmas that was a duplicate of one he already owned. With the gift slip in hand we drove to the store to return it. When we reached the counter the cashier told us the item could not be returned. Apparently we had only fourteen days to return the game and we were a day or two beyond that period of time.
My boyfriend was disgruntled, but he picked the game off the counter and walked down the mall to another store. That store allowed him to exchange the game for another with no questions asked. The store took his brand new, shrink wrapped game and he walked out with a different one.
At the time I didn’t think much about our decision, but as an adult I view the situation with a little more guilt. Is it wrong to take advantage of a lenient store policy?
In the original scenario detailed above would you try to return the gift to Walmart even if you thought the gift giver didn’t buy it there?
I noticed his picture while panning the shelter’s website. I sent a link to my boyfriend. (I wish I still had that email.) It said something like ‘this is the one for us.’
The little kitten was standing tall staring straight at the camera. His ears and paws seemed much too big for his tiny body. He held one paw up the air, a habit he kept for the first half of his life. Always lifting one paw when he greeted me at the door then switching to the other.
Although my boyfriend, (now my husband), picked him up from the shelter I immediately felt as though he were my own. Actually he decided to bring home two cats and while everyone in the family fawned over the quiet, shy cat I took an immediate liking to the frisky one that feared no one.
I didn’t like cats. I still don’t. I only had one friend with a cat growing up and that cat was a crazy one. It flew across the sofa in the middle of the night and jumped up walls.
This cat was different. He wasn’t aggressive or wild in temperament. He had a ridiculously loud purr that you could hear before he even walked into the room.
When we moved out of my boyfriend’s apartment the cat claimed my bedroom as his own. He would curl up on top of my soft blankets and purr throughout the night. He loved a particular white comforter of mine. Every time I pulled it out he would come running up the stairs and hop right onto it. I still don’t know how he knew I was laying it across the bed. I couldn’t hear a sound when I unfolded it.
He may have belonged to my husband but he was 100% my cat. I remember walking into the basement one night after a huge fight. I don’t know what my husband and I were fighting about, but I remember crying hysterically on the floor while our cat nudge his head against my arms, legs and elbows. I dripped tears onto his shiny coat, but he didn’t seem to mind. The more I cried the more he nudged against me.
When I broke my wrist that cat would nestle between the arm of the chair and my good side. He always managed to place his head in the perfect location for petting.
The poor guy produced excess saliva whenever he got excited. As I stroked his fur he’d often gulp loudly almost to the point of gagging. I’d have to stop every once in awhile because I was always afraid he’d get physically sick from the excitement.
In my darkest hours he sat on the recliner next to me and somehow made me feel better. He sensed my sadness and came running every time. How do animals sense emotions like that? He seemed to know the moment I was upset.
He slept on my bed after my surgeries and as I suffered through the pain of drug induced neuropathy. Any time I didn’t feel 100 percent the cat would be at my side.
He was my one and only baby for 11 years. When my son was born he dropped in the ranks, but never acted out as a result of it. In fact, he remained the calm, quiet animal he had always been. My son was extremely gentle with our cat. He would put his hand in front of his whiskers and let our cat sniff his hands before reaching out to pet him. I never worried that my son would injure the cat and I never worried that the cat would lash out at my son. He was too gentle to harm anyone.
When my son was young the cat always wanted to be nearby watching, but for the most part did his best to remain just out of reach. At seven months my son was determined to see that kitty. As the cat sat quietly perched on the cushion of our couch my son used his chubby, little fingers to pull himself to his feet. He tried to hold on to the couch with one hand while reaching out to the cat with the other.
When the cat realized how close he was he quickly jumped to another cushion and within a day or so my son began cruising along the furniture trying to keep up with him.
When my son became a toddler I would occasionally walk into the room to find him talking to the cat. One day he told me he was teaching our cat the ABCs, another time I stumbled upon him singing songs as the cat sat high in the kitty stand above him.
