Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Money Saving Tips for New Parents

A new baby is always a blessing, but the associated costs that new parents incur can quickly add up to a financial nightmare. From diapers and wipes, to strollers and car seats, the costs pile up fast, and catch even the best planner unaware. Thankfully, there are many money saving tips for new moms and dads.

Buying Bulk

Baby food or formula can be purchased at any local grocery store, with most of these stores offering a variety of products. The real savings though, come when you do a little research. Rather than buying 2 cans of formula, find a local wholesale club that offers 6 and 8 packs, saving more on each can. Purchase baby food pouches by the box, instead of individually, and look at saving fifteen to twenty cents per pouch.

Cut Your Coupons

If you don't mind some scissor work, coupons are your friend. And if you do dislike getting hand cramps, a simple online search for coupon codes can unearth a treasure trove of savings. There are a number of sites that offer baby products at discounts, and allow coupons to be used. If you prefer the paper versions, make sure to combine your coupons, and look for manufacturer deals on your favorite products. Remember that in most cases, every thing in a grocery store goes on sale in 12 week cycles. Save your coupons until the items you want go on sale. Then buy enough of that item to wait out the cycle, so you can buy it on sale again.

Cash Back Rewards

Use your rewards credit cards. Many credit cards have rotating categories that offer up to 5% cash back on purchases. Drugstores, Department stores and Grocery stores are just a couple of categories to keep a eye on for that 5%. In the perfect senerio, you catch a item on sale, with a coupon AND it matches up to your 5% rewards credit card.

If you are shopping online, make sure you are shopping through a rewards site like Ebates. They offer 1% - 5% on many of the merchants you will be shopping at anyway, so you might as well save a little more in the process.

Try Me Free

All baby product manufacturers want you to buy their product. Simply writing an email to the company, and telling them that you are considering using their product and requesting a sample, can often result in free product. Signing up on the company website will also make you first in line for new product samples and exclusive coupons.

Community Rules

Make sure to stay active online on websites and forums for moms and dads. With so many members looking for savings, you can be alerted to great sales before they ever reach a flyer, and a lot of online boards have clothing and toy swaps, where people give away the toys that the grandparents weren't supposed to buy, in exchange for that pink elephant that the baby can't take its eyes off.

Think Multifunction

When buying a stroller, look for a model that has an infant carrier attached, that allows you to save on a car seat for the first 6 to 8 months, depending on how much the baby likes to eat. There are also multi-function high chairs that come with a booster seat, and even a model that converts into a swing!

The Diaper Debate

Ask 5 sets of new parents which is more expensive, cloth diapers or disposable diapers, and you may get 5 different answers. The basic argument is that there is a higher initial investment in cloth diapers, but over time there are significant savings over disposable diapers, even with the cost of electricity from washing and drying. Some parents prefer disposable diapers because you can get dozens in a pack for a far lower price. It's an eternal debate, but if you have the money, or a really nice baby shower, and don't mind the laundry bill, cloth is cheaper.

Shower the People

Speaking of baby showers, that is another way to save on the big-ticket items, and even the small ones. Every little bit helps.

What about you? When you had your child, what unique ways did you find to save money?

Todd Hendrickson is a freelance writer for online, and offline publications. With three children under 5, he is always looking for coupon codes to help him save money.

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