Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baby shopping makes no sense

Baby stuff is expensive. I mean ex-PEN-sive. I try not to be one of those dads who's only seeing the bottom line, but because I'm the one who handles the monthly bill paying I see all the hits our bank account takes as we go through.

It's weird that I went about six months being somewhat inoculated from all of this, mostly due to self-imposed ignorance. We didn't do a ton of baby shopping but I did do research and such.

The first domino fell when we went to register for baby stuff, a practice I didn't know existed until a couple people asked where we were registered. So we trotted on down to Target and BabiesRUs, took that scanner gun (easily the coolest part of the thing) and went to scanning. We scanned all the stuff I had researched and then added stuff from lists that were recommended by a couple baby books we were using. (by the way, if you register someday use BabyRegistries.com to group all of your registries in one place for people; makes it easy)

So I saw tags for the first time. Car seat, $160. Glider rocking chair, $300. Pack-and-play, $170. Crib, $200. Strollers, $150. That's not including clothes, bottles and pumps for milk, or painting the kid's room.

Still, no problem. We'd saved for this contingency and we got a few of those items from friends and such. No biggie.

Enter July 4 weekend. I got the most ZOMG AMAZING set of coupons from BabiesRUs in my email and it had a bunch of ones to save 20% on big-ticket items that we'd registered for at the store. So I quickly printed it out, greedhead that I am, and went down to the store with my wife and sister-in-law, who was visiting from out of town. Chance to save something like $200? Yes please!

We get there and discover that the "one coupon per customer" language on the coupons actually means one coupon per person per visit even if it's entirely different items. Really dumb. So we quickly see we have five items and three people. The math wasn't in our favor. So we concocted a plan where we used one, shopped a bunch, went through the line, shopped some more, went through the line again with a different cashier and prayed someone didn't notice us.

I mean, we could have not been sneaky and just used the extra ones at the Phillipsburg store, but really.

This story has a point, I swear.

The point being that BabiesRUs is sort of dumb.

You see, with each purchase they printed up some of those cool at-the-register coupons. In this case, we got one for 20% off a single baby item plus coupons for $5 off formula (the latter of which is so expensive that I may take up breastfeeding myself if it means not having to spend $25 for a can of that stuff even once). So we got a 20% off plus a formula discount for each of our five illicit purchases. Has BabiesRUs not been difficult and let us just combine it into one transaction, we would have gotten one set of register coupons.

So we get our way, and we get to do this all over again at the end of the month. It's a circle of idiotic savings, except we aren't complaining.

So, to recap, baby store tries to play hardball with coupons, we figure out workaround, they shower us with five times the extra coupons so they lose even more money. Heck of a business model they have there.

These baby stores in general have really weird policies, and not just with coupons. Between everything being about 10% more expensive just so you can go gaga over shopping in a baby store and the return policy that only Scrooge would admire, it can get over the top. Some of these stores I feel like I'm going to battle.

But we're learning to cut corners. I'm not a coupon addict, even if this post makes me look like a miserly nut case, but I hate paying more just because BabiesRUs says I should. I wish they wouldn't make me work so hard for the savings, but I do love a good deal.

And if I have to get a crowd of folks to storm the line with me for the principle of using multiple coupons, so be it. I got my army ready.

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Post #22 in my 90-in-90 blog challenge. Blog with us and join the fun. I'll be blogging both here and on my professional blog for the challenge. For more about the 90/90 challenge, read about my call for participants. The blogs participating are on the list at the right, or follow us on the #LUBlogTribe hashtag on Twitter

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