That cat, our cat, was no ordinary feline. I used to tell people he was more like a dog. He’d follow me around the house wherever I went. He’d pop down off the cat scratcher whenever anyone came to visit. He’d hop onto the couch and rub up against the strangers skin until they stroked his fur and talked to him. He followed vendors around the house, plumbers, painters, electricians, it didn’t matter.
My mom who truly dislikes animals always said “I really like your cat.” A few times when she spent the night at our house the cat slept in bed beside her.
Last night I cried hysterically while thanking my cat for everything he’s done for us. I let him lick the bottom of my ice cream bowl then picked him up and rubbed his head. This morning I said goodbye one last time. I told my son our cat will go somewhere he won’t be in pain any longer. Over the past few days he was unable able to hold down any food and I knew it was time to say goodbye.
I keep telling myself he had a good fifteen year run, but that doesn’t really make it any easier.
A few odds and ends since I can’t seem to find the time to post anything longer:
- I am completely hooked on Bark Thins. A good friend delivered a bag of these shortly after my son was born and I have methodically eaten a tiny piece every day for the last three weeks. Who knew the combination of dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and sea salt would be so enticing?
- I’ve always been a huge fan of Target, but yesterday I fell in love a little bit more. A cashier at our local store allowed me to return a pair of pants for my one month old that were much too small. The pants clearly hadn’t been worn, but the tag was missing. (I pulled it off before realizing the sizing error and somehow misplaced it.) The cashier took my receipt and provided a prompt refund with no questions asked. Of course, I spent that money before leaving the store.
- I tried to fight my inclination to browse the Easter clearance aisle at Target. I kept reminding myself that I don’t want to own anything that is only used once a year. I caved only slightly. I purchased a bag of glow-in-the-dark Easter eggs that unfortunately don’t appear to glow-in-the-dark. Bummer. The next question: Is it worth returning them?
- I sold some unwanted formula on eBay. I received a box of free samples in the mail. I searched for nearby shelters that might except donations, but couldn’t find any within a reasonable driving distance. Since I’m exclusively breastfeeding I figured I’d get them out of the house and make a little money in the process. As usual I was disappointed with the results of that work and effort. Between shipping costs and fees I netted less than ten dollars. (When will I learn my lesson?)
- My mom came to stay with me for a few days. I loved having her here to play and watch over my boys. I didn’t realize how much work is involved with two kids until my mom was able to take one of them off of my hands for a couple of minutes.
- I spent the last few days worrying about the health of my newborn Thankfully everything appears okay at this point as the primary test results were normal, but this was a strong reminder that all the money in the world can’t necessarily bring good health.
In January of 2013, (a little over a year after my first son’s birth), I gathered up two large bags of clothes ranging in size from newborn to six months. At the time I didn’t hesitate at the thought of passing them on to someone else. A friend of my husband’s delivered her baby fourteen weeks earlier than expected and that bag of gently used hand-me-downs was the least I could do for her.
At the time I was pretty certain I wanted more children, but given my year and a half long struggle to conceive my son I didn’t know if it would be possible. What I knew in that moment is that I wanted to reach out to someone who was hurting deeply, so I bagged up cute little onesies, socks, mitts and other newborn and infant items and asked my husband to deliver them.
Fast forward to a few months before the birth of baby number two. As I dug through plastic boxes full of stored baby items I discovered that I’d given away the majority of my son’s newborn and infant clothing.
When I found out we were expecting again I was hesitant to purchase anything new. I wasn’t sure how to prepare for a spring baby. Would the temperature be warm, cool or downright cold? Would this little bundle of joy weigh seven pounds or ten?
My first child came into the world weighing less than eight pounds but wasted no time growing up and out. Those cute newborn clothes didn’t last but a week or two and while I can’t remember the exact time frame I do know he grew out of the three month size relatively quickly too.
As I reviewed our baby inventory I never, (not once), regretted giving away those tiny baby clothes. That gift provided a brief moment of joy during a very tumultuous time in the lives of those new parents.
