Extreme Hoarding: Pregnancy Edition…..and a Giveaway!

Extreme Hoarding: Pregnancy EditionI was a few months pregnant with my second daughter when I started getting serious about couponing.  Since I was with child, we were looking for new ways to save.  Having a baby is so expensive and I just knew that I could save on some baby essentials if I put more effort into it.  So….I started cutting coupons….lots of them.  Within a few weeks, I found out that my friend could get me 20 coupon inserts a week from her work.  This was the motherload of saving money and the beginning of some massive stockpiling in the Club Thrifty household.

 

I started small, hoarding diapers and baby wipes.  I would often go to Walgreens more than once in a day, using store coupons stacked with manufacturer coupons in order to score free or almost free baby stuff.  I began to amass a huge amount of baby paraphernalia and quickly became obsessed.  Then, things took a turn to crazy town.

 

Hoarding Baby Formula

Similac released a new coupon for $5.00 off any infant formula, any size.  Since the ready to feed quarts were priced anywhere from $4.99 to $5.99, I knew that I could get them free or almost free.  I began to scrape together as many $5 off coupons as I could get from family and friends.  I also joined hotcouponworld.com and started trading.  Within about a month, I had around 300 of the $5.00 coupons for Similar formula.

 

I was super stoked. The only problem with this is that many stores only keep a handful of quarts on the shelf at any given time.  So, we started buying hoarding 3 here, 4 there, 10 here, until I really began to have quite a collection.  We would hit up Walmart, Target, and Meijer at least once a week, buying as many as we could without wiping out the shelves for everyone else.  I even pre-ordered 100 quarts from CVS for $4.99 each – which made them free.  Similac formula had become my crack cocaine.  I literally planned my days around acquiring it and would spend hours on end arranging all of the quarts in my cabinets.  I even had so much at one point that I had to start storing the excess in my mom’s basement.  It was weird.

 

Looking back, it seems pretty crazy that I went through all the trouble to get so much free formula.  I didn’t even know whether my baby would be able to drink Similac!  Luckily, she didn’t have any sensitivities and was able to drink it.  Better yet, since I breastfed a little longer than expected, I was also able to give away about 50 quarts to our local food pantry.

 

Am I proud of this?  No, I actually think it’s insane and I would make fun of someone else who did the same thing. But, in my defense, pregnancy made me crazy in so many ways.  I was a crying, emotional mess almost every day, and hoarding baby formula and baby diapers seemed completely reasonable at the time.  However, it was something I used to treat myself. Couponing gave me something to do. It was a fun break from the other things I was obsessed with while pregnant – like eating Penn Station fries and blaming Greg for my uncomfortable misery. Now, I can just look back and laugh at all of my craziness.

 

So, what is your championship coupon story? Have you ever made a huge score with coupons?

 

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About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. Honestly, I see nothing insane with getting all that baby formula for nearly-free. It’s insane if you would have paid full price when you could save all that money!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..$500 Cash Giveaway – Save Money with Coupon CodesMy Profile

  2. One time, I hoarded wine. No I’m not an alcoholic. I do like a glass of my house wine with a meal and I often use it cook with. I somehow found the one day where two sales overlapped and the discounts were crazy huge. So I went to three stores and bought a ton. It was kind of sad, but I saved a ton of money.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Should Americans Be Forced to Save For Retirement?My Profile

  3. It sounds like you became a little obsessed with this baby formula. I hope I don’t end up doing something similar when we supplement our bubs feeds with formula.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..The First Child: Opportunities for SavingsMy Profile

    • Not only did I hoard formula, I did diapers and wipes as well. I still haven’t bought any wipes since my second daughter was born and she is almost two!

  4. I can relate to how expensive baby formula is. Thankfully our last one drinks very little of it and what we do buy we get at Costco for a pretty cheap (comparably) price. That’s cool you were able to give away some to your local food pantry!
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Giveaway: An Online Shopping Tool for Frugal ShoppersMy Profile

  5. Wow, that’s some definite hoarding.

    I did my own recent version of hoarding of Stevia In The Raw. Between 4 coupons I had and a half off sale, the price was unbeatable. I’ve got Stevia for baking and desserts for a while now!
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..PoP Balance Sheet – January 2013My Profile

  6. Wow that’s a lot of baby formula! At least you saved a lot of money :)
    Michelle recently posted..Saving Money on Food and a GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  7. You know, reading about your planned raids to load up on as much Similac as you could get, I can’t help but think that had to be fun.

