Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Price is (Not) Right

I always like to think I am up on parenting trends and hip to the coolness that is being an awesome mom, so I have been a subscriber to a well-known parenting magazine since Dante was about a year old. I've been noticing recently (well maybe not so recently) that the articles in this magazine range from "Duh, I could have told you that" to "You're kidding me" to "Seriously? You had to write an article about this?". I've also noticed that a lot of the trends and fashions and "tips" they suggest are geared toward families who somehow have escaped the economic trying times and/or live on a planet where money grows on trees and is as abundant as bad talent on American Idol.

For example, the magazine has a page for "cool new" baby and child gadgets. One of said gadgets was a really neat backpack that converted into a diaper changer/kitchen table/flying car (not really, but it was still cool). I was reading the info about it and getting really excited about maybe snagging one for the new baby until I got to the price tag: $199. Um, two hundred bucks for a BACKPACK?!?!? I don't have two hundred bucks for groceries let alone a stupid backpack that doubles as a transformer. Unless it really does turn into a flying car or Optimus Prime, then you all can keep your $199 and shove it where the sun don't shine. Seriously. Who has two hundred bucks to throw away on a backpack? And if you do have said two hundred bucks, hi, let's be friends.

Another part of the magazine deals with "cool new" baby and childrens' fashion. The outfits are usually very "Hi, I'm a future Republican Sarah Palin 2012 voter", but there are a few here and there that I like from time to time. In the most recent issue, I spotted an adorable sweater vest that I thought would look great on Dante for his first day of school this year. Price tag? $69. No, I did not put the decimal point in the wrong place, it's a seventy dollar sweater vest that your pre-schooler will grow out of in about 10 minutes which may or may not happen after he rips it while playing Captain Jack Sparrow on the front porch. Seriously? Seventy bucks? Am I a horrible mother because I buy my kid what's on the sale rack at Target or Marshalls? Honestly, I think the most expensive article of clothing he owns are his shoes, which are Stride Rites and range in the $50 neighborhood, ONLY BECAUSE they are the best shoes for feet and are well made. But really, who pays seventy dollars for a sweater vest? And again, if you are that person, "Hi, my name is Alessia and I am looking for a rich friend to try and buy my affection".

What really took the cake with me was this month's edition and the article on how couples are saving money and "making it" through these tough economic times. Finally, I thought to myself, and article I can relate to and maybe pick up some tips on how not to drown. With Randy being pretty much the last man standing at work after 90% of the company was laid off, there is no chance in a blue moon that he will be getting a raise anytime soon, so we are basically living on fumes at the moment. So here was this article promising to show me how other families were doing it and I was excited to read it.

Fat Chance.

Ok, first of all, the first couple interviewed, their total income was $90,000 a year. NINETY THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR. Um, are you kidding me? How the frig are they "struggling" at NINETY THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR?!?!?! We don't even make HALF that and they are going to give ME tips on how to save? Oh, oh, oh wait, the husband had to give up his golf membership and she had to cancel her weekly spa treatments. Call the waaaahmbulance. Cry me a river. Richie Rich can't play golf. The next couples profiled weren't any better with their annual incomes ranging from $75,000 to $60,000 (they considered themselves "low income") and all of them claiming that their way of pinching pennies and saving was no NOT use the yacht for the season and keep it docked.

This issue also feature "bargain" family vacations starting at ONLY $875 a person!!! *slams head on table*. Ok, for me that should read "Bargain Family vacations starting at only $8.75 a person". Are these people kidding me?!?!?! Who are these people?!?! Why aren't we them?!?!

Really? Is this what parenting is about? How do we relate to this? Where do we fit in? Is there a parenting magazine out there called Parenting for People in the Real World or Parenting as though you are one paycheck away from being broke?

Because I'd really like to subscribe to that one instead.


Sherrie said...

Gah! Money articles like that one kill me. If we were struggling on 80-90K we should really rethink our priorities.

I don't think there is a realistic parenting or money magazine out there. It's sad.

inkelywinkely said...

hahah..in order to save money, everyone in my family eats three meals a day- BUT ME. LOL

And these meals, while a $1.78 tube of ground beef, $.88 package of buns, and a $1 can of manwich are not expensive, we have to cut that by serving instant mashed potatoes and frozen veggies on the side, also only added like two tablespoons of meat to each sandwich, making this meal last for two days.
Yeah, I am a member of cafemom, and this woman was talking about how she had to cut back on her grocery budget and she just had NO IDEA how to make it work..so I asked her, "Well, how tight is your budget and how many of you are there?", thinking I could give her some helpful hints. Once she answered, I never went back.

There are just the two of them, they are trying to conceive, and her budget is a mere $300 per two weeks. Seriously.

I only ignored her for her own good really. I mean, what good would it have done for me to say, "Oh, really? My budget this past week was 31 dollars, including household supplies for THREE people."

Oh, and that's right, I only went 98 cents over budget. Damned taxes. LOL.

Where are the realistic people offering advice?? The ones who can barely afford the basics, but whose kids think ramen is yucky, and like to eat that really expensive healthy stuff called fruit?

