February 26, 2008

Hiding Valuables

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:29 am by bitsypieces

I don’t have a lot of valuables in the house.  We don’t keep much cash–just $40 or so–lying around.  I don’t have any expensive jewelry (except my engagement/wedding rings, which I always wear).

However, I do have a few pieces of jewelry that have sentimental meaning.  Their actual financial worth is pretty small.  For example, one item is a silver locket that probably cost $15 at most.  It belonged to my mother.

Although these pieces are pretty much worthless in terms of monetary value, they mean a great deal to me.  And it’s possible that some amateur burglar might mistake them for something of financial value.

So I need a safe place to stash these pieces around the house.

I’ve been browsing the Internet and looking for good hiding place suggestions, but nothing really seems adequate.  Apparently, from things I’ve read (such as this blog post), most of my ideas for a hiding spot are kind of old news to most burglars.  So far I’ve eliminated:

  • Refrigerator/Freezer
  • Bathroom/kitchen cabinets
  • Anywhere near the bed
  • Anywhere in the bedroom closet
  • Anywhere near the toilet, including tampon boxes
  • Anywhere near my dresser
  • In any “standard” diversion safe, like a hollowed out book or pet food can

As you can see… that doesn’t leave a lot of places.

Anyone care to make a suggestion?

February 20, 2008

Registering For Baby Gifts

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:43 am by bitsypieces

I’ve heard other bloggers denounce registering for gifts as a “bad manners” ploy for free stuff.  Generally speaking, however, I’ve always thought registries were a good idea when I’ve needed to buy a gift for someone else.  Here’s why:

  • If it’s someone who’s merely an acquaintance (rather than a close friend), it makes gift selection easy.
  • It gives me insight into the recipient’s tastes, themes, color schemes, etc.
  • It ensures I buy a useful and wanted gift.

Anyway… if Hubby and I are planning to register for baby gifts, we’ll probably need to do it soon.  But is it bad taste?

It’s not like we’re going to send out cards that announce our registry.  It will probably only be mentioned if someone asks about it.

We’ll probably do it, mostly because there are a few useful things that would be nice to receive as gifts.  And because if we don’t, our friends/family will start asking “Why haven’t you registered?”

So what do you think? Is registering for gifts (wedding, baby, etc.) acceptable?

February 18, 2008

Funeral Flowers

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:34 pm by bitsypieces

My close friend’s grandmother recently died, and Hubby and I want to send some flowers.  But the cost is outrageous!  Most florists want $50+ for a nice arrangement!

We have a few options for saving money:

  1. Find online coupon codes to save 15% or so on the price.
  2. Buy a few bunches of flowers at a supermarket (for about $6 each) and then arrange in a vase I already own (and hand deliver).
  3. Skip the flowers entirely and make a memorial donation instead.

At this point we’re probably most likely to pick option #1 (plus a memorial donation, too).  Anyone have a better suggestion?

February 17, 2008

Smart or Spendthrift?

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:47 am by bitsypieces

(Here’s another opportunity for you to tell me if my recent purchase was smart or spendthrift!) 

Books are probably my biggest weakness when it comes to spending.  Although I could borrow from the library, I prefer to own my books.  I hope that, when we build a house in the future, I’ll have a combination home office/library with a bunch of built-in bookcases… and I’ll already have a nice stock of paperbacks to fill the shelves.

In the meantime, I do try to purchase most of my books secondhand to cut back on the cost.

One bookstore in my local area sells ALL their used books–hardbacks and paperbacks–for $1.  I’ve picked up some gems like Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Charlotte’s Web to read to Baby while she’s still in my belly.

So here’s the info about today’s purchase:

Although I am not a big romance fan, I sometimes indulge in a “bodice ripper” if I want some light reading before bed.  I’ve been thinking about acquiring Janet Dailey’s Americana series (50 books, each one set in a different state).  Today I found 46 of them at the used bookstore.  So for $46 plus tax, I got myself a nice big box of paperbacks.

It may sound like a lot of cash, but I think the hours and hours and hours of entertainment make it a worthwhile purchase.  What do you think?

February 14, 2008

A New Kind Of Valentine’s Day

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:46 pm by bitsypieces

In the past, our Valentine’s Day celebration typically included an expensive restaurant meal (with wine), plus a bottle or two of wine at home.  Hubby and I purchased each other cards, plus maybe a small gift (like some undies).  Total spent would have probably been about $150-$200.

Well, pregnancy–and our new desire to save money–has changed this year’s Valentine’s celebration.   Here’s what we’re doing:

  • Going out to lunch at an inexpensive restaurant.
  • Skipping the wine.  (Not good for Baby!)
  • Skipping the gifts.
  • Playing rented video games.  (It’s some of our favorite “couple” time.)

Sure… it’s not the most exciting Valentine’s Day ever.  But our cost was about $25.  Not as cheap as homemade cards and a homemade meal of red beans and white rice… but still less expensive than previous years.

February 11, 2008

Insuring The Future

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:14 pm by bitsypieces

I’ve been reading articles on finance websites–like this article at Bankrate.com–about “preparing for baby,” and life insurance is a topic that’s frequently mentioned. Hubby and I currently have a bit of life insurance on each of us, but I know it’s probably a good idea to get a little more.

However, I’m unsure how much we really need.

Some experts suggest 10 times your current salary. Since Hubby is the only one really working right now, I guess that means he’d need 10 times his salary. But that seems like way too much. I do have the skills/education/ability to work, if necessary, so I’m not sure we’d need that much on him. I think 6 times his current salary should be enough, but I guess I should discuss it with him before we make any decisions.

As for me, we’ll need at least enough to cover childcare costs should something happen to me, as well as a little extra for stuff like housecleaners. I do tend to help keep our costs low with my frugal shopping, plus I earn some extra income. Overall, I’ll probably have to at least double my current coverage.