When I came home from the hospital, after delivering three weeks earlier than my due date, my sweet little baby had almost nothing to wear. Honestly it didn’t matter too much. I held him skin-to-skin and bundled him in a blanket when we were inside the house together.
I figured two or three sleepers would be plenty for sleeping and outdoor adventures. Unfortunately, unlike my first son who could spend the entire day in one outfit, this guy needs more frequent changes.
One morning I wavered back and forth about heading out to the store, but wouldn’t you know the moment I considered buying new clothes a large package arrived on my doorstep. Inside that huge box I found tiny gender neutral outfits ranging in size from zero to six months. There are more than enough clothes to help me get through this first month or two.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
I believe in Karma. I deeply believe that when we put good thoughts into the universe good energy will be returned to us.
This gift was a perfect example. I gave away all those teeny, tiny baby clothes in 2013 and in return received a box of new ones two years later. For the record the gift was completely unexpected. The gift giver is an aunt that I haven’t seen in well over five years.
A spattering of financial thoughts rolling around in my brain:
- Next month will start the four year countdown of our primary mortgage!
- My family hosted a surprise sprinkle for baby #2 after all. Despite saying that gifts weren’t necessary everyone brought something and yes I felt guilty for each of the gifts we received. Having said that I am glad we celebrated the new addition to our family. Only family and very close friends attended and there was so much love!
- Our insurance plan changed in December and I can’t seem to find out how much we’ll owe for labor and delivery. We still owe $1,000 of our $3,000 deductible, but after that it’s very unclear if we’ll owe a percentage of coinsurance and/or co-pays. I’ve decided not to worry about it for now.
- Although buying in bulk saves us a lot of money I’m considering ditching those giant containers of coconut oil, ketchup and salad dressing. We gave up a lot of storage space when we remodeled our basement and I just don’t have the room to store those gargantuan plastic bottles. I’d like to perform a little cost analysis to see how much money those bulk containers save.
- After complaining about the price of bowling with a toddler I found a great Groupon deal at AMF locations. Just click the Groupon link and then type AMF to view the deal.
- I haven’t made any progress on preparing meals in advance of baby #2’s arrival. I just don’t seem to have the motivation or desire to work on this goal, which means we’ll probably rely on more fast food and takeout than I’d prefer. I need to get over the guilt or move into action, but neither seems to be happening.
- Snow, sickness and general lethargy have let a few high-value store coupons go to waste in the last few weeks. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but surely I could have spent those $5 coupons on something; socks at Kohl’s and soap at CVS.
More odds and ends…
- The cold weather, school closings and delayed openings have kept me out of stores the past few weeks. This is a win-win in my book. The less often I find myself in a store the less often I find myself craving something I really don’t need.
- I’m a little torn about the latest grocery shopping bills. My husband and in-laws have graciously offered to pick up milk, bread and other household staples for us a couple of times over the last few weeks. While I am very happy not to trudge off to the store with a three year old in tow our food bills are much higher than usual. I can’t ask them to look over sale prices while they are in the store and I hate to hand over a wad of coupons that may or may not work properly, so I’ve decided for now convenience must win over saving money. This trend will probably continue for at least a few weeks or months after the baby arrives.
- For Valentine’s Day my sweet husband brought home a $47 box of chocolate covered strawberries. The frugal side of me cringed just a bit, but the very pregnant, craving sweets girl was more than happy to receive them. For the record they were some of the tastiest strawberries I’ve eaten in a very long time.
- It seems I ran over some nails and screws on my way to or from preschool. One punctured the sidewall of my tire, which will require a $250 replacement. I just bought the car, (brand new), in December. Needless to say I am not happy about having to replace it!
- Indoor adventures for toddlers aren’t cheap. I took my son to the bowling alley this week and spent $20. I must say it was really nice to get out of the house for a few hours, but I couldn’t believe the bowling alley didn’t have a discounted price for preschoolers. The shoe rental alone cost $5. It seems I need to find some cheaper indoor adventures that aren’t too difficult or tiring for a very pregnant woman to maneuver.