And who the hell are the people that can buy fruits other than bananas and apples during winter? LOL

Anonymous said...

LOL Alessia, well said. To save money for my house I too feed my kids 3 meals a day but I eat maybe one. I ride with the windows down to save on gas a lot of the time, I am a coupon maniac and clearance sections are my favorite place to be. Hand me downs.. Im all for them! I stopped reading these retarded parenting magazines a while ago bc I cant relate to them anymore. We are one income and that income is a fraction of what these "low income" corporate douchebags make. Makes me sick when they complain about not being able to get their spa treatment for the week.. PLEASE give me a break..jeez

Jaque said...

Unfortunately I read the same magazine and my husband & I had almost the exact same conversation last night. It kills me and, although I try not to, it makes me feel like a bad parent sometimes, like I should have gotten another degree and another job or planned better for the future child I never thought I would have.

Hopefully soon I will win the lottery (if I ever start playing!!) and we'll start our own magazine.....Parenting for People Who Aren't Douchebags.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Jaque. All of us 'normal' parents should write a magazine. About how to snag an entire BRAND NEW wardrobe for your toddler for $7 at a yardsale in the 'rich neighborhoods'. Or how to feed a family of 2 on $75/month. (or an equivalent for larger families...). How to survive on less than 35K/year (leaving it open for those who make 34 down to those who make 20). And I'd love to do a 'single parents' article...that way all those people who complain that there husband ONLY did the dishes, took out the garbage, and fixed 3 appliances since he's been home for 45 minutes, will realize what it's like when YOU are the one who has to do that, and everything else....

Anonymous said...

Oh and this is ProudSingleMum...if that matters to you :P

Anonymous said...

Well, we have three kids and one income - My DH makes a great living and I budget my ass off so we can have less stress. We have weeks that are a LOT tighter than others - I can usually get groceries (food only) for our family of five for around $100 or less a week. My hubby takes his lunch to work with him and my kids make their lunches. We don't eat out, we don't do movies, I hate the mall.

I hate those parenting magazines. When my oldest was a little dude I subscribed to one of them. The advice always seems like it was written for someone who had never watched an episode of the Cosby Show . . . SUPER OBVIOUS. As for fashion, I never did care about fashion so it never bugged me to shop at Meijer and (my fave) Goodwill. I do buy their pants at Sears. Sears will replace pants that your kids wear holes into - as long as it is the same size - So I buy their brand (Canyon River Blues) and don't stress when they walk across the carpet on their knees!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog on momslikeme.com and I just wanted to leave a quick comment. First of all, your post about the empathy pregnancy belly cracked me up! "We're pregnant" is a really offensive thing to say, in my opinion! No WE are not! Drives me crazy.
Also, concerning this magazine...I totally agree with you! It's really obscene that someone would spend $199 on a backpack and $69 on a sweater for a child. In general, I avoid parenting magazines. I think their advice is generally pretty silly, but I tend to buck conventional wisdom when it comes to parenting and take a bit of a different path sometimes. I'm so tired of being told what to do by advertisers and pharmaceutical companies. People have a hard time discerning the differences between wants and needs sometimes it seems. We are a single income family with 4 children, the government would say we're below the poverty line, but using wisdom and not blowing our money on stupid stuff like $69 sweaters really helps us feel as if we want for nothing! lol

eeg said...

i consder your artical is so nice!........................................

Heather said...

I hear you. I've got 4 kids and we live in a small 2 bedroom house. I love how they always write about the baby's room in those magazines. The furniture they put in those rooms cost more than the funiture in my entire house. My kids have the master bedroom in our house and they share it. 2 sets of bunkbeds, 3 dressers, and a bookshelf in a room for 4 kids. My room? A bed and a pile of dirty laundry, and I like it that way.

Thanks for this post. Us real women need to hear that we are not alone.

Cheri said...

My husband and I have flipped through all of my parenting magazines and laughed many times over. We too are working on very budgeted finances. My husband took a promotion in 2008 with the promise that after 6 months of proving himself he would get a raise. It's now 2010 and we have yet to see that raise. His evaluation was almost perfect and they said he's the best kitchen manager they've had, but there's still a freeze on manager raises, sorry. He actually LOST money going from hourly to salary. It's a day late and a dollar short now, he can't go anywhere else and find a job that's paying him what he's making, which still isn't enough. Screw $90,000, how do you budget nothing? While he's off feeding 1/2 the city we're feeding our family of 4 with $20-$50 a week. This week it was $20.
It does not make you a bad mom to only shop the clearance racks...my kids would be naked if it wasn't for them. My mom is so hell bent on my buying the kids clothes from WalMart, but she doesn't understand I can get crap tons of clothes from the clearance at Target and Old Navy for a fraction of the price @ WalMart.

I'd also like to thank Kristy, I didn't know Sears will replace their worn jeans! I will definitely have to check it out!

Emma said...

Clearance racks are really the best thing since sliced bread. I have clothed myself, my fiance, and my baby with them. How awesome is it that you can get clothes that once cost $30 for $5??? Still brand new???? Nothing better than that.