Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Goodwill Hunting!

In my famiy (and by family, I mean close friends as well) we have a lot of children around. With a lot of children comes a lot of birthday and Christmas presents. Before I decided to start saving money or as it really is, stop wasting money, I spent a fortune on presents through the year but all of that has changed and the kids in my life still get great stuff. Here are my suggestions to give great gifts on a budget!

1. Start Early (or never stop!): I shop for presents all year long. Anywhere I go I always have a mental list of the kids I need to shop for. It is not that hard to store a few extra gifts around the house but I would suggest going a head and wrapping the present after you get it and tagging if with its recipients name. Before I started this practice I would often forget that I had gotten something for a child and purchase something else! HUGE WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY!

2. Used is the New New!: Just because a gift has been loved by someone else before does not mean it can not be loved by another person! And after all, regardless of whether the gift is used or not, it is new to the recipient. I have bought used gifts for most presents for the past two years and normally the kids like it better than the new stuff they get. Used stuff often can not be bought easily in a store so it is unique!

3. Always be on the lookout: I shop EVERYWHERE! Goodwill, yard sales, church consignment sales, consignments shops, Walmart, etc. I do not always buy used but I do always buy at a reduced prices. Sometimes Walmart marks things down to next to nothing and then I will buy new or often times at church consignment sales people are selling things that were obviously given as a gift and never opened.

4. Keep a stash: If I find a really great deal on something that can be used as a gift for someone ages birth-teenager,  I buy it!

Here are some examples of gifts I have gotten, where I got them, how much I paid and the recipients age and gender!

Child’s Age/Gender
Purchase Location
 7 y/o girl
 NWT Scarf/Hat/Gloves pink with snow flakes set
 9 y/o boy
 Carolina Panthers bean bag and Panthers Lunch box
 Bean Bag-2.25 (retail 45.00 on amazon)
Lunch Box-1.00
 Yard Sale-Bean Bag
 3 y/o girl
 NWT Coloring book with markers that only color on that kind of paper (forgot what this is actually called!) and Dora Table and Chairs set. (The little kind for a play room that kids can draw at or eat a snack)
 Coloring Book-.50
Chair and Table Set-5.00 (more than I normally pay but it was cute and her sisters could use the table as well.
 Church Consignment Sale (Half off sale)
 5 y/o girl
 Teddy Bear backpack/purse, and NWT sparkly pencils w hearts on them
 Backpack/purse: 1.99
Pencils-.25 (bought after Valentines Day)

11 y/o boy (This is my son and was part of his Christmas presents. All of his stuff was used or on sale and believe me the child had a great Christmas!
NWT-Nike long sleeve shirt, 48-inch flat screen tv and Large assortment of books.
Nike Shirt-1.00
TV-20.00 (It had crayon marks on the part that surrounds the screen but they came off with a magic eraser.
Books-5.00 for over 30 books. Hardy boys, goosebumps, graphic novels, Percy Jackson, Witch and Wizard, Harry Potter.
Books-Some craigslist, goodwill, yard sales, and some came from a library giveaway.

Hope this is helpful!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Homemade Baby Food: DON'T BUY!

Ok, some people may have a problem with the title but let me assure you, I am not condemning anyone who buys baby food because I certainly did and probably will be forced to in the future! Life happens and sometimes you just need it now!

Having said that, I really think buying baby food is a waste of money. You are paying for someone else to smush up things that you could do easily yourself. Here is my plan for doing it and remember that I work a full time job and have another child to deal with so it is possible to do this and be busy and on a budget. (It really helped our budget!)

1. Cook what you normally cook. 

I try and cook most meals at home anymore for two reasons: Its healthier and cheaper! Since I do this anyway, I normally can just make enough for my baby to eat as well but of course I do not want him having much salt so I have to be careful how I season or I wait to season until I have taken out his food.

EXAMPLE: last night my family had hot dogs, cauliflower and green beans. Both the veggies were frozen. I cooked them as I always do based on the package directions (cook in water, bring to a boil) and then before I added salt, pepper and a little butter I took out a half cup of each and threw it in the blender. Viola' ! Baby food!

