Christine Park

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Easy Errands: Time is Money!

I had to blog about this. The Groupon is for Easy Errands, a new errand-running service in town:

  • $29 for three errands (a $59.97 value)
  • $55 for six errands (a $119.94 value)
The professional errand runners at Easy Errands can control time—that is, by cutting the excess from any to-do list, they restore time to their clients' calendars. Like genies, professional helpers are at their customers' commands, replacing their car oil with fresh brew, stocking their fridge with groceries, and urging them not to wish for more wishes. Staff members need only 45 minutes' notice before arriving to their clients' aid, though a full day ensures on-time service.

After coming off a weekend during which much of my and my husband's free time was consumed by running errands... dropping off dry cleaning, grocery shopping, buying birthday gifts, new shoes for the kids, washing the car, etc... This deal is so tempting. I mean think about it, gas is still over $4/gallon... so  getting someone else to do it might make financial sense. Trekking across town to Toys R Us, then Costco, then the Meat Market gobbles up those gallons. Then I started daydreaming about what I could do with all that extra me time, if my "to do" list was passed on to someone else. Give myself that mani/pedi I've been ignoring. Try a new recipe from Pinterest. Work on tanning my pasty pale legs before shorts season rolls around.

Obviously the concept is not new... in fact somebody told me about a Bay Area-based company called Rent-A-Spouse!

Welcome to RENT-A-SPOUSE, where you will find a variety of services designed to fulfill your needs. Especially with today's fast moving lifestyle, where a week feels like it was only a day gone by.
Do you find yourself not having enough time to clean your home, let alone time to do a deep spring-cleaning? Or, do you find yourself not having the extra time to complete a home project of some sort?

It's hilarious. Their services are divided into categories with names like the "Handy Husband":
The Handy Husband will gladly nail things back together, assemble basic items such as (bookshelves, armoire & etc.), paint fences, decks, interior walls, install items & hang paintings.
Your Spouse will focus on all your odds & ends for you.

and the "Loving Wife":
Will clean & shine all your bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen & other lived-in areas from top to bottom. Including dusting, polishing, all furniture & items, as well as making all bedding.
Adding complete attention to cleaning the corner ceilings & walls, appliances, surface areas (stove, microwave, & more) adding decor & presentation throughout your home.

HAHAHA my unmarried friends will be devastated to find out that while I consider myself a loving wife, I neither clean the corner ceilings nor dust the furniture. But I do tackle the "assembly-required" projects and am pretty handy with a drill. And my husband is not as handy as one might imagine. The gate on our fence remains difficult to open and the hanging of paintings is done by yours truly. Yet he is stellar at scrubbing toilets and showers and doing the dishes. Sure, in movies and in fairy tales, the roles are clearly defined. But at our house and many others... the chores fall more along skills and strengths than gender lines. Now if I could just find someone to put away the laundry. Neither one of us likes to do that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hey Mom, are you worth six figures? I think so.

Every year... for the last 12 years, has released its Mom Worth survey. And every year I chuckle at the thought of getting paid for being a wife/mother and all the chores and responsibilities that accompany that role. Cook, housecleaner, driver, laundry service, CEO. Thankless, endless, and pay less!

So can you blame moms for fantasizing, even for a second, that their hard work is worth something?

Setting aside the debate of stay-at-home versus working moms, what if those late nights cradling a feverish child counted as overtime? The yogurt eaten with one hand while driving your kid to soccer practice counted as a missed meal break? Bedtime stories meant your day care teacher salary kicked in? And best of all, you got a raise with every new child as well as credit for years of experience?

Go ahead. Calculate your own mom salary with their calculator. I couldn't resist. Especially since you can actually print out a check to show your family at the end! You can customize the number of children you have, the number of hours you spend doing specific tasks. Then the calculator does the rest of the work, figuring out your hourly wage for each of those tasks. My annual mom paycheck came out to a grand total of $46,590! That's on top of what I make in my "day job" as a news anchor at ABC30. Suddenly I feel like my contribution to the household carries more weight. Wouldn't any mom get a kick out of being presented with a check like this simply as a thank you, acknowledging just how much work she really does? She feels valued and appreciated. Even if it's monopoly money. Which, by the way, is a pain to clean up.

