HALLOWEEN COMETH

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. This year, I’m having to hand-make a Voltron costume for my 3 year old, Nacho, so I’ve been a bit busy. I’m digging around for some last-minute, office appropriate costumes, so I thought I’d share my ideas with you!

Brad or Janet from Rocky Horror Picture Show:

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The cast of Breakfast Club:

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Characters from Jessica Jones or Luke Cage

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And you must love Kimmy Schmidt (unless you’re completely dead inside)

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The cast of Shield, like Quake for example (I’m noticing that I’m very biased toward Netflix and Marvel properties…)

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Plus, since I love Halloween SO MUCH I WISH WE HAD TWO OF THEM, I have a bunch of old posts with even more ideas for you!!

Halloween Already

Thrifty Halloween Costumes

Baby Costume Ideas

And finally, this is the plan for my Monday office attire:

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Totally office appropriate, and comfortable! I can’t wait!!

 

October 26, 2016. Tags: , , , , . Arts and Crafts, My Quest to be more Interesting, Nerd Stuff. 1 comment.

Everything Messy Play

My previous post made me realize just how much I know about messy play for toddlers. It’s really time consuming to stop random people on the street and share my wisdom, only to find out that they don’t even have kids, and I should “Go home and put on pants”. Whatever, I’ll just share my knowledge with you lovely minions who appreciate my pearls of wisdom.

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Messy play is one of my favorite things for so many reasons:

  1. It absorbs my toddler, Nacho, in a way few things can. That sentence makes it sounds like the Blob is ingesting him, but you get what I mean.
  2. Messy play is even entertaining for young babies. I know when Nacho was small, I was definitely at a loss for things to do with him. You can only coo at a wiggling burrito so much!
  3. It’s CHEAP. Having a kid is expensive, especially when yours eats like a linebacker after the big championship game (the Wonderbowl? The Supershow? You know, that sports thing that happens too often for some reason).  The most basic form of messy play is a mud pit, which is free! The other recipes I use are generally pretty cheap, which is always great.

There are lots of variations of messy play, and honestly, just a quick browse on pinterest will overwhelm you with options. Well, I have sorted through tons of those links, and picked out my favorites. I look for recipes that are cheap, easy to clean up, and allergen free (no wheat for my poor guy). Several of these are also taste safe for younger ones.

  1. Slime – You will need a fiber supplement with Psyllium as the active ingredient, food coloring, water, and a microwave safe bowl. I love this recipe because you only use 1 tablespoon of the fiber stuff and 1 cup of water. Whisk this together with a little food coloring, then microwave for 5 minutes. Here is the link to the original post I used that has lots of Q&A if you need more details.
  2. Oobleck – Mix 1 cup water, 2 cups cornstarch, and some food coloring. I like to make one big white batch, then separate it into small containers to add color. I usually don’t measure anything, and just kind of mix it around until I get a good consistency. Oobleck can be reused if you spread it thin, and let it dry thoroughly. Just add water again and remix it. I usually reuse it within a couple days, and just once. There are tons of variations on this basic recipe all over the magical internets, but I stick to the basic one.

