Deal of the Day September 17, 2008

I’m not a huge magazine reader, but Real Simple is a terrific read. It is the only magize I’ve actually bought in the past year, and has terrific ideas for simplifying life and saving money-two of my favorite topics!

Click here to get a Free Trial Issue and see what all the fuss is about.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Deal of the Day August 30, 2008

I don’t know about you, but when I fly I love to leaf through the Sky Mall magazine.  There are always such neat products!  Some brilliant, som ridiculous, all overpriced.

So if you’ve been dying for a Vibrating Head Massager, at least now you can save some money.  Save 15% on purchases from the Sky Mall when using coupon code MC158 at checkout. You’ll be able to saving on unique and hard to find electronics, apparel, accessories, hardware, pet products, and much more.  Hurry, expires 08/31/2008.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Deal of the Day for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2008

Here are some St Patrick’s Day deals to bring out the Irish in all of us.

Bare Necessities – Get a FREE pair of green socks with any purchase at Bare Necessities.

Red Envelope – this very chic gift company marks down prices on just over 20 gift ideas in its St. Patrick’s Day Specials section. Plus, get 15% off orders of $50 or more via coupon code “E8B26A01”. Shipping starts at $8.95. Coupon ends March 31.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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I Walked Out of Target Richer Than I Walked In

Something happened yesterday that hardly ever happens.

I went to Target and didn’t buy anything. Not only that, I returned something. So I left the store $5.92 richer than I was when I walked in.

I didn’t even buy popcorn for my son.

This is highly unusual. Regular readers know that I love Target, and with the upcoming Birthday March Madness (8 family birthdays, including my father’s 70th and Husband’s grandmother’s 95th!), I expected to spend.

I didn’t find anything to buy. Oh, I found plenty I liked, and wanted. I always do. But there was nothing I needed.

I was almost out the door when I noticed that some of the dollar bin items were 50% off. I made a beeline and selected two items: some glitter glue (I am working on Valentines, after all) and a really cute set of rubber dishwashing gloves. Both items I could use.

But neither item I needed.

So, I put them back and Son and I walked out of the store.

Thank goodness they weren’t 75% off. I would have been a goner.

Target’s Allure May Be Poison, But I’ll Drink to That

Paid Twice over at I’ve Paid for This Twice Already wrote a great article about why she’s avoiding her biggest impulse-buying trigger – the wonder that is Target.

I agree with her. I have spent far too much money on things I didn’t really need just because they were on sale. Often. A lot. Constantly. And not just at Target. I think I’ve come across a solution that will help me curb that, without having to stop my weekly Target Clearance shelf sojourns (my son and I go every Tuesday – the day that our local store makes most of it’s markdowns).

Why do I still want to go? Well, sometimes I find a deal that will make me money. Once I found brand new carseats on clearance for $22 apiece. I bought three and sold them on Craigslist for $60 apiece. I found a Baby Bike Trailer for about $20 that I think I sold for $75. I’ve done similar things dozens of times.

I’ve also gotten gifts for ridiculously low prices. A few weeks ago I was doing my weekly browse, thinking that I needed to get a birthday gift for someone. I ran across a really great gift for $16 that was regularly almost $80 (I’d budgeted $40) – and absolutely perfect for the birthday girl. And two shirts for another family member for $2.47 each.

And I’ve never found another store that gives me great deals so consistently.So, what I’ve started doing this past month (thanks in no small part to the inspiration I’m getting from my friends’ frugal blogs) is just ask myself, “Do we really need this? Can I sell this, and quickly? Can I gift this within two months, and do I have a specific person in mind (I have a gift shelf in my closet full of un-gifted bargains…)?” If the answer is no, well, then it stays in the store.

Last week I spent only $3.47. Two weeks ago I actually left without spending a dime. A record. I was so proud.

For me, I tend to cut out the moldy part instead of throwing out the whole ball of cheese. I’m not saying it’s always the best approach – I’m sure I’d be better off throwing out the whole ball sometimes.

It just always seems a waste to me to throw out that much good cheese.

We all have to do what works best for us. What I love so much about reading different blogs are the discussions they provoke, the thoughts they inspire, and the changes we make as a result. Or not.

