Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Parents' Night Out programs

PNO programs can be invaluable for a significant block of free time while you know your child will be well entertained (and possibly well fed!). Here is a list of local PNO programs:

Head Over Heels gym in Emeryville (510/655-1265)
6-10:30PM; pizza dinner provided. Evening ends with movie viewing. Ages 4 and up.
Every Friday night. Call 24 hours in advance. $30 per child, or $25 for 2 or more children. $5 more if you register the day of.

Berkeley YMCA (510/848-9622)
http://www.baymca.org/index.php/d_childcare.html (scroll down)
5-10PM; dinner and snacks provided. 1 or 2 Saturday nights per month. Ages 2-11.
$27 per child for Full-Service Members; $39 per child for Program Members.

Studio Naga in Oakland (510/652-6242)
6:30-10:30PM; includes a snack. Evening ends with a movie. (Monthly on a Friday?)
$25 per child; $20 each for siblings.

Oakland Hebrew Day School in Oakland (510/530-9222; ask for Nancy)
5:30-10PM; dinner included? One Saturday per month.
$25 per child (siblings $10).

If you know of others, please let me know!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

KitchenAid Mixer for $99 (or even $69)

I don't intend to post many things to buy here, but this is an amazing deal. (I'll update it when I find out it's no longer valid.)

Amazon.com is offering the KitchenAid K45SS Classic mixer for just $99 with free shipping (tax may apply, depending on your area). I'm pretty sure this is what I have and mine was more like $200-300 (it was a gift from family). I love these mixers; tough, easy to use, and well designed. It comes with one removable bowl and three beaters: flat (all-purpose), whip, and dough hook.

If you apply for the Amazon.com VISA card at the same time (and are approved), you get another $30 off! (Be sure you read all the terms carefully.) You'll see this offer when you put it in your cart.

I think only the white is available, but with that price, heck, you can decorate it yourself!

Friday, August 24, 2007

When it's *not* a good deal

I have a credit-card balance that I'm working at paying off. I have been lucky to find (or get sent) a 0% balance transfer offer. Since I know what inertia is like, I tend not to move the money easily before the 0% rate expires and the higher rate takes over, I look for offers that are 12 months long or longer. I also check the balance transfer fee--traditionally, it's 3% of the balance with a minimum of $5 to $50.

Remember that paying this fee is like carrying your balance for the year not at 0%, but at 3%! Look for balance transfer fees of $0. Also, some offers have balance transfer fees after the fact, but not for the opening.

What I've seen in my mail lately is that 0% APR offers with $0 fees are much rarer these days. I did sign up for the AT&T Universal card, which is administered through Citibank, but I had to search online for an offer like that. (And your credit needs to be good enough. I don't know what their cutoff is, but it's worth a try, right?)

I just opened an offer that says, "0% Fixed APR on Purchases until March 1, 2009 when you transfer a balance NOW!*" Read that carefully. You don't get the 0% rate on a transferred balance. You get it on purchases--only when you transfer a balance. So the balance sits there, accruing interest at 13.99% as a minimum, and your payments are ALL applied to the purchases--which are not carrying interest anyway! The fine print: This offer (WAMU Visa Platinum) actually only requires a $100 balance transfer, and doesn't charge a fee on the initial transfer (or any transfer in the first 90 days). So you could play this one by transferring only $100, paying it off, and then charging whatever you usually charge and paying the minimum, but putting the balance in an interest-bearing account. Not putting the balance somewhere is a sure way to screw yourself financially. (Think of the phrase "balloon payment.")

The bottom line is, as my friend Paula says, "Failure to read is not an excuse." Good luck, my friends.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Split a Costco membership

My Costco membership is up for renewal, and it reminds me to suggest this great cost-saving tip to you: split a membership with another person--maybe a mom like yourself. So far, I've shared my membership with five different people--a mix of sexes--and Costco never blinks. I just come into Costco with the other person, they get their picture on a new card, and pay me the $22 or so. I've found Costco to be worth it on most items (be sure to compare!), and especially on large furniture items and electronics. I got my mattress set from them for maybe half of what I was looking to pay at a mattress store--name brand and high quality. I buy all my electronics from them (and save the boxes)--when my DVD player died after a year or 2, I returned it for full price and bought a new one. No questions asked. (Note that they limit the return time to 6 months on computers.)