- I’d love to find a few more go-to recipes that I can prepare quickly or even freeze in advance. With a little one on the way I’d really love to stock the house with staples and know that dinner won’t take more than a few minutes to prepare. If you have any favorite recipes or sites you frequent please leave a comment below.
Random financial thoughts cause I can’t seem to concentrate on any of the posts I planned.
- The original quote for basement remodeling was $25,700. So far, the total now stands at $46,000. We made a few drastic changes to our original plans, which added $9,300 worth of contracting work. The rest came from a combination of flooring supplies, sinks, toilets, radiators, accessories, a new television, speakers, organizational supplies and furniture. Yikes! The original quote didn’t include any of these items.
- After our recent purge of unwanted items I really enjoyed reading the Forbes article: The Real Cost of Your Shopping Habits. I don’t like the author’s use of the word “chicks,” but otherwise this is a very interesting article about the time, effort and money spent acquiring, organizing, maintaining and storing items we buy. The moral to her story, (and mine after remodeling our house), is to simply stop buying so much stuff.
- I’m burning up unused gift cards like crazy. I have a huge stack that has been sitting in the safe at our house for years. As each holiday passes the stack grows just a little bit taller and while I always think I’ll manage to find a use for them I never do. So this week I sold two I know we’ll never use on eBay, used two more to buy a set of queen sheets from Burlington Coat Factory, one to buy a supply of new underwear and burned three more on take-out dinners for my family. If possible I’d also like to use a few spa related cards before baby #2 makes his or her arrival. I hate to admit this, but I still have hundreds of dollars worth of cards remaining.
- I recently became a huge fan of Kohl’s. In early January I bought two bottles of shampoo & body wash, one tube of toothpaste and a twenty pack of hand sanitizer wipes for just over $14. I used three coupon codes to knock $10 off a $30 purchase, 30% off the remaining cost and received free shipping. This is a phenomenal price for all four products. Subscribe and save would cost $8.37 per bottle of body wash, which means I received all four items for less than the cost of two. For some reason my shipment never arrived so I contacted Kohl’s, cancelled the first order and resubmitted over the phone through a friendly customer service representative. Somehow the representative knocked my price even lower and I paid just over $10 (after tax!) for all four items! I was so excited by this order I placed a similar one a week or so later and received six products for less than twelve bucks!
- Thanks to my Things to Look out For List I recouped a $15 gift card from J. Crew. When I placed an order way back in December one of my items was out of stock. The order was cancelled because the item was never restocked, but J. Crew failed to issue me a new gift card. If I hadn’t written myself a note I would’ve lost out on the value. I called customer service and asked for a new one to be sent via snail mail.
- By the way after seeing $46,000 in black and white saving $10 or $15 here or there seems like nothing. My husband says I think in terms of dollars and cents, but really looking at a number that big definitely makes me see the value of big money.
The other day I wrote about my trip to the local consignment shop. In that post I mentioned consigning a few articles of clothing that were given to me by a former coworker. In response I received the following comment:
Just curious but do you feel guilty for taking something someone gave you for free and then turning around and selling it and keeping the money? I got mad at my brother for selling stuff I had given him since he didn’t tell me and kept the money. The original reason I gave him the items is because I thought he could use them to save him money. If I had known he was just going to sell them I would have sold them myself. Not trying to say what you did was wrong, just curious if you have any thoughts on that.
Here is my response to that inquiry:
The short answer is no. I do not feel guilty. Here’s why… My friend had twin boys. She knows that I cannot possibly use all of the clothing she gives me every season. One time I received thirty pairs of toddler pants. Another time I received twenty pairs of shoes. I wouldn’t even have the space in the dresser to store all of these things if I wanted to.
Second, every time I pick up hand-me-downs I specifically ask her if she wants any of them back. Every time she tells me ‘no. if you don’t need it pass it on to someone else.’ Up until now I’ve done that by donating to friends, family and our local donation center.
