Every Once In Awhile, We’re Less Frugal
We’re not using cloth diapers for Babywoods. Cue the gasps of shock and mild horror! I fully realize this is anathema to most mainstream frugal and environmental philosophies, but you know what? It’s what I have to do. A crucial element of our successful and joyful frugal existence is knowing our limits.
We can’t frugalize every last thing in our lives–or rather, we choose not to. Mr. Frugalwoods and I have mapped out a lifestyle that we enjoy, that’s tenable for the long-term, and that fully incorporates the things we love most while still enabling us to save the vast majority of our income.
Knowing Our Limits
During our preparations for Babywoods’ arrival, Mr. FW and I agreed to go ultimate frugal on all things baby–hand-me-down clothes, crib, bibs, toys, stroller, sling, books, etc–just about every single thing in her nursery is used (and our expenses show it: we spent a grand total of $20 on baby gear). I’m also very thankful to be able to exclusively breastfeed Babywoods, which saves us the cost of formula.
When it came time to consider our diapering options, we were 100% unified in our decision to use disposables. We knew (and have been proven correct) that baby-rearin’ is exhausting, time-consuming, amazing, and miraculous all at once and usually all within a 30-second period. We’re also fans of not biting off more than we can chew with any given venture and somehow, cloth diapers felt like a bridge too far. I know how cloth diapers work and I’ve used them for my nieces and nephew, but I had no desire to incorporate the routine into my own home.
In order to be a (relatively) peaceful, sane person I need time, space, and
wine yoga. One of the ways I create that time for myself now that I’m Mommywoods is through disposable diapers. It might sound ludicrous, but even five extra minutes in a day enables me to do things like shower, pet my first child (aka Frugal Hound), write, and make myself coffee (priorities, people).
With all things in life, I try to be honest about my limits. I absolutely cannot do everything, and so there’s no reason to try. My intention is to set myself up for success to the best of my abilities, which in large part entails recognizing what I can’t–or don’t want to–do.
Don’t Focus On Small Returns
Mr. FW calculated that we might save a hundred bucks or so a year by using cloth diapers. However, the amount of water, laundry detergent, and energy we’d use to wash and dry them (can’t hang them outside to dry in January in Boston) would probably end up canceling out most of the environmental and monetary savings.
Thus, in many ways, choosing to spend a tad more on disposable diapers is a proverbial letting go of the small stuff. Sure, we focus on every line item in our budget, but part of that exercise is determining where we’d like to spend more money. You all know we indulge in coffee, seltzer, beer, wine (geez we really like beverages… ) as well as organic produce and even car ownership (plenty of people in the city exist sans vehicle).
But these are thoughtful, conscious choices for us and are all products of recognizing our limits. I have no desire to live a life without coffee or a car and so, we spend in service of those goals. It’s very true that how we use our money and our time is one of the clearest indicators of what our priorities are and I’m comfortable with the allocations I’m making.
Slogging through miserable conditions to squeeze a few more dollars of savings isn’t worth it in the grand scheme of life. And that slog is different for everyone. For example, I know that some folks cannot fathom cutting their hair at home like Mr. FW and I do and that’s just fine. We’re all unique in what we value and it’s why I firmly believe in not judging others for their personal decisions–financial and otherwise.
Living a luxuriously frugal life is all about knowing what you can frugalize happily and what will make you downright frustrated to frugalize.
If I feel excited to remove an expense–such as I do with my DIY haircuts–then I know it’s the right thing to do. Conversely, if the thought of doing without makes me cringe (which is what a life without seltzer water would do), then I instinctively know it’s not a valuable proposition for me.
It’s also important to consider the margin of actual savings. The savings we’d accrue with some economizing endeavors is so narrow that it’s just not worth it to us. Especially in circumstances where the outlay of time supersedes the realized monetary gains. This is a tough thing to calculate, but I’ve come around to the idea that the cheapest route is not always the best for me personally, particularly if there’s a significant time or quality of life trade-off.
