Sep 12

Babies are expensive. They go through a lot of diapers, baby wipes and clothes. These expenses can be a lot to handle for young parents or those that are already on a tight budget. You can be frugal and still enjoy life. Saving money is important, especially when you have a fast growing newborn that is going to require new clothes and bigger diaper sizes frequently.

Make your Own Baby Wipes

Using items that are already in your home, you can make baby wipes which will save an average of $30 per month. To make your own, simply use a good brand of paper towels and separate them into a stack. Make a mixture of one cup of water, a tablespoon of baby wash and 2 teaspoons of baby oil. Soak the paper towels just one at a time when you need them or have a few that are ready to use in a plastic baggie.

Use Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are reusable and washable. This saves over $100 per month on the cost of diapers. It does take a little practice to get the hang of putting them on but you will find that it is far more cost efficient to buy cloth diapers once and wash them.

Consider Eliminating Cable Television Service

With the availability of streaming services and some major networks offering prime time television on their websites for free, cable television is not necessarily a necessity in this day and age. The expense alone cuts an average of $60 per month from the budget. This frees up money for items that the baby needs such as formula, bottles and specialty products.

Start Couponing

If you don’t use coupons, you are missing out on a lot of savings. There are several ways to obtain coupons including online, manufacturer websites, on products in a store and in the Sunday newspaper. The savings can help make it possible to afford everything that your new baby needs. Many stores double coupons or make their value an even dollar when they are less than one dollar.

Saving money can be done when you have a newborn if you work at it. This may mean missing drinks with friends once in a while or not going to dinner on Friday night, but making sure that your newborn has what he or she needs is far more important. Date nights and entertainment will return once the baby his or her growth plateau, but be forewarned, it won’t last long. 

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Dec 13

Today’s subtitle is CVS VS RiteAid deathmatch.

I used to be a casual CVS shopper. Bath tissue, toothpaste, the usual stuff. Then I met (on line, of course) Erica who hearts CVS.

cvsAnd after following her site for a bit, I upped my game. By knowing as many as 3-4 weeks ahead of sale, it was easy to plan visits for the best deals. Her forum also offers the T’s&C’s for coupon redemption, and strategies to maximize your saving. Not too far from my house there are also a number o Rite Aid stores. Fear not, Erica hearts Rite Aid as well.

rite-aid

Now and again, I’d go to Rite Aid as well, and the time seems good to offer a few comments to contrast the two. A friendly ‘deathmatch.’

Let’s start with Rite Aid – The rebate deal is called +Up Rewards. For example, the weekly ad might have toothpaste on sale for $2, with a $1 +Up reward. The reward isn’t taken off the price at the register, it’s loaded to your Rite Aid card, and is redeemed on your next purchase. The reward will expire after 14 days if not used.

CVS – A similar rebate method, the reward is called ExtraBucks, but it’s given as a coupon, i.e. a piece of paper you have to present to use it. It has an expiration date about 30 days out, although the two CVS stores closest to me both said they honor these up to six months after expiration. The ExtraBucks are also valid immediately.

It’s a close call. Easy to lose an ExtraBucks coupon, but also easy to forget your +Up Rewards are expiring. This makes CVS the winner for me. I’ve caught great sales at Rite Aid only to find my +Up Rewards have no good sale coming up in the next two weeks. With CVS, the Extrabucks are set aside for the next deal, not spent for the sake of using them up.

These purchases are all for household needs, the bath tissue, toothpaste, laundry soap, bar soap, etc. So long as you know what the normal price is for these items, you can time your purchases to catch a sale, and use some Sunday paper coupons. I’m aware of the extreme coupon folk that have made the news. Safe to say, I’m not that obsessed. 5 minutes with coffee and the Sunday paper and the good coupons are set aside. Another few minutes each week to look at the next weeks sales and see what I’ll buy on the way home Monday. The ten minute effort can be $25 in saved grocery money. (Note – the images above from Erica’s site link back to her. Click the image to see what deals she’s finding this week.)

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Dec 06

Rebates. Love them or hate them, they are a business model that many companies have made permanent.

