Tag Archives: Budget

Money-Saving Tips for New Parents

One thing (among many) that people tell you to prepare for is how much money you are going to spend when it comes to your first child. From the latest bouncer to multiple sets of crib sheets, and endless supply of diapers and some cute décor to spice up your nursery, let’s be honest: a lot of money is going to go out the door.

My husband and I have attempted to approach the whole ordeal in as practical a manner as possible. We certainly have skimped when it comes to preparing for our little nugget (and have been graciously showered with lots of items from our fabulous family and friends) but we’ve also attempted to stay grounded and realistic and not completely empty our bank accounts for something that the nugget may (or may not) actually enjoy or use.

While money has gone out the door, I’ve been completely surprised at how much money we have not spent. That’s right…through tips from friends, helpful good Samaritans and just randomly stumbling across things in my day-to-day, I’ve actually come away from pregnancy with a lot of freebies!

Below I’m sharing my top picks.

Extra Teeth Cleanings

I am fortunate to have one of the best dentists in town. Not only do they provide fabulous customer and professional services, but also they are super proactive in ensuring their patients get the best care. This past spring I went in for my typical 6-month cleaning and shared the news that I was expecting a little nugget. My dentist and his team immediately informed me that many dental plans offer a supplemental cleaning (at no charge) for preggo ladies. They confirmed my coverage and scheduled me to head back in a few months time.

All insurance plans are different, but it’s totally worth a quick ask to your dentist or dental insurance plan.

Baby Registry Freebies

Marketers LOVE new parents. Why? Because we really don’t have a huge clue of what we’re doing and we’re the quintessential prospective buyer for all their products. So what have these savvy retailers done? Set up fabulous freebies to accompany your baby registries in the hopes that you’ll take advantage of the coupons and discounts and buy even more.

Hands down, it’s super important that you register at the stores that make the most sense for your lifestyle. For me, I wanted stores that provided a variety of name brand goods that was convenient to my home location. In the end, we chose Amazon (because who doesn’t LOVE Amazon, especially if you’re a Prime customer) and Target, because it was the closest brick and mortar store to our home.

While many of the other retailers offers similar programs, these two retailers reward their gift registers with a nice “Welcome Box” filled with freebies. While a lot of the items aren’t particularly useful (small samples and coupons) they do often include a few full-size and travel-size options from some of the most popular companies.

From baby wipes to pacifiers, you will get a ton of random items. I’ll be honest, some of the items just hit the garbage bin, but I did hold on to a few items, including some of the travel-size options that went into small “emergency poop” kits that I plan to store in each of our cars.

In addition to the retailers that we used for our baby registry, we also seemed to accrue similar “freebie” bags at the baby preparation classes we attended and even some maternity clothes shops that I purchased some items from. Again, you may not use all or any of it, but it’s worth a quick look!

Breastfeeding Equipment

While your choice to breastfeed or formula feed is completely your own, I was informed by a friend that most insurance plans cover a portion (if not the full cost) of breastfeeding equipment. Similar to dental coverage, everything depends on the small print in your plan, but I was so glad to get this tip from another mama.

In my case, I had been working diligently on my registry and was pretty shocked at the costs of some of the breastfeeding gear. Sure you can get a standard pump for a fairly reasonable cost, but if you want something that is a bit more high-tech or comes in a carrier case that may be more convenient for a future working mom (like me), then the costs were going up to the $200 range.

After speaking with this friend, I called my health insurance (get used to this, it will happen a lot) and got the skinny on my policy. Typically health insurance companies will outsource the order to a medical supply company (or if you have a group insurance plan like Kaiser, they may handle the request in house) but your insurance company should give you the overview of what you’re entitled to and how to get it.

My plan warned me that they could not take requests on the type, make, or model of the desired pump and I should be prepared to get “what was available.” I still ended up putting a very polite note on my request (which required a doctor’s prescription) asking for a specific brand/model which I had heard good things about.

At the end of the day, it all worked out. I spoke with the medical supply vendor and they were extremely helpful in getting me sorted out. My insurance plan covered a standard model, but allowed me to ‘upgrade’ to my desired mom-friendly option for a small cost.

