As was confirmed to Dealspotr during the course of our Interview Series with coupon bloggers, the primary reason most people get into couponing is that they have had a child and suddenly realize they have way more expenses.
There are so many items you have to buy for a baby and the cost is enormous. Because the subject is a bit taboo (many people find it crass to discuss how pricey it is to care for babies with expectant parents), new parents are often shocked once the bills start rolling in. Thankfully, coupons do provide a way to limit the damage having a baby does to your pocketbook. We’ve highlighted below the many ways in which you can save on various baby items by using coupons.
STACK COUPONS: There are almost always coupons available for the major diaper and wipe brands such as Pampers, Huggies and Luvs. Where you can start to save a substantial amount of money is by stacking those coupons. Start out by clipping the old-school manufacturer print coupons and then check the store websites and apps for Target, CVS, Babies R Us and the local grocery store to see if they have any additional online or mobile coupons that you can add on top of the manufacturer coupon.
Once you’ve combined those coupons, then you’ll want to visit the blinkie machine (if the store has one) to see if any more diaper coupons are available. Also, keep an eye on any Catalina diaper coupons that you get upon checkout that you can use on your next visit. The more coupons you are able to stack, the more you’ll save. Target, CVS, Walgreens and Babies R Us generally allow customers to stack one of each different type of coupon (manufacturer, online, mobile, Blinkie and Catalina), but policies vary greatly for local grocers. Walmart does not permit stacking.
JOIN REWARDS PROGRAMS: Parents tend to be very loyal, so if a brand can convince them to buy its product, odds are they’ll stick with it. Same goes for stores, who also stand to gain because those parents will likely buy other items as well. Given this backdrop, the competition among brands and stores to attract new parents is extremely intense. This has led to a proliferation of rewards programs, many of which give parents a slew of useful benefits.
Since they are usually free, we advise you join every rewards program that you can. Both Pampers and Huggies have robust rewards programs in which you get points every time you buy their products that can later be redeemed for free diapers or gift cards and merchandise from a vast array of partner brands and stores. Likewise, stores such as Babies R Us, CVS and Walgreens have rewards programs that apply to all products, but often give extra discounts on diapers, specifically.
One program that isn’t totally free, but is worth considering, is Amazon Mom. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial, but after that, you have to join Amazon Prime which is $99.99 per year and includes the Amazon Mom perks. Those perks are rather profound, because they include free 2-day shipping as well as 20% off on diapers if you register for a Subscribe & Save subscription. Subscribe & Save is a program Amazon has in place whereby they provide you discounts in exchange for agreeing to a certain number of recurring monthly purchases.
- Note: One important thing to remember is that it’s exceedingly difficult to get diaper coupons for upscale brands such as Honest Co. or Seventh Generation. Rewards program for those brands are also vanishing as Earth’s Best is shutting down its program in August and neither Honest nor Seventh Generation have one. If you choose to go the cloth diaper route, you’ll save because you can wash them and reuse them, but don’t expect to get a lot of coupons or rewards.
COMBINE SALES AND COUPONS: While you can use some of the same coupon stacking techniques for baby food and formula that you use on diapers, there is one major difference. The reason stacking coupons for diapers works so well is that it doesn’t matter as much (for most babies) if you switch back and forth between brands. Some babies can be more sensitive to certain diaper brands, so we do advise you monitor them closely, but generally it’s not a big deal to use Huggies one month and Pampers the next. This enables you to make your diaper purchases based on the brand for which you have the most coupons. That’s not the case for food and formula.
It is not a good idea to get into the habit of switching food, particularly formula, regularly. It can have negative effects on your baby and it is advised you ask your doctor first before switching. That makes it harder to use stacking strategies, because you are forced to pretty much stick to one brand. We still encourage you to collect as many coupons for that brand as possible and stack them when possible, but it’s especially important to also keep an eye out for sales. You may need to have brand loyalty in this case, but you certainly don’t need to have store loyalty. Go to wherever has the best price and use your coupons to find the best deal.
COLLECT FREE SAMPLES: Even more so than with diapers, when a food or formula brand gets you on board, they all but have you hooked due to the aforementioned dangers of switching brands. This makes them very eager to woo you with free samples in hopes of convincing you to pick them. Though the free samples tend to dry up fast once you’ve gotten past the newborn stage, you’ll want to grab as many of them as you can during that period. At the very least you can keep them for later use in case of emergencies if you run out and can’t run to the store to get more.
