Homemade Baby/Toddler Food or Pre-Made Pouch Food – This Parent Says, “Just Do You.”.

Homemade Baby/Toddler Food or Pre-Made Pouch Food – This Parent Says, “Just Do You.”.

Recently I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook regarding the difference between making your own baby/toddler food and purchasing canned or pouch baby/toddler food. The comments on some of these posts have made me laugh and some have made me slightly angry due to the mommy shaming of those parents who decide to purchase pouch food for their kids. As a parent, I have done both. I started out making my daughter homemade baby food when she first started eating, and then switched to baby led weaning. Now that she is a toddler it can be hard sometimes to get her to want to eat anything other than French fries, pasta, rice, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets. While she does eat vegetables and I would not consider her a picky eater I still purchase pouch food for her every once in a while. I have to admit they are convenient to have when traveling and my daughter loves them. She views them as a treat. I am not ashamed to purchase them and feed them to my daughter, and neither should any parent. Sometimes it can be more expensive to purchase pouch food, and sometimes if you purchase them on sale, with coupons, and use coupon apps, like Ibotta, then pouch food can cost the same or sometimes less than making your own baby/toddler food. Which ones to choose for your little ones is up to you. I personally feel some are better than others, but there are so many to choose from.

When Shespeaks and Similac asked me if I would try the Go & Grow by Similac Pouches I said yes because I wanted to possibly be able to suggest another pouch food for parents since there are so many. Screenshot_20170713-181756I am happy to say that the Go & Grow by Similac Pouches did end up passing mine and my daughters 3-point inspection. When looking for any baby/toddler pouch or can food at the store I look at its ingredients, price (this includes how often they go on sale, available coupons, and coupon app rebate availability), and lastly my daughters taste test. There has been some pouch food that has passed the ingredients and price tests, but my daughter did not like them at all.

Ingredients: Before I purchased Go & Grow by Similac pouches I made sure to check the ingredients first. Screenshot_20170713-181948All of the pouches I saw/purchased were certified organic and only contained the fruits and vegetables listed on the front. They did have organic lemon juice and extra DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E added, but I am ok with that.

Price: The price per pouch was also fair. I went to Walmart and purchased several pouches at a price point of $1.32. I did not have any coupons for the pouches, but Similac does have a lot of coupons circulating and I am sure if you write to them they would send you some. I did find a rebate on Ibotta that I was able to claim twice, and I was also able to use their .25 cents off any purchase rebate as well. All in all, I spent $1.00 per pouch. (If I had actual coupons it could have been even cheaper.)

Taste: The last hurdle to pass was my daughters taste test. I gave her the Apple, Butternut Squash, Banana, and Blueberry pouch and the first word out of her mouth was “Yum!”. Screenshot_20170713-181829She pretty much finished that pouch off in less than 5 minutes. After she finished it she asked for more, but I told her she would have to wait. Haha! (She was not happy about that.) She also really liked the other flavors I had purchased which were Pear, Blueberry, and Spinach, as well as the Mango, Pear, and Spinach. We still have the Pumpkin, Banana, and Carrot one to try, but I am thinking she will like that one as well.

Result: The end result for our test showed that Go & Grow by Similac pouch food was another pouch food that we would be able to add to our approved list. It passes our 3-point test with flying colors.

 

As a parent, I want other parents to know that if you end up serving your child homemade baby/toddler food or if you purchase pouch or canned baby/toddler food its ok. Do what you feel is best for your children, family, and budget. Don’t worry about what others think or what they do. As my water bottle says, “Just Do You.”

  • If you are interested in purchasing or learning more about Go & Grow by Similac Pouch food you can find them at Walmart here
  • Shespeaks.com is also having an awesome giveaway at SheSpeaks.com for a custom 12 x 12 photo book from Walmart photo valued at $50 (or a $50 Walmart Gift Card).
  • As I mentioned previously Ibotta also currently has a rebate for Go & Grow by Similac Pouches purchased at Walmart. You can find the rebate here.

Disclosure Statement: Even though this post was developed in partnership with Similac, and I did receive compensation, all opinions are my own. I am a parent myself and would never recommend a product I wouldn’t be comfortable using on or giving to my own child.


