Tag Archives: cleaning

Money-Saving Tips for New Parents

One thing (among many) that people tell you to prepare for is how much money you are going to spend when it comes to your first child. From the latest bouncer to multiple sets of crib sheets, and endless supply of diapers and some cute décor to spice up your nursery, let’s be honest: a lot of money is going to go out the door.

My husband and I have attempted to approach the whole ordeal in as practical a manner as possible. We certainly have skimped when it comes to preparing for our little nugget (and have been graciously showered with lots of items from our fabulous family and friends) but we’ve also attempted to stay grounded and realistic and not completely empty our bank accounts for something that the nugget may (or may not) actually enjoy or use.

While money has gone out the door, I’ve been completely surprised at how much money we have not spent. That’s right…through tips from friends, helpful good Samaritans and just randomly stumbling across things in my day-to-day, I’ve actually come away from pregnancy with a lot of freebies!

Below I’m sharing my top picks.

Extra Teeth Cleanings

I am fortunate to have one of the best dentists in town. Not only do they provide fabulous customer and professional services, but also they are super proactive in ensuring their patients get the best care. This past spring I went in for my typical 6-month cleaning and shared the news that I was expecting a little nugget. My dentist and his team immediately informed me that many dental plans offer a supplemental cleaning (at no charge) for preggo ladies. They confirmed my coverage and scheduled me to head back in a few months time.

All insurance plans are different, but it’s totally worth a quick ask to your dentist or dental insurance plan.

Baby Registry Freebies

Marketers LOVE new parents. Why? Because we really don’t have a huge clue of what we’re doing and we’re the quintessential prospective buyer for all their products. So what have these savvy retailers done? Set up fabulous freebies to accompany your baby registries in the hopes that you’ll take advantage of the coupons and discounts and buy even more.

Hands down, it’s super important that you register at the stores that make the most sense for your lifestyle. For me, I wanted stores that provided a variety of name brand goods that was convenient to my home location. In the end, we chose Amazon (because who doesn’t LOVE Amazon, especially if you’re a Prime customer) and Target, because it was the closest brick and mortar store to our home.

While many of the other retailers offers similar programs, these two retailers reward their gift registers with a nice “Welcome Box” filled with freebies. While a lot of the items aren’t particularly useful (small samples and coupons) they do often include a few full-size and travel-size options from some of the most popular companies.

From baby wipes to pacifiers, you will get a ton of random items. I’ll be honest, some of the items just hit the garbage bin, but I did hold on to a few items, including some of the travel-size options that went into small “emergency poop” kits that I plan to store in each of our cars.

In addition to the retailers that we used for our baby registry, we also seemed to accrue similar “freebie” bags at the baby preparation classes we attended and even some maternity clothes shops that I purchased some items from. Again, you may not use all or any of it, but it’s worth a quick look!

Breastfeeding Equipment

While your choice to breastfeed or formula feed is completely your own, I was informed by a friend that most insurance plans cover a portion (if not the full cost) of breastfeeding equipment. Similar to dental coverage, everything depends on the small print in your plan, but I was so glad to get this tip from another mama.

In my case, I had been working diligently on my registry and was pretty shocked at the costs of some of the breastfeeding gear. Sure you can get a standard pump for a fairly reasonable cost, but if you want something that is a bit more high-tech or comes in a carrier case that may be more convenient for a future working mom (like me), then the costs were going up to the $200 range.

After speaking with this friend, I called my health insurance (get used to this, it will happen a lot) and got the skinny on my policy. Typically health insurance companies will outsource the order to a medical supply company (or if you have a group insurance plan like Kaiser, they may handle the request in house) but your insurance company should give you the overview of what you’re entitled to and how to get it.

My plan warned me that they could not take requests on the type, make, or model of the desired pump and I should be prepared to get “what was available.” I still ended up putting a very polite note on my request (which required a doctor’s prescription) asking for a specific brand/model which I had heard good things about.

At the end of the day, it all worked out. I spoke with the medical supply vendor and they were extremely helpful in getting me sorted out. My insurance plan covered a standard model, but allowed me to ‘upgrade’ to my desired mom-friendly option for a small cost.

