Lesson #1 ~ Decide which products you WILL be brand loyal to
As a new mommy I knew from day 1 that unless Caeden was allergic to the brand of formula we chose....that we would stick with this brand until he was old enough to drink whole milk. Formula is one product that you can't change weekly or as it is on sale. With this is mind I now had to rely on one certain brand to send me enough coupons to use each month so I could lower my cost each week. After spending the first several months waiting on them to send me coupons whenever they wanted...I took matters into my own hands! I went to the desired formula's manufacturer website and sent them an email explaining my situation and asking them to send me coupons on a monthly basis. I explained how much formula my son drank each week, how much this was costing my family, and my desire to stick with their brand for the first year of his life. To my surprise this company was very easy to work with and they cooperated with my requests and each month I had an ample supply of coupons coming to my mailbox! After that experience I realized that it's okay to be brand loyal if it is one that you truly believe in. At the same time I learned that you have to ask for what you want and need! This doesn't just apply to baby formula either. If you have to use Dove Soap (like me) because of sensitive skin and you don't feel you are getting enough coupons and incentives from this company...tell them!! Companies NEED for us to stick to their brand and if all it takes for you to buy their product is for them to send you a few coupons each month, then they are happy to oblige!
Lesson #2 ~ Drop the brand loyalty on products whenever you can!
In the same breath that I tell you to stick to certain brands you believe in....I will also tell you to NOT be brand loyal as much as possible! I will admit that when Caeden was a baby I had my preference of diapers, wipes, pain reliever, sippy cups..you name it! It seemed like every time Caeden needed diapers or wipes I always had coupons for the least desired brands. Well after paying full price several times for these products I changed my attitude very quickly. I started scouring the internet for printable coupons and electronic coupons that would save me the most money. I began trying different styles of the least desired diapers and started discovering that each diaper brand had SOMETHING I could live with. I then started shopping smart and when Brand X went on sale and I had coupons...I would load up. I would use these diapers until Brand Y went on sale and then I would use my coupons to stock up on that brand. Kroger is the store that saved me the most money on these essentials because I could use my printable coupons in combination with my electronic coupons and I started to see my savings explode! You will also learn that if you go through the check out line with Brand X, most of the time Kroger will print you a Catalina coupon for Brand Y to use on your next visit! I realized I couldn't afford to be brand loyal on ALL of my baby products and quickly chose products that I could have some flexibility with!
Lesson #3 ~ Use those Manufacturer Websites to your benefit
If you are an expectant mother I would encourage you to start visiting those manufacturer websites NOW! When you go to sites for Pampers, Huggies, Luvs, Desitin, Johnson & Johnson, Gerber, etc. and sign up for their email and mailing list, they will start sending you coupons and samples immediately! When I was in those early stages of deciding which formula we would feed Caeden I also signed up on their websites as well. It seemed like each week I would get something from one of these companies! I loved getting samples to use in his diaper bag or to try out before I decided to purchase a product. Caeden is 3 years old and I STILL get coupons from most of these companies for products that are age-appropriate for him. If you do not sign up on their websites then they do not know you are out there! Sign up today and let them know about your children and you can sit back and watch the coupons come directly to your home or your email inbox. *Secret Alert* This lesson does not just apply to baby brands! I have signed up with all different types of websites in order for them to recognize me as a customer and to send coupons to my home. I can't tell you how many companies send me coupons on a regular basis (either to my home or to my email) because I signed up on their website. If you haven't done this yet....start today!
Lesson #4 ~ Start Scanning those Baby Magazines!
As a pregnant mommy-to-be I couldn't learn enough about the new baby that was growing inside of me. I started buying baby magazines at the store, subscribing to magazines, and even reading them while waiting to go into the doctor's office! I quickly realized that these magazines had lots of coupons inside of them! Don't be afraid to cut those coupons out of there when you are finished reading them. Some of the best offers and deals I got were because I pulled a coupon out of the magazine I was reading while in the OBGYN waiting room! Always be on the lookout for coupons that can help you save money on your new baby and don't be afraid to cut them out if you know that you will use them!
Lesson #5 ~ Think twice before paying for those expensive warehouse club memberships
Like most new parents, Chad and I thought that if we wanted to save money on all of our baby products then obviously we would need to purchase a warehouse club membership (such as Sam's Club). In the first few months Caeden grew so quickly that we didn't need to stock up on a certain size of diaper because within a week or so he was in a new size! At about 3 or 4 months old we realized that he wasn't changing sizes so quickly and we purchased our first membership to Sam's Club. I was so excited to go in there and really save some money on disposable diapers! Boy was I wrong! After doing the math and being told that I could NOT use my coupons, I realized that all Sam's was good for was buying BIG boxes of diapers! I was not going to save money at this store because their prices were set in stone and the coupons that I had worked hard to save up were not going to help me. At this point I stopped shopping at Sam's Club and went back to Kroger where I could use my paper coupons and electronic coupons together to really save some money. If you are thinking about paying for a store membership for the purpose of diapers I would strongly suggest that you do some price comparisons before forking over the $30+ it will take to become a member. In our case this actually cost us more money than we saved :(
Lesson #6 ~ Use the customer reward programs that are offered
My last lesson concerning babies and their products is about the programs that certain products offer. For Pampers it is their "Gifts to Grow" program and for Huggies it is their "Enjoy the Ride" program. On the inside of each pack of diapers and wipes you purchase (if it is Pampers or Huggies) is a small sticker with a code printed on it. When you go to Huggies.com or Pampers.com you can register for these programs and each time you purchase a pack of diapers you can enter your code from the diapers you purchase. Every time you enter a code you are given points and these points begin to add up. You can then cash in your reward points for coupons, toys, gift cards, and many other neat prizes. It is a pain sometimes to keep up with these little sticker codes, but I can tell you that if these companies are going to reward me for spending so much money on their diapers...I am going to accept their rewards :)
I hope that this post has given you a little more insight into making your new baby (or growing one!) a little more affordable for you and your family. The money that I saved on these essential products have allowed us to start Caeden a savings account and start planning for his college education! Speaking of saving for college....watch for an upcoming post where I will be talking about a site that allows you to save money on products you are purchasing each week for your child's college education! With the cost of education this is a service that Chad I and taking advantage of for our little guy! They grow so quickly that it is never to early to start planning for their futures :)