Saving Money on Kids’ Clothing

I’ve recently been thinking about how much money I spend on G’s clothing and whether or not I am getting my money’s worth. Generally, since he grows out of and/or ruins clothing pretty quickly, I don’t think I am.

The Ex and I, ever the entrepenuers, have recently come up with a cool concept that has the potential to save families a LOT of money when it comes to buying their children clothing while at the same time, allowing them to select from a wide variety of high-quality items.

Our concept is in its initial stages of development, but if you’re interested in learning more, leave a comment with your email or website, and I’ll shoot you the link once we’re in beta. For now, I’m interested in learning how much the average person spends on their children’s clothing. Please answer the poll below (if you’re so inclined).

Wall Street Has a Hangover

A little over a month ago, our eloquent Lame Duck in Chief commented that “Wall Street got drunk and now it’s got a hangover.”

I’d say. (Although, I’d say it in a way that suggested I’d spent more time in college studying than crushing beer cans against my head and burping the National Anthem. But, then I’m not the leader of the free world – err, “free” world – so perhaps I’ve got the wrong approach.)

A month and a half after this comment was made, it seems President Bush read the briefing explaining exactly what has been going on in the economy. The $700 billion Wall Street bailout package, the water and Advil of this horrific analogy, needed to pass, he urged. Without quick action [to remedy the disastrous culmination of the past 8 years], Bush warned of a “long and painful” recession.

I have two problems regarding the bailout. First of all, after 8 years of Bush’s presidency, I’m pretty convinced that the best interests of the United States lie in doing exactly the opposite of what he thinks is right.

Second, and more importantly, I’m really annoyed that Wall Street got all the upside of their risk and then the rest of the country gets stuck paying for it. If I have to pay for the downside, I want the benefits of the upside, too! Americans had nothing to gain from the profits of Wall Street, but $700 billion to lose. As much as I support doing something to stem the country’s economic crisis (such as debt forgiveness and converting debt into equity for creditors), I don’t know that I support the bailout. I did, on first glance, but then I started to get angry the more I analyzed the situation. If I have to pay for Wall Street’s greed, I want a share of those big fat bonuses.

Retroactively, of course.

The Federal Bailout and Buying a Home

The recently proposed stop-gap for the banking and economic crisis we’re facing is expected to cost upwards of 1 trillion dollars. That’s 12 zeros. A whole lot of money.

I’ve been hearing a lot of (stupid) conservatives complain that this is a terrible idea and that we shouldn’t be bailing out companies for making bad business decisions. While I empathize with their frustrations, I vehemently disagree over whether the government should “bail out” these financial institutions. All these naysayers see are more taxes – which will be inevitable, no matter which party we elect in November (regardless of how much Sarah “I don’t think economics is a prerequisite for the Vice Presidency” Palin says otherwise). What they don’t see are the exponentially worse consequences that we’d face if we didn’t prevent these institutions from failing. For its not the actual companies that Congress is working to save, it’s the very stability of the US economy.

At the same time, the Ex and I are considering buying a condo. It’s not that we’re stupid – we understand just how bad the housing situation is right now. But there is a condo right across the street from us being auctioned off by its owners. They’re starting the bidding at $249,000 for a property that is easily worth twice that much, even in the current housing environment. I doubt we’d get it at the price we’re willing and able to pay, but we’ll see. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Delicious Financial Management

I recently signed up for It’s a relatively new, Web 2.0 financial management tool. You provide it with your online user IDs and passwords for bank accounts, credit cards, etc. and every time you log in to Mint, it pulls your most recent transaction information. Then it analyzes your spending.

It sounds really cool and very useful and, in theory, it is. However, there are still a lot of bugs which make for a rather clunky user experience. For instance, it has trouble classifying certain types of expenses, such as credit card fees. It displayed one of mine under the header “Annual Chimney Clean.” It also displayed *all* the transactions on one of my cards *twice*, which gave me a mini-heart attack upon log in. I had to go scan my credit card statement to ascertain that I did not, in fact, spend the $1500 last month in groceries that it said I had.

It has some cool features, though, such as ability to track your spending month-to-month and create a budget based on your average spend by categories (groceries, home, entertainment, etc.). It also tracks your spending habits against the US average and makes recommendations when it finds ways to save you money – things like high-yield savings accounts and credit cards with better rates.

All in all, I love the concept. I don’t love the fact that it has incorrectly tracked my spending each month without fail. So, while I’m not an avid fan just yet, I have high hopes for the product and am really looking forward to Mint 2.0.

(Oh, and I did not get paid in any way to review Mint. I just like analyzing my finances and sharing new, cool ways to do so.)

Save-a-thon, Week 1

I’ve concluded Week 1 of my “I’m spending the least amount of money humanly possible” campaign. Mostly, this campaign is focused on groceries, as that is where the bulk of my weekly spending occurs.

I was determined to get my average weekly grocery spend down to $100 per week (from about $250 per week). I wasn’t as diligent as I could have been in planning meals or clipping coupons (I actually didn’t clip any). What I *did* do is only stock up on things that: 1) My family eats all the time or 2) I knew exactly how and when I would prepare. I shopped at Trader Joe’s (cheap) and Safeway (where I have a discount card).

In the end, I spent $107 for the week to feed myself, my ex, and our two-year old. Not bad, eh?

Things I did to achieve this:

  1. Ate cereal and milk for breakfast.
  2. Drank free office-brewed coffee.
  3. Brought my lunch to work instead of take-out.
  4. Used frozen veggies in my cooking rather than fresh.
  5. Purposely made extra food for dinner so I could have leftovers for the next day’s lunch – it’s all about economies of scale.
  6. Cut out (most of) the diet soda I drink.
  7. Bought generic brands of everyday products.
  8. Bought items that were on sale at the market and planned meals around that week’s “specials.”

I’m pretty intrigued by saving money with coupons (I keep hearing about these women who get hundreds of dollars of groceries practically for free), but have yet to try it. Where do you find these coupons besides the Sunday paper? I’m not really into signing up for any type of website / service and I certainly don’t want to pay for it. Tips, please!

Share your saving tips and help inspire me – and others.

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