Know When It’s Worth It
In other areas, the savings are so significant that it’s worth pushing ourselves a tad outside of our comfort zone. Not having a car payment is an illustration of that. Frugalwoods-mobile is not the most fabulous of cars and yeah, it would probably be easier if we had a car younger than most college sophomores, but the absence of a car payment is transformational to our ability to save over 70% of our income. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, would not be.
Focusing my energies in areas that matter to me and where I can achieve the greatest returns is both fulfilling but also more efficient. This desire for efficiency is one of the reasons why Mr. FW and I divide up all of our household chores so specifically. For example, since he always cooks, he’s been able to create systems and processes that generate inexpensive, tasty, healthy meals.
There’s also a difference between knowing my limits and being flat-out lazy. The way I (try to) militate against sloth is by considering how I’m using the time that I’ve saved. If, for example, I watched hours of TV with the time I’d supposedly “saved” by paying for the convenience of driving my car, then I’d say that’s not a particularly purposeful utilization of resources. On the other hand, if I use that time to play with Babywoods or do some research on homesteading, then I perceive that the expense yielded a worthy return on my time.
Our Own Journeys of Limitation
We all have diverse limitations that we cope with and create in our lives. The key is figuring out these limits and how we can still succeed within that self-knowing framework. No one else can set these limits for us–it’s a personal metric that we have to identify. But accepting these limits leads to a balanced life. A life where we’re able to do the things we love and not worry about the rest. It’s liberating to incorporate these limits into our lives because can’t do everything (much as I’ve tried). A tenet of my frugal journey is acknowledging that I’m an imperfect, flawed person and that the futile pursuit of perfection only brings distress. What we can do is ruthlessly prioritize what matters most to us and find ways to make those priorities and goals come to fruition.
P.S. We’re sourcing our diapers from Costco at the rate of $0.15 per diaper. If you know of a cheaper option, by all means, please share!
What limits have you established, or accepted, in your own life?
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This is a good example of the benefits of being frugal – it gives you the freedom to spend your money the way you want to! And when you are a parent… Sometimes time is more important than the savings.
All about finding that balance. Babywoods is looking happy and that’s what matters. Now if you can just teach Frugal Hound to clean they house you be all set. 🙂
I bought cloth diapers and quickly realized they were far less frugal than I imagined. The initial investment is pretty hefty. You have to wash them by themselves with HOT water $$$ (not even with the diaper covers I bought) like 4 times at first so that they lose some of the oil. Then you have to wash them by themselves about every other day, depending on how many you have. In the first month it shot our water bill up $50 and our electric bill up $20. We quickly abandoned the idea of cloth diapering. Which brand of diapers do you find the most cost-effective? Also, have you thought about how you’ll frugalize childcare when you return to work?
I’ve been getting diapers from Costco, which are $0.15 per diaper. Let me know if you’ve found anything cheaper :)!
We just switched to the Up & Up brand from Target because they’re supposedly for sensitive skin. They’re $0.176 a diaper when you buy the bulk pack… but Target often runs promotions, especially online. I just bought 2 packs of 222 for $38.99 each (+free shipping) and then got a $30 promotional gift card from the purchase.
Look into Amazon subscribe-and-save, and they Amazon Family program (formerly Amazon Mom) which is even cheaper.
Luvs for 11 cents apiece,
We had to get the fancy Pampers Sensitive for our princess to avoid problems, and Amazon was the cheapest source. Plus, with monthly delivery, it was one less thing to lug home from the store and we always had them on hand.
I was able to sometimes get Luvs or Huggies for cheaper than Costco, but for some reason they seemed to give my daughter a rash – a problem I don’t get with Costco diapers. I’ve stuck to Costco with my other kids for this reason.
Plus, I could never get the cloth diaper so it would not leak.
