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: , ,

Jan 26

Now and then it’s time to point out things that are just nonsensical. Today’s the day for a few. We start by recalling how the media and our president both used the word Rich when really what they meant was High Earners. No doubt, if a couple makes $400K a year, they are high earners, but if they spend every cent, and have little savings, they are actually not rich. I recently read an article making a similar mistake, How Many Millionaires in Belmont? Not As Many As You May Think. The headline caught my attention, but as I read the article I saw, “Of the 11,557 state tax filers who reported at least $1 million in income in 2011, Belmont can only claim 178 millionaires.” Hello? Just when I came to terms with “black is the new black,” do I need to accept that ‘millionaire’ now means ‘million dollar per year earner’? Probably not, even the cited article had a title of, “The Massachusetts towns and cities with the most million-dollar earners,” exactly describing this correctly.

I love reading Paula Pant’s blog, Afford Anything. It reminded me of a teaching moment I had with my daughter many years back when she asked me if we could afford something. My response was, “We can afford anything, we just can’t afford everything.” For me, there are many aspects of my spending that are clearly frugal, yet others that seem extravagant. Balancing the two fits our budget. Paula recently offered an anecdote we can all learn from, Why I Wasted an Hour of My Life to Save $3.60. It’s a look at how even someone focused on the numbers can slip up, wasting time that’s far more valuable than the money one might save. In Paula’s case, the cash discount meant an hour round trip in the car. A stupid mistake by someone I know to be a bright entrepreneur and financial author.

And the third article is actually a pair by Forbes author Laura Shin, 13 Money Mistakes To Stop Making By Year’s End, and The 13 Biggest Money Mistakes Retirees Make. I’m sure there’s a psychological effect on an article of mistakes to avoid vs stuff you should consider. Which is why these two lists strike me as brilliant. A total of 26 bits of advice, I’d bet you’ll find at least a handful that can help you improve your finances.


You are Here” is an article by The Reformed Broker, frequent CNBC commentator Josh Brown. It’s an overview of where we are in the market and what 2014 might hold in store. If you don’t read any other links today, read Josh, he’s an investment advisor who pulls no punches, using phrases such as “Thank god there was no f***ing Twitter back then.” With all the talking heads on TV shouting this or that, Josh appears the voice of reason, expletives aside.

Bargain Babe asked, “Are We Saving Too Much Money?” She and her husband were saving 26% of their take home pay, and she was having a bit of internal monologue on this. She’s in the minority, as a country we save far too little despite the recent media promotion of claims to the contrary. More on that topic on Tuesday.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Dec 22

This is the last roundup before Christmas, so it seems appropriate to stay with the theme of the holiday in my highlighted articles this week.

With one exception – SEP IRA versus Solo 401(k)-Which is Better? This was the question Barbara Friedberg answered at her blog this week. An important question and timely for me as my freelance writing has picked up speed and I should take advantage of the tax benefits I can get by using these accounts. A nice write up on the different choices I’ll have.

Lazy Man wrote about Gift Cards: A Guaranteed 20% Return on Your Money? These deals are great if you can get them for stores or restaurants you already frequent. For example, Lazy Man buys his pet food at Petco, and when he found a 26% off deal on Petco gift cards, he was all over it. Nice discount.


At NarrowBridge Finance, John guest posted 4 Last Minute Christmas Ideas That Don’t Suck. I like his ‘homemade coupon’ idea – maybe giving a friend a free night of babysitting so he can enjoy a date night without needing a sitter. Check out the article for more ideas.


At One Cent At A Time, The Importance of Giving this Holiday. Giving is always important, but much giving tends to happen at year end. No matter when you choose to give, or how much you give, it’s a personal matter, not one that I’d get pushy about. My own priorities are reflected in the charities I focus on, listed to the right.


Your “Thoughtful” Gifts Are Suboptimal.  This was the theme at priceonomics this past week. An interesting, if not unusual view on how we choose gifts to give.


A guest post at Money Ning explained Why Americans Are Spending Less This Christmas. Unemployment and stagnant wages are part of the issue, no doubt. Have you pulled back on your gift list this year?

We’ll close this week with 6 Ways to Save on Holiday Get Togethers. You like a nice holiday get together, but the tab can be steep. Here are 6 great ideas how to trim the cost without trimming the fun.

And that’s a wrap this Holiday Season. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Dec 06

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


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 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.


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.


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: , ,