I consistently buy dog food and treats, toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water, cheese, butter (did you know it freezes beautifully?), lunchmeat, eggs, some produce (it is a lot for a mom-and-kid family!), printer cartridges, batteries, bathing suits, tomato sauce, and Gatorade from them. You have to go often enough for it to be worth it, but for us, it's a win-win.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fun, free things to do this weekend (July 27-28)

The Alameda Art & Wine Faire is this weekend. It's on Park Street for several blocks, has a side alley for kid stuff (Alameda Ave), and free bike parking!

It's also the weekend for the Berkeley Kite Festival.

Not quite as far as Davis, the Dixon Lambtown should be fun!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Don't forget your libraries!

The local libraries are having lots of fun, free events this summer, too. Alameda, Berkeley, and Oakland are all participating in "Get A Clue @ Your Library," as well as hosting several other events.

And... they're all air-conditioned, aren't they? :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Another source for free movies (for next year)

This is actually the one I was thinking of. Free movies every Tuesday and Wednesday! But it's done for this summer. We should check this link next summer!


Free movies in San Jose area, and elsewhere

The AMC theater in Emeryville did this last summer, and I took the morning off (and took Graham out of summer school) to go to Polar Express. I loved it!

Unfortunately, I'm not finding any theaters closer than San Jose this year. But perhaps some of you can use this link!


Free Movies in Alameda (7/20/07, 8/17/07)

Alameda's Recreation and Parks Department is once again showing movies "under the stars" on a nicely maintained baseball field on the former Naval Air base. I confirmed by phone that this is open to everyone, not just Alameda residents. Please be sure to register, not only so they have a head count, but so that these movies can continue! Frugal mom tip: don't get their pricey boxed dinner--even Togo's sandwiches would be cheaper.

We went to Nanny McPhee last year in this setting, and it was great!

Bundle up, it does get chilly in the evening!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Parents Night Out opportunities

I don't know about you, but I pay $6-8/hr to my babysitters, and feel lucky to get that rate. But I also use a local Parents Night Out to cover a significant number of hours as well as the fringe benefits.

The one I use is Head Over Heels Gymnastics in Emeryville, CA (http://www.hohgymnastics.com/). They have PNO every Friday night from 6-11 for $30 ($5 more if you sign up after noon on Friday; 2 or more kids are $25). Dinner is INCLUDED and it is for kids 4 and up. They always have pizza and, later, a movie. My son comes home exhausted, as they get free time in the Gym for quite a while, and they have this terrific pit of soft foam cubes to fall/jump into.

Kids don't have to stay till 11, but that is the movie time, and my kid, whose regular bedtime is 8:30, makes it till 11 every time.

Be sure to study the map on the website, as getting there is rather tricky.

Here are some other options. I haven't used them, but they do seem worthwhile:

JCC East Bay (I believe it is at the Berkeley location)

Monkey Business Camp (organic meals! but pricier)

Berkeley-Albany YMCA Kids' Night out (Berkeley location; you must be a full or Program member)

Color Me Mine, Alameda (pricier by the hour but could be fun and fill a need)

Studio Naga, Oakland (sounds interesting!)
http://www.studionaga.com/ Click on Kids' Programs, then Kids' Night Out

I also found one on the Peninsula:

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Kaiser members: Inexpensive helmets!

I was very early for an appointment at Kaiser Oakland's ENT department recently, and wandered down the hallway to the Health Education Center. A friend had recently noted that helmets "expire" in the same way as carseats, and I realized that mine was easily more than 6 years old. I headed toward the corner where they have bike helmets and was quite pleased to see that a Bell helmet for an adult was only $8.75 plus tax! They also had children's helmets, some with elbow and knee pads, for similarly low prices.

And I'll just murmur that no one asked to see my Kaiser card as I bought mine...

They also have My Brest Friend pillows, lots of books, and an inflatable lumbar-support pillow for the car or to be used in a chair.

Pertinant info from the website:
Provides information to help you stay healthy. You can borrow books, videos, and audio tapes, and purchase self-care products.

Howe Street Building, Ground Floor

Monday, Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Information/registration/breast pump rentals: (510) 752-6204

Welcome to Frugal Mom Tips!

The life of a frugal mom can be challenging. With this blog, I hope to provide tips and resources to make all our lives easier.

Sometimes, it can be fun to be frugal!