Monday, November 19, 2012

'Tis the Season for Giving - and Saving!

As I mentioned in my last post, things are a little tight within the old Miller pocketbook these days. (Pocketbook. What a weird, archaic word, eh? Goes hand in hand with "purse strings", I "reckon.") Anywho, I've decided to take advantage of a few ways to save this holiday season. I'll be honest and admit I could save more, but dagnabbit (see what I did there with another old-timey word?) I do love Christmas and finding great gifts. I am not, however, Looney Tunes enough to stay up all night and camp out in a line full of deal-crazed Black Friday shoppers hopped up on adrenaline and 5-hour energy shots while frantically making lists, texting their friends in line at other stores, and analyzing their store maps. I value every moment of sleep I can get these days, and there isn't an electronic gadget on earth I want badly enough to forgo the sweet comfort of my bed. (My apologies if you are one of those people. More power to you.)

So here's what I've done instead:

Kiddo Stuff
Because I hate Mother Earth and have been making her weep by filling landfills with disposable diaper garbage for the last 15 months, I have also racked up a bunch of Pampers Gifts to Grow points. Enough points that I was able to cash them in for a Little Tikes grocery cart for my aspiring shopaholic. You don't even have to pay for shipping on GTG purchases! The site said shipping would take 6-8 weeks, but it showed up on my porch this weekend after only two weeks. Yay for "free" Christmas stuff!

(Bear and boy not included. Daddy assembly required.)

For my voracious little reader (ironic that voracious also applies to appetite, because sometimes Amelia eats magazines and books) I also scored a great deal on a four-pack of Eric Carle books through a program at the school I now work for. I basically got four books for the price of two. They'll be good as she grows because they are hard cover paperbacks, and they include learning questions in the back of each book.

It included these and another one I can't remember (less used than these, of course)

More Rewards Points
I also took the opportunity to cash in some credit card points for a Target gift card, which I plan to use toward Christmas gifts. If you've got debt racked up, you might as well use it to your advantage, right?! 

Stuff for ME!
Because I am greedy like that, I've also got some stuff in the works for myself. For meeting a fundraising goal a few months back with my March of Dimes March for Babies team, I earned a small gift card to Macy's that I have yet to spend.  But last week I realized that I have enough gas station reward points to get another Macy's gift card. Still not enough to cover the new wardrobe I desperately need, but it might be worth it. Mama needs a new pair of shoes! (And some jeans. And various other items of clothing.) 

I'm also taking part in a fitness challenge at work that won't pay off until this spring, but I'll get a $50 Visa Gift Card for basically no extra effort on my part. I just have to "check in" with certain healthy daily activities that earn me points (I actually get points for feeding my child) and I've already reached the gift card goal.

Helping Others
While I don't have a lot to spare this year, I am still doing my best to help others. I've volunteered at work to help with their adopt-a-family program, and our MoPs group is collecting some items for children in need. I found some great kids' items to contribute to that project in the Target dollar bins! In the future I hope to teach Amelia the importance of helping others and get her involved in some holiday giving as well.

What are some of your favorite ways to save? Any holiday deals you want to brag about?

I hope everyone in blogland has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Back

So I promised to be a better blogger, huh? And uh, it's been...well, not quite a month since my last post, so I guess that's an improvement. I would love to come up with some creative and/or witty and/or entertaining posts, but all I've got is my life which isn't all that exciting these days. So let's see, what's new with us? Other than Daylight Savings Time making me want to curl up in a ball every night by 7:00 pm...

Miss Amelia was Little Red Riding Hood. This was a last minute costume as I intended for her to be Max from Where the Wild Things Are since she and Max both love to "make mischief" and it was one of my favorite books as a kid. However, I was a mommy fail and didn't order the pjs I wanted to use for the costume before they ran out of her size, so Little Red it was (seeing as that was one of the few costumes left in her size at the Halloween store two days before Halloween). I managed to find a goofy wolf hat while I was there, so we were a lovely pair.
It was freezing the night of Halloween, so Little Red and I hit a few houses for trick or treat with her cousin, and then came back home to hand out candy. She loved saying "hi" to everyone before it got too cold and she had to go inside.

My new job is still going well. It's nice to be off earlier to be home with Amelia at night, and I am looking forward to our holiday breaks. And working with high school students is always interesting/amusing/crazy. However, through some miscommunication and some idiocy on my part, it turns out I am actually netting a lot less than my old job instead of more. And let me tell you, we weren't exactly raking in the money to start with. It's tough to be a 31-year-old college graduate and still barely scraping by. This is definitely causing some stress, and leading me to consider whether I can find a part time job after the summer instead that will allow us to save on one of our biggest monthly expenses - child care - while still having benefits. This is also factoring into the fact that while I had toyed with the idea of TFAS next year, I don't know that it will happen. Maybe I should start playing the lottery...

Other Stuff
I decided to host Thanksgiving at our house this year and also elminate another Thanksgiving stop. It's part of my goal to start focusing on OUR family rather than everyone else at the holidays. It may not always work out perfectly, but my hope is that we will spend less time in the car, less time disrupting naps, etc. and just focus on celebrating.

As for Amelia...oh, this girl. She has quite the personality! She is so funny (loves to "dance") and sweet (loves to give kisses). She also has a major stubborn streak and throws some serious fits. She is in perpetual motion and like a ninja when getting into things she shouldn't. But watching her grow is just so amazing. This past weekend she started repeating things when I said them, including "eat" and "cheese." Which I got her to say so I could take this ridiculously adorable picture.

Note the hair clip to pin back her flowing locks. It stayed in for about 5 minutes.

So there you go. Nothing terribly earth-shattering happening for us. If you'd like some more regularly updated munchkin pics, you can follow me on Instagram: sem513. I don't post a ton, but I try to update every now and then when Miss A is doing something especially cute.

Next up - Christmas! Maybe I'll even post again before then.