Dental Equipment

Can I mention how much I love my dentist? Well on my second “free pregnancy” teeth cleaning, I was chatting with the office again and they mentioned that some insurance plans also offer medical (not dental) coverage for teeth-related procedures and equipment. In short, pregnancy can be an extremely strange time for your body and so it’s within everyone’s best interest to keep mama healthy (and happy I may add). In some instances you can use this time to consider purchasing dental items (think an electronic toothbrush or a water pick) to ensure that you have the best items to keep your teeth healthy when they’re most vulnerable. Again, everything is subject to your plan, but it’s definitely worth an ask to see if you can qualify for coverage.

My teeth have taken a bit of a beating during my pregnancy and I had been eyeing a more advanced toothbrush to try to keep them on the healthy track. I am thrilled to have a portion of the cost of this item covered!

Diaper Programs

As with breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, choosing your diaper type is completely a personal decision. For those going the disposable route, you know that a lot of money is going to go toward the endless supply that you’ll need for the next few years. Fortunately a lot of retailers know this, and they want you to buy your endless supply from them!

Amazon has an awesome diaper program for those that use the online giant for their registry. Hit $1,000 worth of merchandise on your registry and they’ll reward you with a $100 credit to use toward diapers. For all the new parents out there, that’s approximately 400 diapers…which may last you just over a month when you have a newborn and maybe two months when your kiddo gets a little older.

Other diaper manufactures like Pampers and Huggies have frequent purchase programs where you can receive credit toward your future purchases based on past purchases. Tip: Most have mobile apps that allow you to scan your purchase barcodes to help simplify the process.

Getting yourself situated for a new baby is a huge process and one that can cost some money. However, I feel fortunate to have been able to receive so many fabulous tips throughout my pregnancy on money-saving options that have helped us stay in budget.

Summer Workout Clothing Steals

For me, the biggest priority when it comes to selecting workout clothes is ensuring I have plenty of pieces. On average (not every week), I try to work out at least five days a week. Now I’m not saying each of those workouts are “sweat-driven-air-sucking-do-or-die” workouts, but I do try to stay fairly active. Due to the frequency of my workout routines (and until the last year, communal laundry facilities), I have always had the need to keep a full stock of workout clothes in my closet. I figured there are plenty of distractions that I have to fight to get outside and workout, but not having a clean set of clothes, shouldn’t be one of those distractions.

In my post-college years, high-end designer activeware giants like Lululemon and Lucy were becoming quite popular. Unfortunately for me, my 20-something salary really couldn’t afford one pair of $100 workout pants, let alone five! As a result, I started having to look for thriftier ways to find some of my workout staples.

Now that I have bridged over to the third decade of my life, my workout budget has expanded a bit, and yet, I’ve realized that there are a few key workout pieces that I wouldn’t rotate out.

Here are some of my budget-friendly staples:

  • Forever 21’s Basic Cami ($1.90) – That’s right you read it correctly, weighing in at just under two dollars is one of the core pieces of my workout drawer. Here’s why. First, this cami is extremely light-weight, and despite it’s cotton/spandex composition, it’s quite breathable. It also comes in about every color in the rainbow.

Workout Clothes 1

What I Wear it For? This is a major go-to for me when it comes to outdoor warm-weather activities–the style counterbalances the tan lines that I receive from a traditional racerback top. I also love using this as a layering piece for cold-weather activities.

Purchase Tip: I actually tend to purchase two sizes of this top. I buy up by two sizes when it comes to a running top. I like the extra space and prefer a baggier top. I buy up by one size when it comes to a top for indoor activities like a core workout or a yoga class.

  • Walmart’s Danskin Now Women’s Tank ($6.86) – I actually learned about this tank on a whim. Prior to our big trek up Mt. Whitney, we were loading up on some hike supplies at the local Walmart and I came across this top by the checkout counter. I didn’t even try it on. It’s such a comfortable top and has the dry-wicking composition which is essential for a sweaty workout.

Workout Clothes 2

What I Wear it For? This is by far my go-to top when it comes to a majorly sweaty activity. It truly dries quickly and has a form-fitting style, without being too tight.

Purchase Tip: Not near a Walmart? Consider buying this top online. At just under $7 it’s worth the gamble!

  • Old Navy’s 3” Running Short ($15.00) – I have several pairs of these running shorts and really love them. They’re a great length for my petite frame (a bit taller? Consider the 3.5” length) and come in a variety of colors. The fabric is also breathable and dries quickly, and let’s be honest we all live fairly close to an Old Navy.

