Pages

9/16/14

Taking Stock: Fall Inventory

Fall Consignment Sale Season is in full force in my area.  I already visited one this past week (see the post here) and I plan to shop a JBF sale this Thursday.  I decided today was a great day to take stock of my kids Fall/Winter clothing/shoes inventory. 

I have a guest bedroom where I store all my kids "future" clothes and er, I have some clothes stored all the way up to size 10/12.  Did I mention that my kids are size 5?? Now, while this task of checking my inventory is necessary, so I don't overbuy or (eeks!) not have enough, it is a daunting task. 

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of my process:

1) Remove most of the current season (summer) from the boys closet and dresser. Leave some items since we may have warm weather for a few more weeks.
2) Within the current season, determine what can be sold, what will be donated (stains/holes), and what can be used for next year (shorts last up to two seasons/some shirts too).
3) Next, sort through the future size drawer(s) in the guest bedroom for all the next season's clothing. Sometimes, I am guilty of shoving in a wrong size here and there.
4) Purge any items that the boys will most likely not wear (they are not fans of waffle shirts, hoodie pullovers, etc) or are too small (not all pre-owned clothes maintain their original size after numerous washes).
5) Organize tops and bottoms into categories.
          a) Tops by theme: sports, vehicles, animals, music, characters, holidays
          b) Tops by type:  dress shirt, polos, t-shirts, sweaters, jackets, sweatshirts
          c) Bottoms by type: jean, cargo, lined, dress, snow wear, athletic
          d) PJ sets
6) Fill the boys' closet and dresser with the next season's clothes.
7) Reorganize the guest bedroom's dresser drawers in future size/future season order. 
8) Identify any items needed for the next season and future sizes.
All organized by theme.
Jeans, jeans and more jeans.  An important clothing staple.
Cargo, dress, athletic collection.
Guest room drawer holds the winter attire, etc.
 Whew!  Yes, this took me awhile to finish, but I am so glad I did. Here is what I discovered:
  • I have enough size 5 fall/winter clothes for quadruplets or a least enough to last 3 (maybe 4) weeks without doing laundry (okay, maybe one load a week for underwear and socks).  So, I went a bit overboard.  It happens.
  • I missed a few 5T summer shirts, so I hung them as options over the next few weeks.
  • I only need one Valentine's themed shirt - all holidays through St. Patrick's Day are covered with at least 2 shirts each.
  • I have enough dress shirts/pants/holiday sweaters for pictures/family gatherings.
  • I have several Halloween costume options. 
  • I have winter coats, fall/spring coats, fleece jackets, snow pants/bibs, snow boots, hats/mittens/gloves for both boys.  
  • I have enough shoes (bought mostly all retail - ugh!) to last through the winter, at least.  
So, why am I shopping at JBF this Thursday and other sales this season? First, you never know what you are going to find. Second, I might find some great deals on sizes 6/7 items for next year. Finally, I can shop without the pressure to buy anything or accept higher prices because I "need" a particular item. All that future shopping paid off! 

How do you take stock before shopping the consignment sales?

9/15/14

It's New-to-Me: A.I. duPont Hospital's Children's Resale

I stumbled upon the A.I. duPont Hospitals Childrens Resale while browsing a local Facebook sales page last night. I had never heard of it before, so I decided to check it out since the sale times were perfect for me: Monday and Tuesday 8am-3pm. Reviewing the posted pictures, the sale looked small, but I tend to find decent deals at those small resales. Also, they mentioned taking donated items. Usually, donated items are priced lower than the consigned items. 
Photo credit: A.I. duPont Hospital Children's Resale
Photo credit: A.I. duPont Hospital Children's Resale
Photo credit: A.I. duPont Hospital Children's Resale
I arrived around 9am and while it was busy, it wasn't crowded. I don't know about you and your resale shopping methods, but I always scan everything - clothes, shoes, toys, accessories, etc. I immediately browsed the boys clothes sizes 5 and up. I surprisingly found decent jeans in sizes 6 and 7 for $4 each (adding to my stockpile). A bit higher priced than my usual $2-$3, but the material in the knees looked sturdy. I've learned that while I can find jeans for less, I need to really examine the knees for wear. A less expensive pair of resale jeans is not that great if it only lasts one wear before a hole appears.

I found a two pairs of footed pjs for a $1 each (not in the best condition, but my boys will like that they are SpiderMan and Cars) and a pair of Children's Place space themed pjs for $1.50. The other clothing ranged from $.50 to $4. 