    dry slime

    Dried out oobleck

  3. Tub Paint – You can use shaving cream mixed with a tiny bit of food coloring, or this recipe (this is a tiny batch): 1 tbsp constarch, a couple squirts dish soap, and a tiny bit of food coloring. As with the oobleck, I make a big batch of white, then separate it to add colors. With the soap one, the tub turns into a Giganto-bubble bath after, which entertains Nacho for another good stretch of time.
  4.  Finger paint – When my son was younger, I made his from scratch so they would be taste safe. I used this recipe, and it worked great! We still have Nacho’s original artwork, and it looks great, 2 years later. Now, I tend to buy the store-bought ones when they’re on sale. I should probably get back to making them, though…
  5. Play dough – Since Nacho is allergic to wheat, and playtime shouldn’t lead to him covered in hives, I used rice flour instead of regular flour. That’s not as cheap as most recipes though, so I would use regular flour if you can. I have totally lost the original recipe I used, but there are infinite variations online. If you don’t have time to cook it, you can use cornstarch and hair conditioner, mixed with a bit of food coloring.
  6. Play foam – this is a huge hit in our house, and one we usually keep in the tub. I use a couple squirts of dish soap, a small drop of food coloring, and about 1/4 cup of water. You do need a mixer of some kind for this. I use my hand mixer with whisk attachment and it whips the mixture up into foam in no time. I actually keep my hand mixer in the bathroom now.
  7. Foam dough – This is cornstarch mixed with shaving cream. When I made it, it was somewhat brittle, but some kids will probably enjoy it. I’ll probably try it again with Nacho in the future.
  8. Mud – regular old mud is one of Nacho’s favorite things. I just make sure to hose him off outside before we head in for his bath.
  9. Play sand – Sand is really cheap at Home Depot, and stores like that. It is just insanely heavy. Again, a huge hit! We bought one bag last year, for I think $5, and his sand table (which I got for free!) is still pretty full. If you store it outside, put a cover over it when it’s not being used. We just store our play pool upside down on top as a giant lid!
  10. Jello – Yes, just regular old Jell-o. I buy the store brand, so it’s less than $0.50 per batch. Just follow the package instructions! Easy peasy. I usually make it after he goes to bed, so it’s ready the next day for play time.
  11. Play snow – This is literally baking soda mixed with water, and that’s all. I kind of just mix amounts until I have a consistency I like. (Man, this is a professional blog, will you look at this? Don’t get too jelly of my amazing, super-helpful writing.) One thing about play snow, you will see recipes all over that call for conditioner or other random ingredients, but seriously, all you need is baking soda and water. You can also play with this in the tub and dump vinegar on it to make crazy amounts of foam!
  12. Bean tray – Beans are so much fun for kids to play with, but man, they can get everywhere. I use pinto beans because they’re the cheapest of all the beans, and they’re large enough to be easy to find. No lentils for this activity! I have a big, cheap catering pan I store the beans in with a few scoops, so it’s all ready to go when I need a distraction.
  13. Water – I’m including this because you HAVE to take precautions with water. Not just safety, but holy potato can kids make a mess with it. We played mixing colored water in the tub, and I’m so glad I didn’t try it elsewhere. I also stop up the sink and fill it a little so Nacho can play Pond. Give him a few animals (or toys that desperately need a bath!), and he’s entertained for 20 minutes. Long enough for me to shower (in eyesight of him), or put laundry away.
  14. Bubbles – Nacho is obsessed with bubbles, whether in the bath or blown, so when I bring them out, we go through a million of them. If we use them indoors, I put towels down to prevent the floor getting slippery. We made bubble snakes outside, which was great until the dog began eating them. Okay, that was funny too, but then he got an upset stomach, so don’t let your dog eat bubbles. It’s not pretty. I used one of Nacho’s socks on the bubble maker instead of the wash cloth in the tutorial, and it worked great.
  15. Colored ice cubes – Just make colored water, and dump it into ice cube trays. You can use yogurt cups, or other containers to get weird shapes, but make sure the container is freezer safe. There’s a blue stain in my freezer for totally unrelated reasons. Totally. I usually let these warm up a little before handing them off to Nacho so I don’t have to worry about them sticking to his skin or tongue. I have a Batman ice cube tray (YOU CAN’T HAVE IT), and he loves to fit the bats back into the tray.

I wrote about how to reduce the clean up work the other day, so here’s the link if you missed it.

General Tips:

  1. I buy my food coloring on Amazon, and it’s far cheaper than the grocery store. If I find something even cheaper than that, I will update you all.
  2. To extend a kiddo’s interest in a particular mess, add fun things to it gradually. For example, if Nacho has play dough, he’ll start to lose interest after 20 or 30 minutes. I just hand him something additional to go with it, like dry pasta, and that adds a new level of interest. Googly eyes make an appearance later, then cookie cutters, etc.
  3. Save and wash yogurt cups for scooping, or to hold multiple colors of paints/slime/various goops.
  4. Look around at what you have available, and utilize your resources. Kids will find a way to play with almost anything. Do you have dozens of wine corks around for no particular reason? Not because you’re a parent, surely. Well let the kiddo play with them, and now you’re being resourceful!
  5. Don’t have a plan for HOW the kid will play with stuff. I mean, other than “Don’t throw it at the cat”. Just let them do whatever comes to mind rather than demonstrating how they “should” play with whatever it is. If they seem a little lost or hesitant, by all means get down there and play around, but otherwise let them at it.
  6. With my toddler, I don’t ask if he wants to play with something. That’s get a guaranteed “NO”. I just set stuff up and show it to him, then he digs in.
  7. Start buying industrial shipments of cornstarch. Why does it only come in tiny boxes at the store???
  8. I save random plastic containers and lids to use with all of these. Coffee can lids make great pretend plates, little segmented trays are great for paints or pouring activities. Ice cube trays are wonderfully versatile. Of course, if your kid is young enough to worry about choking on things, be very careful what you hand them.
  9. Random items to extend play: straws or chop sticks (for a more eco-friendly version), googly eyes, dried pasta, various plastic containers and trays, milk tops, large beads or buttons, toy dinosaurs, army men, bugs, animals, other figures that are washable, balls, cars (that are easy to clean), Mardi Gras beads, nature materials like pine cones, shells, sticks, acorns, etc, cutlery, like butter knives or spoons, baking pans, like muffin tins or bundt cake pans, cookie cutters, random craft supplies like gems or feathers, and weird kitchen tools, like a garlic press, potato masher, rolling pin, those odd gadgets that accumulate and you forget what they do.
  10. Above all, have fun! There’s a ton of info here, so just pick and choose a couple things to test out if this is new ground. If you’ve been doing messy play with the kiddos for awhile, hopefully there are some useful tips in here, and maybe you have some of your own! I would love to learn something new, so drop me a comment with your sage advice.

Wow, that is a lot of text. My brain feels so light and empty now! I mean, it usually feels that way until I have some coffee. And then also after I have coffee. And most of the time. You can see why I prefer play things that are simple to set up and clean up!

June 3, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Kid Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 2 comments.

Pompom Sorting

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest, the same way most people do. I love getting ideas for new activities with my kid, but some of those blog posts have to be built on a house of LIES. There is no way your 18 month old built a Christmas tree out of playdough and wrapped garlands around it like that, Smothery Mothering!! THERE’S NO WAY. So take Pinterest with an enormous grain of artisan, organic, hand-harvested, pink Himalayan sea salt. OK, rant over. (maybe).

I saw this idea for sorting Pompoms by color as an activity for 2 year olds. Well, I just happen to have one of those at my house, so I thought, why not entertain him? I used construction paper, and plastic cups I had laying around as the basis for this project. Look at all the random junk you’ve accumulated since having a child (I mean, who has time to take out the recycling any more?!?!) and find a few containers that are roughly the same size. You’ll also need scissors, tape, and a pencil. You could probably paint the bottoms of the containers instead of using construction paper if you’d like. I’m not your boss. (But if I am, GET BACK TO WORK, GAYLE!)

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Trace the bottom of the container onto the paper. I cut one out, and tested it in the cup until it fit, then used that as my template for the others.

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Tape the circles into the bottom.

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Boom! Ready to play! This only took me 10 minutes or so.

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I was making this in the bathroom while my son was in the tub. You guys got to see my counters while they were clean! Oh, I mean, they’re always clean. I’m like, Martha Stewart mixed with June Cleaver, but super hot and witty like Tina Fey, all in one.

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For younger kids, or when just starting to learn colors,use fewer containers and colors. I would also start with colors that are distinctly different from each other, like red and green, or yellow and blue. Orange and red can be a pain to differentiate, so start out simply.

“Why are there no pictures of this mystery toddler playing with this toy his mother so lovingly crafted?” you’re asking. Well, because he immediately wanted to play with the circles in the bottoms of the cups, and cried until I pulled them all out for him. Then he shoved each one into my dresser through a tiny gap in the drawer. Maybe I should have just made that the game? Now I have a new idea…

But you can see why I have a vendetta against Pinterest. It would have been so easy for me to snap a picture of the back of baby Nacho’s head “playing” with this toy while he desperately tried to pull the circles out of the bottom. So don’t feel bad if you make something, and it doesn’t go as planned. All kids are different, and all kids are weird. I try to pay attention and participate in the way he plays with something, rather than trying to guide how he’s “supposed” to play with something. Above all, have fun!

pompom cover

 

March 4, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Kid Stuff. Leave a comment.

