Three ways to streamline your life and save money from your desk

200810062316.jpgIf you think this blog is called Mommy Poppins 'cause I'm some sort of uber mom, you couldn't be more wrong. Although I admit I love organizing things, in theory, I also love procrastinating, avoiding and flat out ignoring all those yucky, boring chores that go along with being a parent. Case in point, I'm sitting here typing this while knowing I haven't filled out my kids' picture day forms, I only know where one of them is, oh, and picture day is tomorrow...And these chores are endless. You could seriously do nothing but buy shoes, and schedule dentist appointments, not to mention groceries and meals, SNACKS!, lunches! What about new toothbrushes every 6 months! Who has the time?!!

In order to be as good a procrastinator as I am, I've had to develop some good organizational habits to streamline some of those yucky chores, leaving me free to, well, mostly do all those other chores that I should have done last week. I thought today I'd share some of them. They're not big revolutionary secrets, but they do save me some time and money and hopefully will save you some too. Plus there's a giveaway at the end.

HOW AMAZON SPOILS ME
It's not where you shop, it's how you shop. Here's my system:

STEP 1: Amazon Visa Card—I buy EVERYTHING on Amazon.com. I also have an Amazon.com credit card which I use like a debit card, putting every purchase over $10 on it and then paying it off at the end of the month. For every $2500 I spend I get a $25 reward certificate. Now that you can put most of your bills on your credit card, even many schools will take credit cards for tuition, that can really add up.

STEP 2: Amazon Prime—We're signed up for Amazon Prime. This gives us free shipping on most of our purchases. Since Amazon prices are usually cheaper than other retailers, add free shipping and you can really come out ahead. Amazon Prime has an annual fee of $72 but, you can sign up for a free one month trial of Amazon Prime here. (Stock up on birthday presents and holiday gifts during your free trial and get that out of the way early).

STEP 3: Stock up. Here's where the streamlining comes in. A couple times a year, I go online to Amazon and buy a bunch of toys. I pick my current best kid birthday present ideas and stock up on them using my reward points and Amazon Prime. This saves me lots of time and money and means on Saturday morning before the party I don't have to leave an hour early to pick up a last minute present. Ahh, extra procrastination time.

STEP 4: Eliminate Thinking. The two things that tend to slow me down when it comes to getting chores down are thinking and price comparing. Yes, I am a price comparison-aholic. I can easily spend so much time comparing prices on an object that it doesn't matter how much I would have saved, I lost money because I could have been working at McDonalds in that time and made up the difference. The results of all this price shopping, for the most part: I always come back to Amazon. They sell just about everything now and their prices tend to be on par or lower than other retailers and when I figure in free shipping and using my reward dollars, it's no contest. So I've eliminated a huge time-waster of thinking, and now I just go to Amazon and grab whatever it is I need. I don't have to drag the kids out shopping and it usually shows up at my door practically before I log off the computer.

HOW CRAIGSLIST SPOILS MY CHILDREN
I call it baby bling, all the plastic stuff that kids seem to need to collect in order to believe they are loved and have friends. The only thing I hate more than the idea of my kids' rooms being filled with plastic junk is spending hundreds of dollars on that plastic junk. If it were up to me, I would just not get this stuff for my kids, but I also try not to be a mean mommy, so I've struck a compromise with myself, if I can find it on Craigslist, they can have it. Here are some of my best finds:

A huge bag full of three dozen Power Rangers for $20.

Two Game Boys and half a dozen games $35

A huge stack of comic books $10

I would have never gotten my kids Game Boys if we hadn't found such a great deal on craigslist. This way, they both got their own and we just turned around and sold hem for the same price we paid when they got bored of them. Other added bonus: Buying used=green.

Sometimes buying from Craigslist doesn't mean spending less money, but getting something nicer than you would have if you got it from a store new. For example I got my daughter an adorable antique vanity already painted lavender as the perfect desk for her room. At $120, it's much nicer than what we would have picked up at IKEA for the same price.

My kids are spoiled rotten by Craigslist. It makes me feel rich to be able to give my kids everything they want—as long as I can buy it used.

10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT FRESHDIRECT

It seems like you are either a FreshDirect lover or a FreshDirect hater. I am solidly in the former camp. I've been ordering FreshDirect just about every single week for the past seven years. Why do I love FreshDirect?

1. Prices. Remember that whole price comparison-aholic thing? Well, last year I went to Fairway for several consecutive major shopping trips and then came home and filled out an order at FreshDirect for as close to the exact same items as I could get. What did I find? While Fairway kills FreshDirect in produce prices, FreshDirect's prices on grocery items were lower enough to make it come out even in the end. Meats were a toss-up.

2. Convenience. Duh. Groceries delivered to your door.

3. Multi-tasking. Being able to order my groceries online means I can get my shopping done while I'm doing other important things like listening in on a conference call from my office or watching Top Chef.

4. More not thinking. The hardest thing for me about grocery shopping is first thinking of what to get. Even though I sometimes use menu planners, FreshDirect makes this even easier for me with President Picks, a selection of items on sale each week. I often use the President Picks as inspiration for my menu, starting with what's on sale and building up from there.

5. Shopping Lists. To further help my ailing brain, you can add your favorite items into a shopping list and just shop from there. This helps me remember not to forget the basics and makes shopping faster.

6. Convenience foods. FreshDirect has really good convenience foods that I believe are better for you, at least, than take out. I always keep some of the FreshDirect pizzas in my freezer as the last resort on nights when I don't have groceries or am too tired to cook and don't want to give in to the take-out demons. But they have tons of other easy meals too.

7. Bakery. One of the most awesome things we get from FreshDirect is their par-baked breads. We get baguettes, rolls, ciabattas, even chocolate croissants. Stick 'em in the oven for 15 minutes and you've got hot, crusty bread. Yum.

8. Quality. I've heard some friends say they like to pick out their own produce. I have to say, I've been really happy with the produce from FreshDirect. I think it comes fresher than when it's been sitting in the grocery store for a week before I buy it. Although I think they hit some bumps in the road the last 6 months, they have been working hard to get back on track and their customer service is always willing to credit you if you get a bad item. (When was the last time you returned something to a grocery store.)

9. Delivery Pass. I signed up for Delivery Pass which gives me free delivery for the year. If you order once a week, this is more than worth it.

10. A Mommy Poppins Special: Fresh Direct is reaching out to parents because they want you to know about their expanded baby store items, with one-click baby recipes, and more baby stuff for sale (I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention), but they are offering Mommy Poppins readers a discount code and we're giving away one $100 gift certificate for FREE FOOD from Fresh Direct.

To enter our Fresh Direct Giveaway, leave a comment on this post with your best time or money saving parenting tip by Thursday, October 9th.

But, why wait. You can start shopping with these discount codes right away:

For new customers:
25% off first two orders
Customer needs to enter code each time
Promo code: MOMBLOG25
Expires11/30/08

For current customers:
Free delivery on your next two orders
Customer needs to enter code each time
Promo code: MOMBLOG
Expire10/30/08

To order go to Freshdirect.com

*Web orders only. Limited-time offer. May not be combined with any other offer. All standard customer terms and conditions apply. Offer is non-transferable. Void where prohibited.