Money Monday: Buy from Bed Bath & Beyond

I did some comparison shopping: Amazon, Walgreens (which is the West Coast equivalent of CVS), and Bed Bath & Beyond and can confirm that you save the most if you shop for your toiletries at the BBB super store (the one in SF carries toiletries) and use these coupons.

Save at Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed bath and beyond coupon printable 2013 Bed-Bath-Beyond-Coupon-5-off2

I collect these coupons like a prized stamp collection. I sign up for the BBB mailings here. I’ve signed myself up using different names and the same mailing address. I signed my parents up so that they can give me their coupons. Then I stash all of them, including the ones that people in our apartment complex dump in the recycling bin, in our car. So whenever we happen to be at a BBB, I grab my coupons from the glove compartment. I have like 50 of them at any given time! That’s 20% off every single toiletry item. That’s $5 off expensive containers of contact solution or a pack of razors.

Love BBB.

College Series: The Key to Success is Primary School Education.

You know how they say that breakfast is the most important meal? It makes sense, right? You load up on all the eggy and starchy goodness early in the morning to sustain you for the rest of the day. It forms the basis of your nutrition.

Analogously, if you think college is your entree into success. You’re a fish-out-of-water wrong. The point is that you learn how to learn and become successful well before college.

The key to success is primary school education:

Ok let’s be real, genetics has a lot to do with intelligence, but the most important thing that you can do for your child in terms of education is to get them the very best education as early as possible. That means it is more important to send your rug-rat to that exclusive private elementary school where all the teachers have at least masters degrees, than it is to save all your money and hope and pray that one day your kid will get into an Ivy League.

Spend the money now while they’re young, while their brains are developing. Expose them to the most rigorous education program now and spare no expense. This is your child’s developing brain and it is crucial for their future.

I’ve talked to people who went to the most expensive, most exclusive elementary and high schools in San Francisco who then went on to Stanford or MIT, then beyond for graduate school and they have all said without pause that going to [insert high-priced elementary school here] was the key to their success. I’m floored. Not Harvard? Not Wharton? I need to know why.

One response: “It’s where I learned to think.”

Because people, you don’t learn to think in college. It’s too late! You don’t learn to think in graduate school. That’s just icing on the cake.

You are learning how to think in your formative years, when your brain is still developing, when you can memorize more than you’ll ever be able to in your whole entire life. Start young, start early. It’s never too early to feed the mind, but it can be too late. College is way too late. It’s true, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

As an aside, that’s why affirmative action is unsuccessful. Although I am pro-affirmative action (as I believe in the importance of diversity in shaping a student body), I believe that you cannot put a band-aid on a historically bad education. My college roommate said she had difficulty because she wasn’t starting off on level footing. She ended up dropping out because of the pressure of a highly-competitive school. No amount of studying is going to help if your brain has not been trained to rigorously process data. You cannot learn that kind of thought process in a weekend. You cannot cram for brain processing!

Back to my point which is that I think parents who are saving money and sacrificing for their children’s college education have got it wrong. All that money that was saved should have gone first and foremost to primary school education. For kids who have studied with the best teachers, have been in competition with super smart peers from their coloring days, have been exposed to innovative education at a young age, and are continuously challenged, then it does not matter where they go to college. In fact, they don’t even need to go to college because they will be so smart and have formed such introspective ideas about themselves and life in general that the learning is ingrained. They won’t need a university to show them the way.

There would be less stress because you as a parent would know that wherever your kid went to college, or even if they chose not to go, you would have confidence that, yup, my kid’s so smart, he or she has got this!

Would love to hear your thoughts on spending money up-front on education versus later on in the college years. Also, if anyone went to or sent their kid to an elite elementary school, please comment on how it shaped the rest of your life.

Health Blurbs for the Brain

blurbs-brain-squareIt’s been a while since I’ve posted about all the tidbits of data I’ve been reading.

Here’s a special Health Blurbs for the Brain.

Introversion got you down? Act like an extrovert! Wall Street Journal article here.

The taller you are, the greater the risk of cancer. NYTimes blog post here.

I am loving this blogger’s series Surprising Things about Parenting in Foreign Countries. Here is an American’s perspective about parenting in Japan.

