Thursday, November 5, 2009

Name-Brand Products... another online tip!

We know we can get free samples of name-brand products online: everything from diapers to formula to Godiva chocolate to foot cream. We know we can clip coupons-- or print them off the Internet-- to make items cheaper. We know we could make some things ourselves, or just go with the generic version. But what about earning name-brand products online?

If you haven't already tried it, here's how it works: Search engines such as Swagbucks have advertisements on their webpages, and they get paid quite a bit when people view those advertisements. They want more people to view the page, so they entice people to use their search engine (rather than Google or Yahoo) by offering you the chance to win points, or 'swagbucks', whenever you search. These Swagbucks can then be redeemed for name-brand products, or online giftcards. Sounds simple? It is. I use Swagbucks about 5 times a day, and usually win 1 or 2 Swagbucks a day. A $5 giftcard to Baby Euphoria is only 10 Swagbucks.

If you already buy products such as Huggies, Pampers, and Enfamil, you can also sign up for their respective rewards sites. Whenever you buy a product, peel off a sticker on the package to find a code. Enter the code online for points, and use the points to enter contests, buy diapers, or redeem for other cool prizes such as photos from Snapfish, jewelry, music downloads, giftcards, and more.

You really can afford the high-quality products in life-- if you play it smart and always get the most value for your money!

PS-- In the last post, I wrote about a service called Cozi. I hope you signed up! If you were already a member, you got a FREE photobook from Shutterfly! Make sure you check out your Cozi account for your reward code, because you can only order your photobook through November 15th!

(See? It pays to sign up for these things! Now you can cross Grandma and Grandpa off your Christmas list!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Enter Code Here

If you're doing any of your Christmas shopping online, by now you have probably noticed an empty box on most check-out pages labelled something like 'Promo Code'. If you got to the website from an advertisement for a discount in an email, chances are the Promo Code field has been filled in. And if not, try filling it in yourself to save some cash this holiday season! Here are some codes, organized by popular site:

Belli Skin Care-- (Ready to get your body back? This stuff gets rid of stretch marks and sagging!)
BABYTALK= 25% off

Children's Place-- (The name-brand clothes we love)
BABYTALK99 = 15% off entire purchase (As their slogan says, "Everything but the baby!"
BTNOV09= $5 off diaper/ formula purchase
10pampers =$10 off your diaper order, plus 50 extra pampers gifts to grow points
PLUS10PCT= 10% off of anything excluding diapers and formula (Those cute little socks that look like shoes, because let's face it, babies just really don't need actual shoes.)
bt1109= free shipping

Santa's Ornament Shop-- (Don't you just NEED a 'Baby's First Christmas' ornament?)
Parent3= $2 off
MUSTSEE2= 2$ off

Wall Words-- (For making your nursery look like you hired an interior designer)
9280747= 15% discount

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lists: of the Grocery, To-Do, and Wish variety

I think, as a mother, I can honestly say that without lists, I would be useless. They do for me what my short-term memory is no longer capable of. (By the way, new mothers are allowed to end sentences with a preposition, up until their baby sleeps through the night. It's a new grammar rule. Look it up.)

Sometimes, though, even a regular chicken-scratch-on-the-back-of-the-pharmacy-receipt list is just not enough to get me through the day. Here are some excellent tools for creating Super Lists that will not only make your more organized, but save you money, too.

Grocery Lists
Immediately sign up for If you shop with a rewards card at any grocery store (Kroger grocery stores, such as Dillon's, are one such grocery store with free rewards cards), you can download all kinds of extra coupons directly to your rewards card. You can also get cell phone coupons for places like Taco Bell. Plus, a nifty-difty feature lets you organize an online grocery list, automatically reminding you which products (everything from diapers to yogurt) you have coupons for. Just print off the list, and bam! You're good to go.

To-Do Lists
Sign up for Cozi and create the ultimate interactive to-do list. The service will send you reminders and, even better, send your husband reminders! It also keeps track of appointments and runs as a cellphone app. In addition, if you sign up now, you can get a free hardcover photo album of your digital prints.

Where'd-My-Money-Go? Lists
The free service Mint is an all-in-one budgeting tool-- allowing you to plan your budgets, and see where your money actually went. It's nearly effortless, too-- It automatically downloads and categorizes your finances and transactions.