We’re hoping to do cloth, but we were also looking at prefolds, which are hella cheap (and can be purchased used for even cheaper). I would say though, that the same argument you put forth into diapers could be used for items in your own blog where you get into saving even more money in (what I personally may consider) more labor-intensive ways. Don’t feel the need to justify certain expenses just because it doesn’t fit the “frugal” norm. I can’t eat rice and beans every day because I am extremely carb sensitive (blame my pancreas and genetics!) and gain weight if I eat nothing but starches all the time, so I could never follow your rice and beans everyday. I also do need to eat meat quite frequently as a result, which is often considered taboo in the “go vegetarian as much as possible” realm of frugal bloggers (I still eat lots of veggies!). But because every one is different and has different limitations, we accept these limitations and do the best we can. If you couldn’t breast feed your child, I’m sure you’d feel even more frugal guilt, but again, that’s totally out of your control. There are plenty of moms who barely get any leave whatsoever and pumping doesn’t work, so formula it is. Just do what’s best for yourself and your family and don’t stress the small things! A happy and healthy baby (and parents) are all that matter. 🙂
It’s invaluable to recognize your limits so you can stay motivated about your frugal choices, rather than resenting them. That wouldn’t be sustainable, nor is that a good life. Diapering is also a decidedly short-term expense, which makes it easier to let go.
I was also not in the cloth diaper camp. For me, the savings weren’t worth the cost. But I completely understand why some choose to do it. Each person needs to decide what brings their life value. Mr. MMM and I love having an occasional tea or coffee at a local shop. These are dates for us. We spend a few bucks; but to us, the benefits outweigh the cost. Babywoods Is extremely lucky to have such conscious parents 🙂
Here here! to knowing your limits and doing what works for you, not what everyone else thinks you should do! I think parents are exposed to the worst of that kind of thinking.
Yep, there’s a lot of parent-guilting that goes on, which I find most distasteful. We’ve all gotta do what works best for our families!
Again, another great and honest post. Your approach to life is like a breath of fresh air. Save where it’s not important, and spend where it is. Your baby is beautiful!!
Love your philosophy! And, who isn’t in love with how happy Babywoods is about the whole thing!
Love your site and all your ideas! I can see why you would choose disposables over cloth. One point I think is worth mentioning is that you appear to only have taken into account the monetary value of using disposables rather than cloth diapers (e.g., water, detergent, drying). However, disposable diapers will not break down in landfills and the “cost” to the planet is enormous. It isn’t always just about what things cost us at the time of purchase or use, but also where all that stuff goes in the end.
That said, I do not blame you one bit! A newborn babe is a joy and also exhausting. I don’t know how my Mom managed cloth diapers for 2 kids all those years ago.
Chiming in to second this point. I completely get why y’all Frugalwoods aren’t cloth diapering it (although maybe in the future? never say never) but the idea of all that plastic and other non-compostable materials going into the landfill for 100+ years is something to keep in mind. It’s not just about the water and electricity to was those reusable diapers…
I agree, but I will not come down on your for using disposable diapers. I used half and half, so that would make me a hypocrite. But they will still be in the landfill long after you and I are gone from the earth.
Also, are you buying the eco-options of disposables? Disposables have a lot of nasty chemicals in them – you might want to be aware of and cut down on those chemicals since Babywoods’ skin is like a sponge especially in infancy.
One thing you can do, which I was always able to keep up even when I had two in diapers at once (I have 3 kids), was NOT using store bought wipes. They too have chemicals and my kids had sensitive skin. I used plain old baby washcloths. I would toss them in the wash once used and it was not a problem at all. Something to think about to try to do away with landfill-guilt. 🙂
Landfills are obviously a concern, but then, so is water, a very precious commodity that is in increasingly short supply. Using water and electricity has an environmental impact that may seem tiny, but in real terms may well be similar to sending nappies to landfill.
But water is renewable (and certainly plentiful where I live!), it doesn’t just leave the planet when it goes down the drain. If humans didn’t pollute our water systems with so many terrible chemicals and toxic debris it would be so much easier to filter it and use it over again. Also where I live, over 80% of our electricity is -no surprise here- hydro. We also have another 10% from wind.
Imagine just in another hundred years the billions of babies that will be born and billions of nappies sent to landfills… it is a compounding issue because the nappies last a lot longer than the babies wearing them.
It’s a choice. You can either choose to pollute or not.
