Saving Money on Baby Essentials

Hand me downs are by far the best way to save money on baby items, provided they are items that are still safe to use.

Feeding Your Baby

I would be remiss to not acknowledge to benefits and money-saving ability breastfeeding allows. But not all mothers can or want to breastfeed. Too each their own and you need to make the best decision for your family.

If you do go the formula route, ordering by the case from the manufacturer can save you money and you may be able to earn rewards points toward smaller cans of the formula. We did this for our son.

Another way to save money when it comes to feeding your baby, once they’ve reached 6 months and show all signs of readiness, is to try out Baby Led Weaning. With BLW, you’re feeding your child the same food you are already eating. You need to cut things different and not add salt. There are several groups on Facebook for this topic.

Diapers: cloth vs. disposable

While cloth diapers will cost you more up front than disposable diapers, you do end up saving money in the long run. We did not use cloth diapers, but I wanted to include it on this list anyways.

Wipes

We saved one of the hard plastic Huggies wipe boxes and purchased the refill bags to fill the tub back up. At the time of this writing my son is 20 months old and we’re still using the same box. It is cheaper to buy the refill packs than the individual packs of wipes. A 3-pack box lasts us at least a month.

Clothes

I’m a big fan of hand me downs. 75% of the clothes my son has worn were either hand me downs or I bought them second hand. He’s only in them for a short time so I see no sense in buy new stuff all the time. The other 25% were brand new gifted clothes or special outfits we loved. If you’re interested in trying to save money on cloths: try joining local mom/parents groups on Facebook, look at FB marketplace, join your local FreeCycle groups, shop at children’s clothing consignment stores.

One thing to keep in mind, if a close friend or family member gives you clothes, make sure you know if they were gifted or loaned. It would be a shame for a misunderstanding to happen and a relationship be ruined over baby clothes. (But then again, I say this as a parent, I’ve kept all the sentimental clothing, but given away lots. If an item of clothing meant that much to me, I probably wouldn’t give it to someone else to use. Just saying.)

Toys

Toys. Oh my goodness, the toys. Truthfully, newborns don’t need anything. They need to be fed, changed, burped, and loved. BUT there are free resources on the internet for how to DIY some newborns items, and how to DIY toys for older babies and toddlers. Many things can be made from upcycled items you would have thrown in the trash or random odds and ends from around the house. You DO NOT need to go out and buy all the things.

The Dollar Tree is a great place to get supplies if you don’t already have this stuff at home. I won’t be sharing any specific how to’s. Google, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram are fantastic resources for those. I also check the toy section of Once Upon a Child and FB Marketplace for items.

Simple things like pulling strips of painters’ tape off the wall and trying to climb pillow mountain (a mountain of pillows on the floor) have kept my son entertained. I’ve made sensory bottles using this tutorial. He loves those as well.

Furniture, Play Yards, Bigger Items

Babies come with some stuff. There has never been as much stuff in my house as there’s been since I had my son. Again, child-oriented consignment stores, thrift stores, FB Marketplace are great places to find deals. And if your friends and/or family circle is also baby-oriented, maybe you can get loaners of certain things. You may come to find that your little one HATES their exer-saucer, but loves their play yard (aka pack n play). If your baby isn’t mobile yet, a safe spot on the floor with some sensory toys will do just fine.

When it comes to furniture, especially cribs, look the crib up and make sure there hasn’t been any sort of recall on it. Certain styles of cribs are no-no’s now because of accidents.

Requested Video: How I Coupon, etc.

Everyone likes to save money. Here are some possibly unconventional / new ways for saving money in different areas of your life.

1. Check out the Bakery Clearance Rack at your local Grocery store

My local Wal-Marts have awesome finds at their Bakery Clearance racks. I normally pull full Italian bread loaves for $0.53 a piece!!! I cut each loaf in half, wrap them in aluminum foil, and freeze them. One of our favorite scores was finding 4 dual packs of garlic bread (6 slices per pack, so 12 total). Each 6 slice pack is in its own bag, so that 8 bags of garlic bread. I can’t make bread from scratch for cheaper than that. I know some people have issues with processed bread and wanting to know what goes into their food. To each their own. We keep our freezer stocked and haven’t thought about buying bread in a few months! Why aluminum foil and not plastic bags? Plastic is NOT an oxygen barrier*, foil is. This will help keep freezer burn down.

There are other goodies available on the clearance rack, BUT the last thing my waistline needs is clearance donuts! The Hubs usually has to drag me away after I’ve snatched all the bread deals and start picking up the donuts.