Wish Lists
If, anticipating the holiday season, your child has refused in advance to wear any itchy mauve knit sweaters from Great-Aunt Mirabel, you may be in need of the Wish List from Toys R Us. Or, create The Ultimate Wishlist by downloading the Wish Pot toolbar. Basically, it follows the same principles of a baby registry or wedding registry: you only get hand towels in a color that goes wit the rest of your bathroom. Or, in kid terms, you get exactly the Nintendo DS Pokemon Pearl videogame you wanted, and you don't wind up with the unwanted (but, to adults, seemingly similar-sounding) Gameboy Advance Pokemon Diamond. P.S.--This isn't just for kids. You're never too old for a wishlist.

With the help of these lists, you can become (or at least seem like) a mom who has it all together.

And don't feel bad if you next print-off grocery list reads as: 'Milk, Eggs, Vodka.'

You're not alone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tag! You're it!

Unless you live under a rock, if you are pregnant or have a child under the age of 2, you have heard of Taggies. They have flooded department stores and boutiques alike, and the name-brand item is all the rage in nurseries and mommy-and-me circles. Although Taggies are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, they have just now really hit the scene in the States, and you may be wondering what your child is missing if you haven't already bought one.
If you have been living under a rock, your first question may be, one what? What is a Taggie?

The answer: Something with tags sewn onto it. That's it.Taggies sells blankets, clothes, toys, games, stuffed animals, and basically anything else that's soft and possible to buy for a small child. Marketed as 'security blankets', rubbing the tags is supposedly soothing to infants. According to their website, Taggies give baby "not only warmth and comfort, but enjoyment when playing with the tags. This is great as baby begins to unwind for nap or bed time. They will now lull themself to sleep, while clenching, twisting, and feeling the tags that are so much fun."

That's a large claim for some bits of ribbon sewn onto a piece of fleece.

While I'm a little sceptical of their sleep-harnessing powers, the Taggies generally conform to developmental specialists' suggestions that infants be given a variety of textures to feel in order to learn about the world around them.

Although Taggies claim that the bits of ribbon sewn onto their toys are 'intellectual property' that they spent a boatload of time and effort to develop, mothers have been putting textured fringes and borders on blankets for years. I was born in 1991 and as an infant, I had one such multi-textured blanket-- well before the founding of Taggies in 1999.

In conclusion, the name-brand product is all the rage right now, but any multi-textured fringed or bordered blanket will soothe your child and help him learn to appreciate the world around him. Or, you can sew your own tagged blanket. Simply cut wide ribbon into 3- to 6- inch pieces, fold in half, and sew to the inside of a seam around the edge of the blanket, shirt, or other product you are embellishing. I recommend using a sewing machine for this, not only for the sake of time, but for durability. Go over each tag several times and make sure your thread is knotted well. Never sew something on that could come off and pose as a choking hazard, such as a button.

When selecting your ribbon, look for a variety of textures-- ribbed horizontally or vertically, ricrac, corduroy, silky, velvety, etc. Also keep in mind that infants can see black and white first, followed by red, then bright colors such as deep yellow and green. Patterns should be in stark contrast, and while baby pastels look pretty to us grown folk, they are practically invisible to infants and do nothing whatsoever to stimulate their visual growth.

Or, if you have already subscribed to the Taggies craze, enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win even more tagged gear.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Close encounters with generic brands

First and foremost, I love my name-brand freebies. If you signed up for the offers in the formula article, your mail box was probably also recently flooded with gifts and coupons. In the past four days, I have received 3 containers of powdered formula-- 1 EarlyShield Similac, 1 Soy Similac, and 1 regular Enfamil-- all the 18-serving size (That's 54 bottles for free!). Between Similac and Infamil, I also got $55 in coupons for formula and a $2 coupon for a vitamin supplement for breastfeeding mothers (I breastfeed and supplement with formula). I also got 3 Huggies Pure and Natural diapers.

Second-- I have an aunt who's a fellow penny-pincher, but more of the generic variety. She swears by Wal*Mart's store brand of diapers, and Target's store-brand of wipes. At my baby shower, I received several kinds of Target's store-brand wipes-- some with lanolin (a generic imitator of the Lansinoh variety), and I felt they worked just as well as Huggies' and Pampers' wipes.