That is true, then again, having a baby at all is a choice to burden an already-burdened environment, isn’t it? How far does one go. Drought is a massive issue in many parts of the world, potable water is something many don’t have access to (and of course, the irony is that a disposable nappy would be far, far out of the reach of many of those populations too!)
Announcing that we can just ”choose” not to pollute at all seems… unrealistic. Can you say you truly leave absolutely no footprint of any kind whatsoever? Have you ever got on an aeroplane for example? We must just do the best we can, according to our circumstances. And yes, in some countries and areas it’s incredible how environmentally-conscious and well-run things are. I genuinely wish and hope for the same for us all, but the truth is, circumstances vary a lot.
You turn this around and make it personal. That’s fine… I can answer up…
I am a upper middle class woman living in an affluent society.. of course I have a carbon footprint! I was born into it. If I don’t want to completely undermine my children’s future choices of remaining in the upper middle class then I have to compete and participate in my socioeconomic cohort. Not wasting is unrealistic only because I haven’t imposed ion the rest of the family what I wish to impose on myself.
1) If it were up to me we would never step on a plane again… but we do fly but once a year to visit my husband’s family in Mexico (and I always fly direct now, no matter the cost).
2) I would never buy food that comes in disposable packaging. I could way more easily do this for myself, but it’s very hard with little kids. I say “no” a lot, but my kids still have chips. They still have candy. I frequently buy the biggest bag of any product. I also will take unwanted foods (packaged). LEGO packages are probably the worst right now.
Sometimes I choose to pollute. It’s a choice and more often than not, it’s probably NOT the best I can do. If this is what I know to be true for myself… someone who’s in real deep with it, I KNOW it’s happening on a MUCH greater scale with the average person.
No. It is better that we don’t ever say “we do the best we can”. It allows for complacency. It allows for keeping the status quo and the status quo isn’t going to be good enough.
But much of this is an internal dialogue. Every individual has to take these questions inside themselves to answer and that’s the hardest part: Nobody really wants to answer them. The answers are often difficult and require work and conviction. Often, one’s very identity and understanding of the world comes under fire (I’ve studied this in an academic setting just to be clear that I’m not pulling this out of my ass).
I just think we can all do better. I don’t want to give up that hope, because if I lose hope that we can change then I’ve lost complete hope for the future.
I agree. I used a diaper service for my kids many years back and it was great, but not cheap. Since I cook and bake everything from scratch, make my own clothes, diy home and yard care, have been a card carrying anti-consumer since the 90’s and we carpool I’ve been able to do a few things that benefit the planet more than my bank account and still come out way ahead. It would be nice if the earth was still a livable place when Babywoods grows up even though most politicians and big businesses are trying hard to keep that from happening. Save money, save time, but save the planet, too.
But the creation of disposable diapers using a lot of water and electricity ~ and as others have noted, the water used to clean cloth diapers can be repurposed and safely reabsorbed by the earth. That cannot be said for disposable diapers since the chemicals in the plastic pollute the water used to make them and those chemicals leach back into our ground water.
Not every decision should be make based upon “convenience”.
No, of course not, but I do think it’s convenience, not ”convenience” because it’s undeniable that things like disposable nappies have massive advantages in terms of time and efficacy or they simply would not be used as much as they are. Which decisions should not be made based on convenience?
There appear to be many decisions in life that are not made based on “convenience”. Which ones you ask? If I have to answer that for you then it would appear there is a much bigger problem in thinking than a discussion on the use of disposable diapers can elucidate for you.
I have done both types of diapers when younger. But I had the gift of being able to stay home. I still remember the exhaustion. I probably have it wrong, but I think it’s something like – penny wise, pound foolish. Balance and recognition of limits are a very good thing.
I really enjoy the wisdom and entertainment factors of your posts. I find myself smiling as a read them. Thank you!
I’m 100% with you on the diapering. I’m just starting out now moving to a more frugal lifestyle. I also know that like this weekend, when it was freezing outside and we went to the mall to get out of the house, that buying a $7.99 sweater normally wouldn’t of bothered me, but now it does. It’s packed up to take back. I feel like alot of people had opinions on the diapering issue for me. But, clearly they didn’t have to change them, so for me the disposables were a God send. Other limits for me, are coloring my own hair, which I do all the time, but I use the money saved every 6 months to have a keratin treatment done. That is worth every penny to me since raising kids doesn’t leave much me time and it makes my hair so much more manageable :0) For me, that’s worth it.