DIY Toddler Sewing

As I said in a recent post, we’re planning to travel with my 2 year old for the holidays! I know, it’s completely nuts, but I’m preparing as best I can. So here we have one of my solutions: DIY toddler sewing projects! You will need markers, some kind of tough card stock (I reused old manila folders), a hole punch, and shoes laces or ribbon.

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I drew some simple pictures on the manila folder with sharpies, and colored them in.

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The I cut them out and punched holes around the edge:

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It’s surprisingly simple. If you need something more durable you can color on and cut out plastic from milk jugs, or laundry detergent. Since we’re traveling for Christmas, I made a Christmas tree complete with tinsel:


It’s so cute I amaze myself sometimes! Now we’ll see if Nacho enjoys them at all. I hope so, because I made four total.

December 17, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Kid Stuff, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Winter-tainment

We are planning to travel for Christmas with my two year old because A) I’m insane, and B) Someone gifted me lots of Austin Beerworks beer, so I can tolerate more aggravation (Note: I do NOT mean drinking and driving. That’s an absolutely terrible idea. Just drink at home, so you can play video games at the same time!).

winter

Since we’re traveling with a toddler, I am planning as many activities as possible that are lightweight, easy to carry, pack, and play with, and are cheap, so I don’t have to freak out if bits get left behind. To that end, I made some simple, free winter printables that you guys are welcome to. You can use these as coloring pages or just decorate with cheap stickers!

Christmas treehousesnowman
You’ve got your basic Christmas tree, and a snowman and house to decorate, since not everyone celebrates Christmas. The house can be made into a gingerbread house, or a monster house, whatever the kiddo’s tiny heart desires. And you can print dozens of them. Dozens!!!

Everyone be safe during this insane travel and shopping time. Remember that you don’t have to shop if you don’t want to! Whatever you’re up to, have fun and be safe!

Love, That Clever Chick

December 16, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , . Kid Stuff, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

DIY Baby Food

baby food

Making your own baby food is super cheap and easy. Before my son started eating solids, I started squirreling away food for him in the freezer. Basically you take a food, run it through a blender or food processor until it’s smooth, then store it until you feed it to a baby. It’s seriously that easy. I do have a few hints and tricks to make it even easier. I mean, of course I do. I couldn’t call myself That Clever Chick if I didn’t, could I? Well, not without shame.

Cooking:

To start off, you want to keep each food completely separate from everything else, meaning no apple banana blends until you make sure the kiddo doesn’t have a food sensitivity. I’m sure you’ve read all about this in your baby books, so I’m not going to go into exhaustive detail. So the first ingredients in your baby food will be just the food and probably some water.

I never peeled anything, like apples or pears, that I would normally eat the peel on. I did cook these things, rather than just blending them up raw, at least at first. Bananas don’t need to be cooked, but I think everything else should be. You can steam, boil, or bake your foods. For apples and pears, I cut them up into chunks and put them in a glass baking dish with some water. I put this in the oven at 350 until they were mushy. Wait until it cools to run it through the blender.

For first foods, whatever you’re making for the baby, you basically cook it until it’s mushy and will blend easily. So instead of steaming broccoli until it’s still crisp, let it keep going until it falls apart when you push on it. Once the baby gets a little older and is ready for more textured food, you can cook it a little less. Eventually you can just mash up what you’re having for dinner, and skip the blender altogether.

Tips:

Make extra of whatever you’re eating. Are you making broccoli for yourself? Make extra (without any spices or seasoning) for the baby.

Once you have the blender or food processor out, make several things at once. You can microwave a sweet potato, or just blend up some raw bananas if you don’t have anything else prepared for your little munchkin.

Rinse the container out in between batches until you’ve established what foods your baby is not allergic to. After that, run them through starting with safe foods, and ending with new foods. So you know your baby can have bananas just fine, but haven’t tried peas yet? Blend the bananas first, store them, and rinse the blender. Now when you run the peas through, if there’s a tiny bit of banana residue left behind, it’s no big deal.

Something too runny? Add a little baby cereal to thicken it up.

Too chunky? Try adding water, then blending it some more. Still not working? Run it through the microwave a bit to cook those stubborn bits.

