Category Archives: Money

We Bought a SNOO Smart Bassinet – And Made a Profit!

It’s been 7 months since our 2nd daughter, Talia, was born, and I can finally write about our experience buying and selling our SNOO. For those unfamiliar with what makes this bassinet so special, here’s a video clip showing it in action:

About a month after she was born, we were ready to get some sleep, but Talia had other ideas. She was still waking up every 2-3 hours, and it was making us crazy. We knew that there was an option to buy a SNOO, but they’re really expensive, and could they really work that well? The price on the site was $1,160 plus tax plus shipping, so the total would have ended up being nearly $1,300 – and it wouldn’t have even arrived for 3 weeks!

We Caved and Bought One

We wanted sleep, but $1,300 seemed like a bit too much to pay. After all, parents have been dealing with crying babies for thousands of years, and if they could survive, surely we could. So I started looking on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for something more reasonable, and after a few days of waffling, finally decided that we’d buy a used one for $650.

I figured that our worst case scenario was that we’d use it for a few months and sell it again for $300-$400. If I could buy it for $650, I should be able to sell it for that much, too, right? And even if we took a bit of a loss, getting some sleep was going to be worth it!

We Got Our Sleep Back!

We got the Snoo, set it up, adjusted the settings (it’s kind of intense at first!), and within a few days, Talia started sleeping just a bit longer each night, and not having to sit there shushing her and instead being able to stay in bed was really nice.

At around 6 months, she was beginning to outgrow it, so I got ready to sell it. I put it on Facebook Marketplace with a $750 price tag, hoping I could make a nice profit on it! I got a few bites, but not at the price I wanted. I was happy to be patient, but I got a message with an interesting proposition: someone wanted to rent it out over Thanksgiving for visiting family. We agreed on $100 for a week, which sounded fantastic to me, and she picked it up and delivered it back to us without any issues.

Then I listed it on Facebook again with a reduced price of $700, and agreed to sell it for $650 a few days later. They came to pick it up and handed us same amount of cold hard cash that we had paid just a few months earlier.

All in all, we got to use the Snoo for 5 months, and were left with an extra $100 and countless hours of sleep than we started with.

Managing Personal Finances Online

Gone are the days of receiving bank statements in the mail, having to drive to the ATM to check your balance and writing checks at the grocery store checkout. Today’s consumers have access to anything and everything related to their money right at their fingertips.

Using Banking Websites

Any respectable banking institution has a website and a mobile app where one can login and view account information, make payments and transfers, even deposit checks electronically. Of course, these modern conveniences do come with their set of issues and concerns and having to remember multiple user names and passwords for each of your online accounts is one of them. Plus, you still don’t get to see the full picture of your finances by simply checking each of your accounts individually. Thankfully, now there is an entirely new set of tools to help you see the true bottom line!

Free Money Management Apps

Mint, Personal Capital and Empower are just a few of the web-based personal financial management services available to consumers free of charge. They allow you to see all your accounts in one place, including checking, savings, credit cards, investments, mortgage, bank and car loans, even your Paypal balance. You can also add such items as real estate property and vehicles you own. Doing so will allow you to see your true net worth by subtracting all your debts from your assets.

Budgeting Made Easy

Another great feature offered by these money management tools is budgeting. The tools come with some preset budget amounts and categories such as groceries, restaurants, coffee shops, gas, clothing, and entertainment, but the feature is entirely customizable. You can create new categories and adjust the budget amounts allocated to each category. Easy-to-read graphs show you at a glance where you are spending-wise compared to the preset budget for the month. Other useful charts highlight your credit card vs. cash ratio, and overall income vs. spending for the month.

Other Benefits

The apps will also remind you of upcoming bill due dates, and allow you to set up other types of notifications that you may be interested in receiving. You may also see tailored offers sprinkled amongst your financial information, and even though they may become annoying at times, keep in mind that advertising is what feeds the developers of these money management services and allow them to offer the tools free of charge. Additionally, you may actually find some of these offers useful – for example I learned about Stash, which is a great investment tool, through an offer in my Mint app.

Setting Up Your Money Management Service

The initial set up of the tool would require a little bit of extra effort as you will need to add all your accounts by providing the name of the bank or financial institution, and the corresponding user name and password. These login details get saved however, so going forward you will only need to remember the password for the tool. This is one of the best aspects of utilizing a money management service.

While Mint offers both a web-based and a mobile app version, other tools such as Empower exist solely as apps for your smart phone. Keep this in mind when choosing the money management tool that would best fit your financial goals and lifestyle.

How to Curb Impulse Spending

It’s not your fault that you’re an impulse spender. The economy encourages you to be. What do you think all that candy and those magazines are doing at the checkout stand? It’s not convenience for you. It’s a tactic created in hopes that you’ll make a last second purchase on your way out. And sometimes you do. Here are some tips for cutting down on impulse spending, whether it’s in-store or online shopping that you tend to slip up.

Use Cash

We can’t use cash for everything since we make a lot of purchases online. But if you’re making an in-person shopping trip, like going to the grocery store, using cash can be a great way to stay on budget. When we’re using cash we can set an actual limit that might not be found on a credit card. At the same time, we tend to have more of an awareness of how much we’re spending simply because we see the cash leaving our hands.

Make a List

You might already be making shopping lists to help you keep track and remember what you need to buy. Make it a rule that you have to stick with the list. Occasionally you’ll remember something that you really need and in that case, it makes sense to throw it into the cart. But know the difference between needs and wants so that you can avoid coming home with tons of stuff you don’t actually need.

Sleep on It

Impulse spending happens in the moment. But most items that we actually need will still be available tomorrow or next week if we don’t buy them today. When you see something that you really want make a deal with yourself to sleep on it. Many times you’ll realize that the initial excitement wears off a bit or you remember that you already have a similar pair of jeans in your closet. If you can’t stop thinking about something after a few days then at that point consider if it’s worth treating yourself.

Compare Costs With Your Real Wage

You probably know how much money you make in an hour. Don’t forget that number when it comes time to shop. Some smoothies cost nearly minimum wage, and someone living off that salary probably wouldn’t be able to justify working for an hour to buy one. But when something is a need or a truly exciting want, then you’ll be happy to trade your time in work to buy what you want.

Remember Your Goals

If you have long-term saving goals, refer to those when you get the urge to shop. Often our impulse to buy is simply a pleasure seeking response. Remind yourself that you’re saving up for a vacation or a special purchase that will feel way more exciting that giving into this sale today will. It can take some time to retrain yourself if you’ve been an impulse shopper all your life. But it’s definitely possible with some awareness and dedication to change.