I’m not an astronomer or an accountant, but I think I’ve discovered a black hole, and my money is slowly and methodically being sucked into this abyss.
It wasn’t noticeable before … $5 here, $10 there, $20 …
Although it seems to have just formed during the past year, it’s getting stronger by the week.
I fondly refer to this vacuum as ”teenager,” more specifically “Katie.”
I ration the money a little at a time, and I hold her accountable for how she spends it.
Her dad’s solution: Get a job.
My response: Just keep up the good grades.
For now, I’ll keep opening my wallet a little at a time and hope the gravitational pull from this celestial phenomena doesn’t drain all my money.
– Linda Lynn
Registration starts today (July 15) for volunteers and consignors. While volunteering may not sound like as much fun as actually shopping at the sale, let me tell you why it’s completely worth it.
70% on items AND an opportunity to shop BEFORE the public!
For those reasons alone, I signed up. For just a 3-hour shift, you get both those perks. For 6- or 9-hour shifts, you get in to the presale even earlier.
And if you consign, you can get 65% on all items sold and still get a presale pass. I know I’ll be bringing in a ton of baby/toddler items.
The fall/winter sale is open to the public Aug. 23-28 at State Fair Park. Presales are Aug. 21-22.
I’ve been following the site for about 4 days now, and already have seen great deals. Free photo books, food samples, free Coke, and many other discounted and free offers.
If you use Facebook, just search for Freebies 4 Mom or go to http://www.facebook.com/Freebies4Mom. You’ll see the deals updated in your news feed throughout the day.
A couple of weekends ago, I had the great opportunity to attend a conference focused solely on single moms. One of our speakers really gave great advice on how to save money, especially in the expensive world of grocery shopping.
She is based in Oklahoma and her name is Sarah Roe, aka the “Money Saving Queen.” And she deserves every bit of that royal title.
She is an expert on all things coupons, deals, freebies and how to get groceries at a fraction of their listed price. Have you heard those stories about moms going to the grocery store and buying $400 worth of food for $30? Those stories are true, and Sarah tells you how to do it.
There’s a definite method to the madness of couponing, price matching, store deals and much more. Here are just a few of the many tips she shared with the conference attendees:
1. Clip coupons - manufacturer’s coupons, store coupons, and get coupons off the Internet. Find coupons in Sunday’s Oklahoman, manufacturer’s websites, store websites and even eBay. You can use manufacturer’s coupons in conjunction with store coupons for extra savings.
2. Keep track of prices. Take the 20 most expensive items you use regularly in your household. Go to the one store you shop at most often and track their prices for 6-8 weeks. You’ll notice a “sale cycle” when prices are at their highest and lowest and you’ll know when to stock up. Use your coupons on the rock bottom price. Stock up while you can, or wait until you can get it at that lowest price.
3. Shop around. Start planning your menus at home based on sale cycles and when stores are having the best weekly deals.
4. Know store policies. Many big drug store chains offer rewards for simply shopping there. Same is true for grocery store chains. Find out what they can offer you. It may not be something they advertise, but chances are there’s something.
I get a “Daily Deals” e-mail from the Money Saving Queen. And they really are filled with terrific discounts, free items and store sales. She even has links to coupons you can print off and store circulars for your area. I highly recommend signing up for these free e-mails and also joining the website forums. It’s all free and well worth it.
Go to www.moneysavingqueen.com and learn all you can on how to save the most you can at your next grocery store trip. I know I will!
We’re in hard economic times in case you haven’t heard.
My husband and I talk openly in our house about our finances, and, so, little ears are always listening. Our discussions are generally that our bills need to be paid or that we’re paying out more than we’re bringing in, at least some months.
We’re not destitute, and we haven’t gotten down to “our last $5,” a story my mom used to tell us kids.
Both my parents lived during the depression, so they had plenty of stories to tell. And, although they lived comfortably when I was a child, they were never ones to spend hard-earned money on needless luxuries. Up until my teen years, I thought we were about to go broke, since they always talked about not knowing if they were going to have enough money to get by. My mom would clip coupons and shop three different grocery stores in town just to get the best deals. They rarely bought new clothes. They made a garden. They didn’t recycle, because they would reuse containers and bags, instead.
They were smart. I mistook it for being nearly poor.
