Using Snapfish for Photos

I love to take pictures with my digital camera, but it’d been years since I’ve actually printed any of them out, sadly. In fact, I probably only printed fewer than a dozen from my circa-2002 HP inkjet printer.

So now that there’s a baby in the house and I’m taking a gazillion pictures of her every week, I decided it was time to get some “real” photos printed for our photo albums.

There’s no longer a need to take film to be developed. There’s no need to go anywhere, actually.

I’ve entered the 21st century and got my photos done through Snapfish, just one of the many online digital picture printers available today. They’re really cheap, and I’m able to have the photos delivered directly to my mailbox. Alternately, I could pick up the prints at my local Walgreens, but I don’t get out of the house too much with a 3-month-old baby.

Maybe I should go back and print out the past, oh, 5 years worth of digital photos, too!

A Debt Confession

Since the baby’s been born, I’ve been using our credit cards. And not just lightly — I’ve racked up about $3,300 in debt in 3 months.

Flame away.

We had no credit card debt prior to Baby Frugalista’s unexpected arrival, but then there were costs. About $2,500 in hospital and doctor bills, baby items to be purchased (we were caught unawares with her early arrival), and formula. I was due for a new eye exam, glasses and contacts, as I was on my last pair of contacts and needed a new prescription to order more — that came to $625.

There were other items that weren’t truly necessary, but I had planned to purchase them as part the house renovations that were underway at the time of Baby Frugalista’s birth. So I wound up with $160 in curtains to match the new sofa and loveseat (which were paid off already), and a new $110 comforter set for our renovated bedroom. Our house was so out of sorts that I “needed” to get it into some order, despite all of the baby stuff going on.

Since I’m taking 6 months off for maternity leave, I decided that rather than deplete our cash-on-hand, it was better to use a little “plastic loan” in the meantime. I’m making more than the minimum payments but not aggressively paying it down as I normally would. I do intend to pay it off in about 6 months.

Is There Such A Thing As Neighbor Etiquette?

It’s probably the lack of sleep I got last night — thanks to a hungry and wide-awake baby — but I got up today and resolved to do something about the “neighbor situation.”

Let me give you a little background: We’ve been living in our home almost 2 years now, and for all of that time, the neighbors to our left continually park their cars in front of our house. Now that I’ve been home these past 2 1/2 months, I see that this happens all day and, sometimes, all night. The wife’s car will be in front of our house all day, from early morning on, unless she goes out, and the husband comes home and parks in front of our house until he moves it into their driveway for the evening (you can’t park your cars overnight on the streets in our town). No neighbor etiquette going on here!

The second thing that drives me nuts is that they put their garbage and recycling out in front of our house, too. Well, it’s not smack-dab in front of it — technically, it’s on the property line in front of our two houses. The bins almost always wind up in the middle of our property after they’ve been emptied, making it look like we’re what we Italians slangily call “cavones” — pigs. Both of our fathers have even attempted to bring in “our” garbage can when they’ve been visiting. And the recycling isn’t always just cans, bottles and papers — the husband is a mechanic, and there’s always boxes from motor oil and the like.

Granted, since I’ve been home with Baby Frugalista, they’ve been ‘nice’ enough to only take up ONE spot in front of our house, instead of BOTH. But what my newshound nose needs to sniff out is the WHY of the situation.

WHY don’t they put their “stuff” in front of their own property? They’re obviously long-ingrained actions. I suppose the old man who owned our home before us didn’t really care. It’s what I’m going to call a lack of “neighbor etiquette.” It doesn’t make sense to me, and the fact that no one else on our block does it makes me even more worked up about it.

Two courses of action

1. Say something to the neighbors, either directly or by leaving a note on the car; or

2. Move my car from our driveway to the front of our house each morning, taking up the two spots, until they get the message.

My spiteful side says move the car every morning, a pretty (and petty) passive-aggressive tactic. It also takes effort and I’m not confident that they would even get the picture.

Saying something would make ME feel better, but could also cause a rift with neighbors who we have to live with for possibly decades to come. We don’t even have a fence or a hedge separating our backyards, so it could be awkward.

Of course, Mr. NSF will say there’s a third option: Don’t say anything at all. But that’s not my nature. If there’s a problem, I want to confront it head-on, not ignore it. I can be diplomatic and ‘blame’ myself about it — either admit that it’s an OCD thing or say I need to park my own car there so I can get the baby in and out more easily (both true!).

Then again, what do I care about a neighbor who, in one of our first interactions, saw me using a soil rake on our front lawn and said, “Hey, look, there’s a new hoe on the block?”

What would you do? Do you have any interesting ‘neighbor etiquette’ issues?

Organizing Coupons: What’s Your System?

Not only do I have a ton of regular grocery coupons, but now I have to add my “baby” coupons to the mix — for diapers, formula, diaper cream, gas drops, infant acetaminophen, baby vitamins and the like. The result? I’m drowning in coupons.

Right now, my only ‘system’ is one I stole from my dad. It involves separating coupons into two piles, food and non-food items, and using a paper clip to secure each stack of money-saving paper. I arrange the coupons by expiration date when I have more than one coupon for a particular product. Then, I put both groups of coupons into a simple white #10 envelope.

Great system, huh?

It works for my father because his grocery shopping lists go something like this: steak, pork chops, canned vegetables and soups, air freshener refills, and butter, butter and more butter. Occasionally, he’ll mix it up with mayonnaise, hot dogs, tuna fish and olives.

Now that I have a ton of Similac checks and coupons (thank you, Similac, for putting coupons in the Sunday newspaper fliers), they get their own I arrange them by expiration date — those closest to expiring stay on top, obviously.

Not only do I clip out coupons for the items we use regularly, I sometimes stock up on coupons for other products that I think might go on sale in the near future, other brands of things we use regularly, or new items. For instance, French’s came out with a new product, Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, which I tried and loved. (I hate mustard, but like this stuff — go figure.) At my local grocery store, it’s $2.19, and there’s always a $.75 coupon to be found in the Sunday paper. My store doubles coupons, so that $2.19 bottle only costs $.69. I now have 3 bottles sitting in our pantry that don’t expire until the end of the year, giving us plenty of time to use them.

So I now have two sets of envelopes for coupons: baby stuff & grocery items. And the ‘might use in the future’ coupons are all mixed together. I like Land O’Lakes butter, but if there’s a sale on Hotel Bar brand and I have a coupon, guess which one I’ll buy? That’s why I like to clip coupons for competing brands — I’ll use just about anything if I can get it for a good price. Except coffee creamer. I cheated on Coffeemate with International Delights once — ick.

I’d like to get the coupons out of the envelopes so I can view and sort them better. I know there are small accordion coupon organizers you can buy, while some people use binders with clear pages so they can see each coupon separately.

I don’t know which system I’m going to choose, but I have to do something. I’m tired of flipping through stacks of coupons every week! I don’t want anything too time-consuming, but I need to change my ways.

Any suggestions?