Granted, I can't deny the intangible, non-monetary rewards of parenthood. Just before bedtime, my daughter told me she loved me more than anyone else in our family and our whole world, and starting tearing up at the thought of what would happen if I died. (She's an emotionally complicated child LOL) My fridge is covered in "artwork" expressing her affection for me. And this morning, my son was all smiles as he crept into my bedroom and asked to snuggle with me until it was "time to wake up." As I laid there smelling his baby shampoo in his hair, and feeling his cold little feet tucked under me, I thought... maybe I am willing to keep working as a mom for free.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Shopping Around for Your Carrier

Do you love your phone but hate your service where you live or work? Are you thinking of switching but not sure which one's the best for you? There's a new app for the iPhone (and coming soon to Android) called Carrier Compare app that can help.

I just downloaded the free version (the ad-free version costs $1.99) and it works pretty simply. The home screen says "Touch to Compare." And after a few seconds, the analysis appears:

CNN Money explains why this app is such a novel, great tool for consumers:

"iPhone carriers Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have successfully kept that information out of the public's view -- until now.

Carriers rigorously test their networks and their rivals' networks, hiring third-party surveyors to perform comparisons. However, those surveys are almost always performed under non-disclosure agreements.

Each carrier provides its own coverage map to customers, and some even offer a street-level view. (Here are the maps for Sprint, Verizon and AT&T.)

But that still doesn't give users the kind of precise detail that CarrierCompare provides -- and the carriers certainly don't offer up direct, pinpoint comparisons against the competition."

Here are a few other free, consumer-friendly apps that TVNewsMom recommends to help you shop around, save money, and budget... all through your iPhone.

1. brings all your financial accounts together online or on your mobile device,
automatically categorizes your transactions, lets you set budgets and helps you achieve your savings goals.

2. The Find is featured in all the major business and consumer publications as the must-have app when comparison shopping on the web, or at the mall. Scan barcodes. Find the best price. Search for deals. Save money. Create a shopping list. The perfect on-the-go shopping companion.

3. Gas Buddy finds the cheapest gas on the go for free.
It relies on its community of users to report and update gas prices. You can locate gas stations near you and see their current gas prices.

4. Coupon Sherpa provides hundreds of in-store coupons for many merchants right on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Save money on clothing, shoes, restaurants, electronics, travel, jewelry, sporting goods, books and more. I make sure to check this app right before I get to the cash register while I'm in the checkout line.

5. Kayak is the most popular travel app for a
reason. The app includes flight and car search, hotel search and booking, and Flight Tracker and My Trips, so you can easily manage your itinerary.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Just Between Friends

It's that time of year again! The Just Between Friends Fresno sale is upon us. I've blogged about this consignment sale before... but this year, it's bigger than ever... moved from the Manchester Center to the Fresno Fairgrounds for the first time. This not only means more room to shop, but more merchandise to choose from! Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

For those of you who've never done JBF, the concept is simple. Kids outgrow their clothes, shoes, toys, etc. faster than our wallets can keep up. So twice a year, consignors sell their new or gently used items to try to recoup some of that money for 50-90% off retail prices. It's a win-win. I've been both a consignor and a shopper at JBF, and I'm a believer. At the last Fall 2011 sale, I made $500 back on baby items, including my kids' crib mattress, exersaucer, and clothes. And in turn, I scored new with tags Gymboree outfits and shoes for my 5 and 2-year-old. Here are the details of this week's Fresno sale:

Fresno Just Between Friends Sale
Fresno Fair Ground Junior Exhibits Building
April 12th-14th
Wed. April 11th Pre Sale Day (pass required)
Thurs April 12th Opening Day! Hours 10am-7pm
Friday April 13th Hours 10am-7pm
Saturday April 14th Final Day 50% off Hours 10am-4pm (Most items go 50% off)

Here are a few tips I got from Seamlessly Savvy fellow blogger/shopper/consignor Nicole Scholl if you're hitting the sale:

1) Make a list. Bring a list of things each kid needs, their sizes, etc. All the items are sorted by category and the clothes are hung by size but it's easy to get overwhelmed by the racks and racks of stuff. Lot's of times you can find brand new clothes with tags, even toys unopened in the box.

2) Wear comfortable shoes, pack a snack and water. You cannot do JBF in 30 minutes! I've spent hours just walking around, looking at all the stuff.

3) Bring something on wheels. This is important!! An empty stroller, wagon, or rolling cart. Because you will end up with more stuff than you can carry. Guaranteed.

4) Shop often. The last day everything is 50% off. I always try to hit the pre sale for the best selection. But also, return on the last day to get the steals.

