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Saving Money on Baby Formula

Updated on May 8, 2013
Baby Formula Deals!
Baby Formula Deals!

Lets Talk Basics First

As a fairly new parent (about 6 months in during the creation of this article), I very quickly realized that baby formula can add up very quickly! We have done the math and figured out that out little bundle of joy is burning through five to six tubs of formula during a two week time span. (We do our grocery shopping bi-weekly to match our pay cycles.)

Although we loved the free samples given to us by our local hospital, it became painfully obvious that purchasing pre-made formula was just simply not cost effective. While convenient, it's not really all that difficult to actually "make a bottle" using the powdered stuff, so why pay all the extra cash? The cost per actual food ounce was sometimes triple to quadruple that of the powdered mix. We have also seen pre packaged "servings" of powdered formula that are oddly reminiscent of the single serve crystal light drink mixes, but again, why not spend $4 on a formula dispenser and save a boat load of money.

So now that we know powdered formula is the way we want to go, which brand should you select? With big store names such as Enfamil, Gerber, and even Similac crowding store shelves, which one is best? It depends really on your baby. Some tolerate different formulas differently. We tried the generic Babies R Us formula for awhile, but we found our little guy becomes a natural methane source which made him cranky and irritable. He seems to tolerate and dare I actually say enjoy Similac the best so that is what we generally go with, but we are not afraid to switch brands if the price is right. Formula is very much to babies like beer is to me. We always have a beer preference, but we don't really ever turn down a frosty brew if it's handed to us.

It should also be noted that per the FDA guidelines, pretty much all infant formula must meet certain regulatory and nutritional guidelines, so there really isn't much of a difference between the generic and actual name brand formulas, they all must comply.

Do You Purchase Formula At Retail Prices?

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Shop Around For Price

The very first step to getting the best deal on baby formula is to shop around for the best price. It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised to find that many folks don't stop to think about the price per ounce. I don't mean the price per oz of weight, but instead the price per mixed ounce. Remember, not every tub of formula will go the same distance. Sure the smaller container is cheap but will you get as many feedings from it? All packages are clearly marked with the amount of fluid ounces it will make. Now take the price of the formula and divide it by the number of fluid ounces it will make. This will give you the price per ounce. This is simple mathematical calculation is the great equalizer. Even if you have a ton of coupons, if the price per ounce is still higher after factoring in the coupons, go with the cheaper brand.

Did you realize that many stores now price match? This includes advertised prices as well as the regular every day price. Lets say for example that you find a particular size and brand of formula at Publix, and it's $2.00 cheaper at Winn-Dixie, Publix generally honors the lower price point if you just simply ask. Some stores require verification or a print out, to ensure it's the same product and size so be prepared to explain yourself, but generally I have found stores are usually pretty accommodating. So armed with just a little bit of info you can start shaving a few bucks off your formula bill just by knowing the competing prices from store to store.

Grocery Store Shelves Stocked With Formula!
Grocery Store Shelves Stocked With Formula!

Grocery Store Loyalty & Reward Programs

When making your purchases, don't under estimate the customer rewards programs from store to store. In our area, we have three major grocery chains and two of them specifically have baby rewards programs, and one will even give you a per gallon bonus discount on baby items. These prices need to be calculated in your decision making process as well. Even Babies R Us and Toys R Us will give you cash back for your purchases made in their stores.

Lets take for example comparing two different rewards programs. Just to make the numbers easier, lets say that you purchase $50 worth of baby formula, and for arguments sake that are the same price per ounce, and the same overall price. Which store should you buy from? One store actually gives a $.10 per gallon discount on gas for every $50 worth of baby purchases. Knowing the details of this program you can pump up to 20 gallons of gas so that is essentially a $2.00 discount next time you fill up your tank. The Babies R Us program uses a point system to calculate future discounts, but this same purchase would net you about $1.00 rewards. If someone said they would give you $1.00 or $2.00 to keep for yourself, you would obviously go with the higher amount.