Third, I take my friend out to lunch every time I pick up clothes from her. The pitiful amount of money I earned from her hand-me-downs at consignment wouldn’t even cover the number of lunches I’ve paid for over the last three years. I earned $18 for all the stuff I took in. Three quarters of that was stuff that I had purchased myself. Of course, if the items I received were worth hundreds of dollars it might be a different story.
My advice and two cents… If you want stuff back after you lend it to someone let them know. My brother gave me two expensive items: a baby carrier and an expensive toy. He asked me to return them after my son was finished using/playing with them. For everything else he said keep it, pass it on, whatever. I think you definitely need to set firm expectations of what you expect when you ‘give things away.’ In the future if you give your brother things I would definitely suggest asking for them back if he isn’t going to use them.
I’m curious what the readers of this blog think. Would you feel guilty selling someone that was handed down to you? Do you think you should let the original owner know it might be worth money and offer to return it so they could sell it themselves?
For the past two years I’ve maintained one and only one resolution: to accept the things I cannot change. It is easy to hold this resolve in good times and much more difficult to press on in times of distress. When a dose of antibiotics unexpectedly induced neuropathy I had a hard time accepting the cards I was given and when I failed month after month to conceive another child I certainly let my emotions get the best of me.
Thankfully these major life hurdles feel like a distant memory. My second child is due early this year and for the time being my neuropathy symptoms have all but disappeared. While one hurdle may stand behind me I know that another is probably hiding just around the corner.
While acceptance is certainly a key to persevering so is trying to remain positive when life drops the wind from your sails. I have found my greatest cheerleader is my husband who cheers for my small victories and pick up the pieces of my emotional state when I am unable to pick them up myself.
This year though I hope to continue on my path to accept the things I cannot change, but I also hope to focus more on the joys and small victories around me.
One summer a few years ago I wrote down the happiest moments that occurred each week. It wasn’t elegant or elaborate, just a few words about happy events in my life. I came across that journal a few days ago and felt the love swell inside of me just by reading it. I want to remember those moments and use them to help me bridge the gaps that seem so dark and gloomy.
When my son was born three years ago my husband went through a deep depression. He wasn’t depressed about the birth of my son, but rather about the changes that occurred in our marriage and daily lives as a result of having had him. A year or so ago he began digging himself out of the darkness, but I know that having another baby will shake the foundation of our lives once again.
This year I want to focus on happiness. Though I know we may feel great stress I hope that we can keep sight of the joyful moments and carve out time to find joy together.
If anyone has suggestions on how to accomplish this goal please leave a comment below.
Two years ago my brother and I officially stopped giving each other gifts for Christmas. I can say without a bit of remorse that I’m glad we ended the exchange. Every year it became more difficult to decide on a gift and the added stress and cost just wasn’t worth it anymore. It was a mutual agreement; my brother was just as happy to end the swap as I was.
Honestly, I wish I could end the majority of my gift exchanges. I’d prefer Christmas to work like Thanksgiving where we drive to someone’s house, eat good food, spend quality time together and head home.
More often than not I spend a lot of time thinking about what people will like and find that I receive generic, thoughtless gifts in return. Last year I received a particularly crappy, five dollar present as part of a family exchange. (Before anyone jumps in and says “maybe the gift giver can’t afford more than that” I will say with absolutely certainty that they can.) This particular person had no problem providing more thoughtful, expensive gifts to other family members.
I spent a good deal of time and money buying gifts for that person, but as the calendar rolls into December I’m not certain that I want to get burned again. I’m not really sure how to handle the exchange of gifts this year.
Do I continue to spend energy searching for gifts when I know full well that I won’t get anything decent in return or do I throw in the towel and buy this particular person something equally crappy? Ninety-nine percent of me says do the right thing and buy a nice gift. The other one percent says forget that; put very little thought or money into it and call it a day.
Unfortunately I cannot envision a way to end the exchange all together. That would be my preferable solution to this problem, but I just don’t see a way to make it happen without a larger conflict arising.
So what do you think? Have you ever been faced with a terrible gift giver? Do you have advice on how to handle my situation?