Working Out on A Budget

Working Out on A Budget

When my husband started working out at our local CrossFit box I was happy because he was happy to be working out. After looking at the cost for his membership though I was not as happy as I once was. Haha! It was expensive, and when I quit working to stay home with our daughter the monthly CrossFit membership was just too much for us. When I told him we should look at cheaper options they still weren’t in the price range we could afford. So, we had to get inventive. If you and your family are like mine, then below are some tips on how to work out on a budget.

Good ‘old fashion running/walking outside – I had to list this one first because it’s my favorite, and totally free! Haha! I know that sometimes getting out into nature is hard, especially if you have kids or your location makes it difficult, but it’s worth it! Find yourself a decent jogging/running stroller and hit the pavement. During the warmer months, my husband and I will go to our local park, that has a running trail, and take turns either walking or jogging with the stroller while the other is free to run for a lap. Hiking is another one of our favorite things to do during the warmer months. We have a baby carrier that adjusts to fit both my husband and I, and we take turns wearing our daughter as we hike.

Beachbody’s on demand free 30 days – My husband and I just finished our free 30-day trial of Beachbody’s on demand program and we loved it! We used to do Insanity way back when it first came out so it was a lot of fun to work out to Shaun T. again. The great thing about this program is that you can do it anytime and technically anywhere since it is online. (Since it is currently cold outside we have enjoyed the work out’s inside.) It’s pretty easy to sign up and then you have free access for 30 days to their online library of workouts. Some of the newer work outs you have to upgrade to receive, but the free Beachbody workouts are enough to keep you occupied. If you do not want to be charged for a paid subscription you will need to cancel before your 30 days is up. (I believe my husband called the day before our 30 days was up and cancelled.) This trial is totally worth it, and I started to see a physical difference after week one.

Groupon/Living Social – Many gym’s, and small businesses are now offering discounted memberships or workout classes though Groupon and Living Social. You can get discounts on gym memberships, workout classes, 30-day access to online workouts, and more that range from 50% off all the way to 90% off, and sometimes more. So, before you head out to sign up for workout classes look on Groupon and Living Social first. (Another plus is if you use Groupon through the Ibotta app you can get up to 10% cash back in your Ibotta app if you purchase through Ibotta.) 

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Run in 5k’s/ Races for free by volunteering – Last fall I had a friend invite me to run with her in the Great Pumpkin Run, but I forgot to register fast enough and the race sold out. I was super mad at myself, but I did some research and found out the race still needed volunteers for check in the day before. The biggest perk of volunteering was you got a free race registration you could use the next day, or for another upcoming race. Score! So not only was I able to run with my friend, but I was able to run for free. Other ways to save are to see if the race you want to participate in has Groupon or Living Social offers. One year I signed up for a 5k obstacle race at a cost of $70, and later found the Race on Groupon offering registrations for $30. (Doh!) Don’t worry if the heat start time is not the time you want. Most races, if you are not trying to be timed, will let you run whenever.

Free gym trials – Before you spend the money on a gym membership I highly recommend looking to see if the gym offers a free trial. Usually these are promotional gimmicks to bring in new customers, but they can be beneficial to you if you are looking at joining a gym or just want a break from your regular workout routine. I know a couple of times a year the gym near my house will send out promotional free 3-day gym passes, or some gyms in my area, like the local CrossFit, will have a free intro classes. These are great ways to see if the gym is a fit for you before you shell out any money. If you end up liking the gym you visited I would recommend waiting till they have a membership sale. A great time to snag a really good deal for a gym membership is around New Years.

You Tube Video’s – Yes, I said You Tube. Haha! You Tube actually has some really good free workout video’s. You will be able to find video’s covering cardio, yoga, Pilates, and more. Popsugar Fitness has a lot of workout videos on You Tube. I have done a couple and have been pretty impressed. Now that our Beachbody on demand free trial has expired, and since it’s cold here, I will be switching to the Popsugar Fitness videos and burning some calories. 

