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Angie Wynne helps you save $$
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a blog called Baby Cheapskate. It's a great site, where you can find tips on sales, coupons, shipping codes, and product reviews for all kinds of baby gear. Angie Wynne, the founder, launched another great money-saving site called Freepeats, which is an online forum that allows parents to get gently-used baby, kid, and maternity items for free from parents who live nearby (it's up in 50 cities so far) . I spoke with Angie to find out more about these sites and how she got so good at being thrifty to begin with.
How many kids do you have?
I have one son who's 3.5.
How did your blog Baby Cheapskate come about?
I started Baby Cheapskate in December of 2005 when my son was about five months old. I realized that I spent quite a bit of time sitting on the couch each week poring through the new circulars to find the best deals on diapers and formula and looking for coupons. I figured that if I posted the info online, I could save other busy new moms some time. They could take advantage of the deals I had found, and they wouldn't have to do the research themselves.
It's always filled with tons of tips and information. It must be so time-consuming (bad for you – good for us!). How do you find all those deals?
Having a large readership helps. Readers send me so many great tips and coupons. I couldn't do it without them. I also read the sales circulars and check out the clearance sections of websites that I know have good prices on gear, clothing, etc. Since Baby Cheapskate's been around for more than three years, I have a few thousand old posts that can tell me when to expect good sales based on when they started in previous years. Retailers' sales are pretty predictable.
Have you always been thrifty?
I remember my mother dragging my brother and me from store to store with her coupon file. I swore I'd never go to all that trouble to save a few cents. For a while in my early twenties I refused to use coupons (there's a time when we really need to feel different from our moms). I guess it's genetic, though, since I now use so many of the tips she taught me finding deals for the blog. And I love using coupons.
Ever buy stuff at full-price?
Sure. I try not to, though. We use a ton of store brands, so lots of the time I don't have to wait for products to go on sale.
What kinds of baby things would you never pay for?
Fluffy crib bedding. Travel wipe warmers. Infants shoes. Infant bathrobes. Diaper stackers. Stuffed animals. So, so many things.
What baby products do you think are essential?
You've got to meet your baby's basic needs--food, shelter, love, etc, but when you really think about it, most baby products are conveniences. As much as marketers tell you otherwise, they're wants, and acknowledging them as such gives you control over your buying decisions. There are many ways to meet your baby's basic needs, and products that help one family meet their needs may not work for another. Diapers were essential for us. Infant formula was, too, as much as I wish it hadn't been. Swaddling blankets? Could have lived without them, but sure wouldn't have wanted to. Waterproof flannel pads were super helpful, too.
What baby products do you think it's okay to buy used and which things should be new?
I would stick with a new car seat unless you can be sure that it's never been in an accident and that it was made less than three years ago. I would use one from a friend if I knew it met those requirements, but I wouldn't pay money for a used one at a store or on Craigslist. Otherwise, I love using second-hand products, and there's very little I wouldn't try. I get that it's not everyone's cup of tea, though.
So what would you say to the mom who wants all shiny new stuff – toys, clothes, gear furniture for her baby? Is there a way for her to save money?
Watch for sales and use coupons when you can. Everything goes on sale, and there are lots of great blogs out there that will tell you when that happens. Try to save at least 20% off list price. Also, you can save up to 50% using store-brand baby consumables (diapers, wipes, formula, diaper cream, baby wash).
You also founded another great site called Freepeats.org. Can you explain a little about how it works?
Freepeats makes it easy for local parents to pass on gently-used baby, kid, and maternity stuff to other local parents who can use it. Parents simply post the items and wait to be contacted by interested parties. Of course, Freepeats is a great way to pick up free baby, kid and maternity stuff, too. It saves parents money and keeps items with a lot of life left in them out of the landfills. Lifetime Freepeats membership is free for the first two weeks after a new group launches. After that, members pay a one-time nominal fee of $4.95. If they post two offers during their first month of membership, their membership fee is refunded (details). Freepeats has groups in about 50 cities nationwide, and we're opening up to four new groups each month. More than 18,000 members have signed up since the first group opened in Atlanta in November 2007.
What are your favorite resources for saving money on baby stuff?
Google. In my experience, just Googling the name of a product works better than any of those price-comparison engines. Also, to find coupon codes, just Google the name of the retailer, plus "coupon." If there's one out there, Google will find it. HotCouponWorld and AFullCup are must-reads for anyone interested in sales and couponing. I also love baby deal-a-day sites Mamabargains and BabySteals.
Got any favorite money-saving blogs – other than your own?
There are so many! "Frugal" blogs that I read daily include Freebies4Mom, MomAdvice, DealSeekingMom, $5 Dinners, and SimpleMom.
Check back at the Baby Buzz tomorrow for Angie's advice on saving money with a baby.
What are your favorite money-saving blogs?