Friday, February 10, 2012

10 Tips to Make Formula Affordable

I never planned to use formula; I was sure I would breastfeed exclusively. When I learned that I have insufficient glandular tissue and that it wasn't in the cards for me to exclusively breastfeed, I had to supplement with formula. On top of all the breastfeeding herbs and medications I take to maximize the little supply I do have, formula added an additional and unexpected expense. After 9 months, I realized I've gotten pretty good at this so I wanted to share my tips.

I decided to use Enfamil. It was a brand I was familiar with, and they also are the most generous with coupons. Most of my tips are specific to Enfamil because that is what I use, but the general concepts can apply to any formula. Here is what I have learned...

  • One way people save money with formula is to use a generic brand. I've heard great things about the Wal-Mart and Target brands. However, I'm going to go against the grain and suggest going with a big name brand. If you're smart with combining coupons, checks, rebates, and store promotions, you can save much more with brand names compared to generics.
  • Formula companies periodically send out samples and formula checks. Sign up for these programs. Not just your brand, but ALL of them. Enfamil has a Family Beginnings program, Gerber has a Special Offers page and you can register for Similac here. You can then swap with other mommies. For example, I use Enfamil but get Similac coupons and share them with a Mom who uses Similac. She in turn sends me her Enfamil coupons. You can use a check even if it has someone else's name on it.
  • Join a mommy group. Odds are, you know some Moms who don't use formula but get formula checks and coupons. I find they are usually happy to share.
  • If you don't know many other Moms, check out ebay. People are always selling formula coupons. I know it seems odd to spend money on buying a coupon, but you will still save money in the end. Just do your research and be picky with what you purchase.
  • Stack coupons with checks. Formula companies usually have two types of coupons: traditional coupons and manufacturer's checks. They both give you money off, but are processed differently at the register. The bonus is that you can use checks and coupons together for additional savings.
  • Look for coupons online. Enfamil recently did a bunch of $5 and then $10 coupons at Those $10 ones went fast! My guess is this was in response to a baby's death possibly being connected to Enfamil newborn. It turns out that the formula was examined and cleared, but it was still a PR nightmare for the company, which prompted them to increase marketing efforts. Once you find one, you can usually print 2 per IP address. Once you find one, ask your Mom, husband and/or friends to print a couple for you too!
  • Hang on to coupons even if they're expired or not exactly what you use. I can usually use expired checks without a problem. I've also been able to use Enfagrow (the toddler formula) checks for Enfamil. If your cashier questions you on it, just play dumb ;) And then save it to try on a different cashier next time.
  • Keep your receipts and use rebates. Enfamil rebates are commonly given out with hospital bags or welcome packages from your OB or pediatrician. It is typically a $15 rebate for buying 2 tubs (or bigger sizes). If you have breastfeeding friends who have rebates they won't use, you can use those too. Same thing applies if you know a Mom who uses a different brand than you. The key is to look at the offer number, which is usually in the mailing address where you send the rebate. Usually you can only use one rebate per household. If you get a duplicate rebate form, you can use a friend or relative's mailing address to use it again! I have only done this a few times but plan to look on ebay to see if I can get any more. I keep a list of which offer numbers I have used in my coupon binder.
  • Wait for in-store promotions. Target, Babies R Us, and Publix do them regularly. Publix often has a $7 coupon off any 2 tubs. Target and Babies R Us both do gift card deals where if you buy 2 or 3 tubs or refills, you get a $5 or $10 gift card after checkout.
  • Don't assume the refill pouches are always cheaper. If you compare the tubs to refills at full price, the refill will have a cheaper unit (ie, cost per ounce) price. However, as you subtract your coupons, you may find that the tub unit price actually becomes cheaper. Do your math to see if you have crossed that "tipping point."
I made a formula trip to Target today (which is what prompted this post), so I thought I'd share my savings for today. I have 3 different receipts so I'll just type out the amounts and avoid adding in taxes to keep it simple.

Enfamil Premium Infant Formula - 6 @ $24.49 each = $146.94
- 6 $10.00 coupons from = $60.00
- 5 manufacturer checks (2 expired, 2 for Enfagrow) = $23
- 3 Target gift cards I earned (promotion was a $5 gift card for buying 2 tubs) = $15
- 1 Target gift card we got from a rental car purchase for an upcoming trip (which has nothing to do with formula, but these little extras always help!) = $10

Grand Total = $38.94 (Savings of $108, or 73%)
(If I can find a couple of rebates, that will make this free)

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