If you follow the above tips you will definitely save yourself some money, and make it easier to work out on a budget. I would love to hear some of the ways you and your family work out on a budget. 

 


 

How to make a little extra cash while working from home.

How to make a little extra cash while working from home.

I am a SAHM. Before my LO was born I worked full-time. When I asked to go part-time, after my maternity leave was up, at my place of employment I was met with a big fat no. To be fair my employer had just done their second round of layoffs the week before I was set to return so the fact they said no to my request did not come as a surprise. Luckily my husband and I had saved and were in a position where I could stay home and take care of our LO. The though of not contributing financial to the household still bothered me. Truthfully it still bothers me. So that’s when my couponing and money-saving swung into high gear. I also kept my eye out for any ways that I could bring in some money to help. The below are WFH jobs or task’s I have done/seen and are things that SAHP’s, college student’s, or any one can do to try to bring in a little more cash.

Survey’s – These wont bring in big money, but they will bring in a little spending cash every month if you stay on top of them. I currently do survey’s through E-Rewards, and love it. I usually can get enough points to cash out with a $25.00 Amazon gift card every month. It’s not a lot, but enough for me to buy myself something I have wanted. E-Rewards is by invitation only so you will need to sign up for a third-party newsletter such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, American Express, Game Stop, etc. Another survey site I am a member of, but have seen less success with is Toluna. With Toluna you can do survey’s and sign up to product test new products coming out in the market. There is no guarantee you will be selected, but when you are it is nice. 🙂

WFH Jobs –  There are companies that hire people to work from home doing jobs you probably didn’t even know existed. Haha! Jobs like, Social Media Evaluators and Web Search Evaluators. These people evaluate social and web search ad’s and deem if they match certain criteria so when you google something the correct web material shows up in your search results. Cool huh? companies such as Appen.com, leapforce.com, and lionbridge.com hire for those positions. Another place to look for WFH jobs is weworkremotely.com.

Other jobs you can do working from home is being a babysitter/nanny. Places like Care.com keep a database of individuals in different areas who are available to either watch your kids from their house or yours. The same can be said for our pets! If you have the ability to be a dog walker or sitter Care.com or Rover.com are great sources to look into.  If you are handy at cloth diaper repair you can charge to help those, like me, who are not very good at sewing. You can charge your own fee to replace elastics and repair the diapers.

Coupon Apps – This is another area where you wont bring in the big bucks, but again you can bring in enough money a month to go out for dinner or buy your self something nice. Coupon apps like, mobisave, Ibotta, Checkout 51, Saving star, and Shopmium all provide you cash back on grocery, personal, liquor (Ibotta and Checkout 51), and other items. All you have to do is select the item in the app, purchase it, scan the bar code or just take a picture of your receipt. Most apps require you to reach $20.00 before you can cash out.

Voila! You just made some extra cash. 🙂

 

Money Saving Tips on How to Get to The Next MommyCon!

Money Saving Tips on How to Get to The Next MommyCon!

I heard of MommyCon only a couple of months ago, and it sounded awesome. I told my husband I really wanted to go but we couldn’t afford the ticket. So he looked at me and said, “That has never stopped you before. You always find a way or coupon.”. (Insert him rolling his eyes when he says coupon. haha) I thought about my husbands comment and told myself he is right. I also thought about all the other families that can’t afford to go but would greatly benefit from the experience. So I set out on a mission to try to find out ways to save money on a trip to MommyCon so that families with budgets stretched thin can go.

Below is how you can save money on MommyCon if you cannot afford to go, and what you could walk away with.

Tickets: A general admission ticket to MommyCon D.C. 2016 cost $45.00 plus tax. If you wanted to add a VIP ticket on top of your general admission it was more. I figured since it was my first MommyCon and since it was in D.C. I would go with just a general admission ticket that got me in on the main day. I started off by seeing if anyone was doing any Facebook or Instagram ticket giveaways. (Entering contests is my secret passion) I entered SO MANY contests. haha! My perseverance paid off though and I won a free ticket from Innobaby on Instagram. 20160723_114231(They are an awesome company that sells tons of baby food prep items, food storage and everyday use, and general kid items. You can check them out here Innobaby.com) Thank you so much to Innobaby for the chance to attend MommyCon, and to the wonderful ladies who were working their booth!

