Photo: Getty Images/JGI/Jamie Grill
How is it that little people require such an enormous amount of stuff? From birth, kids’ must-have list is long, and expensive, what with all the toys, strollers, high chairs, books, and bottles, not to mention baby food, toiletries, clothes, and shoes that have to be constantly replenished. Each year “Millennial moms” (ages 18 to 32) rack up $13,000 on average buying kids’ supplies reports a new Baby Center survey. And these savvy mothers aren’t into paying retail. 62 percent search for and download mobile coupons – and eight out of 10 use their phone while shopping in stores.
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All parents can join the club and slash their spending using a few smart tricks. The Krazy Coupon Lady cofounder Joanie Demer tells Yahoo Parenting her top five tips to getting a deal on items for babies and children. And she knows what she’s talking about. The Boise, Idaho native has four kids – all under age eight. “These strategies save me in every possible way, money and time,” she says. “They’re a life-changer.”
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For Clothes, Seek Out “Price Kills”
Maximize the coupons that retailers email by bringing them into the store during a sale week. At Baby Gap, for example, Demer says store associates can only key in one coupon per transaction, so pair yours with the most discounted items in the store, known as “price kills,” and you’ll get the best deal. “Tags ending in $0.97 at the Gap reveal that this is the deepest and final discount offered,” she explains. “But, the store often runs additional 30- to 40-percent off sale prices, which ring up automatically, so you can still use a coupon.” Redeem a $20-off-$100 on top of the other discounts and you score serious savings. “At the end of the day, you’re paying cheaper than Wal-Mart price for Baby Gap.” At Target – which Demer says “is famous for knocking off J. Crew’s Crewcuts – tags ending in “8” reportedly reveal their discounts.
Use apps to score some bonus bank, too. Slice tracks your purchases, organizes the receipts and automatically alerts you when it’s time to request a price adjustment refund, usually within two weeks of original purchase. “All you have to do is go back into the store, show them image of receipt on the app and they’ll send you the refund,” says Demer. And Shopkick gives you points for just walking into stores, including kid-friendly Macy’s and Old Navy, which you can redeem for gift cards. “It’s zero effort,” she says of the app. “You get rewarded for what you’re already doing, just walking in the mall.”
For Toys and Games, Price Match
“One of the best tips out there for books, toys and games is price matching,” she says. Starting about a year ago, Demer says Wal-Mart and Target began matching the prices for merchandise at Toys “R” Us and Amazon, making it easy for parents to comparison shop — and avoid paying for shipping. “Use the Amazon app’s barcode scanner,” she says, adding that she recently got a Monopoly game selling for $16 at Target marked down to $9 at the store (by asking for an Amazon price match), then used a Target coupon and bagged it for a mere $6.
For Baby Food and Diapers, Subscribe
Get all those recurring essentials – including baby wash, lotion, diapers – at a discount every time you buy them by ordering via Amazon’s subscription program. Subscribe to five items for monthly delivery (think three different flavor baby food pouches, diapers, and wipes). “You save 15 percent off everything right off the bat,” says Demer. Plus, you can save $3 more with the site’s digital coupons. “You can literally pay less money to have diapers delivered to your door than if you went to Wal-Mart and bought them there.”
For Kids Furniture, Stack Coupon Codes
Furnishing a nursery and getting that first “big boy” bed isn’t cheap, but coupon codes let you spend less. “You can nab a 20 percent off Pottery Barn Kids coupon on eBay for a couple of bucks and save hundreds outfitting your kids’ room,” says Demer of the 16-digit, one-time-use codes often hawked online. “It sounds counterintuitive to pay for a coupon but you can save so much.” Also consider buying discounted retail gift cards, typically 20 percent off, at sites such as Cardpool and Gift Card Granny. “Then use the coupon codes and gift cards to stack up savings,” she says. “Stores like Kohls allow you to stack up to four codes: $10 off $30 baby, $10 off $30 total purchase, 50 percent off total purchase, free shipping.” Demer used this strategy for the baby shower gift of a woman in her office. “I got $80 worth of baby stuff for her for just $13,” she says. “It’s insane savings.”
For Gifts, Try Alternative Retailers
Outfits, accessories, toys, you name it, alternative online retailers have it — for less. “If you’re loyal to the deal and not the specific brands, you can get 50 percent savings instantly using sites like Zulily, 6pm, Bluefly and DSW, she says. “It’s important to make sure you have your guard up against buying something you don’t need because sale temptation can be high, but if you’re flexible on the name brand and willing to try new ones, there’s significant savings to be realized.”
Aggregation sites are another route, adds Demer, whose own website DealBliss (which she co-founded) refers shoppers to deals online. The website lists sales and coupons, selected by their staff, that result in prices more than half-off. The sales, she says, are “Black-Friday-like, year ‘round.”