I found nothing of interest for me at the toys, books, costumes, etc, but did find a pair of size 13 snow boots and two pairs of lined size 12 Crocs for just $5 each. I am not sure how much the boys will like the Crocs, but if they don't, I will simply resell them. 

All in all, a good experience. I forgot to ask if Tuesday would be 1/2 price. If so, I  might consider a return to check out some of the higher priced Janie/Jack & Gymboree items I passed over.
On average, less than $2.85 each.




9/13/14

Rainy Day Kitchen Re-Org - School Snack Pantry

After a chilly T-ball game and fun on the YMCA playground this a.m., we headed back home under a blanket of gray clouds.  The hubs and I didn't have high hopes for anything grand with the boys today, knowing rain was coming our way, so we just let the day "happen".

The boys immediately started playing with the Disney Cars Mega-Bloks set I found at a yard sale yesterday and the hubs began lunch preparations.   After lunch, the boys seemed quite content to play with each other, leaving me with some unexpected time on my hands.  Now, I really wanted to take a nap, but . . . I decided to be productive and finally complete a kitchen cabinet re-org.

The boys have been in school a few weeks now and I find myself struggling with our current pantry set-up when I set out to make the boys daily school lunch/snack.  Even though the boys snacks were mostly on the same shelf in the main pantry, the set-up annoyed me.  So, I took matters into my own hands and decided to establish a School Snack Pantry (items compliant with the school's snack policy), separate from the main pantry's snack zone.  Now, I am very fortunate to have a lot of cabinet space, so while I am not showing you where I put all the items I had to move to make the School Snack Pantry, believe me, they all found suitable homes (only a few items made their way to the recycle bin). 

This project took me a little over two hours to complete. I wasn't in a rush and I wanted to take the time to think through placement within the school snack pantry and placement of those items I removed.  I also used items I already own, so no extra cost.  Let's take a look at the "before" and "after", shall we?

The "before" picture of the cabinet soon to be named School Snack Pantry:
Your typical mix of non-essential items.
The "after" - School Snack Pantry
The bottom shelf holds:
  • Cereal bars
  • Graham crackers/animal crackers
  • Cookie Goldfish
  • Applesauce and cut straws (the boys use straws to "eat" the applesauce - it is more fun for them and less expensive for me - no plastic spoons)
  • Ziploc bags
The second shelf holds:
  • Containers of bagged items - sweet on the left (cookies/fruit snacks) and salty on the right (cheddar bunnies)
  • Ziploc bags of "loose" snacks - assorted Goldfish (I emptied the individual bags) and pretzel crisps (poured some out from the huge Costco pretzel bag).
The containers for the bagged items are old animal crackers bins purchased from Costco.  I just took the tops off and placed them on their sides. 
It kind of has that old-fashioned candy store feel, right?!
On the counter next to the pantry, I used a large, clear plastic bin to hold the lunch bags, snack containers, etc., so that everything is in one spot.  Next to the bin, I put my coffee can of markers, so I have them handy when writing silly faces on bananas.  This reminds me, I need to put a stack of sticky-notes nearby for silly messages.  Lastly, I used a candle top (from a Yankee candle) to hold the Box Tops we now collect.  Again, I am making use of items already handy in the kitchen.

Not snack related, but I did put a file system thingy next to the lunch bags, so I can sort all the artwork/homework after we empty the boys backpacks each afternoon. 
Ah, here it is the final picture of my work today.  Now, I just hope it works! HA!





8/31/14

Not All Discounts Are Created Equal

As a gift for our twins' fifth birthday, we decided that we would take them to Dutch Wonderland and instead of a one-day pass, we would purchase a two-day pass. I missed the discounted two-day pass offered by Dutch Wonderland, so I decided to try my luck with AAA

Unfortunately, when I went to the AAA office to purchase the tickets, they explained that they only sell one-day passes, but informed me that I could take those discounted tickets and upgrade to a two-day pass at Dutch Wonderland. I thought, okay, sounds great.

The day finally arrived and while I was wrangling the boys, my husband worked with Dutch Wonderland (DW) Guest Services to upgrade our four tickets from one-day to two-day passes. We had a lovely day and when we got back home that night, I put the two-day passes, along with the receipt, in a safe-place for our next trip. 

A few days later, while re-arranging paperwork, I came across the tickets and the receipt. This time, I took a closer look at the receipt.  Something just didn't make sense.

I paid $134 for the 4 one-day pass tickets via AAA, but when DW upgraded us to two-day passes, they only gave us $122.00 credit for the one-day passes. This meant that I actually paid more for the two-day pass using the AAA discounts. When I realized this, I was perturbed, but figured it could easily be remedied via a refund on our next trip.