2. See what the highest deductible you can have on your homeowner’s insurance.

This may depend on your insurance company, but I do recommend checking with your insurance company to see what the savings would be if your deductible was at the max. And what to do if you to deal with a deductible that high? You have your Emergency Fund funded to at least the deductible amount. (I personally recommend having your Emergency Fund funded to up to six months worth of expenses OR enough to cover your deductible OR better yet BOTH!)

3. For scratch paper or filler paper for your planner, find cheap notebooks.

I’m always on the lookout for cheap filler paper for my planner. When I do find notebooks on clearance, and the paper is good quality, I buy it, tear the paper out, and cut it down if necessary for my planner. Examples: steno-pads found for a quarter, Casemate journals for $0.50, etc. My planner takes 8 inch x 5 inch paper, and finding Steno Pads on clearance so far is the best. Some other places to keep an eye out for cheap journals and notebooks are Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Stein Mart, Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, and Ross. The various Dollar stores may also have some acceptable paper (i.e. Family Dollar, Dollar General, Dollar Tree).    

4. Health Insurance Rewards

This may vary from insurance company to insurance company, but check with them to see if their online interface allows you to earn rewards to lifestyle changes, check ups, wellness assessments, etc. I have Florida Blue, which awards points to various things. If I go to the gym 100 times in a calendar year, I not only received $150 rebate on my insurance costs, but I earn points toward rewards. Unfortunately, Blue Rewards is ending at the end of the year, so I’ve been redeeming my rewards points for Amazon gift cards!! Whoot whoot!

5. Borrow, Trade, Barter, and Share

This is an old school way of doing things, but it works.

If you’re just getting into a new hobby, and a friend has been doing X for awhile, as to borrow some of their equipment. I did this when I first started canning. I borrowed a friend’s water bath pot and pressure canner to make sure this was something I wanted to purse. I do, so I’ve asked for my own for Christmas.

If you’re really good at one thing and a friend is good at another, trade skills or goods. I usually “pay” in food when it comes to having manual labor done on my property. Another one of our friends regularly barters ribs and pulled pork for my husband’s help with truck repairs.

*Line credit to Burt Gummer, from the Tremors 2 movie.

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Setting financial goals is important for many reasons. Some as simple as maintaining a budget so you don’t overspend. Other reasons include saving for specific reasons and goals.

My husband and I have several financial goals:

  1. Save $7,000.00 (minimum) each year for Household needs like homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance for my vehicle, auto insurance for his truck, property taxes, and tag registrations for both vehicles. I keep a list of all the amounts that get paid from this account, so if it starts getting too low we can add more money to the account. This is also the account we put money away in for remodeling and upgrades to the house or saving for our next vehicle.
  2. Fully fund our respective IRAs ($5,500.00 each, $11,000.00 total). This is a non-negotiable for us. We want to retire as soon as we can, and not have to worry about having money for retirement. The savings account we have designated for Retirement funds always has money being automatically deposited in it because we have portions of our paycheck automatically go into this account to save up the $11,000.00. Should we have the fund automatically going into our IRAs, so it earns more compound interest monthly? Probably. But I’m a control freak and am not comfortable with any company (utility or finance) having electronic access to my account that I didn’t authorize. We save up the $11,000.00 and then do once a year deposits.
  3. And go on a nice vacation once a year (minimum $5,000.00 saved). While we were paying off debt, we didn’t take vacations or even days off of for stay-cations. And we burned out bad! The last couple of years, we’ve saved up for one big vacation each year, and were able to pay cash for them. The average cost of our trips have been about $5000.00, but we usually are able to save up any additional needed funds fairly quickly.

We recently fully funded our Emergency Fund, so that Financial Goal has been crossed off the list! Whoo!

As stated in several previous financial blog posts, my husband and I live on one income and bank the other, which is how we are able to save and meet our savings goals. If having multiple savings accounts isn’t feasible for you, go old school and have mason jars or piggy banks for each goal.

To get started, sit down (with your spouse, if married) and discuss what you’d like to see your money put towards. Both of you get a say in this. One person does not get to dominate this. If your Emergency Fund isn’t fully funded, I encourage you to make your Emergency Fund your first savings goal.

Everyone’s savings goals will be different. Some of you are saving up for a house down payment. Others need to think about your next vehicle. Maybe you’ve got a baby on the way and you want to put money aside for diaper or formula emergencies or medical bills. Dream vacation to Fiji or Italy?