Need ideas? Check out the baby foods at the store. They have quinoa and stuff in them! You bet I made some quinoa for my kiddo. I mix it in with fruit or veggies to add protein, and he loves it.

Storing:

I used normal ice cube trays to freeze the baby food into small, ~1 ounce portions. Once these were frozen, I popped them out and stored them in freezer bags. The food cubes fit into baby food jars, so you can just grab one, pop it into a jar, and then store it in the fridge or put it on the counter to thaw. They’re so small, they thaw pretty quickly. I got baby food jars from a friend who bought her baby food, but you could also buy your first few jars. You can also use Tupperware. Nothing says you have to feed your baby out of those classic glass jars.

Note: If you’re going to make baby prunes, soak them until they’re soft first. I destroyed my old food processor trying to blend them up too enthusiastically. Also, they DO NOT pop out of ice cube trays, so when making prunes, freeze them in small, individual containers. They stay sticky and never freeze solid. I haven’t tried other dried fruits, but I would take the same precautions with them.

 

I hope you’ll try this. It seems like there’s some special process Gerber goes through to make their baby food, but there really isn’t. Making your own is surprisingly easy, and cost effective. By my rough estimation, homemade costs half as much as store bought, if not less. Think of all the toys you can buy with the savings! Or something boring, like college savings.

September 29, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. 2 comments.

Better Coffee at Home

You’re trying to save money by avoiding coffee shops, but you miss the delicious caffeinated treasures they provided? Fear not! We can make better coffee at home and save you money!

First of all, good for you for trying to save money! It can be a challenge, but you can totally do it. You will be so proud of yourself!

Ok, now onto the coffee stuff. You’re trying to save money, so it’s possible your bought the cheapest coffee available. If it tastes ok, then good job! If it tastes terrible, that might be causing some discontent. There are several different ways to make your addiction cheaper:
1) Buy some really good coffee and some cheaper coffee, then blend the two together.
2) When buying coffee grounds at the grocery store, buy a small amount of the cheapest coffee. If you don’t like it, next time spend slightly more, until you hopefully find a brand you enjoy. Even buying Dunkin brand coffee at the grocery store is cheaper than buying a pre-made coffee at Dunkin Donuts. You don’t have to take the absolute cheapest option in every scenario, if it’s making saving too painful. The goal is to stop wasting money on silly things, not become a martyr.
3) You can reuse coffee grounds, but I would only do this if you’re drinking a few pots a day. Throw in a small scoop of fresh grounds on top, then add more water.
4) Train yourself to like cheap coffee – I did this from the very start. My friends and I used to hang out at IHOP and Denny’s and just endlessly drink their coffee, full of cream and sugar.
5) Speaking of cream and sugar, you can cover up the flavor of not-great coffee using some add-ins:

There are lots of possible add-ins to make cheap coffee more palatable, or actually coffee in general. Black coffee is abhorrent to me. I always have to add at least milk to it. For some flavor variety, you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, chicory, or vanilla extract to the basket with the coffee grounds. You can add a bag of Chai tea to the carafe for that Chai latte flavor. Once it’s in the mug you can add chocolate milk, vanilla milk, cocoa powder, honey, or whipped cream to make it special and different. (Just don’t go overboard on the sugar). You can also google even more ideas. Some people suggest adding cayenne, which sounds nuts to me, but apparently some people like it. I guess it would wake you up in the morning. “The best part of waking up is A FIERY CUP OF PAIN”.

You can also mimic some of the fancy recipes direct from the coffee shops. Search for “homemade pumpkin latte“, or whatever specialty drink you’re craving. Get creative, make up your own and have fun in your kitchen. Here’s a recipe I came up with to mimic the mocha lattes I used to love:

1 cup coffee, 1 jar nutella, 2 cups pure lard, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon chocolate, I’m kidding please don’t make this, I don’t want to be responsible for giving you diabetes

Keep in mind the roast you’re using makes a huge difference. I personally enjoy a really light roast, because it tends to be less bitter. Here are a couple additional tips I heard on NPR the other day:

1) Use cold water to brew your coffee (like from the tap, not refrigerated)
2) Let the water run for a few seconds before filling the pot
3) Never use distilled or softened water

All of these money saving tips are going to become more important. Drought and disease are reducing coffee production, so prices will be increasing in the future. Using these tips, we can all get our daily dose of caffeine without having to sell our first born child.

