Thursday, 10 February 2011

Guest Post - Money saving mummy... (or how I bought wipes for the first year with vouchers alone...)

It all started with a trip to John Lewis, where we cooed excitedly over lovely prams and highchairs... and then passed out on sight of the price tags...

I knew what I wanted in a pram and we had narrowed it down to two models, our favourite being a lovely Silver Cross with a £400 price tag. Determined to get it, I scoured the local papers and finally bought one on Ebay for the princely sum of £52.38. I was worried, but knowing that they were selling for £150 locally, I figured I could always sell it on. In fact, the pram was immaculate, and I was hooked.

Freecycle provided huge bags of maternity and baby clothes – we used what we liked and passed on the rest, and I spent my money on cute things rather than boring basics. In the process, I discovered that you always say yes to hand-me-downs. The person who offers you a bag of strange, grey-tinged babygros, is often the person who turns up on your doorstep with a designer dress, a cake, or indeed a couple of stairgates at just the right moment.

On maternity leave, I discovered the paid survey sites and attended some baby focus groups. By the time we were out and about with a new baby, I had a little cache of vouchers to spend and even some hard cash!
But all of this pales into insignificance against the wipes. By alternately spending vouchers from surveys (while collecting Boots points) and spending those points, I managed to avoid paying cash for wipes for the whole of my daughter's first year. I would hit Boots when they had a good offer on, find a voucher that gave me extra points for a certain spend, then buy enough wipes to get me the points and pay in vouchers. After a couple of shopping trips I had enough points to tide me over until my next voucher instalment.

With a toddler and a website to run, I don't have so much time for complicated strategy but I'm still be a savvy shopper, buying bulk packs of nappies and wipes on repeat order (10% discount) on Amazon for prices that even Lidl own brand can't compete with.

For more painless ways to save money:

·         Sign up to all the free baby clubs – most of the supermarkets, nappy and baby food brands have one. You will get vouchers, samples and advance notice of sales and special offers.
·         Join tester panels – I've trialled sipper cups, toys, baby food and nappies through these.
·         Shop via cashback sites and look for voucher codes for best prices online.
·         Don't be scared of buying second hand, particularly baby clothes – babies grow so fast and parents are given so many gifts that many are brand new. My daughter has had some beautiful outfits from charity shops, including an unworn John Lewis dress at 50p.
·         Know what you need and know a good price. When you see both, buy in bulk.

I'm mum to one gorgeous 18 month old girl and stepmum to two equally lovely
teenagers. A buyer by trade (I do actually shop for a living) I have always
hada keen eye for a bargain. I also run MilkChic - a shopping directory for
nursing mums. MilkChic sources stylish clothing in high street shops which
works for breastfeeding and is mostly built one-handed in evenings and

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