Life as a family doesn’t come cheap!  From the early days of stocking up on baby equipment, nappies and baby clothes to the teen years with demands for pocket money, laptops and the latest mobile phone, each stage of parenting brings with it certain financial pressures, but there are ways to cut a few corners, save a few pounds and leave a little extra in the pot for some family fun….

Money conscious mum of one Natalie Cooper was named Online Bargain Hunter of the Year 2014 and became dedicated to scrimping after her daughter, who’s now three, was born.

From coupons to testing products, 24-year-old Natalie knows all the tricks of the trade and has shared her top seven tips when it comes to saving money as a parent.

1. Use money saving websites

Search for deals and coupons on money saving websites such as PromotionalCodes.org.uk. Taking the time to search for the products you might have otherwise paid full price for can really pay off. Sometimes you can even get some really nice freebies like make up and toothpaste.

2. Use baby clubs to get freebies

Baby clubs such as Ella’s Kitchen offer free goodies such as cuddly toys, weaning spoons and lots of money off coupons just for signing up.

3. Become a product tester

Becoming a product tester means you get to try the latest products completely free and usually keep them!  NowBaby has a Parent Panel of mums and dads just like you.  We’re testing new products all the time and we want parents’ honest opinions so reviews are unbiased and unedited.  If you’re interested in becoming a product tester for NowBaby, simply email Lisa – Product Review team with your details and they’ll add you to the panel, simple hey?!

You can also sign up to sites such as Bzzagent.co.uk and you’ll get sent very generous sized samples and sometimes even full sized products such as baby food and cosmetics to try.  In return they ask you to review the product you have been sent. The site even tailors the products to fit around those that you use and so it is really easy and quick to do. You can even do it in the evening when your children are in bed.

4. Sign up to loyalty cards

The biggest saving for most parents can be made on the little things. Lets face it, we get through hundreds of baby wipes and nappies.  Most major shops now offer some sort of loyalty card scheme which means you can get money back just for doing your weekly shop. Accumulated over time these points can make a real difference when you’re doing a big shop.

5. Compare your shopping

Use MySupermarket.com to compare your shopping costs between supermarkets.  The site compares the cost of buying the same products from Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Aldi and Ocado, which means you’re sure you’re getting the best deal for your money.

However, make sure you remember to take into account the cost of the fuel used to get to your supermarket.

6. Give out praise

As a parent you’re always busy, but if you have some free time in the evening sit down with a cup of tea and write a few emails to your favourite companies saying how much you like their products.  You’d be surprised how far a little bit of praise can get you. Companies really enjoy receiving good feedback and will often send you complimentary vouchers or samples in return.

Don’t forget to put your address on the end. Try to be different by sending a photo, recipe, or drawing from your child.

7. Keep tabs on your savings

Perhaps Natalie’s biggest and most important tip to parents is to keep track of what you’re saving and enjoy it.Put every penny you save using a coupon in a jar or savings account and watch it grow.  It might start off as something small, but before you know it you will have accumulated a decent sum of money which can help pay for days out, holidays, or even your children’s future. More importantly, it will motivate you to continue saving.

For more tips check out Natalie’s blog here or see her tips on Twitter @Coupon_Nat.