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Saving Strategies

It's not going to change: Babies will always need new diapers, new playthings, new tiny shirts and pants when they outgrow the old ones, and -- jeez, they're so demanding! -- new jars of pureed goo to spit out once they start solids. Over the years, Babytalk has printed various articles on how to pay for all that new stuff, and we've received thousands of tips from frugal readers. The one constant? The fiscal power of a pair of scissors. "Always clip coupons," admonishes Ami Vaughn of Clermont, Florida. Jennifer Krasusky of Tolland, Connecticut, couldn't agree more: "I save hundreds of dollars each year at the grocery store by using coupons." Modern moms go well beyond the Sunday circular, though. "I buy $20 worth of diaper coupons for $3 on eBay," says Julie Kennebeck of Williamsburg, Iowa. Elizabeth Donovan of Fairfax, Virginia, goes straight to the sources: "When my daughters were born, a friend suggested I sign up on the Gerber, Beech-Nut, Enfamil, and Similac websites. They send me coupons and samples that save me a ton of money on baby food and formula." If you don't use a particular brand, you can always trade its coupons -- "with other moms at work or daycare or mommy groups," says Jill Connolly of Watertown, Massachusetts -- for ones of brands that you do. But don't stop there. Read on for more ways to save:

Diapers and formula
"Since I don't live near a Costco or Sam's Club, I buy diapers and wipes in bulk on Amazon.com. They have great promotions, and the shipping always seems to be free."
 -- Lisa Moran, New York, NY

"If you aren't satisfied with a product, let the company know. I've called up diaper companies and told them that I didn't like their new waistband or stretch tabs and have received coupons for free bags of diapers just so they didn't lose me as a customer."
 -- Diane Burdick, Pensacola, FL

"I finally realized that store-brand formula is just as good as name-brand in most cases. Sure, it took me eight months before I settled on a store brand -- and saved about $12 a can -- but hey, better late than never!"
 -- Chrissy Perry, Hilliard, OH

"If you actually fill out the forms they hand you in the hospital when you give birth, you can pretty much get away with free formula and free diapers for quite a few months. Every time I go to the mailbox, I get another 'Congratulations' packet from manufacturers."
 -- Tara McCann Beavers, Park City, UT

"Breastfeeding saves a lot of money."
-- Catherine Schroeder, Columbus, OH

"When my son, Cooper, was a baby and on Nutramigen, we would ask the pediatrician for a can of formula each time we went for an appointment of any kind. At $20 a can, this helped us save a lot."
-- Heather Smurr, Boerne, TX

"I buy our diapers in bulk at diapers.com. They're cheaper than at wholesale clubs, and they have free shipping."
-- Elizabeth Bailey, Washingtonville, NY

Food and fun

"I think more long-term with my menu. The turkey breast in my slow cooker right now will make dinner tonight, turkey wraps tomorrow, and turkey noodle soup the next day. I use one $9 turkey breast for three to five meals."
-- Jody Wallace, Claremore, OK

"I never go to a local restaurant without first logging on to myclipper.com, valpak.com, or moneymailer.com. They often have coupons for my favorite eateries."
-- Deborah Skolnik, Scarsdale, NY

"To save on groceries, I cut coupons from the Sunday newspaper and match those up with sale items on couponmom.com."
-- Alisha Daniell, Dallas, GA

"We bought a deep freezer for the garage so we can stock up on good food deals."
-- Kelly Ames Smith, Darien, CT

"I trade coupons with members of my local Mothers of Twins club." -- Angelice Tyson, Baton Rouge, LA

"If you belong to a wholesale club, log on to their website and see what else, besides the stuff you find at the store, they sell. For example, Costco sells movie tickets, good at lots of local chains, for just $13 or $14 a pair."

-- T.P. Enders, Scarsdale, NY

"I use a Crock-Pot to help save on time and food. Since the meat simmers, you can scrimp on cheaper cuts and still get delicious food." -- Diane Burdick, Pensacola, FL

"We have game night with other couples once a week. It gets us out of the house and with other people, without spending too much." -- Danielle Spears, Indianapolis, IN

Toiletries

"I buy a bottle of foaming soap or kids' foaming shampoo (somewhat expensive) and once it's used up, I fill it with one part cheaper soap/shampoo and three parts water. The foaming bottles are designed to create a lot of suds with very little soap, so you use less."
-- April Jones, Modesto, CA

"I love those daily facial cleansing cloths, but they aren't cheap. I found that each cloth had enough cleanser for two washes, so I cut them in half when I buy a new box. You can do the same with dryer sheets and baby wipes, too."
-- Kelly England McElwain, Davidsville, PA

"I love to rebate-shop, particularly at Rite Aid, where they let you do the rebate online  -- there are no UPCs to cut out or mail. I've saved hundreds of dollars on toothpaste, deodorant, and more."
-- Kellie McLean, Saint Joseph, MI

Baby gear

"There are great websites like freecycle.org and craigslist.com where people sell (for cheap), trade, or even give away used baby gear."
-- Shannon McGuire-Perry, Fairhaven, MA

"We check out DVDs for free from the library instead of renting them at a video store."
-- Jennifer Chen, Canton, MI

"I make sure to do all my baby-gear shopping at a store that has a 'Baby Club.' That way, for every $100 I spend, I get a $10 coupon for my next shopping trip." -- Deborah Skolnik, Scarsdale, NY

"Before I buy any baby-gear item online, I always do a Google search for coupons. I can usually get free shipping or an extra 10 to 25 percent savings that way."
-- Elizabeth Donovan, Fairfax, VA

Infant clothing

"Shop out of season. During the fall, we shop for next summer, and during the spring, we shop for next winter. I get my son jeans, shirts, and even name-brand sweaters for $1 to $4 each, compared with the normal price of $10 to $50 each."
-- Jennifer Paquette, Johnson, VT

"I bought nearly all of my maternity clothes on eBay and have started getting some kid clothes there, too. I don't have to waste time at crowded garage sales, and I know right away that the clothes come from smoke-free homes. You can search for a 'lot' and get an entire season's wardrobe."
-- Jody Wallace, Claremore, OK

"Sign up for department store credit cards so you can receive their special coupons -- but don't actually use the cards."
-- Ginny Gallo-Dowdakin, Sleepy Hollow, IL

"I never miss the half-off sales that take place every two weeks at the Goodwill store near me. I've found brand-new designer baby clothing for $1 apiece -- cheaper than consignment shops and eBay."
-- Shelly Yazzie, Chandler, AZ

"Stop shopping retail! Children's consignment stores are huge bargain hot spots. Almost all of them hold big sales -- which usually include half-price days -- at the end of each season. Find out when the stores near you have sales and stock up."
-- Jessica Escue, Portland, TN

Services

"I pay our bills through our bank account online for free. No envelopes, no stamps, and a quicker turnaround time so you don't get fined expensive late fees."
-- Denise Koster, Hugo, CO

"A lot of the Internet photo services offer free prints when you first sign up. Some offer 50 free prints, for example, your first time. Look around for the best incentives."
-- Lydia Bouk, Cleveland, NC

"For haircuts or hair color, get a model or trainee cut. Many top salons have a models night where patrons get their hair cut or colored by trainees. The senior stylists oversee the entire event, so it can't go too wrong."
-- Reena Vadehra, New York, NY

"I called around and got deals from different cable/DSL/satellite/phone service providers in the area. Then I called my current cable provider and told them about the deals I had been offered elsewhere. They buckled and cut me a good deal. If they don't, switch!"
-- Chrissy Perry, Hilliard, OH

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