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Keeping baby from breaking the bank

The lovely and pretty Allison wrote to tell me that she and her husband are expecting their first baby. (Yayyyyy! I did a little dance of joy, because news of babies always makes me happy.) She says:

Since we are of the school of: I’d rather send you to college than break the bank on onesies and burp cloths – how do we go about outfitting baby/getting room together/getting all the “gear” that babies seem to require without hemorrhaging money? What is okay to buy used? What is most definitely not? Is there a list of must-haves that anyone can point me to? Are there common traps to avoid? Are there any reputable sites for product review/safety standards that I should familiarize myself with?

And finally, I am a lawyer. Where in the world do I find affordable office appropriate maternity wear?

The first thing I advised Allison to do was take a deep breath. Then I asked her if I could use her question here on the site. (Priorities: I have them.)

Let’s talk about this. (more…)

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Eat better without breaking the bank

The lovely Jean writes:

Since you are so pretty and smart, I thought you would be able to help me with this question. I am currently in the process of changing my son’s diet. I am trying to remove all HFCS, all dyes etc from his diet. Also, I’m getting him to eat more fruits, veggies etc, as much of it organic as possible. I can and do cook from scratch, but I also work full time. Baking tons of goodies and crackers that he can eat doesn’t fit to well with my commute and work schedule. He will also be heading off to day camp this summer (we send his lunch and snacks with him). My question to you is, where can I get some great snacks that fit into these restrictions without taking a second mortgage on my house? Any websites out there that might be useful, or stores? Additionally, any brands that you love and I should try?

Jean is singing my song, because this is something about which I happen to be pretty passionate. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for the “occasional treat” and all of the unnatural dyes and HFCS they may contain, but in general, I strive to feed my family real food, hold the chemicals. And as Jean is discovering, that can be harder than it sounds.

So let’s talk about this. (more…)

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Modest bikinis for young teens?

As a mom to a young teen, myself, my head couldn’t nod in agreement fast enough when pretty reader Maria emailed me this morning to say:

My current dilemma is about bathing suits for young teenagers. My 13 year old daughter has worn one piece or tankini-style suits. She would like a bikini this year and I’m ok with that, but I cannot find an ‘appropriate style’. The ones we are finding in stores are the string style. I would like more coverage and something that won’t fall off when she actually wants to do some swimming. Any advice on where to buy such a suit?

(I thought it was a nice touch that she added an addendum with a link to this piece about Abercrombie selling padded bikini tops for 2nd graders to highlight exactly what she doesn’t want. Ack.)

The short answer, of course, is that there are viable options at the intersection of “she thinks it’s cool” with “Mom doesn’t think she’s naked.” It’s merely a matter of ferreting those options out. And the first problem is the size issue. (more…)

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Getting your winter gear for next year?

Pretty reader Suzanne writes:

I just met up with some ladies last night who are new to the coupon game. One of them is sending her son north for college in the fall and is fretting the cost of buying him winter gear. I explained that now is the time to buy since it’s all being clearanced out. But it seems like most of the deals have passed already! Do you know of any place she can get a decent quality coat, etc. for her son on a budget!

Suzanne makes a great point, which is that it often seems like the stores’ seasonal cycle is so far off reality that even when you think you’re thinking ahead, you may have already missed this season’s clearance. But! I think she can help her friend find something, even still. Let’s talk about some general philosophy, first. (more…)

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Apologies for the Mini Boden coupon confusion

Hey folks—thank you so much for bearing with me after the problems with this morning’s post about a coupon code Mini Boden. (I have removed the post per retailer request.)

So here’s the deal: One of the benefits I now enjoy since being selected as a DealPro is that I have access to their exclusive offers here on Want Not, which is awesome. I don’t know if you’ve noticed in last month or so, but I’ve had lots of offers to pass along which I formerly didn’t have access to. This is very very cool, and without getting into a bunch of boring details let me just say that it’s a very nice thing the Savings folks are doing for the DealPros and our readers.

That said, allowing all of us to access their deals database is relatively new and sometimes not without hiccups. I saw the Mini Boden deal this morning and grabbed it; several of you let me know it wasn’t working; I contacted Savings immediately (though they’re on the opposite coast and I’d posted quite early, so we had to wait); they contacted Mini Boden, and here is the final result:

We were told that [the posted coupon code] was going to be live this AM, so we posted the deal as planned. As soon as we heard from you that it wasn’t working though, we removed it. The folks at Boden, along with the team here, pass along their apologies for the trouble and confusion your readers experienced.

I’m still trying to find out of this offer might still go into effect at a later point and will keep you posted.

I think most of you know that I’m always trying to bring you the greatest deals I can find, and while that never involves me trying to deceive you or somehow break the rules, sometimes deals change, or things don’t work quite right, or plain ol’ human error comes into play. I’m very sorry this morning’s deal turned out to be a false alarm, and sincerely appreciate those of you who were good-humored about it. You’re very pretty.

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What time on Black Friday?

