Monthly Archives: July 2014

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*There they are….my little diaper consuming divas.

Diapers are one of the biggest expenses you’ll encounter when raising a baby (second only to formula).  And this expense can vary widely depending on where you buy them, what brand you choose, etc.  Since I’ve become quite an aficionado of diaper purchasing over the years, I decided to share my tips with you.

Size doesn’t matter (so much)

Try to buy diapers in bulk if you can and stock up when there are sales or you have coupons to use.  Don’t stress too much about whether you’ll use them all before your kid outgrows them.  Diaper sizing is more of an estimate than an exact science.  A lot of moms have found their children can continue to wear a particular diaper size 2-3 pounds after they exceed the max weight.  As long as you’re not having any leaks…keep wearing ‘em.

The price is irrelevant

Immediately ignore the price you see for the box and find out how much you’re paying per diaper and per wipe (you may need a calculator for this).  Companies package diapers and wipes differently, so just because the box is cheaper doesn’t mean you’re getting a better deal.  A good rule of thumb for getting the best deal diaper and wipe prices is as follows:

Diapers – Size 1: 17 cents or less, Size 2: 15 cents or less, Size 3 and 4: 20 cents or less

Wipes – 2 cents or less

Lose your brand loyalty

When we had our first daughter, we were pretty infatuated with Pampers and that handy blue stripe indicator.  I mean….how did anyone know a baby’s diaper was wet before this invention?  Now that I’m more of an experienced parent, I’m here to tell you that our parents got along just fine without any kind of blue stripe and you will too.  Our second daughter gets “whatever diapers and wipes are on sale”.  And that means buying generic too.  If you notice that the generic wipes are more irritating or the diapers don’t absorb as well, definitely switch to another brand.  But it’s worth the savings to try them out.

There is a 1st time for everything

Popular online retailers like diapers.com and Amazon offer great discounts to get you to try their services.  New customers to diapers.com get 20% or $10 off diapers depending on the size.  Moms, Dads and eligible caretakers can sign up for a 30 day trial to Amazon Prime through their Amazon Mom program and get 20% off diapers and wipes plus free shipping.

Clip or click those coupons

Pampers and Huggies offer promotions and coupons directly on their website and allows you to earn rewards for more savings.  And you can click here to see what coupons are available on Amazon.

Target Date Mutual Funds and Romantic Comedies

Empire Bldg Heart

Romantic Comedies ….they’re cheesy, predictable and include stereotypes that at times can be fairly insulting to women.  But we love them anyway, don’t we?  And we keep going to see them.  They have such formulaic plots that you can predict the main character’s every move.  And you can be sure there will be an “everything works out for her in the end”, aww-inducing, happy ending.  But maybe that’s why we like them and continue to see them?  We know what to expect.   And there is something comforting about a guaranteed happy ending.

Here is the basic formula for a romantic comedy:

1) The girl is attractive but clumsy and has bad luck with men.

2) The guy is introduced in one of these three ways:

  • He’s been there all along as the supportive guy friend (who is super attractive and
    yet she never considered dating him?)
  • He is her mortal enemy.
  • They literally “bump” into each other in some perfectly serendipitous
    circumstance.  It could go like this: She
    is carrying a box full of envelopes she has to seal and mail by the day’s end,
    runs directly into the guy and the envelopes fall all over the floor.   He gives her a dashing smile and says
    something witty like “You know….I used to be a professional envelope licker
    before I moved to New York”. (Oh…I forgot to mention that romantic comedies
    take place in New York or some other big city where they can show footage of
    all the skyscrapers in the opening credits).

3) The main characters have quirky best friends that aren’t as good looking but are there to help bring the two together.

4) There has to be a fight (or else how would you kill the 1 hour you have left between the initial attraction/hook-up and the happy ending?)

5) After the fight there is usually a montage of the two main characters walking around, looking mopey, trying to go back to their normal lives, and playing with their pets.  This montage is set to some sad pop song.

