The Hazards of Autopay

By on October 1, 2017

Autopay. It saves so many headaches when it comes to taking care of bills you know you’ll need to pay anyway. But beware! Autopay also has a sneaky side! Today in the COD annals, learn from our mistakes. Let’s review what to do and what NOT to do to avoid the hazards of autopay. 

What TO do:

  • Set up automatic payments for things like regular bills–garbage pickup, electricity, credit cards (at least the minimums, if not the full balance). If this helps you avoid late fees and ensure that all bills are paid promptly, then go for it. 

What NOT to do:

  • Leave payment information saved in any electronic devices that children may be using!!!!
  • Save payment information in places where you are most likely to overspend or spend spontaneously on non-necessities (I’m looking at you, Amazon Prime!)

We learned this $27 lesson last week when Junior COD decided that Minecraft looked “so cool” and he “just clicked buy”. Conveniently, he neglected to mention this to me or ask me about it until after he had already gone through the buying process (which was just clicking “buy”). 

Junior COD on his first day of preschool

Junior was supposed to be playing (and learning, of course) on abcmouse.com the other day while Mini COD was napping and I read on the porch just one room away. However, after ten minutes or so, he ventured onto the porch with me and told me what he’d been up to. 

He plays abcmouse.com games on my laptop, which Mr. COD also had connected to his XBOX account as we sometimes watch movies through that. In the few weeks since signing up for abcmouse.com, he has always been perfectly well-behaved. I guess, like many other parents before us, we hadn’t thought to sternly outline the rules with him beforehand: 1. Abcmouse.com is the ONLY thing you are to do on this computer, nothing else. 2. Do not click on anything with a price or the word “buy”! 

I remember I used to worry one of the boys would pick up my Kindle and inadvertently purchase expensive books no one would ever read since I had it connected to “buy with 1-click”. That never happened, probably due to the fact that we never allowed them to watch shows or play games on my Kindle, so it was rather uninteresting to them. They’re also fairly good about our phones. Occasionally we’ll let them play the “okay Google” game with the phone. They love to look up photos and information about dinosaurs and other creatures using that feature, and have never accidentally wandered into the realm of purchasing via autopay. 

Mr. COD attempted to cancel the Minecraft transaction, but alas, it was too late. Junior COD is now prohibited from playing the game for at least one week as punishment for buying something without permission. We explained to him that $27 is not a trivial amount of money to us, especially for entertainment. Plus, we had never approved his playing of the game in the first place (he only knew of Minecraft from watching his older cousins). We also informed him that this purchase will be considered a part of his Christmas. 

Now, let’s be real here…Christmas is three months away, and in toddler-time, that might as well be an eternity. We’re not going to stand there on Christmas morning and tell him, “Sorry, kid, all you get is a pair of socks because of that time you bought Minecraft!” We’ll probably get him the same amount of presents we would have anyway. However, we won’t feel a bit guilty for selecting presents primarily from Ollie’s Discount Store or Bargain Hunt.

Fixin’ Things For The Future

So the night after the Minecraft autopay debacle, we went into our accounts that had automatic payments saved. It was really just Amazon and XBOX; thankfully, we don’t have a plethora of store credit cards or accounts. Now, we’ve made it more difficult to purchase because you must enter the password. It’s a pain, especially with the XBOX which has one of those ridiculous passwords that’s 47 characters long, which is why we had it saved in the first place. Certainly, this makes buying stuff more of a hassle overall (NOT a bad thing). Spending money should be a pain, much of the time. 

Building in a Waiting Period

We do enjoy our Amazon Prime membership, especially with two kids and a house out in the boonies. It cuts down on our driving time for errands and simplifies buying necessities, like parts to repair our 12-year-old van. Regardless, shouldn’t we always think a bit before we click “buy”? This builds in a little of that crucial wait time so many recommend for spending less. (See Mrs. Picky Pincher’s account of beating her Amazon obsession for more on this!) I know I’m a tad less likely to buy something spur-of-the-moment if I have to go through that extra step of entering my account information and password. I go through the added “pain” of searching for my credit card and typing in the information, which makes me pause. More often than not, I’ll decide not to buy that nifty gadget after all. 

I’m just thankful this was only a $27 mistake! Kinda forgot about those autopay hazards. We meant to lock up those accounts a long time ago, so we’re lucky Junior COD stopped at one game and didn’t buy, like, a plasma-screen TV or something. Now we’ll return to buying the old-fashioned way…ya know, by manually entering our payment info when we actually need to buy something! 

What kind of faux pas have you made with kids and money? 


Mrs. COD’s First Kid-Free Weekend!

By on August 2, 2017

I got to enjoy a much-needed kid-free getaway in Nashville this past weekend! Read on to get the lowdown on all the fun!

Nashville’s pretty popular among our Illinois friends, who are always heading there for family trips or a long weekend (I hear it’s renowned for bachelorette shenanigans as well). However, I had never been there except for one brief trip with my family as a kid, from which all I remember is eating Goo Goo Clusters for dinner in our room, so this was different. The major “first” for me this weekend? The FIRST TIME AWAY FROM MY KIDS OVERNIGHT. Whoa. 

Lovely Opryland Hotel!  