On pregnancy: “I’m six and a half months pregnant right now and have been going to a Japanese doctor. In New York, when I was pregnant with Motoki, my doctor warned me, “You can’t eat sushi, coffee, alcohol or raw cheese.” She gave me special vitamins. My Japanese doctor says nothing about any of that! No diet restrictions at all. I did pick up a flyer at the doctor’s office that said I can drink a few cups of coffee a day and a glass of alcohol.”


The3six5: November 14, 2012

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The3six5 was an online collaborative project nominated for a Webby Award in 2011. It captured a daily perspective of 365 individuals from all around the world beginning January 1, 2010 and ending December 31, 2012. I was proud to be selected as a participant in the3six5 and enjoyed writing my piece which is no longer archived on their currently defunct site (hosting can be so expensive!). So here ‘tis on my own site for the first time.

the3six5: November 14, 2012

Catherine Gacad works with numbers, but thinks in words. She opines on current events and life’s adventures on her blog.

If the calendar were a roller coaster and we were the passengers, we’d be coasting toward the New Year—the scary free fall behind us. The ghosts of Halloween past, Hurricane Sandy and Mitt Romney, have vanished and the specter of the presidential election has been eclipsed by renewed, albeit subdued hope for the future.

It’s a beautiful Fall night, the kind of night that feels like anywhere else during the summer time.  The sky is deep navy and the air smells clean.

“Tickets!”  The lanky gripman shouts while maneuvering through the crowded cable car. He’s like Moses, but Black and clean-shaven, parting the Red Sea of business casual locals returning home and map-toting tourists sight-seeing. “Tickets!”

My commute involves a grid of buses and cable cars which are just like roller coasters (expensive and prone to mechanical failure) but native to the Golden Gate. I retrieve my Muni pass and hand it over. The hand-held scanner flashes a green square which coincides with a pleasant ‘ding.’

After a mechanical jolt to release the breaks, we are careening down Powell Street, arms tightly wrapped around the outdoor poles, the wind shocking life into our faces. Wwweeee!!! I adore the tourists with all their varying accents, happy to be on vacation; they put me in a holiday mood all year round.   

A block away from our apartment, the resident derelict stands on the corner, asking for spare change. His face is raw and red. He has probably been chasing the sun to soak up its warmth. I think of Tony Bennett singing at the Giants World Series Parade. “When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me.”

I skip every other step while racing up to the front door of my apartment building. I twist the key and shove myself against the door to enter. The tourists, the homeless, the twinkle of the night, I leave behind.

College Series: Stop the Advertising!

I have been wanting to write about college for quite some time. Not about my own college experience, but whether it is even worth it to send our kids to college these days. It’s a pretty loaded question and a debate that obviously needs to be covered in several posts. Hence, the new college series.

First, I want to start by excerpting from an insightful college essay selected by the NYTimes to be printed in its Your Money column. The student, Julian Cranberg, nailed it with the following thoughts:

“The combined postage charge of everything I have received from various colleges must be above $200. Small postcards and envelopes add up fast, especially considering the colossal pool of potential applicants to which they are being sent. Although vastly aiding the United States Postal Service in its time of need, it is nauseating to imagine the volume of money spent on this endeavor. Why, in an era of record-high student loan debt and unemployment, are colleges not reallocating these ludicrous funds to aid their own students instead of extending their arms far and wide to students they have never met?” – Julian’s full essay including those of the other three selected can be found here.

I couldn’t agree more. Schools that need to resort to advertising have no place educating our future leaders. The application hierarchy should look like this:

1) Prestigious school whether it’s private or public (i.e., Harvard or UC Berkeley)

2) State school (i.e., University of California System)

3) State school (i.e., Cal State System)

4) Community college, then transfer to any of the above

This hierarchy is not the end all, be all. After prospective students get acceptances, then expenses and financial aid need to be taken into account before a final decision can be made. But notice that nowhere in my hierarchy do you see a small private college. Even if you think you have your heart set on some quaint, tree-lined campus, I do not see the value in applying to a low-ranked, cost prohibitive, private school.

Where did you go to college and do you think it was worth the money? If your children are in high school, how are you advising them when it comes to college?

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