Flash forward to today, our next trip, and DW Guest Services explained that since the original tickets were not purchased at DW,  they scan the barcode on the non-DW tickets and their computer system establishes a value for the non-DW tickets. They don't take into account the actual amount paid for them because, since they are not DW issued tickets, they have no way of knowing what the customer actually paid. So, no refund for me. Grrr!  I was not feeling so Dutch Wonderful at that moment.

Regular DW two-day pass: $54/ticket; $216 for a family of four
My two day pass using the AAA discounted tickets: $57/ticket; $228

Lesson learned: When it comes to DW and the two-day pass, I will be sure to buy directly from DW (and during their discount period).

I can't be too mad at DW, especially since they offer this:


"Rain Guarantee - Don't let a cloudy day keep you away! During the regular summer season Dutch Wonderland is pleased to provide a second chance for a day of fun in the sun! If it rains for more than one (1) consecutive hour during your visit to Dutch Wonderland and you decide to leave the Park for the remainder of the day, stop by Guest Services as you exit and present your ticket stub. You will be issued a single-day admission ticket valid for any day during the remainder of the season, including Happy Hauntings or Dutch Winter Wonderland. You must have your ticket stub to receive a rain ticket. Rain tickets will only be issued on the day of your original visit at the Guest Services Office."

After 3 separate weather delays today (one we missed since we were in the changing room) and a lot of time not being able to access rides, the water park, Exploration Island, etc., the park allowed guests to get rain passes and we made sure to get ours, even if it meant standing in yet another long line on a steamy August day. Now, we have another opportunity to come back and we might even check out one of their specialty days - like Happy Hauntings or Dutch Winter Wonderland. 

Well, I may not have gotten the best deal on tickets, but I did make sure to take advantage of the Rain Guarantee. Three visits for the price of two (plus) made me feel a bit more Dutch Wonderful at the end of the day. 

Photo Credit: Dutch Wonderland Facebook










8/27/14

What Are You Going To Do All Day?

"What are you going to do all day now that you have all this free time while the kids are in full-day kindergarten?"

I've heard that quite a bit in the last few months as we told people our kids were entering full-day kindergarten. Well, as I am still wiping away tears just three days after the start of the school year, I am not in a huge rush to decide what I am going to do. 

I asked my husband if he had any expectations of me finding a part-time job right away and he said he wasn't in any rush. We discussed it further and realized there are several advantages of me being the stay-at-home parent for a bit longer, at least through the fall/winter holidays.

One of the main advantages is that I can now tackle our money-saving and home improvement to-do lists. The projects that have been sidelined for the past five years simply because I couldn't always focus my energies on phone calls/estimates/negotiations while caring for our twin boys. My plan is to have a detailed project list by mid-September, but that hasn't stopped me from making preliminary calls on a few projects.

First up, finding the best trash services rate. I know, you were expecting something more exciting, but hear me out.
Photo credit: RepublicServices.com
Our trash/recycling service with Republic Services (previously Allied Waste) has increased from $88.50 to $111 in the last 18 months. That is steep and sneaky since I opted for auto-pay (auto-pay is not all that convenient if it costs me to miss those sneaky increases).  Before the big increase, they did come door-to-door offering to lock us in for $97.50 for the next three years.  The lock-in made me think twice and I made a mental note to research other companies. Meanwhile, the boys needed something and magically, POOF!, that thought was soon forgotten.

Now, I would be more understanding if I knew everyone in my community was getting similar rates.  Unfortunately, there are sizable discrepancies between rates, even within the same company for the same service in similar communities.  How do I know?  Well, I posted about it on a local Facebook page and I found some very interesting information - others are paying as little as $51/quarter.

So, today, while the kids are in school and I can have an uninterrupted phone conversation, I started on my quest and called a local competitor. They quoted me $72/quarter, which was higher than what the Facebook page members had quoted as their rates with that same company.  I immediately posted the following comment on the Facebook post:   

"Very interesting. I called Penn Container today and asked for their residential rate - $72/qtr. Big difference from the $51 and $62 quoted above. Well, at least that is better than Republic's $111/qtr."

Shortly after I posted that comment, I started writing this post.  As I am writing, my husband calls to say Republic just called him (cue Twilight Zone music) and offered us a new quarterly rate of $66 and they would credit our account the difference for this quarter since we had already paid this quarter's $111.  That is an annual savings of $180!


Coincidence that we got a call within minutes of my comment on the Facebook page (mind you, it was not the company's Facebook page, but a local message board page)???  Hmm, I am not so sure, but regardless, I now have a lower rate effective immediately and now I can cross that item off my list.