I’m a huge fan of online shopping. While I still make trips to brick-and-mortar stores, I love how I can shop during nap time at my house and not have to talk to strangers. Christmas shopping is so much easier now that I’ve given up driving to the store and just order gifts online (I know, I know, I should be supporting the local economy. . . but I really hate shopping).
Despite my love of online shopping, I still have to admit it has its drawbacks. Sometimes it isn’t cost-effective and sometimes it doesn’t save me any time.
For example, a few months ago our cats destroyed our butter dish while we were out of town for a funeral. Cats can be jerks like that. Anyway, I kept forgetting to buy a new dish whenever I went to Target. I finally decided to see what I could find on Amazon.
The thing about searching for simple household items on Amazon is that there are often thousands of options. Most of these options have reviews. If the reviews are there, of course I have to read them because people can have strong opinions about important things like butter dishes. Heaven forbid that I buy a dish that is slightly difficult to open!
If I had actually remember to buy a butter dish at Target, it would have gone something like this:
One minute of looking at my options and a decision is made.
However, buying a butter dish online went something like this:
30 minutes later, I’ve finally decide what butter dish to purchase. I could have driven to Target in that amount of time.
Well, once again I didn’t shop on Black Friday. How will my Christmas shopping get done now?! Oh, right, sometime in the next 4 weeks.
I recently had an opportunity to go shopping at the local thrift shop sans Babykins. That meant I could actually try on clothes! Since I’m in desperate need of new shorts, I was excited to find a pair that fit and were in a length that I liked.
The only downside: They were in a camouflage pattern.
Usually cameo is not my thing. However, finding shorts that fit is a bit of a challenge these days, so I went ahead and purchased them.
A few days later I wore them for the first time with a forest green T-shirt. My looked at me and said, “You know, if you put on the right style of hat and carried a gun, you would look like some sort of rebel fighter.”
“So you don’t like the outfit?” I replied.
“No, I like it fine. I’m just saying,” he mildly responded.
Fortunately, we’ve been married long enough for me to know that my husband means what he says when it comes to my attire. So he truly didn’t find my outfit horrendous but it did remind him of something a rebel fighter would wear.
I’ll continue wearing the shorts because they’re comfortable, but at least now I have the makings of a Halloween costume.
I bought a sturdy kitchen chair at a garage sale a few weeks ago.
I suppose if I cared a little bit more about the decor of my house, I could spruce up the chair: Strip it, sand it, stain it. Then it would be a sturdy, pretty kitchen chair.
But let’s face it, 2 of our dining chairs are from the table set my parents bought from a thrift shop for my first apartment (the table now resides with my sister), another chair is from another thrift shop, and the table our friends found on the side of the road. The “new” chair fits in with our hodge-podge decor theme quite nicely.
To the older man with white hair pulling out of the Hy-Vee’s “Expecting/New Mother” parking spot:
I’m pretty sure neither description applies to you. Jerk.
This past week I have been trying to complete Baby’s wardrobe. Since my husband and I decided not to find out the gender, I have been searching for gender-neutral clothing. It’s been a harder search than I expected. While baby-stuff designers have a wide selection of gender-neutral baby gear like strollers and bedding, they apparently aren’t very interested in designing gender-neutral clothes. Sometimes the differences between boy and girl are extremely subtle, but they still sneak them in.
First, let’s talk colors. White, yellow, green, light grey, and sometimes light blue are generally accepted as gender neutral colors. Pink and purple are considered girl colors. Black, blue, and dark blue are considered to be boy colors.
However, the color rules can be thrown out with the help of things like ruffles and graphics.
Take this basic onesie:
The blue would indicate that it’s a boy onesie. However, if you throw on some ruffles . . .
BAM–Girl onesie. Ruching has the same effect.
Here’s another example:
BAM–Boy onesie! Aside from the cutesy sayings, other graphics have a surprising effect on basic baby clothes. Flowers, butterflies, and kittens indicate girl clothes. Put on things like puppies, space ships, and any sort of machinery, and you have boy clothes.