The very pretty Randi asks:

Genius saving-money guru lady, I have a question or two for you. First, I plan on spending Black Friday in my pajamas – but what time in the morning should I get up? If I remember correctly, some sites have deals REALLY early in the morning. Do you have any advice as to what time would be a good time to start surfing for deals? And secondly, do you believe that Black Friday will be better, or that Cyber Monday will be better?

This is one of the things I talked about in my Black Friday presentation at Save Up (that post now contains video of the presentation), but I’m happy to talk about it again, because this is important stuff.

The short answer: It depends.
The long answer: It depends on what you’re shopping for, and how badly you want something specific. Read on! (more…)

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Wii deals this season?

The lovely Kim writes:

“Wii” do need your help! For the past 3 years, my husband and I have contemplated getting a Wii for our kids for Christmas. Each year, we talk ourselves out of it. Well, this year we have decided to go for it. With the economy in the tank, and my husband working reduced hours, we figured we would get the kids one gift they would absolutely love. We are obviously looking for the most bang for our buck. Outside of risking my life at the black Friday sales, where do you recommend we look for a system on sale or a decent bundle? I send along my pre-Christmas thank yous from my boys!

Before I get into Wii-specific stuff, let me remind Kim (and the rest of you) that you can take advantage of all kinds of Black Friday deals online, of course. I’ll be here all day on Black Friday, monitoring the deals and posting, so anyone who—like me—would rather stick a fork in their eyeball than step foot in a store on Black Friday can still reap the benefits. (more…)

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Join us at Save Up for Black Friday tips (and more)

Remember how I told you that my coming to Save Up would have some benefits for all of you? The conference will be livestreaming later today, starting with a Q&A session at 11:00 am Eastern and moving on to a series of short Black Friday presentations at noon, Eastern. (I’ll be presenting on how to get your best online deals on Black Friday on things like clothing, shoes and toys.)

Did you miss it live? Here’s the recording (I’m the last of five presentations, but you should watch the whole thing):

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A few words about Amazon and free speech

Several of you have emailed me about yesterday’s dust-up surrounding the discovery that Amazon is carrying a self-published Kindle book about pedophilia, and Amazon’s subsequent refusal to pull the book from its library. I was emailing folks back one by one when I realized it probably just makes more sense to say something here.

I want to be perfectly clear about this:

1) I am—like everyone else, I’m guessing—horrified by the book in question. I would be delighted if it was never available to anyone, anywhere.
2) That said, in this age of the Internet (and Amazon’s self-publishing platform), anyone can release anything to the masses without any sort of quality control.
3) And finally—and this is where, I suspect, I’m going to get into trouble—I do not support the vilification of Amazon over their refusal to pull this book. Amazon is refusing to participate in censorship, and as someone who writes for a living, I respect that.

I completely respect your right to decide for yourself that you don’t want to patronize Amazon because you feel differently, of course. But I’m just telling you how I feel about it.

Two more things:
1) I read an excerpt from the book and feel confident that the whackjob who wrote it is too far into his own mental illness to provide anything in the way of “helpful tips” to fellow pedophiles,
2) I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. This last point is not really anyone’s business, but I share it because I’m not open to anyone coming and yelling at me about how we need to “protect the children!” I get it, believe me. In my opinion, we protect the children by making our best possible decisions about where they go and who they’re with, and educating and empowering them about their own bodies and rights… not by storming Amazon’s gates with pitchforks in hand.

Again, I’m not here to change your mind, because you’re entitled to your opinion. I just wanted to clarify mine.

[Edited to add: Amazon has now pulled the book, citing violations of their TOS.]

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The right robe for a hot man

Don’t go getting all hot ‘n’ bothered, now. It’s not what you think.

The lovely Tafline asks:

I’m hoping to enlist your help and perhaps the help of your pretty readers if this subject deserves such in-depth analysis. My husband needs a new robe and I’d like to get him a good one. He only uses it in winter and judging by his current one he likes calf-length. But he’s a very hot person, so it would need to be fairly light-weight, while still providing the snuggly factor. The one he has now is fleece and he doesn’t like it. It pils terribly and it gets static and sticks to his skin constantly. Satin is clearly out of the question (not snuggly and a little creepy on a man), as is anything as heavy at a terry robe. So what are my options? Flannel? Cotton? Soft polyester? How do I know which of these will not get static?

I really don’t want to get it wrong, because if it’s from me he’ll wear it faithfully even if he hates it (such a sweet man).

Tafline has discovered one of the Great Weirdnesses of American retail: Most of the robes available for men are very thick materials (manly?), in spite of the fact that, overall, most men I know tend to be warmer-blooded than us women. (Dear Every Clothing Manufacturer: You are dumb. Love, Mir.)

The lightweight, non-pilling, low-static solution is a spa-quality waffle weave cotton, Tafline. But you’re going to have trouble finding one cheap. I like this Turkish cotton robe from Overstock, and at $50 it’s probably half what it’ll cost you elsewhere, but that’s still a pretty penny.

Readers? Other suggestions?

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