After I got my ticket I joined the MommyCon Facebook Discussion group and discovered more ways to save on admission. In the group page you will find individuals buying/selling tickets to the event. I also saw an individual who was giving away free tickets the day before. I found though the best way to get a free ticket is to volunteer. The day before the event MommyCon was looking for volunteers to help with putting together gift bags and such. If you were willing to get to the location really early the day of the event they would pay for your admission ticket or if you already had a ticket pay you $10.00 an hour to help. This is awesome. I commend MommyCon for this.  Volunteering is the best way to get free admission to MommyCon because it is two-fold. You save money, but you help out the organization putting on the event. I have already decided that I will try to Volunteer next year if I am able.

Another way to get a free ticket is to ask for it on your baby registry. Some people might not agree with this but now that I have gone to MommyCon I think a ticket to go would be an amazing gift for an expectant mom or dad. The freebies and knowledge you get are well worth the price, and if the guest who buys your ticket goes with you even better!

Parking: Parking can get expensive so make sure you shop around at garages. Also make sure to check out the MommyCon discussion for individuals who have discount codes or referrals. Some very nice Momma had a discount code and website that made it so I only had to pay $4.00 for all day parking one block from the convention center.

Gift Bags/Vendor Freebies/Session giveaways: The contents of the gift bags were awesome. I am sure it changes every year based on the vendors, but for something that you get for free you can’t beat it. Also, every vendor pretty much had a little freebie for those who visited their booth. I visited ever vendor booth, but timing is key. You need to get to the event as close to the start time as possible because some of the vendors were out of their little freebies by the time I got there at 11am.

Make sure you go to a couple of the sessions. Not just for free stuff, but for the knowledge. The number one free item you will walk away with from MommyCon is something new you learned. Sometimes there will be giveaways in the session, but not always. I attended the Cloth Diapering 101 session and did end up winning some cloth diapering essentials, but I learned far more than what my freebies were worth.

Food: Best option is to bring your own food. while food vendors are on site you will want to save your money for the actual MommyCon vendors. Trust me.

Giveaways at the end: This was banana’s! So many things were given away. Strollers, car seats, nursing pillows, breast pumps, etc. If you are in need of any of these items as a parent then definitely stay for the giveaways at the end.  (Side note. You must be present to win during the giveaways, and not everyone wins.)

Below is all of the goodies I walked away with from MommyCon D.C. 2016. I know it might sound crazy from some one who loves free stuff, but I am donating the majority of the below to my Mother-in-laws church for their Mother’s in need and their Baby drive.

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All together MommyCon cost me $36.00. $4.00 to park, and $32.00 on new Grovia cloth diapers for my little one.

Side note! I did not include tips for saving on travel since I lived within driving distance. Feel free to share your tips and tricks for saving on travel to MommyCon in the comment section! 🙂

Thanks for reading!


Can you really make money off of extreme couponing?

Can you really make money off of extreme couponing?

While spending time with my family for the 4th of July holiday they made fun of me because I like to coupon. They teased that I must have to much time on my hands to be able to collect coupons, browse circulars, and find the best store. (Jokes on them I just have a good system.) I laughed back at them and said at least I wasn’t an extreme couponer. I then reminded them that there are some individuals who actually make money couponing. Then I thought to myself how much time would it take to do this money making extreme couponing and is it worth it? So when all of the family visits were done and over with and the little one and the hubby were sleeping in the next day I decided to give it a try.

First thought that came out of my experience was that it’s hard! The below picture shows what I got from two shopping trips. The Clear care contact solution, Head & Shoulders, Pantene, and Gillette deodorant came from Rite Aid and the Nabisco Go Paks came from Walmart. Here is how I did it.

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Step 1: I started off with a list of items I actually needed to purchase in the near future. That was the Clear care contact solution, Head & Shoulders and Gillette for my husband. I then thought of items I could use but didn’t necessarily need right now which was the Pantene and the Go Paks.

