Saving: The Infant to Preschool Years

 I’ve had a lot of moms to be and new moms, ask me how I make staying at home work for my family. My first answer is normally that my husband has a well-paying job, without him, we wouldn’t make it anywhere. On top of that I love to save any where I can, I’m very cheap. Not like TLC’s ‘Extreme Cheapskates’ kind of cheap but still very cheap compared to most. 
Here’s some of the ways I’ve helped my family keep a bit of extra money, over the past few years.
First it’s all about coupons
Now there is no reason to become one of those people off of TLC’s ‘Extreme Couponing’ show. You don’t need a stockpile but as the same time, you shouldn’t over-look clipping and printing coupons because they are a great way to save your family money! Diapers are a big expense that new families face and coupons can be a great way to save yourself a bundle. Now if you’re a cloth diaper mama then I say more power to you and you’re not likely to spend anywhere near as much. I personally spend plenty of my time in poo between my two boys. I’d much rather not spend any more time in it or on it, than I have to, so cloth diapers were not an option for our family. Especially since we don’t have a washer or dryer right now.
If you feel that cloth diapering is not for you, you’ll want to visit the different diaper company websites. Most diaper companies offer rewards, discounts and coupons that you can sign up for. Many of them offer printable coupons as well as monthly mail packets. My advice is to sign up for all them, even if you don’t like them or have no interest in using them. These coupons can be like mom crack and you can easily trade with other mothers, for coupons that you will use.
For example:
Pampers
Offers a gift to grow program where you enter numbers from your pamper products into your account and use them for different rewards. They also offer coupons and discounts to their members.
Offers a reward program as well as discounts, coupons and special offers for their members.
Luvs
Offers coupons and discounts.
There are also off brand diapers, like Wal-Mart, Publix, Winn- Dixie and Target’s generic brand labels. To receive lower prices for these, you will have to go through the stores sites or email for your coupons. Even if you pass on the coupons, these diapers offer a much cheaper options that often works just the same as the name brand diapers. Another great resource to consider would be buying online from places like Amazon and diapers.com.
Diapers by store:
Offers coupons through their website, you can also email them to have coupons sent to your home.  Wal-Mart’s off brand diapers are by far the best value I’ve found, not only are they cheaper, they also offer more in the pack than the brand name diapers do. I personally find that these diapers work just as well as the name brand and I’ve never had NO problem with them causing rashes! So I highly advice giving these diapers a try and saving yourself a ton of money.
Offers a baby program, you just sign up and they will send special coupons to your home each month. They send the most coupons from what I have seen and often cover a little of everything you use, baby wise. Though they do send great coupons, I have found that their name brand diapers tend to be higher priced then Wal-Mart. Using a coupon will normally even out the price, so you will really save more by doing your diaper buying at Wal-mart or on-line.
 However, if you’re buying the off brand diapers, Publix offers great deals for their brands and you can often save a lot of money this way. They not only have great discounts on their diapers but they also send coupons that will give you free wipes with the purchase.
 Offers a baby program that will send you coupons and like Publix often has coupons that will save you on diapers and give you free wipes. However I find that Winn-Dixie often has smaller packages so the saving aren’t always as much as you would think. The price might match or be a tiny bit less but the package is going to be much smaller. When you break down what you are paying per diaper, you will come out worse with the smaller package, in this case. Making you actually spend more, in the long run, this why it is important to check your unit prices.
Target offers coupons and off brand diapers, an added bonus is that you can often find a great sale on their diapers, saving you even more money. I have also used their off brand diapers and have found that they are just as good, if not better than the name brand diapers. I would suggest them to any mom, both on how well they hold up and their price.
 Formula savings:
For the moms who can’t breast-feed or who don’t, for whatever reasons: there are many ways to save money on formula. Every company offers coupons for their formula as well as free samples, so be sure to sign up for each companies mailing list, even if you don’t use it. Once again, you can always find a mom to swap with. All you need to do is google the brands or companies and you can easily find coupons/ discounts for these products.
Just like diapers, most stores offer an off brand of formula. A lot of people pass these up because they believe they are not as good as the expensive brands. What they don’t realize is that all formula must meet a guide line, all of these formulas must meet the same requirements. I have had to use formula for one of my children and like most people, I believed there was nothing better than the expensive formula brands. Upon research and after speaking with the doctors, I now know that this is simply not true!
I have not used all of the off brand formulas, but these formulas are made by the same companies as the expensive brands, they are just sold under a different label. I’ve also found that off brand formulas like Parents choice, offers a wide range of formula, from organic to premiums. Just like the name brand products and in my experience, I’ve found that the off name brands were actually less harsh on my child’s system.
The name brand formulas often made my baby have gas, constipation, diarrhea, and even spitting up. With the off brands like Parent choice, we never had a problem with these things. Not only was it easier on my child’s system, it was also much cheaper! You can spend upwards of $25 for the name brand formula or you can pay $14 for the store brand. Either way you receive the same standards, quantity and quality.
Wipes-
You can find coupons for wipes or use the wipe recipe below to make your own. I prefer to make own because I save a ton of money that way and they’re much easier on the babies skin.
DIY Wipes:
   What you need:
                              – A roll of paper towels, cut in half.
                              – An old wipe container or storage container.
                              – 2 1/4 cups water.
                              – 2tbsp baby bath or shampoo.
                              – 1tbsp baby oil.
      Instructions:
Cut paper towel roll through the middle so that you now have two rolls. An electric knife works the fastest but a regular knife will get the job done.
          Flatten the half roll of paper towels and place it in your container.
          Mix your water, baby bath and oil, then pour over paper towels.
          Cover and let sit so the towels will soak it all of the mixture.
          Once it’s soaked up you can easily pull the card board roll out and now you
have your very own wipes, that cost you much less in comparison to store bought.
Another great way to save is to make your own baby food. It’s not only cheaper, it’s also much healthier! For information on making, storing and organizing your baby food, I suggest visiting the sites listed below.
                http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/
                http://www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/
  
  These are just some of my favorite sites for recipes, storage, organizing, and how-to advice, on making your own baby food. By making your own, you will yield a high quantity for your money than when you buy the packaged baby foods. Not only that, you’ll also be doing your little one a huge favor because they will be getting healthy, more wholesome food.                         
                          
Another great way to save is by coming together as mothers and using one another for clothes trading. Clothes are very expensive and kids out-grow them quickly. By trading our clothes, we can save a lot of money! In just two years, I have only bought my two boys one outfit! One!! It was to do pictures in and that was the only reason I could justify buying something new. Of course, it was on clearance. So even in that case, I choose to not go all out and drop $30 or more dollars an outfit.
Over the years, I’ve had so any mothers give me bags and bags of clothes from there boys. Most of them only wore a few times and a LOT of them still had the tags on them. In the same way, I’ve also never bought my sons a pair of shoes. All because I’ve received these for free as well and when my boys out- grow something, I just pass it along to another mother. Our little ones really don’t need brand new clothes, they couldn’t care less about what they are wearing. Especially when in the infant, baby and toddler stages. If we just keeping passing our stain free clothes, shoe and baby items along, we can help each other save a lot of money.

I hope these tips help you out and give you a few ideas on how you can adjust to save your family a little bit more.  
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