Wednesday, April 30, 2014

6 Ways to get Free Stuff for your Kids (and Yourself!)

Everybody likes free stuff, especially me. So here are five ways I've been able to get free things for Lucas and for myself (and the little one on the way. And Dan.) with minimal effort.

Two of the items on the list do require you to make a purchase to get the "free" stuff. But if it's something you normally purchase anyway (like diapers or cereal,) getting something extra still kind of counts as free, right?? All of the pictures are of actual things we got for free, but the pictures aren't all inclusive. I used some stuff before I thought of writing this post... 

(These are listed in no particular order.)

1. Freebie Blogs

There are quite a few blogs out there whose authors spend a LOT of time scouring the internet for free stuff, and then they share it with you! One of my favorites is Money Saving Mom. If you follow her on Facebook and/or check her blog regularly, you'll find links to sign up for various free samples and products. To date, I've gotten a children's book, samples of cat food and coffee, lots and lots of K-cups for my Keurig, a subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine, tampons, vitamins, and a newborn onesie from H&M - all completely for free!

2. Recyclebank is a site that gives you points for learning about caring for the environment, recycling (only in certain areas,) and "going green," and then allows you to cash those points in for rewards - mostly gift cards, magazine subscriptions, and discount coupons. If your community has registered with Recyclebank (when you create an account, you'll be able to check to see if your neighborhood is eligible,) you'll get points just for putting your recycling out on the curb like you always do. But even if you're not eligible to get points for recycling, it's still really easy to earn points! You can earn points by reading articles about ways to recycle and use resources wisely, taking daily pledges to do things like turn off lights when you're not using them, and watching short videos about recycling. Today I earned 135 points in about 10 minutes by reading a few articles about recycling and choosing energy efficient appliances. (As a reference point, one-year magazine subscriptions start at 200 points, and $5 gift cards to major chains like Target and Starbucks start at 1500 points.)

Since signing up, I've cashed in points for a $10 Walmart gift card and three magazine subscriptions, and I currently have more than enough points to cash them in for a $10 gift card to GAP, iTunes, Applebees, Sears, Lowe's, Kmart or JCPenney. (I guess I should probably make up my mind as to which one I want.)

3. Pampers and Huggies Rewards Points

We've tried quite a few of the major brands and store brands of diapers on Lucas in the past two years, but we ultimately settled on Pampers for daytime and Huggies for nighttime, because that's what works best for Lucas. (I know other people who have had completely different results, so the brand of diaper that works best seems to depend largely on the child.)

Both Pampers and Huggies have rewards programs that let you earn prizes by entering the codes from participating packs of diapers and wipes. From the beginning, I've faithfully entered all of the codes from every single pack of diapers and wipes, and I've been able to get Lucas some nice toys! The points can take a while to add up, but the prizes are pretty good. Since we primarily use Pampers, I've been able to use those points get Lucas a total of two toys in two years - one Melissa and Doug wooden animal puzzle, and one set of wooden alphabet blocks. Plus, Pampers started a new program about a year ago called "Grow On" where, in addition to cashing in your points for prizes, you get extra prizes for entering points into the system for three consecutive months, six consecutive months, nine consecutive months, and 12 consecutive months. The first three prizes are all from Shutterfly (free address labels, photo cards, and a calendar,) but in May (tomorrow!) when I enter at least one reward code, I'll be eligible for the twelve-month gift - a Melissa and Doug instrument set, a Smart Play Pad, or a 12x12 Shutterfly photo book!

Pampers also gives out free rewards points for pretty much every major and minor holiday (including "iffy" holidays, like "National No Housekeeping Day") on their Facebook page plus free points for reading certain articles on their website. (The Money Saving Mom blog I linked to above will also tell you when there are free Pampers Rewards points available so that you don't miss any.)

4. Toys R Us Birthday Club

I mentioned in my post about Lucas's birthday party that he's a part of Geoffrey's Birthday Club at Toys R Us. If you sign your child up for the club and enter his birth date, he'll get a card and coupon in the mail a few weeks before his birthday. The coupon lets the child get a free birthday balloon, birthday crown, and $3 off a purchase of $3 or more. At the Toys R Us near us (and I assume it's the same at most other stores,) there's a section in the front with toys that cost $1, $2, $3, and $5. The boxes were color coded, so if you have a child who's not old enough to understand the concept of price, you can tell him/her "you can pick one things from the orange boxes or three things from the yellow boxes."

5. Kellogg's Family Rewards

Marked boxes of Kellogg's cereal have 16-digit rewards codes inside, and the codes can be entered online and redeemed for prizes. In addition, certain boxes (they'll be marked on the outside) entitle you to one free book per box of cereal. But just be aware - when I logged in to get a free book for Lucas, 42 of the 50 books that were listed on the site were marked "Temporarily out of Stock," and of the eight that were available, two were only available in Spanish. So if you weren't planning to buy the cereal anyway, don't buy it just for the free book. Beyond the "free book" cereal box, we haven't gotten any other rewards from Kellogg's yet. A box of cereal earns you 100 points on average, and the majority of the "good" rewards start at 4,000 points. Our family doesn't eat a whole lot of cereal, so we don't have many points, but if your family is big on cereal, you'll likely earn rewards more quickly. When you sign up, they'll also periodically email you with extra points and coupons. Click the logo below to enroll.

6.Godiva Chocolate Rewards
If there's a Godiva store near you, get enrolled in their rewards club right now. You can enroll online or in the store. Being a member entitles you to a free chocolate truffle once a month, and man, those things are delicious! In some stores (or with some employees) you'll be offered two different truffles to choose from. Other times, you'll be allowed to choose any truffle you want. (There are other rewards for being in the club, too, like free chocolate if you purchase a certain amount the month before, but this reward is the only one that's totally free.) I usually only make it to the mall once a month (or less) anyway, so every time I go to the mall, I get a free truffle! Plus, Dan enrolled, too, and he usually gives me his free truffle! (Have I mentioned lately that I love that man?) You can give your truffle to your kid if you really, really want to, but personally, this is one freebie that I don't share.

So there you have it - six ways to get free stuff for your kids and yourself! If you know of more ways to get free stuff, please leave a comment and let us all know! Everybody loves free!

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  1. Wow, there's a lot of brand loyslty programmes in the US. Over in the UK, we have pampers kelloggs etc but they don't do reward programmes hre. Pampers do occasional coupons if you sign up to their website,but the others don't.

  2. I've shared this post on my 'shout-out' post! A post where I share all my favourite posts from the last week.
    Thank so much for sharing it, great read.

  3. Godiva chocolate rewards? How am I just hearing about this?!!