6) The happily ever after kiss: which usually involves running…..almost not making it…..and finally jumping into the guy’s arms and her lifting a back heel.

I bring up Rom-Coms because I have the same feelings about Target Date Mutual Funds.  They are formulaic, generated for the masses and created to give you the happily ever after (aka – retirement) that you’re already expecting from the beginning.   You may have seen these through your employment sponsored retirement plan or IRA.  If you’re unfamiliar with Target Date Funds (also known as Lifecycle Funds or Age Based Funds), they’re a hybrid mutual fund, usually made up of stocks and bonds.  You choose one based on the year you think you’re going to retire.   If you’re planning on retiring in the next 25 years, select the fund for the year 2040 since funds are usually offered in 5 year increments.  The asset allocation mix becomes more conservative as your retirement year approaches.  In other words, early on your fund will likely include more stocks since these are riskier and offer higher returns.    As the fund gets closer to your target retirement year, it will include a higher percentage of bonds, which are less risky.   This mixed portfolio is managed for you by a fund manager who ensures that the investment strategy is appropriately lined up with when you plan on retiring.

Target Based Funds take the guesswork out of a mutual fund (some call them “Set It and Forget It Funds”).  So if you don’t want to think too hard about it (just like I didn’t think too hard about the plot from the movie “The Proposal”), then go with these.  Now if you’re more of a “Memento” or “Inception” movie-goer, maybe you’d appreciate putting more thought into the asset allocation of your own portfolio.

If you decide to go with a Target Date Fund, be sure you don’t pay a lot of fees for them.  I’m not going to pay extra to see a Drew Barrymore chick flick in IMAX 3-D, it’s unnecessary.  So make sure you’re not paying unnecessary fees for a Target Date (or any other) mutual fund as well.  Those fees add up quickly over time and can easily cut into your “happily ever after” without you even knowing it.  Look for fees, also known as the asset weighted expense ratio, no greater than .5%.  According to www.morningstar.com, Vanguard and Fidelity offer the lowest fees for Target Date Funds.  In the world of rom-coms, fees are the jealous ex-girlfriend of the mutual fund, ya dig?

How To Save on Pottery Barn (and other high end furniture brands)

Pottery BarnI love Pottery Barn.  And now that I have kids, I am really a sucker for Pottery Barn Kids.  But I don’t love the way Pottery Barn wreaks havoc with my budget.  So here are some great tips on how to get a Pottery Barn look in your home for less.

Go on Craigslist! 

A big thanks to my good friend Cristina for this idea.  Cristina and her husband live in LA and just took the jump from apartment living to home buying.  So they needed quite a bit of furniture.  And she was able to go on craigslist to get a lot of it….all high-end brands and all in great or like new condition.  In larger cities like where she lives, there are plenty of wealthy people with constantly evolving tastes in décor who buy furniture and quickly change their mind and resell it.  There are also a lot of working professionals selling their almost new furniture due to job relocation.  It’s worth checking craigslist in smaller cities too.  But a good craigslist tip: always check photos and take the time to examine any piece of furniture for damage before committing to buy.

Visit the Outlet Stores

Pottery Barn has 8 Outlet Store locations in the US currently (Atlanta, Charlotte, Dayton, Detroit, Lancaster, Memphis, NYC and San Antonio).  Crate and Barrel’s Outlet store, CB2, is available for purchase online and has 11 stores in the US currently (Atlanta, Berkeley, Chicago, two in Los Angeles, two in NYC, Miami, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Washington DC).  Restoration Hardware has a ton of outlet locations across the US, which you can find here: www.restorationhardware.com/store-locations/outlets.jsp.

Shop for Lookalikes

Many popular lower priced retailers (such as Ikea and Target) sell lookalike versions of popular furniture from the high-end brands.  Some of the best ways to find which look-alikes are out there is to check “lookalike” boards on Pinterest or this great website: www.decorlookalikes.com