Interview with a Savings Expert: Jennifer Saranow Schultz

If you’re a parent, you face plenty of struggles. So, why not get advice somewhere reliable? Jennifer Saranow Schultz’s blog, HintMama.com, is chock-full of tips on everything from childproofing your home to saving money on baby gear. Read on for suggestions for easy travel with kids, how to find quick recipes, and one hint that every new parent should know!

Your blog, HintMama, is all about offering tips to make parenting a little easier. What gave you the inspiration to start the site?

After leaving journalism for the corporate world, I missed having a place to share the really helpful hints I come across in everyday life – the sort of tricks that inspired many of my newspaper articles. So, one day as I was reading a book my grandmother gave me, “Big Book of Hints from Heloise,” it hit me that I could write “a big blog of hints” with helpful tips to help make parenting easier and or cheaper. Thus, HintMama.com was born.

You started out as a reporter for “The Wall Street Journal” and a writer for “The New York Times” for their “Bucks” blog. How has your background in journalism influenced the content you include in your blog?

I see myself as bringing a journalistic approach to the world of mommy blogging. I’m essentially doing the same sort of reporting and writing I did as a journalist, only this time on my own site and with a focus on parenting. And, given that I frequently wrote about consumer finance topics during my years as a journalist, it’s no surprise that HintMama.com has a personal finance slant, aiming to help readers save money.  

HintMama focuses on offering hints for parents on everything from preparing for a new baby to childproofing. How do you come up with the hints you provide on your site?

The same way I came up with article topics back in my newspaper days – from a myriad of sources, including my experiences, observing friends and family, reading books and blogs, talking with industry contacts and attending trade shows, just to name a few.

You’ve also contributed to other publications, including “The Daily Beast,” “Marie Claire,” and “US News Money.” What sites do you head to for reliable parenting advice?

I’m an avid reader of The New York Times’ Motherlode blog, and have contributed a few posts there as well. I’m also a fan of the blog RookieMoms.com – the ladies behind it take a tip approach to their posts similar to mine. And when it comes to baby gear decisions, I head to five particular sites.

The “Travel” section of your site gives helpful suggestions for traveling with kids. What items do you always include when packing for vacations with your family?

We always bring car seats, which are generally free to check on most airlines. Sure, it’s a bit of a hassle to travel with two car seats, but this strategy helps us cut the cost of renting car seats at our destinations.

In addition, contrary to the common advice to travel with smaller, lighter strollers, I like bringing a bigger stroller on our trips because it can work as bag cart and jogging stroller. However, one thing we often don’t pack in bulk is baby basics like diapers and wipes. Instead, we buy those items online ahead of time and ship them to our destination, when possible.

Mealtimes can often be a stressor for busy parents. What are your favorite ways to save time when preparing meals?

I don’t cook anything that takes longer than 30 minutes to make. In order to find such quick recipes, I’ll use search terms in Google such as “easy and quick chicken fajita recipe.” I’m also a planner when it comes to meals.

Every weekend, I plan out what I’m going to cook for dinner the following week, and I order the required groceries online. I’ve found that buying groceries online and having them delivered not only saves me time, it also helps me save money because I make fewer impulse purchases when I’m shopping using the Internet.

Finally, as I have a bad case of mommy brain, to make sure our grocery orders are complete, I now keep a running grocery list on our fridge, where I write down what we need as we need it.

There’s so much that new parents have to learn when they bring their babies home from the hospital. What’s one thing you wish you had known before you started on the parenting adventure?

Babies quickly outgrow gear, so you won’t get a chance to use many of the items you think are necessities now. As such, try to take a longer view when putting your baby registry and gear lists together, opting whenever possible for items that your child can use for a couple of years rather than a couple of months.

Holidays can be an expensive time of year for many families. How can parents balance what toys their kids want with what they can actually afford to spend?

One trick is to buy used. For instance, if your child wants a certain fancy tricycle or scooter, there’s a good chance you can find a gently used version via Craigslist or a local parents’ group.

Throwing a great birthday party for your child can sometimes be a big responsibility. What are your favorite ways to host a party on a budget?

I love affordable activities, like bubbles and vintage party games.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Anything else you want to tell our CouponPal readers?

In addition to following my hints over at HintMama.com, you can also find me on Twitter at @HintMama , on Facebook at Facebook.com/HintMama, and I just finally joined Instagram, where I’m sharing quick hints like these.

Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with an Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #Experts to @CouponPal!

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