This is exactly right: ” But, clearly they didn’t have to change them”! Truer words never spoken.
I can totally understand that. There are times in life where “life” outweighs cost. For many that’s hiring cleaning help, cooking help, or blog help. I, of course, pay to get my hair cut. lol! But it’s worth it to me to feel my best. I always clean myself, cook myself, and do all the blogging stuff myself. Each person needs to identify that most important thing in their own life. As I’ve mentioned before in a guest post on your blog, frugality is not a competition!
Agreed! It’s about having a life you can enjoy at least most of the time. When I went on maternity leave eight months ago I was full of how I would economise by walking the dogs myself and using reusable nappies – I still had them so zero cost! Both of these things were so time consuming on top of the sleep loss that I ended up feeling guilty at my failures and starting to hate my life – and I don’t think that’s how you should be when you have a lovely new baby and a long time without having to get up for work. So the dog walker is back and the reusable nappies are gathering dust while I have time for coffee and crawling practice. You do what you can.
Glad to hear you found some good balance! None of us should feel like failures–we’re all doing the best we can 🙂
I love your post–and your site! I am embarking on my own frugal living venture. I’m at a crossroads–time to turn in a leased car and either buy it, lease a new one, buy another used car, etc. A stubborn voice within insists on “none of the above.” So I’m taking the city bus to and from work for three weeks, walking to the grocery store twice a week, to see how I fare. I’m in my hometown but I feel like I’m on vacation! Taking the bus is a great first step on my adventure. The next step will probably be moving from my expensive apartment to a much less expensive one next door. My goal is to save half of my income for retirement and to plump up a sagging savings cushion. Many, many thanks for sharing your adventure!
That’s awesome, Martha! I love your positive attitude about the bus! Way to go on saving so much 🙂
I never used anything else than disposable diapers for both of my kids, and it’s just fine. One is slowly getting out of them (using only at nights now).
And I tried breastfeeding but it did not work, so formula way we went. Just fine too.
There is a lot of options our there, just have to find what works for you and tune out the haters/judgmental people. Your body, your kid, your life = YOUR choices.
Well said 🙂
She is a beautiful, adorable baby, and you are wise and loving parents.
We live in an apartment and if we had to wash cloth diapers, we’d have to run down to the laundry room to do that…hope there’s no wait and also pay to wash. Definitely not worth it for us. Too much of a headache and yes, when you’re sleep deprived and tired, sometimes the convenience is worth it. No one should take your frugal card from you for using disposable diapers!
My friends with young children swear by Costco diapers.
Baby Estelle is beautiful!
As Tonya said, frugality is about what works for each individual/family and it’s not a competition. The criteria I follow is to decide whether something is ‘worth it’ by how it makes me feel when I spend money on it. We used cloth diapers with our first-born baby and it worked perfectly. After we had our second child, various changes in circumstances make it challenging for us to use cloth diapers. However, I also cringed each time I spent money on boxes of diapers. These days, if something is important to us, we set aside money for it and turn it into an occasional treat. That’s what I do with haircuts at the salon. I get my hair cut professionally about twice per year. The rest of the time, my husband trims my hair at the back while it grows. When I do visit the salon, I feel amazing walking out of there, and knowing that I saved and set aside money for that semi-annual treat.
I never even considered cloth nappies (uk gal here) as it seemed very time consuming, even though I could do with the spare cash! I need to have a bit of me time, which I spend working out (in my home) and reading library books. I breastfeed so that is free, I also weaned my daughter using the baby led weaning method so she eats what I eat which avoids having to spend money on jars. I cook all our meals from scratch, take packed lunch to work and I don’t own a car . I’m also doing a no clothes for a year challenge
Thanks for being you, frugal weirdos! Everyone is different and I am so glad that you joyfully do what is right for YOUR family. Lo these many years ago, (she is almost 19 yo now) I did cloth diaper my daughter – and I did it old school with the pins and the rubber pants. My decision had less to do with money than it did fear of having all of those paper diaper chemicals next to her tiny lady bits for 2 years or so. Our concerns are all different, so our actions should be as well! Brava!
