News, reviews & trends for fathers – a contemporary parent’s perspective.
When recently discussing the high volume and cost of the numerous different products needed for newborns, we all got a big kick when a friend suggested that the best way to save money on baby products is to not have a baby in the first place. Seeing as how you’re probably past that option, here are some more realistic tips and advice for how not to break the bank when shopping for your bouncing bundle of joy. As for nannies and automatic diaper changing solutions, well… that’s a different conversation entirely.
Talk To Your Friends With Kids – As you probably learned when you are pregnant, it’s nearly impossible for parents to refrain from giving at least some unsolicited advice when it comes to child-rearing. Take advantage of the fact that others are excited to share their expertise and ask them specific questions about baby products. Good questions include having them name something they thought was a complete waste of money, as well as what products have they found to be surprisingly essential. Take their inside information and learn where to focus your resources, and what you can avoid. My unsolicited advice: You don’t need specific bath towels or washcloths for baby – regular towels work just fine.
Shop Around For Diapers – While friends and can family can certainly debate whether most baby products are even necessary, the one certainty is that you’ll need to put your tike in diapers. Make sure to shop around and find where the best deals are. Babies R Us has great deals on diapers in bulk, but you can also have diapers shipped straight to your door from services like Diapers.com or Amazon, which may be more cost efficient even after you factor in shipping. And warehouses like Costco and Sams Club all offer their own brands as well. Shop around and buy them in bulk, it’s much cheaper than buying small packs.
Consignment Sales – There’s a healthy resale market for baby products as kids get older and necessity for baby items and toddler toys wanes. Check local ads for consignment sales such as Just Between Friends, or for any local Parent Connection groups that may have regular swap meets. You can find great deals from families who simply want to get rid of their stuff, as well as get more coveted insider advice if you’re willing to listen.
Hand-me-downs – One of the things that surprises many first time parents is the amount of hand me down clothes and other items they get from friends and family. While it’s borne out of a need to help out those you are close to, it’s also a great way for other to clear this stuff out of their house. See if you can talk to others with kids if they have any extra items they’re not using. And if you don’t have anyone to help you out, pay it forward and share your products with someone else who needs it. At the very least, you’ll get the good karma from helping someone out.
Don’t Just Buy The Cheapest Brand – Although that may seem counterintuitive as a way to save money on products, consider that if you buy a more expensive name brand stroller, for example, you’ll likely be able to resell it in a couple of years for close to what you paid for it, provided you kept in good shape. So if you can stretch your budget now to afford a Double Bob or a Phil & Ted’s for $250, make it work and you’ll likely be able to get a couple years use of it for only $25 or $50 when all is said and done and you sell it for $200. This applies to other products as well. Keep an eye on the resale market for certain brands, and consider buying them now (even used) with the knowledge that you can resell for approximately the same price after you’re done with it.
There is an episode of “The Simpsons” wherein Homer Simpson shoves a crayon up all the way up his nose until he involuntarily gasps, “Extended warranty? How can I lose?” We won’t bore you with the story details except to mention that Homer was undergoing a crude surgery to become as stupid as possible, and his exclamation about extended warranties don’t shine a flattering light on the contracts. As far as the real world is concerned, though, are there any benefits? Should you buy extended warranties to protect your electronics?
The most generalized answer is “It’s not worth it.” Think about it: electronic retailers are quite aggressive about getting you to buy an extended warranty. Why would they bother if they weren’t on the winning side of the deal?
There are certainly reasons to get more specific, though, and there are exceptions to every rule. For instance:
Most items come with a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts a year – Most manufacturers will cover the cost of fixing or replacing your item if it breaks for a reason that isn’t your fault. These warranties typically last around a year, and according to Consumer Reports (which has done extensive research on extended warranties, and how much use we get out of them), it’s not all that common for electronics to fall apart after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
Modern electronics are engineered to be replaced in a three-to-five year period, anyway – Ours is a product-driven culture, and today’s top-notch smartphone or tablet will be ready for the trash heap within three years, easy (cue hands linked behind back, guilty scuffing of shoe on pavement). The money that you’d use on an extended warranty is often better saved for the next generation of technology.
LCD and plasma TVs rarely need repairs within the first three years following purchase – Of course, televisions usually last a little longer than three to five years, especially HD LCD and plasma sets. Polls done by Consumer Reports indicate that televisions are actually hardy pieces of tech, and very few need to be replaced or repaired within the first three years off the shelf.
The cost of repair is often the same as the cost of the warranty – Extended warranties aren’t cheap, and oftentimes, the cost of an item’s repair matches the price of the warranty.
There are exceptions, particularly for PCs – Ultimately, only you can determine if an extended warranty is worth your money. If you’re accident prone, clumsy, or just have a talent for losing things, you may find that an extended warranty is money well-spent. Moreover, Consumer Reports’ polls point out that unlike many electronics, new PCs are actually likely to require repairs within three years—and manufacturer’s warranties for computers are gradually becoming less generous.
If you need more help researching the benefits and drawbacks of extended warranties, visit:
Should You Buy an Extended Warranty? at Yahoo
Should I Buy a TV Extended Warranty? at About.com
While traveling is comparatively cheaper than it used to be thanks to increased competition and Internet-based bookings and deals, grabbing a flight is still hardly a matter of throwing a bunch of change on the ticket counter and picking up your boarding pass. Traveling with your family can be an expensive hassle, and even going to-and-fro for work-related purposes can add up if your company isn’t picking up the entire tab. That’s why it’s important to get your hands on as many tips for safe, cheap travel as you possibly can.
Travelling well primarily involves combining some common-sense tips with a little shopping around to see what best suits your needs, and the needs of your family. Here are five tips to help you travel anywhere safely, cheaply, and with as little hassle as possible.
Be careful when packing your bags – Airlines today aren’t shy about charging $25 or better for a checked bag, and getting hit up for the charge can be a nightmare if you’re not expecting it. Travel light by packing effectively: roll up your clothes instead of folding them, for instance. With some skill, you can greatly reduce the amount of luggage you’ll need to check at the ticket counter. Don’t forget that you can’t take large amounts of liquids on the plane with you, however. If you’re staying at a hotel, it’s not a bad idea to use the toiletries provided (shampoo, soap, toothpaste) in lieu of lugging your own shampoo.
Consider travel options beyond planes – If you have a few extra hours to spare, travelling across a State or two by train or bus might not be the worst idea. Trains are a relatively relaxing way to travel, and while buses aren’t as comfortable as planes or trains, they’re incredibly cost-effective thanks to companies like Megabus.
Prep your smartphone and laptop for travel – If you have e-tickets, forward them to yourself just before boarding so that you can bring them up easily and efficiently. Make a checklist of all the tech you need to take on the trip (don’t forget chargers!!), and definitely learn how to sniff out free Wi-Fi hotspots.
If you fly a lot, get a rewards card – In the United States, many credit card companies offer a card for frequent fliers. This is a great way to earn points for seating upgrades, not to mention massive discounts on fares.
Ask retail stores to ship your items home to avoid additional costs – Going shopping while you’re away? Sure, what else is a vacation for? Going back to that little factoid about airlines charging high rates for checked baggage, however, it’s never a bad idea to ask retail outlets if they’re capable of shipping your purchase home. It’s far easier than paying out the nose to cram it on a plane.
For more great tips on safe, cheap travel, visit:
10 Ways to Travel Safer and Cheaper at LifeHacker
Budget Travel at About.com
The 7 Cheapest Ways to Travel at the Independent Traveller