I know that breastmilk is called liquid gold but if you’ve ever paid for baby formula, you may think liquid gold is what you’re buying. According to some estimates the typical cost of a month’s supply of formula is close to $200, with a yearly cost close to $2,000.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control reported that at the six-month postpartum mark only 24.9% of women were exclusively breastfeeding. So many, many moms are using formula either to supplement or as a primary feeding choice for a variety of reasons. Both of my children were supplemented with formula before we even left the hospital and with time moved to it exclusively. As my grocery bills rose in relation to formula consumption, I quickly began to research ways to save money on this essential, but expensive, budget item. Here is how I saved money on the feeding choice that worked best for my family:
1. Try Costco
A friend tipped me off that Costco brand formula is essentially the same as Similac and sells for much less. Don’t have a Costco membership? Don’t worry. Many big box and chain stores offer their own brands of formula. This article does a nice job of delving into the specifics of generic powdered formulas available. The most important thing to remember when considering a switch to store brand or generic formula is that the US government mandates safety and nutritional guidelines for formula so name brands and store brands are often essentially the same.
2. Speak with your Doctor
When my children’s pediatrician and I discussed our feeding plan, especially in the case of my first child who had serious difficulties nursing, my pediatrician was happy to provide formula samples. From then on at every visit I was able to leave with a number of samples, sure it’s a small amount but every little bit helps. Pediatricians often have plentiful samples and are happy to share them with formula feeding moms, just ask!
3. Consider Insurance
If your child is on a specialized formula as often happens when dealing with gastrointestinal issues, you should definitely speak with your doctor about financing options and work to involve your insurance. These specialty formulas are often quite expensive and, when medically necessary, insurance may subsidize them providing some much needed financial relief.
4. Ask Other Moms
Involve your village! If you don’t yet have a mom squad, the easiest way to start building one is online. Check Facebook for a moms group in your neighborhood, considering joining one of the many mom groups around town or Google resources for moms in your area, I guarantee they exist. Once you get looped in, be honest about the fact that you’re a formula feeding mom and consider asking if anyone has coupons or samples of the type of formula that you use. Often breastfeeding moms are happy to pass these on and other formula feeding moms are happy to share or swap when they receive coupons or samples of brands they don’t use. Pay it forward by doing the same!
5. Join Online Loyalty Programs
Most big formula makers (I am looking at you, Similac) have pretty robust loyalty programs whereby you sign up online, enter some basic info about your baby and receive a starter kid of samples and coupons. As you continue to use the coupons the formula company provides, you’ll begin receiving rebates or larger coupons by mail, these can really add up if you’re purchasing formula on a regular basis, so definitely avail yourself of this easy option for saving some money.
Formula is a safe, effective and necessary feeding choice for many families, but it can come with a hefty price tag. Luckily, there are a number of creative ways to save money on baby formula. Consider combining a few of the methods listed above to make formula feeding a more cost-effective option for your family.