June 10, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

My Opinion on CostCo

My sister, Beans, has a CostCo membership, so she took me on a preview trip to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be. Armed with my trusty price book, I set out for some serious comparison shopping.

On most items that I would normally buy, it looked like my neighborhood grocery store was cheaper. “Normally buy” is important here. It’s tempting to buy 8 pounds of seaweed salad, but it’s not a necessity. Stick to your normal list, because bulk impulse purchases add up QUICKLY.

The gas was also the same price as my usual store, though I’ve heard it’s usually significantly cheaper. The lines of cars waiting to fill up attest to that also.

The things that I found to be good deals were hummus, quinoa, dishwasher tabs, cheese, eggs, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. Some of the other produce were cheap, but not cheap enough to justify the risk that some of it might spoil before we got to it. They do have very high quality produce, which is nice.

I didn’t price compare on larger purchases, like tires, TVs, and appliances. If you plan to buy something like that, the savings might justify the membership cost. As always, just comparison shop.

On cheese, eggs, and dishwasher tabs alone I save about $19. An annual membership is $55, so I’d have to save this much 3 times per year to justify the cost. Honestly, seems like it would pay for itself pretty easily. Personally though, since the store right by my house is almost as cheap, I’d have to debate making the special effort. As you can tell I’m still on the fence.

Overall, it seems like the store brand, Kirkland, is usually cheaper than my normal grocery store. Unfortunately, it’s not available on all items. If name brands are important to you, or you buy lots of prepackaged foods, or what I consider “luxury foods” like goat cheese and smoked salmon, you will probably save a bundle at CostCo. If you’re more like me, and tend to buy staples like chicken and rice, it might not be worth it, especially if you succumb to impulse buys. That reminds me, anyone want some mayonnaise? I have a 14 gallon drum I need to use up.

April 9, 2014. Tags: , , , , . Thriftiness is Cool. 3 comments.

Cheap Pregnancy: First Trimester Part 2

My previous post about how to have a cheap pregnancy got too long, so here’s the part 2, covering clothes and things for both you and baby:

Clothes: For the first trimester, you won’t necessarily gain any weight, especially when combating morning sickness. You may still want to wear looser, flowy clothing rather than constricting items. Most ladies seem to have a collection of “fat” clothes, or “period” clothes for when you’re feeling bloated. Dig through this collection first before going shopping.

Towards the end of this trimester, and heading into your second, you may start needing something loose to give your bump room to breathe. As always, I recommend hitting the thrift store first. Hopefully you’re already a thrift afficiando, so this will be easy. If not, get started now! Kids are expensive!

Look for clothes you can still wear after you have the kid. I found several large, flowy, high-waisted dresses that aren’t techinically maternity, but have lots of bump room, and I can still wear after having the baby. Those are mostly for the office, but for home-wear I have sundresses and several loose skirts and tops to wear.

I also got a pair of black leggings that I hemmed into capris, and these have been magical. I can’t bear the thought of normal pants, even though I have some large jeans that will easily fit.

Keep in mind you don’t need to replace your entire warddrobe; this is a temporary situation, so if you wear the same thing more often than you used to, don’t worry about it. Also try not too buy too much too far in advance, since you don’t know what you might need; this goes for baby as well.

Baby clothes: You don’t need them yet, but the clothes you’ll need for the season your baby will be born might be on clearance right now! For instance, I’m due in the winter, so adorable, warm, gender-neutral outfits can be super-cheap right now. You could also stumble across something insanely adorable at the thrift shop when shopping for comfy clothes for yourself. Try not to go nuts, but picking up a few odds and ends isn’t a terrible idea.

Once you start telling people you’re pregnant (usually at the start of the 2nd trimester), make sure your friends know you’d love hand-me-downs, for either baby or yourself. We already have a crib, changing table/dresser, and breast pump because our friends and family had them, and are very giving people. You can also arrange to borrow things from friends. If they’re planning kid #2 a couple years from now, they’ll probably want to use the same crib they had for their first, but might be willing to loan it to you in the meantime.

