With that said, believe you me, I'm always looking for a deal. Since I know I'm not the only parent who's looking for ways to keep more cash in the bank, I thought I would share some tips.
Comparison shop like nobody's businessJust because one place says they have the lowest price doesn't mean they really do. When I was looking for the cheapest diapers, I looked at Walmart, Target, K-Mart, Costco, Amazon, and Diapers.com. With shipping costs and diaper pack sizes taken into account, Amazon looked to have the cheapest price with their awesome Subscribe and Save program. You set up an account to have items automatically delivered to you. There's free shipping and you save 15% using the program. Then I did the math, with the 15%, Pampers Swaddlers were $0.21/diaper. At Diapers.com, I could get a larger case for $0.18/diaper. What's three cents, you ask? A savings of nearly $15 a month.
Sign up for everythingPampers, Similac, Enfamil, and Huggies all have programs. You get coupons, free samples, and points towards free stuff. It's great. Publix has a Baby Club where you receive coupons for the first two years of life. There's also MyPoints.com where you can earn points for online purchases. Just last month, I used my points to get a $50 iTunes giftcard. (If you need a referral, let me know!) Bank of America has a cashback program. Babies r Us has an awards program. And if you give Carters your information, you'll get wonderful coupons in the mail nearly every month. I don't think I've paid full price for clothes at Carters ever.
DO NOT, though, sign up for things at Motherhood Maternity. They're evil and will send you subscriptions that are not free.
Brand names aren't all thatWe are feeding the girls Similac Sensitive formula. It's right around $1/oz. Target's brand Up & Up is $0.60/oz and has the same ingredients. We're trying it this coming week to see if it works. If it does, that's a savings of $80 a month! Store brand diapers are also less expensive and sometimes work just as well. We're about to try out Luvs since I discovered they're made by the same company as Pampers but run about $0.16/diaper. Granted, Luvs are name brand, but they're discount.
Research, research, researchWhat's the difference between Good Start, Enfamil, and Similac? Is baby oil necessary? Where's the best place to get a baby gear? Do I need this or that? I didn't know the answer to any of these questions, so I started asking. I asked friends who are parents, I asked my mom and MIL. I signed up on forums (Twinstuff and The Bump being my favorites). I read a gazillion reviews online. (Always take the time to read the reviews on products, it's worth your time.) Do not be afraid to ask a million questions. You'll find lots of good advice (and some bad), but all of it will help you spend money more wisely.
For example, Tim & I bought our cribs at Walmart. We found the same cribs at other places for twice as much. It turns out the company who makes them distributes them to different places under different names--all the same quality and construction just with different price tags.
Coupons are wonderfulAs I've already mentioned, sign up for stuff to get coupons. But you can also find all kinds of online coupons as well as coupons in your Sunday paper. Clip, clip, clip away!
Substitute where possibleDo you really need a diaper pail or will a nice sturdy trash can do the trick? Do you a need a white noise machine when you can get speakers for your iPod? Is separate baby detergent necessary when All Free & Clear is much cheaper and has no scent? Is there stuff you would like to buy that you (or a friend or family member) can make on your own? Always weigh the pros and cons of getting specific products versus general items that will do the same job. Sometimes it's worth it and will save you in the end.
Do not shun hand-me-downs
If it's clean, in good shape and safe, by all means, let people give or sell you their old stuff. Only trust a good friend or family member if you take a used car seat, though. You never know if it's been in an accident. Cribs older than five years should be carefully inspected and researched. Safety regulations have changed, and old cribs aren't always worth the money saved.
Definitely look for consignment shops and special sales in your area. There are tons of mommy groups that have huge sales once a year.
Sometimes the investment is worth it
I didn't spend money on diaper pails, mobiles, fancy sheets and such. But I wouldn't compromise on a very comfy rocker recliner for the nursery. Granted, I didn't pay for it (thank you, Walt & Marsha), but I would have willingly laid down the money for it. Having a quality piece like that will last long after the girls are out of their rocking years and will work in our family room where Tim will lounge and play video games. The same goes for convertible cribs. We did save by purchasing from Walmart, but we paid a little more so the beds would stay with Lillie & Dani through teen years (hopefully).