2. Use your freezer

I have a chest freezer but even if you just have the above the fridge kind, its no biggie. Sometimes you will need some go-to food for your baby and not have the time/energy to make it right then. This is why I use my freezer! I do not do what some mothers do and spend an entire Saturday each month cooking because Saturday is taken up by baseball games and soccer practice but I do spend a little time every so often making extra when I am already cooking to puree and freeze.

EXAMPLE: Last week I cooked sweet potatoes as part of dinner for my hubby, DSS and myself. I threw the rest of the sweet potatoes that I had into the oven (made 3 for us and threw in 3 extra) to cook with the ones we would eat. After dinner as I I peeled them (the skin falls right off after baking) and threw them in the food processor, process and then poured the contents into ice cube trays. Then you just wrap the ice cube tray in plastic wrap of some kind and freeze. I sometimes take the cubes out and put them in freezer bags so that I can use the ice cube tray for different kinds of baby food but only if I need the tray. Works great and is very easy! One sweet potatoes costs next to nothing compared to a jar of sweet potato baby food!

I do not make that much in advance because I figure fresher is better but I always have a little extra just in case. Also, if I buy too much of something and I know it will go bad before we eat it, I use it for baby food.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Baby Baby Food (Part One)

So I am all about saving money so that I have more money to spend of my kids, to save for their future, to save for my future and here are a few ways that I do that!

As you all know, I have a sweet and wonderful (doesn't everyone think their baby is sweet and wonderful, because they are!) four month old little boy. A little back story on my life and how I got to this point. My hunny and I were just dating when we found out I was pregnant. He already had a 10 year old from his first marriage and I was enjoying the freedom of having a job and actually having money. We were far from ready for this blessing but blessing was it ever! I can not imagine my life without my beautiful little boy or my handsome step son but financially it has been far from easy. Here is a list of our biggest struggles and how we dealt with it. I will be making this multiple posts.

1. Feeding a family of 4: So between formula, baby food and feeding the three of us decent food it has been a real challenge and I am always learning. (suggestions are ALWAYS welcome!)The first way I learned to save money was by buying formula on eBay. Some people may stick their nose up at this idea but I do not understand why. Of course I would NEVER give my baby something that had the seal broken when I received it or was tampered with in anyway but if it is factory sealed and not expired then it is no different from buying it in the store. I did and still do breastfeed but upon returning to work it became necessary to supplement with something else. Here is the way I get cheap formula on eBay!

A. Is your baby picky about brand/type?: My baby did not care what type of formula/breast milk was put in his mouth so when I shopped on eBay I looked at all types of formula. I have never tried soy formula but my thought would be that he doesn't care about that either. I just go for what is cheapest. Now of course I am not suggesting you use something that your baby does not take to very well. If your child need sensitive formula, then of course use it! You can still find it cheaper on eBay!

B. How to shop for formula on eBay? Whenever I look for formula on eBay, I always filter search results but auctions ending soonest. This way I see the items that I can bid on and win soon. Normally if you bid on something where the auction is not ending for a few days or even more than an hour or two, you will not win it. I have gotten Emfamil canisters for as little as 2 dollars each. Normally you pay a little more than that but it is absolutely cheaper, even if you are brand loyal.

C. Do the math! Be sure that that you do the math and make sure it is a good deal. Figure out a price in your head that you are not willing to pay more per ounce. Be sure you know if you are talking about ounces of powder or premixed liquid or concentrate. I normally buy power that you must add water too. I do not pay more than 44 cents an ounce of powder when I buy on eBay. As an example, when you buy Similac in bulk from Walmart online, you will pay 1.06 per ounce of power.

In the next post I will talk about how I save money on baby food!

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oh Baby having a baby is time consuming!

So my 3 month old is keeping me CRAZY busy and I have neglected this page badly. I am going to get better...promise!

Consignment Sale Suggestion:
I have done very little yard sale shopping recently because I have just been so busy but I did recently participate in a consignment sale and made a pretty penny there. For about three hours worth of work I made about 90 dollars. I figure 30 dollars an hour is pretty decent. I sold most of my stepson's old clothes and some older girls clothes that I picked up at yard sale's and goodwill. they sold really really well! My step sons clothes were size 10-14 and the girls clothes were 8-16. I found that there was a lack of older kids clothes so they sold really well! I would highly suggest buying up larger sizes when you can get them cheap!

