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A Frugal Mom’s 10 Favorite Baby Items

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Trying to figure out what baby items are worth spending your money on?  As a frugal mom of 3, I know how hard it is to decide whether something is worth buying with your hard earned money!  And so I thought I’d  try to help you out by sharing the 10 items that I would willingly spend my money on again if the one we already owned broke or wore out.  Here they are, in no particular order.

A Frugal Mom’s Favorite Baby Items

1.  Conair Sound Machine
This little machine has been a life saver for us so often!  We live in a house where sound carries easily.  We also live in the city and during the summer months often have neighbors who party loud and long into the night.  This machine makes just enough white noise to block other sounds out and has helped our babies (and older children too!) sleep well even when there’s other noise close by.   I love that it has the option to run on batteries which is great for camping.

2.  aden + anais Classic Muslin Swaddle Blanket
These blankets are amazing!  Yes, they’re a bit pricier than many other blankets but let me tell you, they are worth the extra money.  I didn’t have them with my first two and sometimes I wonder how I managed!  They are now my go-to blanket and I have hardly used anything else with baby #3.  Here’s what I love about them:

* They’re bigger than most blankets and work wonderfully for swaddling.
* They are light weight enough that they aren’t all bulky and annoying.
* I didn’t feel like I had to worry about them suffocating my baby because the fabric “breathes”.
(Obviously, this doesn’t mean that they couldn’t suffocate your baby, but it just seemed less likely to me- as always, use common sense.)
* Because of their size and their light weight design, they work great as a cover-up when nursing.
* They get softer the more you wash them.


3.  Boppy Pillow
If you are nursing, this is one of those things that just makes life a little easier.  I didn’t have one for my first child and often would get a back ache from hunching over when nursing.  The Boppy helped with that by giving me a higher surface to rest my baby on while I was nursing him.   I also used it a lot as a place to nestle my baby when I wasn’t nursing.  When they are newborns, they can lie nicely in the center.  As they get older, it works perfectly to sit them in the middle since the Boppy gives just enough support to help them get used to sitting up.

4.  Bumbo Seat
These little seats are just awesome!  They are perfect to use when your baby is just starting to try to sit up and can’t quite support themselves and they are also great once they can sit a bit better but tire out easily.  I found that using the Bumbo helped my babies be more content because it gave them a change of scenery so to speak.  And the fact that it is easy to wipe clean is wonderful!  Obviously it is great for indoor use, but it is also perfect for outdoors as well.

5.  Graco Pack ‘n Play
This one is a big ticket item but it is definitely worth it in my opinion!  We have a lot of family that live out of state and so we travel a lot.  This Pack ‘n Play folds up compact enough that it is easy to transport and allows us to have a nice little bed for our child no matter where we are.  There is a more expensive model, but personally I wouldn’t bother spending the extra simply because the extra features are not something you are going to use more than maybe a month or so.

And I highly recommend spending a little bit more and getting a waterproof pad to protect your Pack ‘n Play while you are at it.  It’s an easy way to keep it clean!

Goldbug Baby Shoes
I discovered these shoes with baby #2 and loved them!  They are an inexpensive perfect first shoe.  They’re soft and not as clunky as regular shoes and make it easy for your baby to crawl in as well as learn to walk.  And I’ve been impressed with how well they have held up.  They only look slightly worn from being used hard with baby #2 and baby #3 is getting good use out of them as well!  If you are looking for a boy version, I thought these Houndstooth Baby Boy Shoes were quite darling!


Tommee Tippee Insulated Sippy Cup
These cups are hands down the best sippy cups we’ve owned- and we’ve owned quite a few brands!  They won our approval because they truly are leak-proof which is something that no other cup that we tried actually lived up to.  I also really like that they are insulated.

Bumkins Waterproof SuperBib
Maybe I’m picky, but it took me a while to find a bib that I truly loved.  In my opinion, these are perfect for babies up to about 12 to 14 mos.  They’re long enough to cover and keep clothes clean, they are flexible enough to fit nicely and they wipe up well too.  Plus, you can throw them in the washer too if you want to get them super clean!

Once your child gets a bit older, I highly recommend these Green Sprouts bibs.  They’re similar to the Bumkins bibs but are longer and hold up really, really well to more frequent use.  They are reversible too, so if you don’t like having a bib pocket you can simply flip them around and use it that way!

Usborne “That’s Not My….” Books
We love introducing our children to books at an early age.  The Usborne That’s Not My ______” books are favorites of both us and our children!  They feature bright colors, simple pictures and have fun textures to feel too!  And they are made nice and sturdy which is obviously important if you are going to be letting little ones look at them!