You will also, most lkely, be able to have a baby shower and register for items you need. If you are lucky enough to be in this situation, don’t take advantage of your loved-ones’ generosity by registering for outrageously expensive, trendy items. Be practical, and register for things you’ll actually need and use, and consider prices when doing so.

If people are kind enough to make a contribution to your precious baby, be sure to show your appreciation, and don’t be a greedy, entitled bastard. Your baby is very special to you, but you don’t deserve special rewards just for breeding. People do it everyday, all over the planet, without even having clean water available, so keep your perspective. Enjoy your pregnancy 100%, but don’t put your head up your ass.

So far, just finishing my fourth month, I’ve spent about $200, including doctor’s office copays, vitamins, and clothes for both me and NachoNacho, the bun in the oven. Obviously, this is only going to increase, but being sensible along the way, doing research, and my natural cheapness should help me keep overall costs down.

PS. Just found this article that Austin is the most expensive city in the US to raise kids. Joy of joys. I will do my best to beat their cost averages!

July 9, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

How to have a Cheap Pregnancy: First Trimester Part 1

I’m just starting my second trimester, so I thought I would write an advice post before pregnancy brain robs me of all useful information. Here we go with how to have a cheap pregnancy and some pregnancy advice from a first-timer mixed in.

Food: You will obviously need to start eating healthy if you aren’t already, and that can be somewhat more expensive, if you aren’t careful. Before you run out to the store and buy a bunch of stuff, read up on what foods to avoid (sushi is widely known, but cold cuts was news to me). Also keep in mind that what sounds amazing right now might sound horrific tomorrow, so don’t buy a ton of any one thing. I wanted breaded fish filets, and at them for about 3 days straight, and now I can’t stand them. There’s still a bag in the freezer. 

You’re also probably going to be fighting nausea and possibly vomiting, so eating maybe a huge challenge. You don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff that will end up rotting because you can only swallow saltines. Seriously, don’t stock up on much.

Tip for throwing up: According to my dental hygenist, if you do throw up, don’t brush immediately. I know, it sounds horrific. The acid on your teeth can make the enamel weak, so if you start brushing you can damage your enamel. Instead, rinse very thoroughly with water, and then with mouth wash. You can obviously ask you own dentist about it.

Vitamins: You will need to start your prenatal vitamins immediately, if you aren’t already on them (FYI: some people start their prenatal vitamins when they start trying to conceive, so you might have this worked out already). According to my OB, there is no reason to get prescription prenatal vitamins instead of store-bought ones.

I also asked her about the new DHA supplements I saw with prenatal vitamins, and she said that until more studies are done, she won’t tell patients to purchase them. She’s very pragmatic, which is a big part of why I like her so much. In her opinion, there’s nothing wrong with taking them, but they could very easily just be a grab at mommies’ money by marketers. There are tons of schemes like this aimed at new parents, so by sure to think critically about purchases, and research claims before handing over your money. Of course, your doctor may have a different opinion, so follow their advice.

How to find an OB: I was very lucky to find an awesome gynecologist several years ago. She’s not an OB, but she was able to recommend a fantastic surgeon when I had to have a growth removed about a year ago, and she also sent me to my current obstetrician. If you’re not a fan of your gyno (why are you still going to them?), ask any friends or coworkers who’ve had kids for their recommendations.

Another important point is to ask friends what they did and didn’t like about their doctors. If they had a terrible experience, write down that doctor’s name on a To Be Avoided list. Even if the doctor just seemed inattentive, or ignored the husband or significant other can still be important issues. You can always research doctors on Yelp as well. You want someone you feel comfortable asking a million “dumb” questions, so keep that in mind. The time to search for a doctor is NOW, not when you’re having contractions. Also be sure to check your insurance (if you’re lucky enough to have it) for doctors in your plan. This will definitely help keep costs down.

This post got rather long, so I cut it into 2 parts. See part 2, regarding clothing and baby stuff very soon, and happy breeding!

July 5, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

How to save on college textbooks

Here we are with another Kornberg guest post! Not only did she pet sit while we were out of town, she’s providing useful advice! I’m definitely keeping her.