Dental Equipment

Can I mention how much I love my dentist? Well on my second “free pregnancy” teeth cleaning, I was chatting with the office again and they mentioned that some insurance plans also offer medical (not dental) coverage for teeth-related procedures and equipment. In short, pregnancy can be an extremely strange time for your body and so it’s within everyone’s best interest to keep mama healthy (and happy I may add). In some instances you can use this time to consider purchasing dental items (think an electronic toothbrush or a water pick) to ensure that you have the best items to keep your teeth healthy when they’re most vulnerable. Again, everything is subject to your plan, but it’s definitely worth an ask to see if you can qualify for coverage.

My teeth have taken a bit of a beating during my pregnancy and I had been eyeing a more advanced toothbrush to try to keep them on the healthy track. I am thrilled to have a portion of the cost of this item covered!

Diaper Programs

As with breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, choosing your diaper type is completely a personal decision. For those going the disposable route, you know that a lot of money is going to go toward the endless supply that you’ll need for the next few years. Fortunately a lot of retailers know this, and they want you to buy your endless supply from them!

Amazon has an awesome diaper program for those that use the online giant for their registry. Hit $1,000 worth of merchandise on your registry and they’ll reward you with a $100 credit to use toward diapers. For all the new parents out there, that’s approximately 400 diapers…which may last you just over a month when you have a newborn and maybe two months when your kiddo gets a little older.

Other diaper manufactures like Pampers and Huggies have frequent purchase programs where you can receive credit toward your future purchases based on past purchases. Tip: Most have mobile apps that allow you to scan your purchase barcodes to help simplify the process.

Getting yourself situated for a new baby is a huge process and one that can cost some money. However, I feel fortunate to have been able to receive so many fabulous tips throughout my pregnancy on money-saving options that have helped us stay in budget.

Life Simplified: 5 Areas to Incorporate Lists

Those of you who have been actively following our blog know that organization is a key commonality for our TK team! We all have our own styles, but we love exchanging tips with each other or sharing new ideas that we come across.

One of the main ways that I stay organized in everything that I do in my busy day is using lists. In today’s age of technology, full of gadget and apps, a good old fashioned “To Do” list seems a bit dated, but for me, it’s a main staple in my personal organizational systems.

Today, I’ll be chatting about five areas you can incorporate organizational lists to help simplify life and decrease stress.

Entertaining: Using a list is a fantastic way to get organized if you’re hosting an event. For those of us that multitask between jobs in both the office and home, our lack of time often leaves us with very little room for error when it comes to pulling off hosting duties. In Hosting My First Thanksgiving Dinner, Meredith shared her method of using a list to plan her event menu, shopping list and event timeline. Whether you’re hosting a few friends for a casual weekday BBQ or the whole family for a holiday dinner, entertaining becomes a little less hectic when you take the time to plan in advance.

5 Ways to Use Lists 1

Traveling: Whether you’re a habitual traveler for work or you’re constantly being bitten by the travel bug, let’s face it, packing isn’t exactly the most fun thing to do. However, creating electronic packing lists is a great way to develop templates of common things that you need for your travels. These templates then serve as a baseline for future trips, which allows you to save precious time by not ‘reinventing the wheel’ every time you travel. In How to Make a Dynamic Packing List, Bri shared her method for creating her packing template and how this method saves her time as she travels for work.

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Additionally, lists are a great way to ensure you get everything done around your home before you head out the door. Nothing is worse than running around trying to remember all the little things you have to do to secure your home before your flight leaves. In Trip Planning Checklist, I talked about my process of putting together a list of common things I have to get done before I leave for a trip. This ranges from confirming a pet sitter to taking out the garbage. Implementing this system has certainly helped minimize departure day stress and allowed me to relax in preparation for my trip.

Cleaning: Creating a list system to track your house chores is a great way to not only ensure that you’re keeping up with general home cleanliness, but also to ensure that your chores are balanced and manageable with a busy schedule. In Cleaning Chart in the Cloud, I shared my cleaning chart (conveniently stored on Google Docs), which allows my husband and I to split up chore duties. Whether you’re a small or large household, a cloud-based cleaning chart is a great way to prioritize the chores that need to be done around your house and “share the love” with your housemates.

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NOTE: Since this post, I have updated my cleaning chart to the Todoist app and have been very happy with the results.