    Just setting aside for the moment what you’re accumulating and the excess involved, just the mental challenge, the euphoria of making the score! The push driving you to see how much of this you can legally get away with… that had to be a rush. The thrill of the hunt, I think they call it.

    And (insanity aside) my guess would be you had just a tinge of disappointment when the campaign ended. I know I do when my manic buying sprees come to an end. (No Mrs. Hubbard in this house! LOL)

  8. Thank goodness you were able to use a large portion of that hoarded Similac. Us women certainly do the silliest things when our hormones are festering and raging, don’t we? Especially while we’re nesting.

    Thank you for hosting such a neat giveaway!
    Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy recently posted..Hello. I’m still here. We’re up and running, again.My Profile

  9. “Similac formula had become my crack cocaine” made me laugh. I did have a similar addiction to coupons when I first learned I could get stuff for free. It got a little out of control. I mean how much free floss can one woman use in her lifetime? Glad to be co-hosting the giveaway with you.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..How to Spend Too Much This Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  10. We were given a ton of similac from friends who breast fed… the only problem was our son was a premie, so he had to be on Neosure for the first 6 months. That stuff doesn’t really cost more, but it only comes in those stupid small cans. Once he was off Neosure we used up our stash and buy the giant container from Costco (with mixed success using the $5 rebate check).

    Side note, when I worked at target a long time ago they actually had a limit on the amount of formula you could buy at a time. Something about people shipping overseas for a huge profit.

  11. Ha, ha, ha :) So funny, Holly! I totally can relate to your story. Formula is so darn expensive! I don’t blame you for trying to get as much of it as possible. Pregnancy hormones can do some crazy things to us!
    Mackenzie recently posted..One Car Household? Gulp!My Profile

  12. I think it’s awesome you were able to get things that you needed for free! I tried couponing (and I say tried loosely), but it always seemed the items aren’t what I would naturally buy… I think formula and diapers when you have little ones is a different story, though!
    anna recently posted..Financial pre-nesting? And Week 6 spendingMy Profile

  13. I don’t have a coupon or hoarding story! I just remember my normally wonderful, responsible and organized wife change dramatically in her lat trimester of her pregnancy. She can explain it better than me since she is an RN and a former labor and delivery nurse. So I fully understand how you can do things that are unusual or different from your normal routine.
    krantcents recently posted..Rental Property Investing TipsMy Profile

  14. LoL. Kinda awesome. People need that stuff, so very cool that you could donate it, though. :)
    Jacob @ iHeartBudgets recently posted..Three Financial Tips for College GraduatesMy Profile

  15. haha gotta do what you gotta do!! I am so thankful I was able to breastfeed and bypass spending any money on formula. My niece has serious sensitivities and they pay 47.00/case of pre-mixed formula and now at 8mos it only lasts about a week!
    Catherine recently posted..I WILL Partake in Lifestyle InflationMy Profile

  16. Wow I envy you. I spend so much money on Similac it’s not even funny. How do you get the similac coupons, are they from their site subscription?
    Boris recently posted..Five Reasons Why I don’t Squidoo Anymore (And Why You Should Not Either)My Profile

  17. I think it is an “expecting” thing. I remember when my wife was preggers with our 2nd I had this insatiable need to sell stuff on ebay, I mean A LOT of stuff. It was like this weird caveman provider mentality.
    Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com recently posted..Frugal Hack #6: Go Social and Save MoneyMy Profile

  18. I have to admit that by the time I got to the middle of this post, I was laughing–but only because I love your sense of humor; not because I’m laughing at pregnant hormones! I imagine I’ll be a mess whenever that day comes, but I love, love, love that you found a way to accumulate a stash of the most expensive baby items for pennies! And that you donated some of it…well done (if not a bit crazy…in a good way, yes?) :)
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted..Saving Money While Shopping…And a $500 Giveaway!My Profile

  19. Well there are certain things I think that are good to stockpile but in this case you took a big risk not knowing if the baby would drink the formula.
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..Shopping Tips We Use To Save MoneyMy Profile

    • Nahhh…. I didn’t really risk anything. I would just have wasted a lot of time. But, I knew it I couldn’t use it then I could give it away!