Kornberg’s guide to not spending obscene amounts of money on college textbooks:

Many of you are already out of college but some of us (me) chose instead to lollygag around and at the ripe old age of 26, I went to college.  You also may have kids heading off to college soon and this will seriously save you thousands of dollars.  In the past 2 years, I’ve slowly learned tricks and as my textbook costs should be rising as I take more specialized senior level classes, they are actually rapidly decreasing.  This is the first semester of my senior year, I’m taking 16 hours and my book bill was a little less than $200.  In true Kornberg fashion, my advice is too late for much use this semester but can easily be applied for the spring.
 
1) Avoid your school’s bookstore and to a lesser extent, any brick and mortar store nearby that sells college textbooks.  Avoid it like going in there will give you the plague, cystic acne, permanent body odor and hourly bouts of diarrhea.  Those shops are the most expensive place to purchase textbooks and school supplies and are only to be used in case of dire emergency.  I once paid $1.50 for a pencil eraser and $12 for a 4 pack of AAA batteries (2 dire emergencies).  My go-to book suppliers are half.com and amazon.com
 
2) Look into renting books.  Most school bookstores have websites where you can rent books through them or a third party but it’s usually cheaper to go through somewhere like Chegg.com.  You pay something like $50 to rent a used textbook for the semester and when you’re done, you print out a shipping label from them and ship them back.  Keeps clutter out of your house and saves you tons of money.  One semester I rented all of my books and calculated the cost of buying them.  If I had bought them at super cheap used book prices, I would have paid $830 for 5 books.  Renting them cost me $275.  
 
3) If you have a Kindle or e-reader app–you can rent or purchase many textbooks for a fraction of the cost of buying the hard copies.  Pro–you don’t have to haul around 5 giant books around campus all day.  Con–books are not always available in this format–this semester I only had one of 3 books available for my Kindle, although one of the others would have worked if I had a Kindle Fire or iPad.  Also amazon lets you purchase rented e-books less the cost of the rental fee if you change your mind about needing to keep that book.
 
4) Register for classes as early as you can and buy books a week or two after finals are done.  College students are not usually full of forethought and rarely plan ahead.  Most of them procrastinate and if you do as well, you will pay the price, literally.  If you buy as late as a week before class, most of the used books will be gone and you’ll be forced to fork out for a new book.  Waiting even longer is even worse.  If you wait until the day before or of or after your first classes–you will have to wait in lines and pay a premium at the book store or you will get to pay for overnight shipping for the same premium price if you purchase online.  Buying right after finals are done gives you first crack at the used books so you can get the best deals.  Plus you don’t have to pay for fast shipping and in many cases, regular 7-14 day shipping is free.
 
5) Email your professors and ask if an earlier edition will be ok to use, especially if the required text is a new edition and there are no used books available.  Many times if the 8th edition just came out, the 7th and 6th editions will be nearly identical and will cost around $15 online instead of $300.  Most professors are understanding and will let you know if that is ok or not. Some professors even make old syllabuds available if they recently changed to a new edition so that those of you buying the old edition can have accurate chapter and page numbers and will provide resources or excerpts if there are any passages or discoveries that are not covered in the old edition.  Last semester I did this with 2 books and one was even available to rent on the Kindle for $10.  It was awesome.
 
6) Resell your books online yourself.  Usually I’d pay $50 for a used textbook, get $10 from the bookstore when I sold it at the end of the semester and then see it for sale for $50 the next semester.  Keep that cut!  It’s super easy and cheap to sell them on half.com.  It’s run by ebay so the selling procedures are about the same–you list, you sell and pay a small listing fee.  Charge for shipping and send it off.  You can even undercut the bookstore and still make more money than if you had just sold it to the bookstore.  Media mail and the flat rate shipping boxes are the easiest options.
 
7) Don’t bother with Half Price Books.  They never ever have anything that is in a current edition with all of the pages in any sort of usable condition.  They do sell textbooks online through half.com and it’s great but since they do that, they never have textbooks actually in the store.  Everyone says to do this but it’s usually a waste of time.
 
 
 
And that’s it really.  By planning and thinking ahead and shopping around and keeping your options open, you can save tons of dollars and then have enough room in your budget to buy me presents.  Hooray!

August 29, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

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