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Dining: While we all fondly remember our college kitchen days of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs, chances are you’re getting to a place in life where you’re starting to think a bit more about what you’re eating. Organizational lists are perfect for helping you achieve a healthier diet, through grocery shopping lists and menu planning. In one of her early posts on Menu Planning, Meredith wrote about her method of taking time on Sunday to put together a menu for the week and the corresponding lists of groceries. While this certainly takes a bit of time, meal planning is a great way to relieve weekday stress. Organizational lists eliminate the need to run to the grocery store for the one ingredient that wasn’t in your pantry and minimize the time wasted in your kitchen wondering “What Should I Make Tonight?” Even more so, it’s a great way to stick to healthy eating habits and reduce the impulse to splurge on less healthy options.

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Working: A major place that we use lists is in our daily organization at the office and at home. Even though we all work in different industries, lists seem to work themselves into our daily routines. In Our 2016 Tips for Home and Work, Meredith shared her process of using a standard notebook and day planner to make lists. I am also a huge fan of standard lists in my planner, and have further developed my lists into categories behind these adorable gold foil tabs (and yes, we’re going to THAT many weddings this year, that “Weddings” has its own list!).

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I have started using Microsoft’s One Note program for my day-to-day tasks at the office. I love the ability to cut and paste items and create a written record of my accomplishments.

As you can tell, we love using lists here at TripleKnots and find them to be an incredibly useful tool to stay organized in a very busy world!

Do you have a creative way that lists help save you time? If so, we’d love to hear!

Signature 3 (Mar 2016)

Q&A with a Professional Organizer [‘How to Start Decluttering’ Edition]

This week’s guest blog post comes to us from Bonnie Dewkett, a certified professional organizer who began organizing as a child, and has been organizing ever since. Her company, The Joyful Organizer, creates and implements organizational systems for both the home and office. Passionate about helping others meet their organizational goals, Bonnie loves to see the positive impact that getting organized has on people’s lives.


“I need to declutter, but I’m having trouble letting go of sentimental items or practical things that I might need ‘someday.’ What should I do?”

The best thing is to ask yourself what it’s costing you to keep the item.  If you pay rent or a mortgage you’re paying a per foot cost for everything in your home.  If it’s not worth that cost, out it goes.  Many items can be replaced for much less than you are paying to store them.  Another question to ask yourself is: “If I moved today, would I pay someone to move this for me?”  If the answer is no, donate it.

For sentimental items, I suggest giving yourself (and every other family member in the household) a limit.  For example, one tote per person.  The items inside the tote can change over time, but keeping your sentimental items limited is key.

If something is very meaningful to you, consider finding a way to honor it. For example, before donating something, I like to take a photo of it. You could also consider projects such as framing a piece of a wedding dress, using a shadow box for jewelry, or making a quilt from old t-shirts.

“When I start organizing a very cluttered space (attic, garage, etc.). I get overwhelmed by the volume of stuff. How do I stay motivated when it feels like there’s no end in sight?”

Break every large organizing project down into smaller tasks.  If you’re organizing the garage, make yourself a list.  It might look like this:

  • Sort through boxes
  • Sweep the floor
  • Add in shelves
  • Buy totes
  • Hang garden tools

Breaking a large project down into tasks makes it seem less overwhelming. It also allows you to find the time for each smaller task.  If you’re sorting through a number of boxes, remove those boxes, one at a time to another space.  Going through them one at a time allows you to focus and keeps the feeling of being overwhelmed to a minimum.

DoNotStop

“Is there one product or tool that you think everyone should use to help them stay organized?”

I love binders.  By inserting page protectors you can store just about anything; take out menus, manuals for appliances, printables, photos, and so much more.  My other favorite is the over-the-door shoe rack.  These are available at just about every super store (and even some dollar stores) and they can hold ANYTHING.  I love to use them for toys, snacks, water bottles, first aid supplies, accessories like scarves and mittens, arts and crafts supplies or even dolls.

“If someone is looking for professional help, but they’re not sure about how to budget for it or what type of services to get, what advice would you give to them?”

There are lots of affordable options out there for every budget.  Many organizers will design a plan for you so that you know what to do and when to do it.  It takes the guesswork out of the process.  Other organizers can even help you virtually through phone calls or videoconference sessions.  This keeps you accountable and on task.  If you can’t afford an organizer, find an organizing buddy with a neighbor or friend.  Spend time helping each other get organized and holding each other accountable for your goals.

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For more information, visit The Joyful Organizer website or email info@thejoyfulorganizer.com.