So, when my aunt gave me a package of newborn Parent's Choice diapers, I decided to give it a shot. They seemed to fit better than either Huggies newborn or Huggies size 1 diapers at this stage in Sophie's life (9 lbs, 4 oz), and the inside seemed softer than Huggies size 1 diapers (but less soft than either Huggies or Pampers newborn diapers). However, they were rough and papery on the outside. Superficial judgements aside, we've also had an assortment of leaks with ou generic Parent's Choice diapers. Luckily, no clothes have actually been ruined, so it hasn't been a cost drawback yet, but it has been inconvenient. Even if you can't afford the name-brand in diapers, at least treat yourself to some free samples now and then.

Third-- This blog is, if you haven't figured out by now, about how to afford name-brand quality for your child. I have shared with you many ways of doing this, through the use of free samples, rewards cards, coupons, and community resources. Another great way of giving your child quality products is to make them yourself. From a Sharpie-on-posterboard checkerboard patten that hangs over the headrest for your child to look at while in the car, to a scrap-fabric multi-texture tummy-time rug (a project currently underway... er... waiting in the closet for me to have some free time with which to complete it...), DIY is an excellent way to give your child quality, and unique, tools with which to grow developmentally, emotionally, and intellectually.

For great ideas to try in your own free time (I'm struggling to keep a straight face while advising mothers about what to do with their free time), check out Prudent Baby.

Finally, for more freebies, check out some of my favorite posts... like Affording a Name-Brand Education, and Stuff Mommy Deserves (like Godiva chocolate).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stuff For Mom

Being a mom is 24-hour job (even if you work outside the home), with no coffee breaks, paid vacation, sick leave, or worker's comp (tennis elbow and carpel tunnel from holding a colicky baby for hours on end, anyone?). After spending all this effort to get the very best in (free) name-brand diapers, formula, and education for your children, you deserve something nice for YOU.

Let's start off with some free chocolate. Some free Godiva chocolate. Yes, that's Godiva chocolate, as in the $10-for-four-pieces kind. This is why my blog is called the Name-Brand Mommy, not the lousy-cheap-generic-store-brand Mommy (even though that's realistically all I could afford without these freebies). Just sign up for a Godiva rewards card, and in addition to earning free chocolate when you make Godiva purchases (yeah, right), you'll automatically get a free sample of chocolate in the mail every month. Imagine what a treat it will be when, after a long day of unappreciated cleaning, cooking, and chauffeuring, a piece of quality chocolate arrives unexpectedly in your mailbox.

The next thing you need is a pedicure. As if you have time for that, right? Okay, then, how about a free super-rich foot cream. Kerasal is the good stuff. I promise. And you deserve it, after all your feet have been through (chasing after babies and walking for hours through Wal*Mart).

And how about a party? Yea, okay, sounds like more work than relaxation. But how about a professionally-planned party with food and entertainment provided? House Party offers users the chance to test new products-- new foods, unreleased albums, and pre-screened movies, software, games, and crafts. You pick who to invite, and House Party manages your RSVPs, plans your party, and provides the stuff. You even get extra freebies for hosting the party. Like a Tupperware or Pampered Chef party, only you don't have to try to sell anything. If it still sounds like too much of a challenge, sign up and you could wind up as a guest at a party in your area and still get the free stuff. And a night off. Woo-hoo!

Enjoy your freebies... next post, we'll return the attention to your adorable and deserving kids ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Name-Brand Education

As new parents, we probably all fantasize about where our children will wind up. These fantasies do not usually include the words 'community college' (not to dis on them; I will be at a local community college next semester, in fact). But the truth of the matter is, we all want to see our children get into a big-name university; something Ivy-League would be nice. And if not fully covered in Ivy, then at least a university with a few leaves to its name.

How do we get our kids there? The first thing we can do is aid their development as much as possible, starting as young as possible. You don't need the fancy expensive genius baby tutors; Parents as Teachers will do the trick. Even if you're still pregnant, they'll meet with you (for free, of course) and discuss what you can be doing to help your child have every advantage possible. They will continue to meet with you and evaluate your child's needs, and what you can do to reach the next developmental milestones, well into toddlerhood.

You can also help your child to reach milestones provide developmentally-appropriate toys for your child; Enter to win $100 in free toys from Fisher-Price or a Baby Einstein Package. Reading to your child every night has also been shown to improve academic success. Although not a replacement for reading to you child, these free audio children's books will be a greatly enjoyed supplement for in the car-- or whenever.