TigerDirect

This snapshot is from the excellent site Ben’s Bargains. Ben aggregates deals of all kinds, so when I’m in the market for a bigger hard drive, for example, I’ll lurk awhile and see what kind of deal I can find. Often, there will be a mix of regular sale offers as well as those containing rebates. Starting a few months back, I was looking for a bigger hard drive and started following the Internal Storage category. What I found curious was that one particular vendor listed was Tiger Direct. Their deals came up frequently, but every single on of them came with a rebate requirement, some with more than one. This one deal really got my attention (you can click on the image to enlarge, if needed). First, a requirement to sign up for V.me Checkout. Then, two different rebates that have to be filled out. So, for an item whose recent price was $64, you need to lay out $120, and make sure you comply with the rebate terms. I think I’ll pass.

I’ve purchased from Tiger in the past. And not had any issue with the order itself or with rebates if they were part of the deal. Lately, my time has become tight, and when I make a purchase, I just want to be done, no paperwork, no tracking the arrival of rebates. Sorry, Tiger, if your deals are ever rebate-free I might be back, but not till then.

What do you think? Have you had enough of the rebates?

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Nov 22

A DIY woodsplitting Friday, actually. Every so often, we’d have a tree that needed to come down, either for safety or aesthetic reasons. About 6 years ago, it occurred to me (It took that long? Yes.) that I was paying one guy to cut a tree down and haul it off and another guy to deliver firewood.

wood1

So last time, I asked, “How much to take these two trees down and away?” “$1000.” Then, “How much just to take them down?” $500. So down they came, and I was off to buy a small chainsaw and axe. The wood has been great, and you can look at it either way, I’m getting free firewood, or pretty much paying the same, but clearing away trees for free.

wood2

When Spring came this year, we had no firewood left at all. A few visits to my back yard and this was the result, about 3/4 of a cord of wood. This will last well past this winter, and I still have a large tree trunk left to cut up next year. I’m looking forward the first fire of the season.

If you have a fireplace, do you have wood delivered? Do you buy those shrink wrapped logs at the supermarket?

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Nov 15

The week in which I mention my very odd interaction with Staples. It all started with this coupon. Wait. It all started with a new TI calculator. High School students I’ve been working with are using a pretty high end TI calculator, either the TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator or the newer nSpire CX. These bad boys cost $120 or $150 respectively. My issue wasn’t that I need the calculator to solve any problems, after all, these things weren’t invented when I was a kid, but rather, knowing how to use them to help the students with questions they are solving on the calculators. So, a couple weeks back I decided I’d like to pick up the higher level model. It was just a matter of finding it on sale or a used one on eBay. Then this coupon appeared in my inbox.

staplescoupon

The question was, what is an “Office Supply”? The coupon listed things that weren’t permitted, no Apple or Bose products, for instance. No ‘technology’ either. Hmm. So I hop on to a chat with customer service. I write the coupon code and specifically ask what technology is, was a calculator excluded? No computers, laptops, netbooks, etc. The agent said ‘yes’ you can use this on a calculator, that’s not considered technology. Print that chat transcript. I then check for stock, and since there’s a Staples 5-6 miles away in every direction, I pick one and reserve a calculator. Nice process.

But. I get to the store, wait on line as there was one line for register and customer service/pickup. I get to the front and the cashier has to call the reservation guy. He says they had none in stock, despite what the web site told me, but he’ll order me one. He doesn’t like the coupon, but after seeing the chat transcript, he processes the paperwork to order it. But I have to go to the register to pay. Meaning I have to wait on line a second time. But when I say this out loud, the line parts like the Red Sea and says I should go ahead. Very nice of them, really. Now at the register, the coupon is still a problem, and I ask what items it was actually intended for? Even paper is excluded. I then show the cashier my chat transcript, and he overrides the system. $150 calculator is now $90. I like the idea of waiting at least a week for each $100 you plan to spend. So when I saw this calculator, I read the manual online, and thought about how much use I’d get from it, I then planned to wait 2 weeks to make the purchase.

I have to say, Staples made good on their mistake. That fine print is just a bit much.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,