Yes – do not feel guilty about the disposable diapers – There is no way to explain the “work” involved with cloth diapers – I have experienced it = growing up in a family of 6 – at one time there were two (twins) in diapers – and disposables were just on the market but extremely expensive- I was the next to the oldest girl (15 years older than the youngest child) and guess what – washing diapers was my job. As I gaged and scrubbed I swore I would never have children – Unless I could afford disposable diapers – I raise three wonderful children and I am happy to say – a cloth diaper never hit there bottom = having experience both cloth and disposable _ I thing the disposable are healthier also – you change them less frequently and don’t have to worry as much about diaper rash or infections.
Not necessarily healthier – tons of chemicals in those things. You can cut down on the chemicals by using “green” disposable diapers though.
Baby’s skin is truly a sponge so the chemicals are definitely important to be aware of.
Congrats to you on being true to yourself. Yes, cloth is less expensive, but as two working people this will likely not be the last choice of this type you make; and it’s OKAY. Spending more time with your precious daughter may trump frugality in other areas. I could never have managed cloth diapers either as a working mom of two boys twenty-four months apart. It would have been overwhelming–and I doubt my child care providers would have been on board, either. Hooray to you two for making the best decision for your family.
We used cloth with #1 but not #2 or #3. I won’t lie, the cloth did take up some time with extra laundry, though I’m glad we did it for one. Still, I’m a little bit glad my daughters couldn’t tolerate the dampness of the cloth diapers. Adding more children while working full time was a whole magnitude of chaos more than having the one kid, and having to do diaper laundry on top of everything else was rough. Now, I know people who have more kids than I do and still did cloth with all, and I’ve decided they are superheroes.
I don’t know if they save you enough to be worth it (maybe not with one kids, I would guess with two or more the savings would be more significant), but I don’t think using the laundry detergent/water/energy to dry means they aren’t environmentally worth argument it is really valid. We cut down 7 million trees a year to make paper diapers, and the water required to create one is significant. And then there is the space they take up in land fills. I’m not saying it’s a reason in and of itself to use them, but we need to be honest with ourselves about the environmental costs.
I use cloth, but we also use paper in some instances, like during naps and at night because I couldn’t create a cloth option that kept my child dry and I couldn’t manage the extra laundry of doing sheets and a mattress protector every time he slept. We also used them with out daughter for a while before she potty trained, because she was holding her pee so long to avoid leaking that she couldn’t go on the toilet when she wanted to. So I have absolutely used disposables (more than I wish I did), and am not trying to judge. But I do think we need to be really honest with ourselves about the environmental cost, because it’s real.
The environmental cost of having a baby at all is high. Should we all stop having babies immediately? We should be more honest with ourselves about how much that child will use / eat/ do in his or her lifetime. Can the planet afford another baby?
We stopped at two for this reason, even though I would LOVE to have a huge family. Kids can be expensive in all sorts of ways, and those born to upper middle class parents like us tend to be some of the most “expensive”… especially in the way of environmental cost. But this comment detracts from the issue of convenience and comfort over justified “need” on a single issue. Talking about family size is more of a macro issue.. but IF you are going to have a baby, cloth diapers is the better environmental choice.
We made a similar choice, and it has been sanity saving for us as well! I had to go 50/50 with formula and breast (pumping is not my friend), but I breastfed as much as possible to reduce costs. I actually had no problem nursing evenings and weekends and giving formula while our little one was at daycare, and I’m still nursing at 19 months. My little one gets so happy for her morning and evening mama milk.
I am sure you have pursued this, but just in case, check deals online with subscribe and save. We chose to go with Earth’s best diapers for a variety of reasons, and I save quite a bit on them by ordering online and casually looking for coupons. For cheaper diapers, I really like both costco and target ones.