You can aid the intellectual development of a child of any age-- or of yourself-- by attending museums and other expositions. On Saturday, September 26 (Museum Day), you can attend most museums for free-- just download a free admission card from the Smithsonian website.

Of course, the next question is, how to afford Yale or Stanford? The name-brand university costs quite a bit more than the generic community college! If your kid is still in diapers, I recommend Upromise. A division of Sallie Mae, UPromise gives you cash back on grocery purchases, restaurant meals, online shopping, and many other purchases-- even for major appliances, such as refrigerators and houses-- and puts the saved cash towards your kid's college fund. Brilliant. Imagine how much money you'll spend on, well, stuff in the next 18 years. Now imagine if you could use 8% to pay for college. Dartmouth: paid for.

If your kid's a little older and looking at going to college in the next couple years, or if you're looking at going back to college soon, it may be more realistic to set your sights on scholarships. Make sure your kid (or you) takes all of the practice ACTs and SATs he or she possibly can, as well as any IB or AP classes he or she can reasonably handle. Free practice questions are available online; you school or community may also offer affordable prep classes. Schools also want students who exhibit leadership, so your kid should be involved in extracurricular activities: sports, clubs, and community service. Bonus points if he or she wins a major award for organizing a community service project, like these fine gentlemen (high school friends of mine).

Once your resume is ready, start applying for scholarships. Zinch and Fastweb will match you up with scholarships based on personal strengths and extracurricular activities.

Whether you child's in diapers or high school, hopefully these resources will help you to see that name-brand pennant on their bedroom wall in the years to come. =)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

When you need something you just don't have...

Sophie and I joined a baby-parent group at our local birthcare center, which meets for an hour and a half midmorning once a week, and it was just wonderful. I strongly recommend looking for one in your area, or joining an online community for new moms such as Strong Moms, Cafe Mom, or Mom Logic. These communities offer excellent support:something every mother needs.

While at the parent-baby group, the nurse who directs the group and answers questions firmly suggested that I see my doctor ASAP because I just wasn't healing right. So I called my ob/gyn at about 11, and the receptionist was sure I could get in some time that day, and would call me back to tell me when to come in. I live in a suburb out of town, so I decided to wait around in town until I got the call.

I wound up seeing the doctor around 5 pm.

Being an ever-vigilant mom (riiiiight...), I had packed 6 diapers for our 3-hour trip to town. Unfortunately, I did not count on it turning into a 10-hour trip. In the last hour, I was forced to construct an emergency diaper out of 3 maxipads.

If you need free diapers, I do not recommend trying to make your own using maxipads. It proved not to be leak-proof. Instead, I recommend a free sample of Huggies. Or, check out my post about making Huggies fit your budget.

Also, don't hesitate to ask your ob/gyn, pediatrician, or the hospital where you give birth for free samples of formula. Most have plenty on hand and will be glad to share. Or, scroll down to Formula vs Boob for more ways to get free formula.

So keep using free samples whenever they're available! And, in light of my creative diaper alternative, please share: What's the craziest substitute you've ever had to use as a mother? And, did it work?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Keep your fingers crossed and your junk email address at the ready...

Many people think it's a waste of time to enter sweepstakes, but I don't. After all, someone has to win them, and I might as well have a shot at it. One thing I do recommend: create an email address specifically to use on sites that may send junk email so that all that spam doesn't flood your personal email account. But, remember to check your junk email address regularly so that you don't miss a notification if you win!

Here are some sweepstakes sites I've found:

Enter to win a digital camera

Enter to win Bambino diaper trial pack

Enter a cute photo of your baby for cash

Or, vote for my adorable daughter Sophie taking her first bath!

Follow my blog and check back soon for more coupons, deals, freebies, giveaways, free samples, and sweepstakes! Or scroll down through the next couple of posts if you need free formula (yesterday's post has been updated with 3 new sites from which to get free samples of formula!) and free diapers. (Who doesn't?!?)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Formula Vs Boob: The debate continues

My daughter is eight days old today-- hence so few updates last week! ;) They say it takes 2 weeks to get back into the swing of things, so hopefully by next week I'll be updating every day again with coupons, freebies, ways to save, and other resources for parents who want the best and just can't afford it without help! (Believe me, I know-- after picking up a prescription yesterday, I have exactly $3 to last me till next week...)