Make a plan! Try to allocate money in the budget to your savings goals. Or if you use the cash envelope system, take any leftover money at the end of the month and put it towards your savings goals. That’s what we do with our leftover grocery and house envelopes. All leftover monies go into our House Upgrades envelope. Some months there’s quite a bit of money to move, other months there isn’t.

Communication, dreaming together, making a plan, and finding ways to live below your means make a great start to meet your financial goals.

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In a previous post, Calculating Your Magic Number, I wrote about how my husband and I live on one income and bank the other. We’ve been doing this from the beginning, and it’s become second nature to us.

When it comes to paying off debt, we do a modified snowball method. Minimums are paid from one paycheck, so we stay on course. In the savings account, in the meantime, we save up $5000.00 at a time and throw that chunk at the debt when we have it. This method has worked well for us.

We’re currently, debt-free except for the house, and once the annual savings goals (retirement, travel, and house expenses) are complete, the next $5000.00 saved will be thrown at our mortgage.

Having started our married life by only living on one income and banking the other has allowed us to chip away at financial goals steadily. I encourage everyone to look at your lifestyle and see if it’s possible to cut back enough to do this as well. I have a friend who plans on being a stay at home mom when they start a family. They were barely making on both their incomes. Once they became debt-free, I encouraged her to see if they could work on trying to live on one income NOW before they started a family, because if they can’t do it now, it’ll be much harder once a child is in the picture.

There are multiple resources out there giving advice on how to pay off debt. We did a modified version of the Dave Ramsey system. I recommend it over other systems out there. Modified or not, this system has helped millions of people.

*Not a paid spokesperson or affiliated with Dave Ramsey and Ramsey Solutions in any way.*

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This is a follow up post to my Freezer Inventory List post. If you thought I was nuts for wanting you to keep track of what’s in your freezer, hold on to your hat! Now I’m going more radical and tackling the abyss that is the Pantry via the pantry inventory.

I’m aware of all the apps that are available for smart phones. I’ve tried six of them. However, after scanning the UPC code, I still had to input information: volume, description, quantity, etc. I found this incredibly annoying since I can write faster than I can type on my cell phone.

So I quickly noted what a particular product was (diced tomatoes, 14.25 oz, quant: 6), and moved on. I do not mark down brands, which the single except ion of Rotel ® tomatoes.

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After all the notes are made and items are stuffed back onto the shelves (usually I organize as I go, but not this time), I type the full list and tape it inside the door.

There are somethings I do not add to the inventory list: breakfast items, snack pages, and paper goods. I use highlighter to cross-off items as we use them.

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Now, I bet some of you are wondering how I add items to this list and/or do I retype it every time. To add items, I either add them to the margins of the typed list or on a separate piece of paper, which is also taped inside the door. That means I don’t retype the list.

So despite the OCD, Type A groove this post is taking, since I don’t retype every single update, I’m not that crazy, right?

Every couple of months, I do a recount and update. I should probably reprint at that point. We’re actually due for another recount and reorganize. Just need to get the printer working.

How do you organize your pantry?

© Cori Large 22 Oct 2016

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I’m a list person. Always have been. When my husband and I purchased a chest freezer in the Spring of 2015, I was concerned about how we would keep track of what we had stored in there. Having one of the stand-up style freezers growing up, which was difficult enough to keep organized, I was unsure of how we wouldn’t lose food items in a 10 cubic foot chest. Here is how I set up a freezer inventory:

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In my quick video and subsequent blog post, March 2015 Meat Haul, we purchased 129 pounds of meat product. That’s a lot of meat to keep track of. We made a list of how we broke things down, i.e. 5 bags of 5 drumsticks each. After the breakdown, clean up, and sterilization of the kitchen, I typed up the list.

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The intention was to highlight the item when it was removed from the freezer. And as long as we remembered to do that, it was a great system. You’ll notice some stuff isn’t highlighted. Two reasons: either we forgot to highlight or it’s still in the freezer somewhere. I also left additional space at the bottom of the list so we could add additional items.

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Occasionally, when the freezer starts to get frosted over on the inside, we’ll do a quick scrape and clean out of all the built up frost. It’s when we’re putting items back into the freezer, I go through the list and make notes so I can update it. As you can see from the pictures, we’re due for another update soon.

This may seem like a really OCD, over the top, and complicated thing to do, but it has helped without meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Stay tuned for the follow up post on my pantry inventory. Yes, I am that nuts.

