Ever since our daughter was born I’ve been looking for ways to save money. Call it a fiscal diet if you will. Being new parents my husband and I estimated that a baby would cost an additional $40 a week, mostly for diapers and formula, for the first year. So far I’ve been sticking to that goal but I’m always aiming to spend less and save more. In this article I would like to share how we are saving money with a new baby.
Coupons, Coupons, Coupons
I rarely buy the Sunday paper anymore. Instead I find the majority of my coupons online. The best place to find coupons is on Coupons.com. I’ve found that using zip codes 77380 or 30303 will get me the biggest selection. I also check websites like Redplum, Smartsource and Coupon Network. One favorite website of mine is the Krazy Coupon Lady. Check her blog for current deals and hard-to-find coupons. You can also check her Coupons tab for almost every known printable coupon. Very handy, especially if you’re looking for a coupon on a particular brand. I also check out Baby Cheapskate for good deals on diapers, wipes and formula. I use their handy chart to see if I’m getting a good deal on diapers with my coupons. Most websites will let you print a coupon twice from each computer, iPad, iPhone, wireless printer, etc. I space out the prints over the course of a month so they don’t all expire on the same day, unless I know it’s a hot coupon that will go fast. The good coupons go fast because many companies limit their prints. For example, the other day I printed a coupon for $2 off Carnation Instant Breakfast. Their usual coupons are $1 or $.75 off. The high value coupon was gone within a day and then replaced with a $.75 off one. Also, it’s important to remember that most coupons come out the first business day of the month. That’s when it’s best to check coupon websites.
Apps, Apps, Apps
Just last week I signed up for the new ibotta app. It’s a free app that has various offers in it, say $.50 off a Diet Pepsi. If you purchase the product at certain retailers, scan the receipt and bar code to prove you purchased it, ibotta will give you a credit for the amount specified on the product. I’ve used this app and it works great, crediting your account within 10 minutes. After you accrue at least $5 in savings you can send the balance to your Paypal account. The ibotta app can be used in conjunction with any coupons you have as well. For my military friends out there, the ibotta app does work at the military commissary. You also get $1 for every referral you make regardless of whether the person actually uses the app. I also have an app on my phone called RedLaser. You use it to scan a barcode of a product and it will automatically do a comparison shop of that product in your area to ensure that you’re paying the lowest price possible. Very handy for impulse shoppers!!
Stack Those Coupons
Not many stores will let you do this but some will. Stacking refers to using a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon on one item. Check the store’s coupon policy before trying this but the biggest stores that allow coupon stacking are Target (my favorite), CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. Other places like Kohl’s will let you stack as well. Let’s say you have a coupon for $1 off Gerber onesies and a Kohl’s coupon for 20% off your entire purchase. You can use both coupons on the same purchase.
Always Check Your Receipts
A good deal isn’t a good deal when you don’t get the price you think you’re getting. Always remember to check your receipts before you leave the store. If there is a price discrepancy then you’ll save gas by not having to make a second trip. Just the other day I purchased a Disney baby rattle at Target that was on clearance for $1.06. After checking my receipt I noticed that the rattle actually rang up for $4.99. During that same trip I purchased two cans of formula on sale for $21.49 but they rang up for the regular price of $23.99. That added up to a total of $8.93 in price discrepancy! Checking receipts ensures that you’re paying the correct amount for your purchases.
Sign Up for Freebies
When we only had about 8 weeks until our daughter’s due date I started signing up for formula coupons. I went to each major brand’s website (Enfamil, Similac Strong Moms and Gerber Good Start) and registered. Within weeks I was getting free coupons and samples. Obviously once the baby came we stuck with one brand but I kept the other coupons to trade on Facebook and Craigslist. There are many moms out there who do the same. Just search “Enfamil coupons” or “Similac coupons” on Facebook and you will find groups of moms trading their unneeded coupons for ones they can use. Don’t let those coupons go to waste! Some other good freebie sites that I follow are Mommy Saves Big and My Free Product Samples.
Get Those Rewards
I’ve signed up for so many rewards programs lately and pretty soon I’ll be able to cash in those points for gifts or coupons. Pampers and Huggies are the obvious ones, unless you choose to go with cloth diapers, but you can also get rewards through Babies R Us (also sign up for their VIB program and you’ll essentially get 10% all diapers, formula and baby food). Disney Movie Rewards is another great program. They send you emails every month with rewards codes, you get 50 points on your birthday and you even get a free movie on the anniversary of your sign-up date. Recycle Bank and Kellogg’s Family Rewards are two other non-baby rewards programs that I use. And don’t forget to sign up for Staples Rewards, it’s essential if you plan on printing coupons from your home printer. I generally get about $100 in free gift cards or products each year through my rewards programs.
Provide Your Feedback
Contacting a company regarding their product will sometimes earn you hard-to-find coupons or other freebies. When my daughter was six months old and ready to try solid foods I started scanning the baby food aisle for organic items. I noticed that our store carried a lot of the Sprout Organic food products but I could not find a coupon for them anywhere. I contacted the company and they sent me some so that my daughter could try out their product. Providing feedback is also important when you are purchasing big ticket items and toys. If you purchase a toy that breaks easily, isn’t appropriate for the age listed on the box or has a defect, don’t just toss it or give it away! That was your hard-earned money you spent on that item. Call or email the manufacturer and give them the opportunity to fix the problem before you write a bad review or swear off the company’s products forever. You will find that many companies are very responsive and want to make sure that their customers have an enjoyable experience using their products.
Check Out Survey Sites
Sign up at Swagbucks or any other free survey site that lets you earn points to redeem for prizes. My favorite obviously is Swagbucks but there are other sites like i-Say and MySurvey as well. Just 1,000 points on Swagbucks will score you a $10 gift card at dozens of retailers; 450 points will get you a $5 Amazon.com gift card. You can watch videos, complete surveys, search the internet and even print coupons to earn Swagbucks. Ironically, I had an email in my Swagbucks account that allowed me to earn 5 points just for printing a Huggies coupon. I call that a win-win. Also, like Disney Movie Rewards, Swagbucks will give you 50 free points on your birthday. I’ve got the Swagbucks widget on my blog to check for hidden codes, which are usually posted once a day. Just by using their site for 15 minutes a day I’ve earned enough in the past month to get $15 in free gift cards and I’m almost ready to cash in for some more. Many moms use this site to earn gift cards for their Christmas shopping.
Having a baby doesn’t have to be as expensive as people say. By using just a few of these tips you can save your family hundreds of dollars a year. Happy Couponing!