And on the the subject of this post-- I'd opted for breastfeeding. Healthier, cheaper, and, according to some, less stinky diapers (yay!). Unfortunately I've had quite a bit of trouble getting the hang of it, and we had to supplement with formula. I'm not of the if-you-use-formula-you-will-go-to-Hell school of thought, but it was still disappointing because I felt inadequate and formula is EXPENSIVE. Luckily, we got soem free samples. If you need some samples of Infamil, just print off this certificate and take it to your doctor. If you have not had your baby yet, register with Infamil and/ or Nestle Similac get certificates to take to the hospital with you to get a free diaper bag in addition to your samples.

UPDATE Sept 14 2009:
More free formula samples!
Parent's Choice Immune Support
Parent's Choice Gentle Formula
Parent's Choice Milk Based

And back to the original post:

We also got some great help from a lactation consultant at the hospital and a member of my local chapter of La Leche League. They helped me to find someone from whom to rent a breast pump, which is much less irritating to my skin than my daughter's tongue-thrust suck. Also, I can start pumping milk to save (good for 5 months in the freezer!) to use for when I go back to work and school so that I don't have to use (and buy) formula then.

Also, I got a prescription for something called Triple Cream-- more than just lanolin, it has antibiotics and prevents infection and thrush (yeast infection in the baby's mouth). Unfortunately, it was about $90, and I wasn't sure how much insurance would cover. I had $33 in cash, and decided if it cost more than $30, I just couldn't afford it. Luckily, it cost $30 even! So... $3 to get till next week. Luckily, between my infinite free samples of diapers (scroll down a few posts to read more about that) and my new breast pump and formula samples, we should be fine for another week. =)

Good luck saving money and getting the best for your kids, and don't forget to look at the picture of my beautiful new daughter Sophie in the next post! =)

Friday, September 11, 2009

The baby is here!

Sophie was born on Friday September 4th at 9:24 am after 17 hours of labor (boy, was that fun). She weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long. She's absolutely beautiful. Catching up on sleep whenever she's asleep, but check back soon for more links and ways to save!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

To afford Huggies...

I'm the kind of girl that grits her teeth or sighs when she sees a purse adorned with two entwined ovals... "Don't they know that's a Coach knock-off?" is going through my head.

I have the same mindset when it comes to, well, everything. Surprisingly I get it from my dad, who has never worn a knock-off of anything. Not even tennis shoes. From my mother, I inherit a penny-pinching mindset (luckily, because I'm an 18-year-old mother-to-be without a college degree or job). This blog is about using these two sets of values-- a desire for the best of the best with a need to save money-- and helping you to do the same.

My baby is due September 7th, so I'm stocking up on things I'll need right now. Basically, that means diapers. I am amazed at how expensive they are, but I want to get the Huggies, not the off-brand! What if the off-brand aren't as good? What if they give my daughter diaper rash? What if the other babies in daycare grit their teeth or sigh at her Shuggies or Snuggies or whatever? "Doesn't she know those are Huggies knock-offs?"

The first wonderful resource I found was the Huggies Rewards Program. By purchasing Huggies, or by taking polls, watching ads, etc, you can earn points, which can be used to enter drawings for more diapers. How nifty.

I would also recommend joining the Babies R Us rewards program: for every 9 boxes of diapers you buy, you get a tenth free. Plus, if you go to Toys R Us and register for baby gifts, you get a free diaper (just the one; but hey, every diaper counts) plus a $5 coupon. Yes, you can use it for diapers. Oh, and everything you register for that nobody buys you? You get %10 off of it after your due date. Or 'due date'. I wouldn't be surprised if people who aren't pregnant haven't registered before, and you'd get the savings.

And, of course, check your local newspaper for ads and coupons. I clip all the diaper coupons, and noticed that Babies R Us is doing a promotion right now: If you buy 2 boxes of Huggies, you get a $10 Toys R Us gift card to be used on your next purchase.

Using these methods, as well as coupons clipped from my local newspaper, I bought 2 boxes of diapers today. I still paid $53 for 34 days' worth of diapers, but I also got the $10 gift card. I also paid only around 19 cents per diaper, while the Consumer Report of 2001 suggests that diapers cost 25 to 45 cents each. So I guess I did all right.

I've also found a few websites from which coupons can be printed off, as well as sweepstakes websites. I'll update with those later. In the meantime, good luck not got broke on diapers.