© Cori Large 19 Oct 2016

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B6 #2

Any regular reader of my blog knows I love finding a great deal on cheap notebooks that can be used as TN inserts. And back to school season is one of the best times to pick up cheap notebooks, especially ones that will fit a B6.

My local Walmart had 7” x 5” small composition notebooks: CaseMate Poly composition book.

On sale, not clearance, for $0.67 each, and since it was the tax free weekend I got them, no sales tax! Quick math = $8.40.

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I filled one of the display boxes, which gave me twelve, and 3 of each color: light aqua that matches my Foxy FIX Marina, highlighter yellow, blue, and magenta.

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Each notebook has 80 sheets, so 160 pages. They are ruled.

I’m very pleased with this find. Any good deals for you lately?

© Cori Large 9 August 2016

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Last year, one of my first blog posts and YouTube videos was of a meat haul my husband and I had done in our attempt at saving money on meat.

We supplemented that haul with smaller purchases of chicken breasts and ground beef (most commonly used in our kitchen). We also had scored a 40 lb. case of chicken breasts (normally priced at $80.00) for $46.98! That lasted us a long time!

Our latest meat haul came from a local meat market, where they have Meat Deal Packs. We got the Medium deal.

From that, I split it up into more manageable portions and ended up with:

# of Packages Contents
2 Ribeye twin packs (4 steaks total).

 

Already separated into two-two packs. Just wrapped in Aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.

2 Packages of Bacon.

 

Again, already separated and just put in the freezer.

1 Country ribs.

 

Came prepackaged. Wrapped it in Al- foil.

2 Whole chickens!

 

It’s been so long since we’ve had whole chickens! Again, the came individually wrapped and were put in the freezer.

1 Beef rump roast.

 

Came prepackaged. Wrapped it in Al- foil.

3 T-Bone steaks.

 

I individually wrapped these in Al- foil and put them in a large plastic zip bag, so I could find them easier.

2 1.5-2 lb. packages of ground hamburger meat.

 

These came in one of those large 4 lb. bundles, and I split them into two packages, roughly 1.5-2 lb. each. I didn’t get my digital scale out this time, just eyeballed it.

This haul is not as big as the one we did last year, but this one contains stuff we’ll actually eat. The bigger haul from last year was a learning experience. There’s no sense in getting bigger meal deal when there’s stuff in it you won’t eat. (Like smoked sausage and bologna, in my case.)

We have a large chest freeze that will accommodate a lot of food, so shopping for bulk deals works for us. It has saved us money, and 99.99% of the time, if there’s a recipe or dish we want for dinner, we have the meat in the freezer already and just need to thaw it. (That .01% is when I want lamb and haven’t found a good price on it.)

Is there anything you buy in bulk to save money on? Please share in the comments.

© Cori Large 11 May 2016

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As I’m writing this, I realized I haven’t even posted the Insert Haul post from April!!! I’m so behind! [Edit: That post went up last week.] Anyways! It’s no surprise that narrow / standard size notebooks for Traveler’s Notebooks are hard to come by in local stores, prices vary online, and if you buy online, you have to wait for it to be shipped (if it’s not a digital download).

In the previous post I mentioned above, I showed some Piccadilly notebooks I had gotten on Clearance. I was in Marshall’s and once again managed to score more notebooks!!! These are not narrow sized, but I got them cheap enough that I don’t mind cutting them down to fit my Narrow TNs. I know some TN users cut Moleskine notebooks down, but Moleskine is too expensive for me.

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The notebooks I got are Punch Studio brand and come in packs of 3. They measure 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches, and fit inside a Chic Sparrow Extra Wide TN (FYI). There were 4 singles (2 have already been cut down) at $2.99 each; and 13-3 packs (39 notebooks total) at $4.99 per pack. For a lovely grand total of: $76.83 before sales tax. Yes, that may be a lot of money up front, but works out to $1.79 an insert!!! *happy dance*

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If you think you’re seeing double of some covers, don’t worry, you are! Some don’t like having the same cover over and over on their inserts, so my acquisition method may not suit some. That’s okay. To each their own. And if I don’t like the cover or get tire of it, I can always glue scrapbook paper cover it!

I love getting deals on products I use! Once again, I recommend checking out off-price retailers. (Off-price retailers are stores that sell brand name merchandise are discounted prices.) I love these stores!

This lot are some I’m not planning on cutting down. I’m keeping them for something special:

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YouTube video link: https://youtu.be/cZwiS9Qrtd8

© Cori Large 15 May 2016

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