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Quick post – Get Outdoors

By on July 28, 2017

Mrs. COD and I enjoyed the outdoors before we had children….and we still do, but it’s not as easy as it once was. At times, I have longed for the days when we could go kayaking on the spur of the moment. WELL LONG NO LONGER! We’ve gone kayaking with our little guys 4 times in the last few weeks and once even by ourselves (thank you Gma COD in-law).

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Feeling Stuck

By on March 21, 2017

I’ve been feeling stuck in a bit of a rut lately, so I haven’t posted in awhile. Hello there! I think this is the longest absence I’ve taken from posting on this blog since we began about a year ago. Lots of other blogs I read have recently celebrated their one- or two-year blogiversary, so we’re in good company! (I am nowhere near the prodigious amount of writing of Picky Pinchers or Our Next Life, but we all need someone to inspire us, right? Check out the stats on how many posts they’ve published in their blogging lives! It’s insane!)  (more…)


Free Board Games

By on February 10, 2017

On Christmas, we discovered that Junior COD is now into board games, so more game time is on the docket. Anything that provides a respite from dinosaur toys and television is a parenting win in my book! So this past week, I pulled my Crafty Self out of storage and cobbled together my version of this game he’d played with family over the holidays. Hence, I bring you our Frugal Friday activity of the week: homemade board games!

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Frugal Birthdays for Kids: Guest Post on Picky Pinchers!

By on January 19, 2017

Hello there! Today I’m guest posting over at Picky Pinchers! I’ve been a big fan of the Picky Pinchers blog for a while now, so I’m super excited to share some frugal birthday tips with their readers! 

Our baby turns two exactly one month from today. As I pause to reflect on how crazy that is (how does the time go by so slowly and yet so fast?), I’m also starting to think about celebrating his birthday. We’ve kept our kiddos’ birthdays really simple thus far, usually with casual cookouts with family. No plans to change that default anytime soon!

I’m sharing a few great frugal birthday ideas in my guest post today. This blog has been such a blast for me so far (almost a year old for this baby), and I’m pumped to do my first-ever guest post for another blog! Head on over to Picky Pinchers here to check it out and share your own penny-pinching birthday tips! 

*Here are a few of my favorite recent Picky Pinchers posts:

Save Money With Kindness

5 Ways to Live With Intention

Our Money Lessons From 2016

Happy reading, everybody!


Winter Workouts With Kids

By on January 10, 2017

Getting in winter workouts can be tough, especially when you’re living frugally and especially when you have young children. Daylight hours are short. Cabin fever sets in. Never fear, I’m here to give you some of my tried-and-true winter workouts that help me stay sane and happy even in the Midwestern tundra. 

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Frugal Friday: 11 Free Holiday Activities To Do With Kiddos!

By on December 2, 2016

This week’s Frugal Friday comes at the start of December, when we all tend to fill our calendars with a flurry of holiday activities. December, Advent, Christmas, and the holiday season are rife with opportunities for fun! It can become a bit overwhelming. I thought I’d share a few of our favorite frugal holiday fun ideas, specifically those that work for kids (although many are a blast whether you’re with tots or not).  (more…)


Toys Part Two: Organization & Decluttering

By on July 23, 2016

Little kids like to make messes. It’s fun for them. I have discovered that children don’t know what decluttering or organization mean. I don’t like messes. It throws off my zen and moves me towards the Dark Side. When I notice how messy an area is, I can’t unnotice this fact. Consequently, a few times a week, I become a cleaning tornado where I take 10-15 minutes to pick up random Cheerios, throw away junk mail, pick up toys, and put away clothes. Afterwards, I look around and say “This is good,” and my OCD self is again at peace. I’m not sure if Mrs. COD finds this humorous or disturbing. Both? I’m afraid to ask.

This is my problem to solve, not my kids’. Admitting I have a problem is the first step. Some organization keeps me from going crazy or at least as crazy. Me not feeling crazy = better parent. So what default have we changed to limit the problem? A couple things. Kids don’t need access to every toy in the house at all times. This doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids or you’re a bad parent. We Limit Maximum Disaster Potential (LMDP), perform strategic rotations, and other toys are primarily on a request access basis.

Limit Maximum Disaster Potential (LMDP)

We learned to LMDP by not having all toys available at all times, especially blocks, colors, or any other items where there are dozens or hundreds of pieces to pick up.

Toy Rotation

Some donated toys from family and friends have remained securely packed away in our basement. We have given the boys some of these toys for birthday and Christmas presents.  Of course, we wrap them up and they still get a boatload of new gifts from everyone despite our pleas. Then we rotate old items back to the basement for our youngest or donate them to a charity.

Request Access

Not all toys are within toddler reach. Some loud annoying toys, colors, markers, toys with small pieces, pianos, etc. are out of sight, out of mind. There are safety concerns with some of these because of the baby. We also want him to learn to ask for things and not have instant access to everything. It also works to Limit Maximum Disaster Potential.

How do you manage your toy landfills? How many toys are too many toys? What do you do with old toys?


Taking A Risk And Dealing With Self-Doubt

By on July 19, 2016

300 and counting. About five times a day. That’s approximately how many times I have already questioned my sanity in deciding to stay home this next school year with my kids. I hate these doubts, but taking a risk naturally brings some doubt to mind. Am I doing the right thing? What if this is a mistake?

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