10  The Mommy Hook
This handy hook is like an extra hand!  It clips easily onto your stroller or shopping cart to give you a place to hang your purse or grocery bags from.  It’s small enough that you can easily keep it in your diaper bag to use when needed.

Are any of these your favorites?  What would you add to my list?

How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget

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Reader Tip: Save Big by Purchasing Marked Down Meat

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

I love when my readers take the time to comment on my posts.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve been inspired or learned something new about saving money from you all!

Reader Joelle recently left this great tip on my 6 Ways to Save Money on Meat post:

I have to eat gluten and dairy free and also need a lot of protein. I am also disabled. This leaves me with the compounded issue of needing to buy some of the more expensive items to round out my diet with a very small food budget (often as low as $70 at this point- includes toiletries etc-, which is not much in Boston7).

One of the best ways I have found to save money on meat is to find out when they do last day mark downs- meat and poultry are marked down significantly every single day in every store, throughout each department, usually around the same time each day, the day before the sell by date. There is nothing wrong with this meat. Stores will mark it down at least fifty percent but I often find it marked down sixty five or seventy percent. If you find a cut that is not marked down and has a sell by date for the next day, most stores will just mark it down right there. They do this because they need to get it out of the store or lose money on it.

I have asked the butchers at the stores what time they usually do their mark downs and come in around that time when I can budget in a bit of time and money- I pick up several cuts and prep them with marinade and put them in the freezer. Freezing them with marinade is great because the marinade works into the meat better, btw. Anyway, this is pretty much the only way I can afford meat that is of a decent cut with any frequency and it saves a huge amount of money. I’m surprised this is not posted here. :)

While I personally haven’t found meat marked down as low as what Joelle mentions, I have been able to occasionally get some great deals on meat by watching for marked down items.  I’ve learned that some grocery stores do this more quickly than other and for me, our local Weis Markets is the place that I’ve been able to find the best deals.

If you are looking to try to save money (and aren’t we all!), I’d highly recommend at least scanning your grocery store’s meat department each time you are there to see if  you can find any good deals on marked down items.  Many stores also do this with the pre-packaged items in the produce department too.

Do you by marked down meat?  Have you ever asked to have something reduced?  How do you save on high priced items?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Reader Q&A: When should you buy a freezer? (and 4 ways our freezer saves us money)

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

4 Ways Our Freezer Saves us Money...a great post to help you decide if buying a freezer is worth it

Reader Abby recently asked:

When is the right time to invest in a chest freezer? I’m assuming you must have one just based on your purchases and how much you say you’re freezing.

I *finally* got a great deal on 80/20 ground beef at $1.99/lb, so I stocked up and bought almost 20 lbs. I also found cheese at Gordon Food Service. Mozzarella was $2/lb and cheddar was just a little more, so I stocked up there too. Now my teeny fridge freezer is completely full. I probably would have bought even more beef if I’d had more room, since it was the best deal I’ve seen in the 6 months that I’ve been watching.

 A.  Yes, we do have a chest freezer. Two of them actually!

If you are finding that your fridge’s freezer is constantly overflowing and you can afford it, I highly recommend getting one. We’ve found that ours take very little electricity (less than $10/mo. from what we can tell and they are both OLD) but they have saved us a bundle.  We got both of ours used and have had good success with them.

Two things to note: chest freezers are more energy efficient than upright freezers.  Full freezers take less energy than empty so try to get a size that you think you will meet your needs but not be too big.

Here are 4 ways that our freezers have saved us money.

1.  Helps us eat healthier
I buy large quantities of fruits and veggies in season when they are generally at their cheapest price and then I freeze them.  This allows us to enjoy the delicious, nutritious benefits of these foods throughout the rest of the year.  (Frozen produce has been shown to have pretty much the same nutritional value as fresh.)

I also freeze lots of homemade things like bread, cookies and chicken stock too.

2.  Allows me to stock up during sales
One of my biggest ways to save is by stockpiling.  When an item that we use regularly is at rock bottom price I’ll buy a bunch of it.  If it is something that can be frozen I simply throw it in my chest freezer and use it as needed. Obviously if you eat lots of freezer dinners or frozen pizzas this would save you money as well, although I don’t recommend eating that way!

Some of the things that I have stockpiled and frozen:
Flour, butter, ice-cream (yes, it’s my weakness), shredded cheese, bacon, chicken, sausage, ground beef, ham and orange juice.

Tip: Most things can be frozen for months without any freezer burn.  I’ve discovered that pork products, especially chopped ham, don’t fare quite as well.  You can freeze them but I would try to use chopped pork or open packages within a couple of month’s time. 

3.  Keeps us from eating out as often
Because we always have our freezer stocked with lots of meat, fruits and vegetables and a variety of other foods, the temptation to eat out happens less often.  I always have something in the freezer that we can eat even if it is just the occasional frozen pizza.

