Mellow Mummy: Baby Stuff For Free: Lesson 5 - Great Ways to Get Something for Nothing : Taking life as it comes...

Monday, 28 December 2009

Baby Stuff For Free: Lesson 5 - Great Ways to Get Something for Nothing

I hope that you have enjoyed my series on how to get your hands on free baby goodies. So far we've seen how to make the most of second-hand goods, get a host of free samples from baby clubs, enter competitions to win luxury items and how to offer your valued opinions for product reviews. In this, the last in the series, I plan on listing a few smaller ways for new parents or parents-to-be to get their hands on free baby stuff, or cash/vouchers with which to buy goodies for your little ones. Many of them will be familiar to you, but you'd be surprised how many people never know/bother/remember to take advantage of the freebies that they are offered – so let me remind you of the opportunities...

Shopping Portals
There exists a whole host of online shopping portals out there who offer you points or cashback for clicking through to retailers from their sites. There are even charity shopping portals. However, as a parent of a child you may be most interested by Kidstart who pay your rewards directly into your child's bank account. The account can be a Child Trust Fund (see below) or any other children's bank account; your friends and family can save for them too. In the past few months I have spent an awful lot of money online buying baby bits and pieces. I have bought from retailers that I would have used anyway, but by visiting them through using Kidstart I have also earned Lara about £45 in cashback. GreasyPalm also offer a similar service.

Child Trust FundWhen you apply for your child benefit you will be sent a free £250 voucher with which to open a Child Trust Fund. A CTF is a savings account for your child, into which you can currently place £1200 a year, tax-free, which your child will be able to access once they turn 18. Quite apart from the tax benefits and potential yield of 18 years worth of tax-free savings, it makes sense to open a Child Trust Fund even if you have no intention of ever adding any further contributions. If you don't open a CTF then the government will open one for you and place your £250 in it ,but if this happens, you don't get any choice over the provider, you miss out on 12 months of interest and you are likely to forget that it exists! If you need help choosing a Child Trust Fund then I recommend MyNestEgg which offers reviews and comparisons of different providers.

NHS Pregnancy Perks
If you are currently pregnant or have recently given birth then make sure that you (a) claim your Health In Pregnancy Grant, (b) contact your dentist to ensure you get free dental treatment until your child is 12 months old and (c) register with your GP for your prescription exemption certificate so that any prescriptions you may need up until your child's first birthday are free.

Mystery ShoppingOK, so this one is a little off topic but I mentioned it to some of my Mummy friends the other day and they all seemed really interested. I'm a mystery shopper and have been ever since my student days; it doesn't pay particularly well but I do get a few freebies for visiting places I would tend to visit anyway. Since I have been on maternity leave I have had more free time to get out and about and do more mystery shopping visits. I visit all sorts of places but perhaps the most relevant are supermarkets (yes, I get paid to shop) and coffee shops (yes, I get paid to schmooze with other mummies over a mocha). The following are mystery shopping companies I know of:-


Reusable Nappy Grant
Almost all local councils now offer a grant to encourage new parents to use washable nappies in order to reduce their landfill bills. Our local council offered me £30 which I put towards the cost of buying the re-usable nappies. Check your local authority's website for details.

Early Learning Centre
The Early Learning Centre offer free membership of their Big Birthday Club so if you are not boycotting them over the colour of their toys, you can get 20% off near your child's birthday and free invitations and thank-you cards for your child's birthday party; plus they get a free gift.

Baby Shows
Baby shows and exhibitions such as 'The Baby Show' offer a million different freebie opportunities. I'd never willingly pay for a ticket to a show (but I often win them) because to me it seems wrong to pay for a shopping opportunity. But if you do find yourself at one then keep your eyes peeled for freebies and competitions. In the run up to a baby show, many of the retailers will advertise freebies and some of them give away tickets to the show (Clearly Herbal and Lansinoh regularly do so) so visit the websites of your favourite retailers to see what they might be offering.

Website Newsletters & Retailer SamplesLook out for freebies offered for signing up to the newsletters of many online retailers. Additionally, some smaller retailers offer free samples of products that you might not normally fork out a large amount of money on unless you were confident it was right for you. Screaming Green (reusable nappy supplies) not only offer a 'borrow before you buy' service, but also send small samples of baby cosmetics and reusable wipes. Beaming Baby offer a free sample of their Eco disposable nappies to help you decide whether they are the nappy for you.

Finally, for those of you who have been following my earlier lessons... the English plural of forum is officially forums, not fora. So there!
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