I highly recommend going to the websites of each of your local grocery stores and retailers and checking out to see if they have a loyalty program. In addition, be sure to check if there is an additional add on program that you can opt into for savings specifically on baby products. For example, the Winn-Dixie rewards program does not generally give you access to their baby club which also sends you additional coupons and discounts as well. Do you hear the added change jingling in your pocket yet?

Manufacturers Actually Offer Discounts!

We have already determined that formula pricing can be a bit on the expensive side, but did you realize that manufacturers actually offer discounts on their products? That's right, many of the major formula companies actually provide customers payment checks to purchase their products. Just like the major grocery stores, each manufacturers has their own site and baby club. All you do is go to the site and supply some information and generally you will start to receive these checks in the mail every couple of weeks. I have found that the sites want to know who you are. (Meaning parent, grandparent ect.)

These payment checks can sometimes confuse cashiers, who have never processed them in the past, but they work just like a check. They usually include the name of the person who requested them but when you get your receipt, they appear like you actually wrote the store a check. A bit of advice though is that some stores follow their check policies to the letter! This means they may actually ask for ID of the person who is attempting to use the checks. Remember these aren't coupons but an actual form of payment.

As my wife recently found out, these coupons actually tend to stop coming in the mail. If this happens, all you have to do is drop an email to the manufacturer from their website or even call their customer service number and they will usually be more than happy to hook you up. She was very up front and told the representative that she would like to purchase more of their product, but since the coupons stopped arriving in the mail it has become cost prohibitive. In addition to receiving more frequent checks in the mail we also got a free can of formula. Now that's what I call customer service!

Add Up The Savings!

MFG Coupon
-$3.00 Off Tub of Formula
Store Coupon Item
-$2.00 Any Baby Item
Store Coupon Off Total
-$5.00 off $25 Purchase
MFG Check
-$5.00 Check
Cost of Formula
Totals Savings:
Cost of Formula Out The Door:
Not to mention they price match the initial price of the item!

Stack Those Coupons High!

As a general rule of thumb, most grocery stores will accept one manufacturer's coupon and one store coupon per item. That is unless they have some sort of crazy promotion like double coupons or something, but I haven't see local stores run anything like that in a long time where we live. Remember the manufacturer checks don't count as coupons!

As far as manufacturers coupons go, you can usually find them in your local Sunday paper, mailers, or even those cash register coupons that print out at some stores. These can be combined with coupons you might get from the baby clubs that are vague. For example, Publix quite often sends baby club members $2.00 off any baby product.

Now for the secret weapon! Our local grocery stores will honor any local competitor's coupons including the Dollar General Store. On their website you can print out a $5.00 off a $25 purchase coupon every week. For some reason it's usually only good on Saturday, but if you happen to do your shopping on that day you can save another $5!

You The Consumer Wins!

As you can see with just a little bit of preparation and planning you can save quite a bit of money. Just for keeping my eyes peeled and checking out a few websites, I saved $15 on a single purchase. This is not "extreme coupling", just extreme thinking. You too can do this! I can show you how to get the savings, but it's up to you to determine how you will spend it!

It's inevitable that one day your little guy or gal will grow up and no longer need formula, but odds are you may still receive a few coupons in the mail here and there. Be sure to pass along the savings to a friend, family member, or even donate the coupons to a local church or charity organization. That way everyone wins!


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    • profile image

      Kayla 4 years ago

      You should check with your child's doctor before buying different brands to be cost effective. Your actually supposed to gradually switch brands by following a 90%old/10% new the 80/20, 70/30 & so on and so forth so you can tell easier if they have an allergic reaction. Like my daughter did. The only formula she was able to use was the purple enfimal.

    • RichardPac profile image

      RichardPac 4 years ago from Sunny Florida!

      Thank you! Please feel free I share with whomever you wish. The more people who know the more savings for consumers!

    • lanablackmoor profile image

      lanablackmoor 4 years ago from New England

      Great tips! Going to share these with a friend who's a new mother. Formula, even more than diapers, is what really has stretched her budget. Voted up!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Great cost saving tips for grocery shopping there, Richard. Using coupons is really quite cost effective indeed, and as you say, saving on purchases requires planning and looking for these! Thanks for sharing!