4.  Allows me to cook in bulk and save time
I often make a double recipe of a dish and freeze half it.  This gives me an easy dinner at a later date (and helps with not eating out as mentioned above!).  This is especially helpful when you are preparing for a new baby.

When I make bread, I make 6 loaves at one time and freeze all but one to eat later.  It’s not uncommon for me to make up some homemade burritos, wrap them individually, and toss them in the freezer to have for an easy lunch on busy days.  When I make cookies, muffins, rolls, or cake I keep out what I think we’ll eat in several days time and freeze the rest.  This keeps us from eating more than we need and keeps our food fresh.

I frequently buy 10 lbs. of chicken (buying in large quantities often gets you bigger savings) and cook it up, separate it into smaller 2-4 c. portions and then freeze it.  If I make a soup, casserole or wrap that calls for chicken, I can skip the step of cooking it which saves me time and helps my meal prep go that much faster.  You can do the same thing with hamburger or sausage.

Do you think purchasing a freezer is worth it?  Why or why not? 

Have a question that you’d like to see featured here?  Leave me a comment or email me.  (Email link is found on the right hand side of my blog under “Follow Lydia Beiler”.)

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Reader Q&A: How do you organize your coupons?

Thursday, March 7th, 2013


I frequently have readers ask me some great questions.  I decided to occasionally do a Reader Q&A post highlighting some of the questions that I receive that others of you might find interesting.  If you have a question you’d like to ask leave a comment or email me.

This week’s question was one that reader Leslie left in a post comment.

Q: Lydia, I recently had a baby boy and am blessed to be able to stay home with him. I want to start couponing more that I have in the past. I read different blogs and articles on coupon books. How do you start one? How do you organize one? I would love to see one that is put together. Any suggestions would be extremely helpful.

First of all, congratulations on the birth of your son.  How exciting!

As for how to start a coupon book….well, that’s a tricky question! :) Here’s why. There are as many methods as there are people; basically you have to figure out what what works for you and then go with it.

I do a combination of several of the “typical” ways and I like it because I feel like it takes less time than clipping every single coupon and yet I feel organized with it too.  I have three different places that I keep coupons- an envelope that I keep just clipped or just printed coupons in, a small coupon folder that I put printed/clipped coupons in that I take to the store with me, and a file folder satchel where I file my coupon inserts.

I have this envelope tacked to the cork board by my desk, right next to where my computer and printer are. (Very glamorous looking, eh?) :) When I cut a coupon out of a magazine, print a coupon online or get a coupon in the mail with a sample, I tuck them in here. It’s kind of my landing place until I have time to put them in my coupon folder in a more organized fashion. But in the meantime, I don’t have them cluttering up my desk, which is what used to happen.

Coupon Folder
I store all my clipped coupons in this little file folder. When I am getting my shopping trips ready for the week, I take any coupons from the envelope (as talked about above) and put them in their correct spot in the file folder.

I have the file folder set up with these categories: Grocery, Household, Personal Care, and Baby. I know that isn’t as many categories as many people use but I like it and find it easier to work with than when I tried having categories like Oral Care, Feminine Hygiene, Cereal etc.

Then in the front I have a spot where I put the coupons that I plan to use that week for my shopping trip to each store. I take all the coupons for each store and paper clip them together to make it easy to grab exactly the coupons I need once I’m shopping.  Then when I get to the store, all I need to do is pull out the appropriate clipped together stack of coupons and I’m ready to go. I also keep all my FREE product coupons clipped together and put in the front there so I am reminded of them often and can use them before they expire.

File Folder
I found this lovely file folder at ROSS a couple of years ago. I was excited because I was looking for something to file my coupon inserts in that wouldn’t look ugly sitting by my desk. It fits the bill perfectly.

When the coupon inserts come each Sunday, I immediately get them and mark the date on the front of the insert in the top right hand corner. Then I file them in my file folder, putting each month together in order by date.  To figure out the date of the coupon insert simply look at the spine.  It will tell you what newspaper it was from and what date it came.

So one slot in my file folder will hold all my Jan. inserts, one all of my Feb. inserts and so on. Then when I need a coupon from a certain insert, all I need to do is locate it and cut out the coupon.

At the end of every month or so, I go through the inserts and take out any pages that have only expired coupons on. In other words, if the page has a coupon that is still good I keep it, otherwise it gets tossed. This keeps my file from getting too huge and thick and saves me from leafing through pages unnecessarily.


So there you have it. Nothing glamorous or amazing but it’s what works for me when it comes to organizing coupons!

You also might enjoy this article by Esther at Coupon Cutting Mom on How to Organize Coupons. She gives more ideas on other methods that people like to use.

How do you organize your coupons?  What tips do you have to Leslie?

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