Step 2: I went to the Krazy Coupon Lady’s website and searched their store section for deals at Rite Aid and Walmart. If you are a couponer of any type I highly recommend checking out thekrazycouponlady.com and also liking their page on facebook. You will get up to date information of some of the best deals around. After going to their site I saw that at Walmart the Go Paks were priced at a dollar and if you used two buy 2 get 1 free coupons, two 0.75 cents off coupons, and then submitted five checkout 51 rebates for $2.50 for purchasing two Go Paks you could make $7.00 on the transaction. Then I went over to the Rite Aid page and saw that they were having a special spend $30 on certain items you would get a $10 visa rebate card in the mail. It just so happened that the Head & Shoulders and Gillette deodorant were on the list of items so I set out to complete this special. The kicker for this one was seeing if I could make money off of the transaction.

Step 3: Clip coupons. For the Walmart trip I could not find the two 0.75 off coupons so I went to coupons.com and smartsource.com to clip the buy 2 get 1 free coupons. I decided to use three of those instead. For Rite Aid I had a harder time finding the coupons. I went to the same sources as above for my coupons and I found a $5.00 off coupon for the Clear care contact solution, a $5.00 off coupon for two Head & Shoulders, a $5.00 coupon for the purchase of three Pantene products, and a $1.00 coupon for one Gillette deodorant.

Step 4: Calculate out all of my costs before going to the store. I really encourage this step. I really hate it when I think I have everything squared away in my head and then when I get to the store stuff changes and the numbers are off. What I hate even more over paying for things. So this step is crucial. I calculated that for the Go Paks I was going to spend $7.00 out of pocket, but receive $12.50 from the Checkout 51 app so over all I would be making $5.50 on the Walmart transaction. Rite Aid was a little bit trickier. For Rite Aid I had to try and track down the price of each item. I calculated that the sale for the Clear care contact solution and with using my coupon that item should be free, for the Head & Shoulders they were on sale 2/$10 so with my $5 off coupon I would pay $5, for the Pantene products they were on sale 3/$12 so with my coupon I would pay $7 then with two $1 check out 51 rebates I would pay over all $5 for the Pantene, and for the deodorant they were b1g1 at %50 off so I should have been paying $4.79 for one and $2.89 for the other one. The special for the spend $30 get $10 deal is calculated before coupons so I was good on that front. I then also had $5.00 worth of Plenti points and another coupon for $6.00 of with a $30 purchase which is also calculated before coupons. All together I calculated that before taxes I should be paying subtotal $8.68, and with the $10 visa rebate card and check out 51 rebates I would be making some where around $3.32. (Whew! This step was the longest. Haha)

Step 5: Go shopping! The shopping part at Rite Aid was easy. They had everything I wanted and they looked to be on sale like I had seen them online. I got to the check out scanned my Plenti card, and handed over all of my coupons. For some reason my subtotal came to $21.67.  Yikes! I stepped aside and looked over the receipt and it just didn’t look right so I asked for a manager so they could go over the receipt with me. They agreed something wasn’t right. Turns out the Clear care contact solution at my Rite Aid was actually going to come out as costing $2.00. Which should have bumped up my subtotal to $10.68 which is still a lot less then $21.67. The very nice manager at Rite Aid gave me a refund so that my subtotal came to $10.68 like it should have after the addition of the price change for the Clear care contact solution. Loaded up in the car and claim my two $1.00 Pantene rebates on checkout 51. After my visa rebate card comes in I will have made $1.32 off of my Rite Aid trip. Walmart was so much easier. Went in and checked out with 10 Go Paks, handed over my three coupons, paid $7 out of pocket, loaded up in the car and claimed my five $2.50 checkout 51 rebates. Total made on the Walmart trip $5.50.

