When mommy blogger Kim Julian of St. Louis, Missouri became a stay at home mom after the birth of her second son, the loss of a second income hit hard. So she did what a lot of moms who want to continue staying home with their kids do -- she became a self-taught expert at saving money through coupons, free samples, free events and discounts.
And she created a couple of websites to share what she learned with other moms, STL Mommy in November of 2008, and My City Mommy in June of 2009. My City Mommy and the My City Mommy team offer national and local grocery and drug store coupon match ups along with free samples, free events, restaurant deals, kids eat free locations, discounts and more.
I thought it was worth an individual chat with Kim to glean some of her personal at-home tips:
Tell us how to cut costs on our biggest baby expenses, please!
The biggest expense for baby is undeniably formula and diapers. On average formula costs $6 a day. Breastfeeding is a natural and cheap option to offset the cost, but breastfeeding is not an option for everyone.
To start saving money, ask your pediatrician for formula samples. Pharmaceutical representatives often leave cases of formula for them to hand out. Also, look for coupons and rebates in the doc's office.
These will always be on hand because companies want doctors to recommend their products to patients. Register on websites of the brand that you use and they will also send you coupons by mail. Enfamil offers a reward program that gives you a chance to win sweepstakes and earn more money saving offers.
When it comes to diapers, using cloth will save you a ton of money. But sometimes that's not always realistic or convenient. You can also save a lot of money by following savings sites such as My City Mommy and watching weekly deals along with coupons. You have to take advantage of the combination of sales, store incentives and coupon offers. Coupons.com regularly offers coupons up to $3 in value for some diapers. You can also register directly with the diaper sites for money saving offers.
Breaking the habit of brand loyalty is the hardest thing to accomplish, but you really have to try them all to see what works for you. I have found that I am brand loyal at night due to leaks, but I use something other than my personal favorite during the day to cut costs.
What's the biggest waste of money?
The first thing that comes to mind is the Diaper Genie. On average the Diaper Genie costs $24.99 and refills are $5.99. If you change out the refill every two weeks you would spend $181.15 a year to dispose of diapers. I also found that the Diaper Genie, although easily accessible, did not keep odor out of the room.
The second item was passed on to us by moms on Facebook. In a survey 90 percent said that you should not buy a wipes warmer. Many of the moms mentioned that it was never used, it was a distraction, too time consuming, or caused their child to 'need' the wipes warmed.
What are the best online sites for saving money on baby stuff?
Register on websites for the products that you purchase, including formula, diapers, household needs, toys, and baby apparel. My favorites include Ebay, Craigslist and Freepeats for free or deeply discounted items.
Give us your top three cost-cutting tips ...
1. Be smart with your purchases, combine store incentives, coupons, and sales to get the lowest price on the items that you need and stock up on these items when you find them at deep discounts so you won't make an impulse purchase when you run out of a needed item.
2. Exchange products, clothing, and coupons with friends who also have kids. Have a seasonal clothing swap, swap Halloween costumes, toys, coupons, the sky is the limit.
3. Don't make an impulse purchase. If you see something you want, leave the store and think about if you really need the item or if it is just something that you want. I have done this many times and 90 percent off the time I don't go back in to purchase the item.
How did you save money on your baby?
I must admit my second child's birth was very different from my first. With my first, I registered for items that now I realize weren't needed, you know the Pottery Barn themed room, swing, bouncer, bassinet, etc. With my second I asked for diapers and shopped on Ebay and Craigslist to find great deals on expensive items for less than half of the original purchase price.
I also make purchases at the end of the season for the following year. My children grow a size a year and you can find clothes on sale for up to 80 percent off the original price at the end of the season. Trading items with friends is my favorite activity.
Are you brand loyal or do you experiment with different products till you find the right one for your baby?