Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bargain Formula Shopping!

One of the reasons I became so gung-ho on coupons is because of Baby Formula!  I guess a true "thrifty" person would strive to make breastfeeding work - not only for the nutritional benefit but for the cost savings.  My first son was born in the spring of 2006.  Since everyone was pushing breastfeeding, I figured I'd give it a shot.  I thought it was kind of easy.  I didn't have any real issues and my son took to it right away.  But honestly, I just didn't like it.  It just wasn't a good fit for me and I didn't want to force it.  If you're from the La Leche League, please don't hunt me down and hurt me!  If you are formula feeding by choice, or not - there are ways to save!  Hopefully I can help you!

Around the 3 month mark with my first son, I told my husband "Yeah, this isn't working, I'm switching him to formula."  The husband's response was something like "Ahhh.  We're kind of poor already.  You made us buy that $200 breast pump which you used about 3 times.  Now you want to give it up."  Me, "yup!"  So I walked up to CVS and bought one of those 32-oz Ready-To-Feed Formula bottles for $6.29.  That's when I thought "ooh.  Maybe breast is best!"  

But I did some research (I found out I wouldn't be a horrible mother if I gave my baby powdered formula) and signed up for offers from Similac, Enfamil, Nestle Good Start and even Wal-Mart brand formula.  It wasn't long after that the samples and coupons were aflowing to my doorstep.  Friends who were breastfeeding gladly gave me their formula checks and samples.  

Around this time, I went to CVS for something or other and on the bottom of my receipt was a coupon for $4 off any $20 purchase!  I was like "Whoa!  A can of formula is $20.99 - that's $4 off!"  Then I thought, "But wait, I have that $5 formula check at home!"  And wait again - I just got my Spring ECBs and have $2.50 off any purchase!  My $21 can of formula became $9.50!  Thus, beginning my obsession with stacking coupons.  And my obsession with working the CVS ExtraCare Buck program.

Tips for saving on formula

-Sign up at each manufacturer's website to receive samples and coupons.

-If you have friends who are one brand and you're on another, swap coupons with them.

-If you are part of a moms' group, ask around and see if anyone has coupons they aren't going to be using.  Somehow, formula companies seem to get every new mom's info and sends stuff to them even if they are breastfeeding.

-Don't discount generic formula.  It's FDA regulated these days.  Son #2 was fed mostly BJ's brand formula and he hasn't grown any extra fingers or gone cross eyed yet.   A friend of mine used Kirkland Brand (at Costco).  Her daughter seems to be doing just fine and hasn't grown any extra limbs either.  Another friend used WalMart brand - and again - nothing wrong with her little girl either.  If you compare the ingredients of generics and name-brand, they are pretty much the same.  (If you have a gassy baby or a baby that requires extra nutrients, you might have to stick to a name brand).  

-Cost comparison - a big "double can" of BJ's formula is $19.99.  The same size can of Similac at BJ's is $38.99.   Almost twice as much.

-Check to see if your insurance will cover any formula - some pediatricians will write prescriptions for the higher end formula.

-Ask your pediatrician for samples and/or coupons.

-If you're dead set on breastfeeding before your baby arrives, you'll still probably have your hospital ask you if you want a formula bag.  You can (and probably should) pass it up, but it might be wise to take the samples and either store them at your in-laws or in a spot in your house where you won't be tempted to whip them out.  Down the line, you might find breastfeeding won't work (or you find you might want to "cross over to the dark side") and you might wish you had those samples to test out.  

-If you find a good price, stock up!  We'd go through about 1 25.7 oz can a week.  A BJ's can would last about 2 weeks.  You'll be feeding your baby formula until about the 1 year mark so check expiration dates and know how much you'll need.  

-In my formula days, I'd get MFCs from the Shaw's cash register that were GOOD!  Like $15 off 2 cans of formula.   I remember using these on the smaller 14 oz cans, couple them with the formula checks and get them for practically nothing.

-Check the quantity of formula in the can.  I remember Target would occasionally have these promotional cans  of Similac that were about 31 oz (a normal can is 25.7 oz).  It was the same price as the 25.7 oz can but you'd get about 20% more formula in the can.  You can use your formula checks on these too.  

-A lot of the formula checks were $5 off any product.  If I had a lot stocked up and the Ready-To-Feeds would go on sale for $5 ea, I'd grab one.   So a 32-oz Ready-To-Feed would be free.  These were good to have on hand if we were taking a day trip or spending the day over a family member's house.  

Again, I'm not encouraging you to give up breastfeeding for formula feeding, but if you are formula feeding, there are always ways to save!!


Anabelle said...

I breastfed for 8 1/2 months.. and then I just couldn't do it anymore. The sound ot he pump make me want to scream and the feeling of being so tied down was horrible.

so i switched to formula... I used BJ's brand right from the get go.. it was fine and my daughter thrived on it. :) plus 19.99 for twice the amount.. it was a totally great deal.

Tanya said...

I've finally learned how to do this too! This past week since CVS had similac and enfamil on sale I stocked up. I got 5 cans total and spent maybe $30 all together - and that was including my other purchases there!!

Great tips that you listed :)

Patty said...

Our dr. saves the free samples of formula for us and everytime we go in they give us a case of formula. It is probably because Grace has issues, but we love it, free formula! (she also gets it free from insurance but that is because of her medical issues.)