Take a ways: Extreme couponing is hard, can be time consuming, and doesn’t bring in a lot of money, but it can be fun and you get a rush when you save. Make sure you double and triple check prices in the circular and in store. Will I do it again? Yes, but only when I am shopping by my self. 🙂

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When a product isn’t really free

When a product isn’t really free

Free trials: So this really gets my goat. If you see a company offering a “free trial” of their products but you have to pay shipping then the product is not really free. MANY company’s will send you free samples if you just contact them and ask, and you wont have to pay shipping. For example, before I was about to give birth I was sure I was going to breastfeed but I wanted to have some formula as a back up just in case something didn’t work out as planned. So I signed up for Enfamil’s community and got their Enfamil mom’s welcome box full of formula both liquid and powder. Guess what it cost me? Nothing. Completely free. I then contacted Gerber and asked them for a free sample of their baby formula and I got a FULL SIZE container of formula in the mail about a week later. Again, completely free. See the pattern? So don’t be fooled when people say “but the product is free”. If you have to dish out money even just for shipping then it’s not free.

Check out coupons (Catalina’s): Here is another “free” product way of couponing that really gets me too. When you purchase a product and you are getting a check out coupon for x amount of dollars off a future purchase that does mean you got the product you are purchasing right now free. Yes you are saving money on your current purchase, but you have to make ANOTHER purchase to be able to use your coupon. Say the coupon is for $2.00 but the store doesn’t have any $2.00 products so you have to purchase a more expensive item. You have been roped into purchasing more. Did you really save? I would say an exception is if you use coupon apps. You will walk out the door having paid for part of the product, but you will be seeing your return via the apps with no need for a future purchase.

Rule of thumb when couponing. If you have to actually dish out money at the time of purchase then the item is not technically free. (with coupon apps the item will eventually be free.)

Happy shopping! 🙂


Grocery Shopping Couponing

Grocery Shopping Couponing

Today is grocery shopping day! Believe it or not I love to grocery shop. One of the top reasons…because I get to coupon. Yes it takes a little while to get everything in order before I go to the store, and yes it takes a little longer at the store but when you walk out of the store saving almost $100 I don’t think there is room for complaining. Here is how I go about prepping to shop.

Step 1: I start of by making my grocery shopping list. Going through my house looking for what I need. I write down what kind of product it is. (For example for toothpaste I write down Arm & Hammer.)

Step 2: I go to coupons.com and other online coupon sites and look for coupons that I will need. While at these sights I also clip coupons that I don’t necessarily need this trip but use or may want in the future.

Step 3: I go to the website of the store I will be shopping at. I shop at Giant Food so I log into my account and clip the coupons for the loyalty card for items I am purchasing or want. (I love Giant because they have coupons you load to your card, but you can use the same manufacturer coupon in paper form at checkout. Stacking is so awesome! Giant food is also starting to give away free items for new products. I add those to my card too)

Step 4: I look through the circular for that time period to see whats on sale and what the prices are for items that I am looking to buy. (This is usually the time where I found out if I will be purchasing any of the items that I need for want in the future based on the coupons I clipped and sales that are on going.) I will add pricing/specials/ and new items to my list based on the circular.

Step 5: Go through my coupon apps. I have 6 coupon apps that I use when I go grocery shopping. Saving Star, Checkout 51, Ibotta, Shrink, MobiSave, and and Shopmium. I select all the items that I will be purchasing and also see if there are any specials and combinations of items I can get for free. I then ad the information from the apps to my grocery list so that I can see how much more I will be saving.

Step 6: Grocery shop!  As I go through the store checking things off my list I will move coupons for items I have in my cart from my hand to a pocket in my purse so that I know I have the item.

Step 7: Best way to save money at the store is if you don’t need the item don’t buy it. Also, when possible purchase store brand products. (Sometimes this doesn’t work since store brand can taste different then the big manufactures product.) I put all the coupons for items that I am not going to purchase anymore in a separate pocket in my purse so that I can use them for another shopping trip.

Step 8: Watch to make sure the cashier rings up all of your coupons. Many times I have been checking out and the cashier doesn’t pay attention to if a coupon goes through. If it doesn’t kindly mention it to the cashier, and their is nothing wrong going to guest services if you see that a coupon did not ring up after you have paid.

Step 9: Track Ibotta after your shopping trip. If something isn’t in your gallery when you go shopping buy pops up after you have 7 days from the day of your shopping trip to redeem it.

Happy Shopping! 🙂