So, when my 11-year-old daughter hears my husband and I talk about money, she has a unique way of processing the situation. She has declared we are never to go out to eat again. (We did last night.) And, instead of spending money on school-sponsored trips (for her sister), we should save that money.
And, sometimes, when she’s been thinking just a little too much, she pops out the question: “Momma, are we going to be hobos?” or “Momma, am I going to be a hobo?”
I envision an older man in tattered clothes hopping in a railcar to travel across the country or maybe an “Andy Griffith” episode about a hobo who talked Opie and his pals into being like Robin Hood and robbing from the rich to give to the poor (in this case, the hobo).
Still, my daughter hasn’t totally rejected the possibilities of such an occupation. Sometimes, when she’s worrying about school or is stressed by something kids stress about, she’ll get to thinking about a life of no responsibilities and declares, “I wish I were a hobo!”
– Linda Lynn
A couple of weeks ago, I described instances where my son can be a little more outgoing than I would like or feel comfortable with.
He has tried to tone it down for me a bit since then … even reminding me, “Mommy, remember don’t say hi.”
But Shari, a Hiccups reader, offered me some perspective on it. Her daughter, Penelope, was also a chatty one growing up. She tried methods I’m pretty familiar with … no eye contact, directing my responses only my child, trying to hurry in stores. Not only because she didn’t feel like talking (much like me) but also for her daughter’s safety.
Growing up, Penelope continued to be social, meeting interesting people and being able to share interesting stories.
Her advice: Watch my son closely, but allow him the joy of being friendly. She said he’ll go far in life with an outgoing personality.
Thank you, Shari. I sincerely hope I’m not stifling my little boy. Maybe I just need to relax a little and be more willing to sacrifice my own quiet time to let him be himself.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
My son has a somewhat cute, however slightly annoying (yes, annoying) habit of saying “Hi!” to every single person he sees. Not only does everyone get a big greeting and smile, but they also get a rundown of what his shark eats and what kind of growl his dinosaur makes. While you may be saying to yourself “awwww, how cute!” let me tell you how it’s not exactly the cutest.
Let’s take, for instance, the mall. Nothing lures a pushy salesperson like a friendly toddler. If they ooh and ahh and interact with your child for any extended amount of time, you automatically feel obligated to buy something.
How about wanting some quiet time out shopping? It seems like everytime he says hi to someone, it starts a conversation between me and the other person. Sometimes I just don’t feel chatty. Actually, most of the time I’m out running errands or shopping, I don’t feel particularly chatty.
And then there’s the leery guy lurking around … you know the one. My boy always gives them the big “Hi!” and I suddenly feel uneasy. And I can’t help but think if this is how predators lure away little kids – kids who unknowingly give them the OK.
So what am I do to? I hate trying to inhibit my little boy’s personality but in this day and age, you have to be prudent. So I told him plainly to please stop saying hi to everyone. I thought that worked until he told the lady at the shoe counter, and then everyone else, “Please don’t say hi to me.”
How do you combat stranger danger? Let me know by commenting here or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
So Christmas has come and gone. Santa has probably brought your kids a toy (or ten) and now you wonder what you can do with all those toys your kids don’t play with anymore or have outgrown. I look at all my son’s baby toys and wonder what I can possibly do with them, as I am quickly running out of room.
I took some suggestions from friends and family and here are a few:
1. Keep them. If you plan on having more kids, you’ll be one step ahead and not have to buy all those toys all over again.
2. Give them to friends. Especially expecting or new parents. It will help cut down the costs for them and you’ll surely win friend points.
3. Consign them. There is a big consignment sale twice a year in Oklahoma City and Norman. It’s the Just Between Friends sale and they take tons of toys, clothing, strollers, you name it. They pay the consignor 65% of the sale. Not bad if you have a ton of stuff and would like to make a little back to put toward future toy and clothing purchases. Go to their Website to sign up or get more information. In Oklahoma City, go to http://okc.jbfsale.com. The sale will be at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. In Norman, go to http://norman.jbfsale.com. The sales will be at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. Registration begins in January and the sales are set for March.
4. Goodwill. 84 percent of the revenue brought into the Goodwill stores goes to their employment and training opportunities, which helps people find good jobs. Go to www.goodwill.org or your closest Goodwill store for more information on how to donate.
5. Infant Crisis Services. This local nonprofit helps the youngest of children. If you have baby toys that are gently used, they will gladly take them to give to families in need. You can donate new or good used clothing (preemie to size 6) and shoes, and new or good used toys, among many other items. Call 528-3663 or go to www.infantcrisis.org for more information.