  20. I’m glad it worked out that you could use your formula stockpile. I spent $75 bucks on a superb formula deal! Although that went sour when our baby’s little bowels and that formula didn’t seem to get along. It’s only a deal if you use it!
    Mandy @MoneyMasterMom recently posted..3 Ways to Save Money on Valentines Day GiftsMy Profile

  21. lol! I don’t have coupons around here, which is good because I could get addicted quickly! I would certainly do some foodbank runs if the items were super cheap or free.

  22. I don’t know if anyone should be held responsible for the things they do when pregnant. Our hormones just go crazy! A little formula hoarding sounds perfectly reasonable and rational compared to what some pregnant women do. I, of course, was a beacon of decorum and sanity when I was pregnant. Or at least that is how I remember it. :)
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Gratitude versus EntitlementMy Profile

  23. I say if you can do it, then why not. Free formula is a nice prize. I would love to hoard some diapers.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Be Money Savvy in 2013 – Use Your PPI Repayment to Get Your Finances in OrderMy Profile

  24. I have heard of how expensive baby formula is and am a little scared! With my first one on the way shortly its definitely going to be a little scary.
    Jon @ Pay My Student Loans recently posted..FAFSA.com Scam – 2.1 Million Students Potentially Ripped Off!My Profile

  25. I’ll defiantly have to check out the formula coupon Holly. Thanks for all the great tips.
    Chris @ Stumble Forward recently posted..The Amazon Price Change – Plus A $500 GiveawayMy Profile

  26. We spent a lot of time doing the couponing thing when we first had our babies, but it’s stressful and there are better ways to save money. We had a pretty sizable gift certificate to a warehouse club store, so we bought all the formula our newest baby could possibly drink in a year. We paid almost nothing for it, and we haven’t paid a penny since she was born to feed her! Great post Holly!
    Johnny Moneyseed recently posted..Your Money or Your Life: Part 1My Profile

  27. I’m sure it worked out to be cheaper for you, but when I think of hoarding, I remember there is a time value of money — not just because I could be earning interest on what I’ve spent, but also because of the flexibility I lose when my money isn’t in my bank account, but rather in my living room in toilet paper/bath soap form.

    Also, because I live in New York City, there’s also a storage cost :)
    @pfinMario recently posted..Balance transferMy Profile

  28. I don’t see that as insane at all. You do everything you can to save money. Raising a child is not for the faint of heart, nor is feeding a baby!
    Thad recently posted..Podcast Interview With Amy Dale | Author of “Off with Her Heart”My Profile

  29. So I laugh at people that do this, too, but I also think it’s kind of amazing. Free formula is no freaking joke! Or diapers! It may take a lot of work, but if you have the time to do it who freaking cares. We all trade our time for money somehow, and for those who are enjoying couponing, more power to them. As long as they’re good enough at it to have it pay decent dividends to their family’s budget.
    femmefrugality recently posted..Because Super Cute Things Shouldn’t Break the BankMy Profile

  30. As you could be reasonably certain that you (or someone) could make use of that baby formula, I think buying it at a deal such as this was a smart move.
    Alex @ Searching for Happy recently posted..Happy Thought of the Day: Snow DaysMy Profile

  31. Infant formula is something nursing mothers need. Buying a lot of this does not translate to hoarding. Anyway, giveaways are a big bonus for all consumers.

  32. I once did the same thing with a coupon for deodorant and bought 20 of them at CVS – I smelled good (for cheap) for quite a while :) I think couponing is good, but not when you start getting crazy and buying stuff you don’t need (ever see that show on TLC?) Great job on donating the extra formula!
    Liran @ ChooseTerm recently posted..Life Insurance for a Stay at Home MomMy Profile

  33. “Crazy town” LOL! Girl, your craziness has helped the rest of us tremendously! Keep the crazy!

  34. Baby stuff (diapers, formula, wipes, etc) is still the #1 item that I coupon.. I try to never buy diapers without a coupon.
    jefferson @SeeDebtRun recently posted..Financial Lessons To Learn After CollegeMy Profile

  35. As a mom, I see nothing crazy about what you were doing. Stocking up on essentials that were nearly free? Every mother would do that! Besides, kids will make you insane regardless.
    Emily recently posted..Why Can’t I Get Pregnant? Factors Affecting Your FertilityMy Profile

  36. These are great tips for moms who are just recently back at work after maternity leave, too! Definitely a time to figure out your priorities and try to keep stress levels to a minimum. Thanks!
    Amber recently posted..Pains during Pregnancy and RemediesMy Profile

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