Workout Clothes 3

What I Wear it For? These are my primary running shorts for the Spring and Summer. I also find them really comfortable for hiking and other outdoors sports.

Purchase Tip: Old Navy always has good sales, so take advantage of that extra percentage off and stock up.

  • Costco’s Addidas Ladies Three-Quarter Tight ($16.99) – These tights are one of my favorite workout staples because they combine the quality of the Addidas brand with the budget-friendly Costco price.

Workout Clothes 4

What I Wear It For? I love these tights when it comes to an early-morning run when the weather is still a bit crisp. I also plan to wear them as layer-paint on an upcoming high-altitude hike that I’m doing in a few weeks.

Purchase Tip: Costco can be tough since you really don’t have anywhere to try the pants on. Consider doing your best to guess your size and rest assured that Costco remains EXCELLENT when it comes to hassle-free returns.

Despite being completely open to saving a buck or two on some of my workout clothes, there are some fitness items that I am less comfortable purchasing at a budget price. Stayed tuned, as I plan to share those items in he future.

When it comes to workout clothes, everyone has their own style. Some people prefer less items but from higher-end designers. The most important consideration is if your workout clothes match your workout style and personal budget.

Do you have a budget-friendly workout staple? If so, we’d love for you to share!

Tips for the Budget-Conscious Traveler

Spring is in full bloom and we are pulling out our travel calendars in preparation for summer getaways and the soon-approaching “wedding season.” While we all wish we could have unlimited travel funds and jet-set around the globe, most of us are tethered by other financial obligations that encourage us to be budget-minded when we book our fabulous trips.

Travel Tips 1

In celebration of the upcoming travel season, we wanted to share some of our favorite budget-friendly travel tips.

  • Book Early: The most simple tip, and yet the most challenging to execute, is to make all your reservations as early as possible. Without a doubt, you will get the best pricing and the most variety in everything from flights to hotels, activities to car rentals. For an added convenience, most booking sites allow a certain amount of flexibility in modifying or cancelling your reservation, without penalty. As a result, booking early will allow you to “lock in” a special price, but the flexibility to cancel, if something better comes along (or your plans change).
  • Pre-Plan Activities and Eateries: Consider doing some research prior to your trip on some of the activities that you want to participate in, and even some key restaurants to visit. While it’s fun to leave part of your trip up in the air, pre-planning a portion can allow you to search for a good deal for tickets to a Broadway show, or point you in the direction of that amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurant that people rave about on Yelp.

Travel Tips 2

  • Alternate Accommodations: With the rise of AirBNB and VRBO, there are lots of options for accommodations, beyond a traditional hotel stay. These privately-owned apartments and homes often times offer just what you’re looking for at a cheaper or comparable price. Plus, those that offer kitchens allow you to eat breakfast or lunch at home, which can cut down on food expenses (not to mention Vacation Weight Gain!).
  • Travel Promo Codes: Make sure to check out the latest promo codes prior to booking anything for your trip. Most hotels, car rentals and activity companies have promotional discounts on sites like RetailMeNot, and many work with online rebate companies like eBates. While 10% may not seem like a lot in the moment, the savings can add up when you’re utilizing multiple codes.
  • Voucher-Based Promotions: Have some flexibility in planning the exact days and activities of your trip? Consider popular voucher-based programs like LivingSocial, Groupon or Travelzoo. These companies provide fantastic discounts for a variety of destination activities. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a great deal on a river rafting adventure or a budding chef interest in taking a cooking class, vouchers can offer significant discounts on otherwise costly activities. While you always want to read the fine print for limitations (i.e. periods of time you can redeem your voucher), utilizing vouchers are a great way to increase the amount of activities you can participate in, without breaking your budget.

Travel Tips 3

  • Travel on Off-Hours: I love to try to book flights at “off hours.” I’m a morning person, so I often select the first flight option of the day. While you have to get up early, you often can maximize your activities in your destination by having time on your travel day to explore. Plus it reduces an extra evening at a hotel that you may incur when booking a later afternoon/evening flight.
  • Stay Off the Beaten Path: If you’re visiting a city with a good public transportation system or even a destination with surrounding suburbs, consider booking accommodations just outside your main destination. Hotel prices can be significantly less—this way, you can avoid downtown prices but still have access to the travel attractions.

Do you have a favorite budget travel tip? If so, we’d love for you to share!