These are just a few suggestions. There are probably many more charities or organizations that can take your children’s used clothes or toys. It’s one way you can keep giving, even after the holiday season is over.
If you have any other suggestions you’d like readers to know about, leave your comments here or email email@example.com. I’d love to share them.
According to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, injuries kill more children each year than diseases, kidnapping and drugs combined. Children age 4 and younger account for nearly half of toy-related injuries and almost 90 percent of deaths. In Oklahoma, about 130 children through age 15 die each year from unintentional injuries. For every fatality, approximately 45 children require hospitalization and 1,300 require emergency treatment.
These are numbers that aren’t to be taken lightly. The health department offers these tips when purchasing a toy to keep those numbers as low as possible:
1. Always consider the child’s age and maturity level. Purchase a toy suited to the ability, skill and interest level of the child.
2. Toys intended for children older than age 3 should never be given to infants or toddlers. They may have small parts that pose a choking hazard. Children younger than 3 should not be given toys with cords or strings longer than 12 inches. Cords longer than this can get wrapped around a child’s neck.
3. Children younger than age 8 shouldn’t be given toys with sharp edges or toys that run on electricity (not including batteries).
4. Older children should be taught to keep their toys away from younger siblings.
5. Look for well-constructed toys. Check the toys periodically for broken parts that should be repaired or thrown away.
6. Consider the weight, size of the toy.
7. Make sure toys do not contain toxic paint or lead.
8. Costumes or pajamas should be labeled “flame retardant/flame resistant.”
9. If you give a child a bike, roller blades, skateboard or scooter, don’t forget to include safety gear like a helmet, knee pads and wrist guards as part of the gift.
If you started holiday shopping early, you can also check toys to be sure they haven’t been recalled since your purchase. Go to www.cpsc.gov to be sure they aren’t on the list. And if you have children of your own, I highly suggest signing up for the website’s email announcements. As soon as a toy or other children’s item (such as clothes, cribs, etc.) is recalled, they let you know via email, complete with pictures of the items, where they were sold and when, and what to do with the recalled item.
Holidays are supposed to be a joyous and happy time, especially for the little ones. Let’s all be extra diligent in keeping it safe for them. If you have any other good safety tips, comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year. The lights, the parties, the festivities, the shopping, the trees, the STRESS of the holidays. Most of us have more to get done than we think we can possibly handle, especially if you add kids into the mix. But are there ways to at least reduce some of the stress this wonderful season brings?
The Oklahoma City-County Health Department offers some valuable tips on simple things you can do to make this season a little easier:
1. Save decorating until a week before the holiday. Save irreplaceable decorations for later years when children are older. My son is two, so I won’t be buying any Swarovski Crystal or Tiffany ornaments this year.
2. Shop ahead, throughout the year, while children are at school or home. Good advice, unless you’re like me and just HAVE to close the mall down on Christmas Eve, just for the fun of it.
3. Limit the number of times children stay with babysitters while you attend events. Not a problem in my house – my babysitter is terminally unavailable.
4. Avoid forcing a frightened child to sit on Santa’s lap. Young children often enjoy stories and pictures but the real thing can be overwhelming. I tried to force my son to sit for a Santa picture last year. All I got was a photo of a distraught toddler with red puffy eyes.
5. Avoid forcing children to welcome unknown relatives with a kiss or by handing them over to be held by a stranger. Allow the child time to warm up. Also good advice, unless you’re my mother ‘Gwennie’ and in that case, there will be no warm up time. Because she said so.
6. If weather permits, encourage outdoor play to release extra energy. OK, we live in Oklahoma. This is not hard. It won’t be cold until at least Febraury.
7. Keep routines as normal as possible. Be sure to expect behavioral changes anytime routines change. I find that this is pretty much a given with a toddler, at any time, in any season, for any reason.
8. When traveling with a young child, allow extra time on the road. Take some familiar objects from home. Establish a routine as close as possible to your regular routine and be assertive with relatives about how you enforce limits with your child. Unless, of course you’re ‘Gwennie’ and under her roof. Then it’s her rules … or else.
9. Limit holiday candy; give healthy treats along with the seasonal goodies. So pumpkin pie counts as a vegetable, right?
Any more tips you’d like to share? Leave your comments here or email me at the address below.