Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dad tip #91: Did you know Amazon has an outlet store?

Anyone who's been reading this blog for any amount of time has probably guessed that I'm a total hooker for Amazon.com. My previous posts about Amazon include bits on the Amazon Gold Box, the Amazon 4-for-3 promotion, and Amazon Prime.

What other Amazon offering could there be left for me to sing the virtues of? Well, there are actually plenty of money-saving features, but tonight's selection is ... the Amazon Outlet.

I'll be the first to admit that there are pile of things in the outlet that I have absolutely no interest in. However, they do have an entire baby section. The #2 item right now is the Fisher-Price Papasan Cradle Swing for $99.99 (which apparently is good for the Nature's Touch, New Nature's Touch, Nature's Wonder, and Butterfly Garden models). Not bad considering some of the models' list prices are as high as $174.49 and the cheapest price (from a reputable vendor) that I can find for any model in Google's product search is $118.99 (Walmart). All of these models are eligible for Amazon Prime free shipping, too.

Oh yeah, if you're anything like me, you might also be interested in the Xbox 360 games and Nintendo Wii games in the outlet, too. (For those of you with slightly older kids than ours, can I interest you in Spider-man: Friend or Foe (Wii) for $15.92? It's apparently a decent "bonding" game for dads and their kids according to the reviews.)

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Dad tip #48: Consider the BJs Rewards membership

Without question, you're going to need to buy a lot of crap for your baby. You'll be hemorrhaging money for clothes, formula, diapers, wipes, bibs, and all kinds of tangentially related stuff you'd never think of (like an aesthetically pleasing alarm clock with nature sounds for the nursery).

One thing that you might want to consider is a membership to something like BJ's (or Sam's Club or Price Club or Costco). You know, one of those big bulk warehouse-y kinds of places that require memberships.

You may want to consider upgrading from the standard $45 BJ's membership to the $80 Rewards membership. Why? Because you get 2% "payback" on purchases in the form of BJ's gift certificates. So, if you intend on spending AT LEAST $1,750 in a year, you'll at least break even with what you would've paid for a standard membership. There are some other benefits, but let's focus on the 2% payback.

$1750 does sound like an awful lot to spend in the course of a 12-month period, but let's think about what it's like to have a baby ...
Babies go through diapers like crazy. Let's say you'll end up using (AT LEAST) one-BJ's sized box of Pampers a month. For easy math, let's say each box costs $30. That right there is $360.

While you're changing diapers, you'll need wipes. Let's estimate one giant box for every two months. At $20 a box, that'll come in at an extra $120 for the year.

And let's say you're doing one canister of powdered Similac formula a month, too. Let's call that $20 per can for a yearly total of $240.

Oh, your baby needs clothes. I already mentioned that Carters clothes are available at BJ's. Let's be conservative and say you buy 10 outfits a year at $5 a pop. You're in for another $50.

What's that? You need batteries for the mobile, the swing, and the playcenter? Let's add in a lowball estimate for the year of $30 on batteries.

Coffee. You need Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Giant bags that you'll tear through in just a few weeks. You're in for ten $15 bags ($150 for the year).
So, if my math isn't off, you're already at $950 for the year on JUST baby necessities. (Yes, coffee is a necessity when you have a baby.) We haven't even talked about car tires, flat screen televisions, Black Forest Gummy Bears, non-baby groceries, tissues, garbage bags, Xbox 360 games, photo printer paper, etc. etc. etc. If you can spend about $65/month in random stuff like this -- stuff that you'd already be buying somewhere else -- you're already at the $1750 total you'd need to justify upgrading to the Rewards membership. After that, it's all gravy.

And before you shady folks get your hopes up, you don't get to earn or spend any rewards dollars on cigarettes or booze.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dad tip #21: Don't squander the "spare" time

Okay, there are two ways to look at the title of this post. The first is through the eyes of a parent-to-be (or someone eventually planning on becoming a parent). You never realize how much time you're pissing away on trivial things until that time is filled with parenting. Don't get me wrong ... becoming a parent is the best thing in the world, however, it does make you a little sad when you look back at how much more you could've accomplished in the free time you had.

The second and potentially more challenging way to look at this is through the eyes of an exhausted new parent. You and your wife may literally be awake for 20+ hours a day. Depending on how you do the math, that could be in the neighborhood of 10+ more wakeful hours a day between the two of you compared to your pre-baby days.

Granted, you'll be completely wiped out in those hours and many of them will be filled with baby stuff, but there will still be "spare" moments here and there (that aren't really long enough to sleep during) that you can use for ... well, stuff.

For example, in the first couple of weeks after we brought our son home, I managed to squeeze in a few extra chores in the early morning hours including things like tossing a load of laundry in the washer, emptying and filling the dishwasher, sterilizing bottles, tidying up the living room, emptying the diaper champ, scooping the cat litter, and other little random stuff like that. I think I also managed to make it in to work early on some of those days simply because I was up.

However, now I'm admittedly less productive because our son is sleeping in longer blocks which allows us to sleep in longer blocks. Also, I'm returning to my old ways and filling those nap times with more trivial things (like this blog).

Oh, I should also admit that not all of the "spare" time early on was spent on chores. In some cases, when our son only wanted to sleep ON someone, I'd spend a decent amount of time playing Mass Effect on the Xbox 360 with him resting peacefully on my chest.

For the record, Guitar Hero III was NOT nearly as good a game in that scenario.

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