Pants are by far the funniest article of clothing to have gender associations. For obvious reasons, pink and purple pants are reserved for girls. However, basic black and grey pants are still labeled as boy pants–unless you throw some ruffles on them.
Jeans work in a similar way.
Anyway, building a full wardrobe for our unknown-gendered baby has proven to be a challenge. I’ve been buying quite a few boy clothes that I feel are basic enough to pass as girl clothes. Don’t worry though, I have a plan to make any boy outfit into a girl outfit–hair bows!
But let’s face it, people don’t really pay attention to what a baby is wearing and give the baby whatever gender they want.
I enjoy sending Christmas cards. I’ve mentioned this before, but I find it a nice way to show people that while I’m not consistently in contact with them, I still think about them. However, there can be no denying that mailing Christmas cards can add additional costs to the already expensive holiday season.
Over the last couple of years I’ve started to develop a system to decrease the cost of sending Christmas cards. Keep in mind that I’m talking about mailing hard copies, not using an electronic version. I know some people prefer to save money this way. However, I know how much I like getting real mail (you know, something besides bills and credit card offers), so I try to continue to send out physical copies of Christmas cards. If you don’t like getting personal letters in the mail, please let me know and I’ll cross you off my list. :p
Anyway, here is how I try to cut costs during Christmas card season:
Buy cards 11 months early: Have you noticed how cheap Christmas supplies are after Christmas? The weeks following December 25 is a great time to stock up on Christmas trimmings that aren’t perishable. Either you can buy your cards for next Christmas or you can procrastinate and send your annual card after Christmas. Either way, you can easily cut the cost of cards in half! The cost of an individual card can be as low as $0.16.
Order basic prints for photos: I got this idea from my mother. Every year my mom would line my brother, sister, and me up around Thanksgiving, took our picture several times, and ordered multiples of the best one. This has only become more cost effective with digital cameras. For my Christmas card, I simply find a decent picture of my husband and me from the past year and order my prints. Since prints typically cost $0.09-$0.15 apiece, this helps keep costs down. This year I found a coupon for 50 free prints off from Shutterfly.com, so my cost for prints came out to be $0.12 apiece–most of that cost was for shipping.
Keep the newsletter simple: One of my favorite parts about receiving Christmas cards are the newsletters–I love catching up on what people have been doing over the past year! However, I care more about the content than how the newsletter looks. Consequently, I print our 1 page, black and white newsletter on plain paper at home. I’m not sure how much this adds to the total cost, but I figure if my husband is starting to print entire books with our printer (long story), I can print 60 copies of our newsletter. I estimate it costs about $0.10 apiece.
Plan ahead and save up for stamps: Whenever we get an ad from USPS, I secretly hope that it’s a coupon for discounted stamps. Since this has yet to happen, I try to spread out the cost of buying stamps over a couple of months. This way spending $30 on stamps doesn’t seem like an unexpected blow to our budget. Still, stamps are the most expensive aspect of Christmas cards, costing about $0.50 apiece.
With these techniques, I’ve found that I’m able to send out Christmas cards for about $0.88 apiece. That’s not too shabby considering the number of things you can get for less than $1.00!
How do you save money on Christmas cards?
The “Why Do Today?” saga continues!
I got my first printer when I bought my computer in 2006. It was a simple model without any fancy features. It was AWESOME! I printed numerous English papers and hundreds of pages of readings off of it in college. My husband and I continued to use the printer after we got married. I don’t think I could have chosen a better printer.
In the summer of 2012, my husband and I decided it was time to get a new computer before my trust desktop from my college days had a chance to die (that computer was a good purchase as well). We also decided we should replace our printer when we got a new computer. It sounded like a good plan, but we never bought a computer that summer.
This past February, we finally pulled ourselves together and purchased a laptop. “Great,” we said, “Now we can get a new printer!” Weeks passed, we didn’t buy a new printer.