I will be starting again with my yard sale hunting next week! I live in Greensboro, NC so if anyone ever knows of any good places to shop in Greensboro let me know!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tips From a Goodwill Mommy

Check out the Yard Sale Mommy as this woman is one of the best yard salers I have ever seen. I have learned ohh SOOOO much from her!

So I have been going to goodwill since I was a little girl. My parents are/were both teachers (my daddy is retired) and though we had plenty they were always very frugal so I learned from an early age the difference between wants and needs. We shopped at goodwill quite a bit but I am here to say that I will shop at goodwill and yard sales much more than even my parents did.

As I have said in earlier posts, I am the mother of a wonderful almost 2 month old and step mother to a handsome 10 year old. Clothing these two boys is expensive so goodwill and yard sales are like heaven to me but there are some things you need to keep in mind when shopping at these places.

GOODWILL TIP NUMBER ONE: Its all in the numbers

To be a successful goodwill shopper you need to go there a lot! Now I know this may sound like it would take a lot of your time but it really doesn't I am a middle school teacher and my step son is involved in sports and other activities but I still have time for goodwill hunting. (no pun intended) On my way back into town from work, which is an hour away, I stop by goodwill most days. Sometimes I am only there for about 10 minutes, enough time to look through the clothes for anything major and glance over the toys to see if there is anything I can sell on eBay or that my kids will enjoy. Sometime I stay longer and look through the clothes really well but most days its a quick trip. It is on these quick, frequent trips that I have found a baby bumpo seat that I showed in an earlier post, winter coats for the kids, and much much more! Goodwill is getting new inventory everyday so you will always find new stuff!

GOODWILL TIP NUMBER TWO: Pay attention to the check out process

When I shop for David, my stepson, I am buying clothes that look like they could fit me. He is almost my height and though the clothes would not actually fit me (I did just have a baby two months ago! lol), it isn't completely unreasonable to think that I may be buying them for myself. Adult clothes cost more at goodwill than kids clothes so if I was charged the adult price for every piece of clothing that I bought David, then I would be losing a lot of money. Do not be shy about telling the cashier that these are kids clothes. If they look at the sizing they would realize that they are kids sizes but when it comes to saving money, I do not leave it in the hands of someone else. I am in control of my pocket book!

GOODWILL SHOPPING TIP NUMBER THREE: Always have a plan and know what you need and DON'T need.

It is not a good deal if you buy something that you have no use for, so always have in mind the things that you need. Now that does not mean that you only buy things that your family needs because you could find things that you could sell but if you have a ton of boy size 6-9 month clothes at home for your baby boy then you really do not need to buy more of that size clothing unless it is really unique or you just love it. I mean a kid only needs so many onesies so why buy something else to clutter his drawer. Also keep in mind what you need. Since winter is coming up I am always on the lookout for winter coats for the kids and sweat shirts/hoodies.

Hope you have enjoyed this! More tips later, so please come back and check out the next post!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ok day I guess...

Look at my yard sale finds! It wasn't a great day but I did ok. I got all this for 4.00. The rice cereal alone costs about that much! I got Steven 2 fleece jackets, one of which has fleece pants to go with it. I also got him two pair of shoes, a few onesies and a box of rice cereal. It was a decent trip. I hope the yard sales get better as the weather gets cooler. Today was a bust when it comes to toys and such.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My goodwill finds for today.

So this is a picture of today's finds at goodwill!

Piece by Piece here it is....
Swim suit for my little boy size 6-12 months. We are going to a resort in December and he needs a swim suit...he will be just over six months then, so I hope this fits then. .50 cents

 This is a swim suit that is 24 months, but it was really cute so I got it. We go to the Y and swim a lot so he can wear it sometime. .50 cents
 This is a size 3-6 months hoodie that is so cute! We got so many clothes for Steven before he was born that we have plenty to take us through one year old but he needs some stuff to keep him warm as it get colder so this is a start. This was .50 cents also!
 I don't know if I mentioned this but I have a 10 year old stepson named David. This is for him. Its a long sleeve South Pole Shirt. It was 1.00.
And last but not least, this wooden Sort and Stave Circo puzzle. It has never been opened. Its really cook looking and I think Steven will LOVE it when he gets older. It was 2.00! Love it!

So over all this was a pretty good day! :)