Both of us are healthy, 33-year-old individuals who do not currently use tobacco products. So hopefully we can get a some decent term coverage for a reasonable price.

February 8, 2008

Skimping on Workout Clothes

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:19 pm by bitsypieces

In my pre-pregnancy days, I was fairly active. Most of my workout clothing consisted of moderately form-fitted shirts, pants and tops. Almost everything was specialty moisture-wicking fabrics.

Once I got pregnant, I knocked back my workout routine to some basic walking. (And, in verity, I don’t walk as much as I should.) Even though my workouts aren’t as strenuous, I still need to be wearing comfortable clothing during these walks.

And, unfortunately, my regular stuff is starting to get really tight on me.

Maternity workout clothes are alarmingly expensive and difficult to find, as I blogged about in my fitness blog. Moderate priced activewear for pregnant ladies (from stores like JCPenney) costs about $18 per piece.

For a total workout wardrobe to get me through pregnancy, I estimate my needs to be this:

  • 3 short-sleeved tee-shirts
  • 2 pairs long pants
  • 2 pairs shorts

(I have an oversized jacket that I can wear during colder days.)

The total cost for all those pieces would be a whopping $126. There’s no way I’m spending that kind of cash.

So, I guess I’m going to hobble along in Hubby’s oversized sweatpants and tee-shirts for now. When I get too big for those, I’ll revisit prices. I may be able to find some cheap plain cotton tees and shorts for a relatively low price on eBay. They won’t be as comfortable as my moisture-wicking outfits–especially in the summer–but they’ll be a lot cheaper.

February 7, 2008

Home or Store?

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:27 pm by bitsypieces

(I’ve decided to do an occasional Home or Store? post that investigates the difference between “homemade” and “store bought” items.)

Before I even got pregnant, I had decided to use cloth diapers. The benefits are numerous (better for baby, better for environment, etc.).

As I explored the issue of cloth diapers, I also realized that many people use cloth wipes. And I decided that cloth wipes were also the best choice for me.

In terms of cloth wipes, there seem to be two different options:

  • Use baby wash cloths as wipes
  • Sew my own from fabric

I generally believe that “making your own” is the most economical and environmentally sound choice. And that was, indeed, my first impulse. Then I realized:

  • I’d have to purchase fabric.
  • I don’t own a serger sewing machine, so I’d have to tuck in the hems of every wipe.
  • My sewing skills are, well, amateur at best.

On the other hand, buying baby wash cloths would cost a small fortune (and how would I keep diaper wipes separate from Baby’s bath wash cloths)?

Here were my estimates for 50 wipes:

Homemade Flannel Wipes

  • 4 yards of flannel fabric: $12 (on sale)
  • 1 spool of thread: $1.50
  • Time required: 25 hours

Store Bought Baby Wash Cloths

  • 50 baby wash cloths: $75
  • Time required: 10 minutes in a baby store

Homemade baby wipes are obviously the cheaper option. But they also require 25 hours of my time… much more than I want to devote to this type of project.

I did come up with a third possible solution: Buy homemade cloth baby wipes on eBay. Right now there’s a seller who’s selling baby wipes made from flannel fabric for $6 per dozen (including shipping). So my total for 50 would be $25. That’s a little more than twice as much as my homemade versions, but it would definitely save me a BIG hassle.

February 4, 2008

Should we invest in a deep freeze?

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:22 pm by bitsypieces

I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this topic!

Hubby and I have never really needed a deep freeze. We don’t eat beef, chicken or pork products, so the only meat we buy is seafood. We don’t garden, so we have no “surplus” to freeze in the summer. And I never really got into the whole “stockpiling” thing, except for paper products like toilet paper (which doesn’t need to be frozen!).

But now that baby is on the way–and I’m trying to be more frugal–I’ve been rethinking the deep freeze. I’m guessing it can be used to freeze:

  • Seafood purchased on sale
  • Bread and butter purchased on sale
  • Frozen veggies purchased on sale
  • Leftover casseroles and soups for quickie meals
  • Homemade baby food for quickie meals

But as I look at that small list of items, I have to wonder if a deep freeze is really worth the expense (both the initial purchase and the monthly electric cost). What if it only ends up “half full” most of the time?

Anyone care to chime in? Is a deep freeze worth the money? If so, what else do you store in it?

“Baby Bargains” Isn’t Much Of A Bargain

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:59 am by bitsypieces

As time passes–and Hubby and I get closer to buying some stuff for Baby–I’ve started researching baby gear and items.  One of the most commonly recommended books for “baby on a budget” is Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields.  I paid full price ($17.95) for the latest edition, since it’s updated regularly with new products.  (It also offers a money-back guarantee.)

So did I find any bargains?  Not really.  Here’s why:

  • The authors’ idea of a”bargain” is not the same as mine.  They consider $400 to be a mid-priced crib.  I consider it to be “pricey.”
  • The authors spend very little page-space discussing alternative sources for items, such as thrift stores or consignment shops.  They mention these secondhand resources occasionally, but they mostly assume that their readers are buying new.

There were some benefits to the book, however.  I found the information about safety very valuable… the authors did a great job of pointing out safety features and rating gear based on its level of safety.  They also did a fair job of pointing out unnecessary items or gear that is optional.

Two of the most valuable pieces of info for me:

  • The car seat I received at my early shower is the top-rated for both safety and convenience.  (Good news!)
  • Ikea’s cribs (the most reasonably priced I’ve found) get an “A” rating from the book authors.

When it comes to choosing baby gear, safety is my number one priority.  Second is price.  Third (and final) is appearance.  I was gratified to find that I don’t have to pay top dollar (or even mid-priced dollar) to get a safe piece of baby gear.