Then in April, my printer started to act up. It would randomly decide not to communicate with my desktop and refused to print. I had to restart the computer to get the printer to work. After dealing with this a few times, I told my husband, “Maybe we should get a new printer before this one completely dies.” Weeks passed, we didn’t buy a new printer.
In the beginning of summer, our ink cartiridge ran out. When my husband found out I bought a new one, he suggested that we get a new printer the next time we ran out of ink. I agreed that this sounded like an excellent plan since it would be after our move. Sure enough, cartridge ran out in September. We didn’t buy a new printer.
Later in September, we had a day that we declared that we were absolutely, positively going to buy a printer that week. My husband found a model that fit our needs in the Best Buy ad and we said, “Yes, we are going to do this!!” Saturday came and went and the sale expired. We didn’t buy anew printer.
October came. My husband started printing his confirmation worksheets and school papers at the school library. I started printing coupons off at work (don’t worry, I was printing coupons for my employers’ shopping as well). It took a little plan, but life withou a printer was working.
November arrived. My husband realized that with the end of the quarter, he wouldn’t have easy access to the school library to print off his confirmation worksheets. Ironically, my employers’ printer decided to quit communicating with the laptop, cutting me off from my coupons. We realized that we needed to buy a printer.
Now I know that we could get by without a printer. We could always pay to print at the public library. But the money for a new printer had been sitting in our bank account for over a year–it would be silly to pay for printer use at the library. So finally, almost 18 months after we initially decided to get a new printer, we went to Office Depot to purchase one. It took less then 30 minutes to pick a printer. We were $50 under budget. It was painless.
I wonder why we waited so long?
I’m not much of a shopper to begin with, so I’ve never been shopping during the early morning on Black Friday. It just sounds like one of my worst nightmares: Crowded aisles, long lines, and certain folks who are ready to get in a fistfight over a Blue-ray player. I might wander into a store in the afternoon on Black Friday, but I’m always snuggled in my bed during the early-bird specials. It’s comfy and safe there.
However, over the last couple of years stores have begun pushing their Black Friday sales earlier and earlier. First it was stores opening at Midnight. Then it was stores opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Now there are even stores staying open most of Thanksgiving Day and Kmart is opening at 6 a.m. For a non-deal hunting, shopping hater, rather-sleep-and-do-without person like me, it’s a little flabbergasting.
I’m sure you’ve heard the arguments on both sides of the shopping line. If you’re shopping on Thanksgiving, it might be because you don’t want to miss out on the deals (which I would argue isn’t worth it, but that’s a story for another day). If you’re anti-shopping on Thanksgiving, you might talk about the workers who don’t get the day off or the rabid consumerism of our country.
However, I was reading this Huffington Post article today and heard a whole new argument that I don’t understand.
. . .but for retailers looking to squeeze as much as possible out of a holiday shopping season that’s six days shorter this year, staying closed on Thanksgiving could be risky. . .
I may be ignorant (again, not a savvy shopper here), but when I think “holiday shopping season”, I think of buying gifts. It doesn’t matter how long the holiday shopping season is, I still have to buy the same amount of presents. It’s not like with six less days I’m going to cut people off my gift-giving list.
I don’t understand shopping at all. . .
When do you plan to do your holiday shopping?
Since my husband and I are now back at the seminary, that means we have access to the Co-op again. Shopping at both Co-ops means we can get some great things for free–my husband has started restocking his pitifully small dress shirt wardrobe, I’ve found a great pair of jeans that actually fit, and we’re enjoying only buying one gallon of milk per week.
Of course, access to the Co-op also means some really bizarre finds–bizarre like this crucifix my husband found at the Clothing Co-op this week:
When he first found it, we thought it was relatively normal. Sure, the Jesus figurine was made of plastic, so not the highest quality. But what can you expect when it’s free? However, we realized why the crucifix might have been at the Co-op when we turned off the kitchen lights that night: Apparently the Jesus figurine glows in the dark.
Now we are not only asking ourselves what we are supposed to do with a glow-in-the-dark crucifix, but also who on earth would decide to make a glow-in-the-dark Jesus to begin with!