See you there! For more information on the Fresno sale contact Kim Colburn:
And to see if there is a JBF sale in your area: go to the Just Between Friends website event finder.Link

Monday, April 2, 2012

Staycation for Spring Break

We really wanted to go to Hawaii for Spring Break. Apparently so did a lot of other people because airfare was through the roof. Add that to the hotel and food costs and we were looking at a $5,000 trip. Gas prices are ridiculous too. $70 bucks to fill up a 20-gallon tank is pretty painful. Two pairs of shoes every time! So we opted for a staycation instead of a vacation.

I took the week off work, and then I started to panic... what am I going to do to keep them occupied and entertained? I wracked my brain for things to do in town with the kiddos, who are 5 and 2. I commiserated with other moms, many of who are stay-at-home and thus experts at keeping little ones from getting bored... on a budget. And here are a few ideas we came up with.

Picnic-Indoors or Out
For some reason, kids love picnics. My kids beg me to go, no matter the weather. There have been many a winter day when we spread a blanket right on the living room floor and nibbled on Girl Scout cookies and tiny sandwiches. There's something about eating away from the dining table that makes it special and fun and my kids can't get enough. We've also had "Beach parties" in the living room as well... with umbrellas and beach towels and slushy drinks. The sky's the limit!
But yesterday, the weather cooperated, a gorgeous 68 degrees, and we packed a picnic (pb&j, fruit and string cheese for the kids... wine, brie and bread for the moms) and headed to the park. It was a win-win... the little buggers ate their meals without their typical complaining and they played to the point of exhaustion.

Grown Up Fun
What little princess doesn't love to get pampered. My daughter can't wait to grow up and that means doing what mommy does. So we got dressed up and going to an adorable local tea house, Victoria Rose Cottage in Clovis. She drank with her pinky up and had croissants and scones. Obviously this is also something we can do at home as well. Now that she's old enough I'll even go ahead and bust out the fine china -- it hardly gets used anyways, right? Another fun at-home activity she's been asking for, is to have a mommy-daughter spa day. One of her favorite books is Ooh La La It's Beauty Day. In it, Nancy treats her mom to a mani, pedi, mask, etc. I don't know if I'll let her paint my nails... but she loves when I do hers.

Nothing like digging in the dirt to provide hours of fun. This is the perfect time of year to plant a garden, and gives kids a sense of accomplishment and something to look forward to.
Help children pick a place that's all theirs. Keep it kid-sized so they don't get overwhelmed. Let the gardeners-in-training mark their plot with a low decorative border they can paint themselves. Kids have small hands -- give them tools they'll be able to use. Having their very own trowels, rakes, shovels, gloves, watering cans (the Dollar Tree has cute ones) adds to the fun. Kids won't get discouraged with proven winners like bright and pretty zinnias, marigolds and poppies.

Climb, jump, swim

We have an awesome local climbing gym called Metalmark. We have a trampoline arena called SkyWalk. I believe The Little Gym, Swim America and TumbleAmerica have kids camps or free play sessions. What's great about these places is, many of them set aside times for certain age groups. That way, my toddler isn't trying to hold his own among 12-year-olds.

Reading Challenge
We totally underutilize our local public library. My kindergarten-aged daughter has just discovered the joy of reading and can't get enough of her favorite books. Our bedtime stories now consist of her reading to me. We've created a reading challenge for her over spring break, so if she reads a certain number of books, she'll earn a prize. So a trip to the library becomes something she looks forward to. No brain drain... instead of being parked in front of a TV, she's practicing her reading skills.

Animal Safari
Fresno is lucky to have the Chaffee Zoo... but even if you don't you can go on an animal safari. Come up with a list of animals you might find at your local lake, zoo, or park, and make your kids into explorers, armed with cameras. A regular walk becomes an adventure and the kids can put together a photo journal.

Backyard Campout
Equipped with their imaginations and only a few inexpensive supplies, your kids (and perhaps a friend or two) can go on an adventure. Small tents are inexpensive (many under $50). A couple of flashlights, some comic books, board games, and snacks will make your little ones giggle and feel ever so cool as they sleep under the stars! You can even cheat and use your grill or gas burners to make smores.

Suprise Jar of Fun
With your children, come up with a variety of low-cost activities that they want to do. Everyone, ideally, should agree that the choices are plausible and fun! Let each child, and adults, if you wish, take turns choosing a random slip. Some ideas you can include are kite flying, pizza-making, a visit to the science museum, etc.