- Note: Never turn down a free sample, especially if you have friends that are due around the same time as you. If they are using a different food or formula brand than you are, you may be able to trade them samples you don’t plan on using in exchange for samples that you do expect to use. Otherwise, you can always donate the samples.
SIGN UP FOR EMAIL NEWSLETTERS: Many of the most popular baby clothes retailers such as The Children’s Place (25% off), Gymboree (20% off) and Baby Gap (25% off) offer coupons for joining their email lists. Those initial coupons are great, but the real value of being on these email lists is that you’ll continue getting discount coupons periodically as long as you stay on the list. By timing it correctly so you redeem these email coupons when the store announces a huge clearance sale, you can save a significant amount of money on clothing.
SHOP OUT OF SEASON: Kids apparel stores like Carter’s go through distinct inventory cycles each year and this opens up opportunities for savvy shoppers to find major bargains. It does require some planning ahead, but if you can discipline yourself to buy your baby’s winter clothes in early spring and their summer clothes in early fall, then you’ll come out way ahead. Granted, it is a lot more challenging doing this for a baby because you don’t know how quickly they will grow, but unless the baby is a statistical outlier, they should fit into the expected sizes.
- Note: Buying sets is often cheaper than buying tops and bottoms separately. Also, don’t worry about matching shoes, socks or hats to the outfit as babies grow so quickly, they likely won’t get much use out of it anyway.
ONLINE PROMO CODES: Accounting for the cost of a crib, a rocking chair, a bassinet, a playpen, a changing table, a dresser and any other furniture you feel you might need is enough to make anyone dizzy with dollar signs floating around their head. Luckily, there is this little thing called the internet and these little things called promo codes. Shopping online for baby furniture provides major benefits like the ability to price compare and read reviews, but the best part if the promo codes. Keep your eye out for codes from retailers like Hayneedle, Sears and Macy’s and use them to your advantage.
CLEARANCE SALES: It doesn’t matter whether you look online at Amazon for late-run Ikea furniture or in-store at Macy’s for outdated furniture, clearance sales are an outstanding way to buy furniture for less. The caveat of course is that you won’t get the trendiest and newest stuff, but when you consider how expensive that stuff is, you are probably better off saving a few extra bucks and using it on other things your baby will require.
- Note: For those interested in shopping in-store at local mom & pop retailers, then don’t forget the power of negotiation. The more furniture you buy from them, the bigger the deal they are likely to give to you, possibly including free or reduced delivery and set-up fees. The sticker price is just a starting point at independent furniture retailers.
TRADE-IN EVENTS: Babies R Us is the most well known for its trade-in events which takes place annually, typically in the beginning of the year. These offer a fantastic chance to get a great deal on pricey carriages, strollers and car seats. The way they work is that you can turn in old and second-hand furniture and carriers in exchange for a 25% off store-wide coupon that can be used on nearly every brand. If you are able to be patient and wait for a big sale, you can use the coupon on an already-discounted item and get an amazing deal on otherwise very expensive carriages, strollers and/or car seats.
DAILY DEAL VOUCHERS: Sites like Groupon and Living Social are excellent sources of savings for baby carriages, strollers and car seats. The down side is that they don’t always have vouches for stores that have these items, but when they do you should pounce. The nice thing is that these sites also have their own discounted items available for limited times and occasionally they feature products like strollers or car seats.
- Note: Stay away from buying used car seats. While second-hand strollers or carriers aren’t as dangerous, car seats are supposed to be thrown away if they are involved in an accident, making used ones especially risky.
GIFTS WITH PURCHASE: The most obvious example of this is a kids meal at a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s. It’s a time-honored tradition that a little toy comes with these meals. In reality, though, the concept extends far beyond the golden arches. Toy stores, department stores, even drug stores often run promotions where you can get a free or discounted toy with the purchase of another item. It might be a stuffed animal or a baby rattle, but after a while these toy freebies add up.
GET RAINCHECKS: Popular toys that go on sale often fly off the shelves at stores. This doesn’t necessarily mean doom, however. Lots of stores offer rainchecks, which enable you to get the same discounted price for the toy once the store restocks, even if the sale ends in the meantime. Cash back rebates are also sometimes available and provide even more savings.
- Note: Toys become more important as babies get older, but when they are newborns and even infants, they aren’t that crucial. Don’t fall into the trap of spending tons of money on a trendy toy or fad that a baby won’t even understand or care about.