The Toy Trap

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

I grew up in a family with five children. Every year our parents would buy toy after toy, and we’d walk downstairs on Hanukkah to find the floor literally covered with presents. It was great fun, and we’d be filled with excitement as we tore off the wrappings and reveled in our good fortune. We’d walk around with our favorites in hand, and go to sleep late because we just couldn’t bear to stop playing with our Crissy dolls, or our Perfume Making Kits (one of my favorite toys!), or our Easy Bake Ovens.

Within two weeks, though, we’d be complaining that we were bored and had nothing to play with. You could literally see the steam coming out of my Dad’s ears. My Dad still talks about the train set that he thought would make our year, that we abandoned completely after the first day.

I most remember the organ. The poor, lonely organ that was Never Touched By Children’s Hands. My poor, misguided Dad.

Every year there seems to be some “it” toy – something the kids must have and that parents go to extraordinary measures to find before Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus. I remember very well the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of 1984. I was working at Richway (similar to Target), and people would line up the night before if they even suspected we were getting a shipment. There was pushing and shoving and actual fistfights, for goodness sake. Before I had kids I would roll my eyes and laugh at these idiots people. “I’ll never do that,” I smugly thought.

Then I became a parent, and that changed everything. My heart wants the floor covered with presents, just to see my son’s face as he opens each one. His smile makes my life. Our budget won’t allow for that kind of spending, our small home won’t allow that kind of clutter, and I honestly don’t think he needs lots of toys.

So, I sure have my head on straight, right?

Well. Last year’s “it” toy was Tickle Me Elmo TMX. He came in a little cardboard suitcase, and people would pay up to double the normal cost to find one at TRU, on Ebay, or Craigslist, on a street corner. I happened to come across one quite easily, and paid the normal price of $39.95, and how I wish I hadn’t. My son played with it exactly once. I knew he wouldn’t play with it, too, as he’s not interested in stuffed toys at all. There was no pressure from him or anywhere else to get one – my son is happier with a 99 cent Hot Wheels car than most middle-aged men are with their Porsches.

I thought it was cute. I got caught up in the excitement. I completely wasted $40. Who’s the idiot now?

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

We open most of our gifts on Christmas Day around our Christmas Tree (my husband is Catholic, and I’ve enjoyed a tree for many years). My son’s gifts have been purchased, all 4 of them (plus small gifts like a car or workbook or pencil for each night of Hanukkah). And we’re under budget. They’re all things I know he’ll play with (well, I’m hopeful about the workbooks). I did good.

Then I spent Thanksgiving with my family. We did some shopping, and I found out that this year my nephews and nieces are completely smitten with Webkinz. They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They come with a secret code that gains you entry into a really very cool website where kids can play games and keep track of caring for their “pet” and many other ubercool activities. They can be found as inexpensively as 2 for $20 at our local flea market. Don’t forget the Webkinz clothing, though, or the little charms that let you into other areas of the website, and before you know it you spend $50 on a $10 toy, and your kid won’t let you near your computer…

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

But the reindeer Webkinz is really cute.


A Frugal Conundrum – What Would You Do?

What do you do with gifts you don’t/cannot use? Would you do what I did?

We live in a townhouse that is a wonderful size for one person, snug for two, and cramped for three. Given that there are three people plus a dog, it’s a constant struggle to keep the clutter at bay.

We have wonderful family and friends, and they are very generous with us and with our son. I love to throw big birthday parties for him, and they’ve all been truly wonderful affairs, with lots of fun and laughter.

And lots and lots of presents (I know we could request “no presents”, and I have a lot to say on that subject – in another yet-to-be-written post).

We have very limited toy storage. As a result, there were several unopened toys being stored in my son’s closet that we hadn’t gotten around to opening, either because they were too big to be able to really be used in our small living area or smaller driveway, because they were duplicates of things we already had or they were items I bought as “emergency gifts” that I’ve never had to use.

Some were really terrific, too. I so hate that we don’t live in a larger home, so he could have enjoyed the use of some of those items. We’re working on moving, and it can’t come fast enough for me.

So, this week I cleaned out that closet (this week’s battle in the De-cluttering Wars) and schlepped several items to a local store. I was upfront, told them that I had no idea if they were purchased at said store or not. The Service Representative assured me that if they sold the item they would happily give me a store credit for the items. Hot dog!

There was only one item that wasn’t in their system, so I walked away from the counter with a store credit for $107.36.

Which I promptly used to buy several smaller-in-size gifts for my son, and a few gifts for other people.

Controversial, I know.

What do you think? Frugal Coup or Icky Poo?

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