Also, you can get ahead in the money game by doing elimination communication part time 😉 Even if you just do this on weekends, you can save a few diapers, which could add up over time.
One last thing: we do disposable, but I often use cloth wipes (both for nose wiping and urine butt wiping). I always use disposable wipes for poop. For pee diapers, I spray a little plain water on a square of flannel, wipe off, and then use a dry corner to pat dry. Those can just go in the normal wash (either with snot or pee) — comes clean and doesn’t smell at all. They’ve added nothing to my wash and add perhaps 2 minutes worth of “labor” a week. Okay, three if you count the separating time when doing laundry. I got them as a baby shower present.
I’m very intrigued by the elimination communication concept–I need to study up on how that works!
I highly recommend the book “The Diaper-Free Baby” by Boston author Christine Gross-Loh. Perhaps you could do a book review and/or interview her? You’re welcome to borrow my copy (I’m in Somerville) as well as my copy of the DVD “Potty Whispering.” We did part-time elimination communication and it was actually easiest in the early months when we did it at least 4 times a day. Videos on YouTube about EC were also very inspiring and motivating for me. Babies pee when their diapers are removed because they don’t want to sit in their own waste. EC opens up a fascinating whole new world. It really is communication (just like breastfeeding) and so satisfying to connect with what baby needs in this way!
I think its smart to recognize your limits but dont say disposables are better for the environment. Water is a renewable source and electricity is definitely moving in that direction, whereas those disposables are made of plastic which are manufactured out of very different non natural materials and are going to sit in landfills for years. Just say you chose disposables for your sanity.
Thank you for your honesty. I totally agree that we need to focus on the things that bring the most value (frugal or otherwise) in life.
I feel you maybe you are a wee bit defensive, but as you say, you gotta prioritise. I would not be into cloth nappies to be honest.
I think the defensiveness is because of people who say ”we can choose to pollute or not” and dish out other such useful tips that are very helpful. I myself tend to get defensive when I feel attack via lecture is imminent. In fact, I have stopped someone in their tracks when they did the ”you’re being defensive” thing by saying ”I can imagine I am, it’s quite common to defend oneself from attack”.
I really appreciate this post! We are preparing for the arrival of our first babe and considered cloth diapering as well. As much as I would love to be able to do it, I have decided it’s not for me since I’ll be a working mom. I figure it will be challenging enough to enjoy quality time as a family and as a couple, so we decided not to add more stress to our lives and to use disposables.
One note for you: While researching cloth vs. disposables, I read that, um, solids should be dumped from disposables and flushed just as they are with cloth diapers. Supposedly this cuts down on the smell in the diaper pail as well as helping curb against groundwater pollution. To me, this seemed like an easy sacrifice to make to help the environment since I will be using disposable diapers, so that’s what I plan to do whenever possible. Baby steps, right!?
Babywoods is lucky to have such awesome parents! Congrats on your new addition to your family.
BTW, Sarah at Unsettled mentioned you in the class she’s teaching. You guys are both rockstars in my book.
Many thanks! I’m a big fan of Sarah too 🙂
Right there with you, Mrs. FW. My husband and I made the same choice, for the same reasons. It was just too hard to take care of the baby, the dog, and keep the house reasonable maintained while also keeping up with diaper laundry. In addition, we both work outside the home, and our daycare won’t use cloth, which means we have to buy disposables anyway. The cost savings of using cloth for just evenings and weekends was just not worth it.
Totally makes sense to me! We’ve all got to find that balance that lets us keep our sanity!
Kudos to you for doing what works best for your family! We used disposable diapers as well but I admire those who have the stomach to take care of those cloth diapers!
One of the many things we spend money on without guilt is music lessons for the teenagers. One child loves lessons, the other, not so much. Studies have shown those who take music do better in math. Both kids do well in math and I don’t know if it’s because of music lessons or not but I’m thrilled they know how to rock!
I agree wholeheartedly. I did cloth diapers during that phase of my life but we definitely eat out more often than we should (we live in NOLA, one of the most restaurant oriented places in the country, and we enjoy every minute of food with friends that none of us have to actually cook!) – it is all about thinking about how much joy the expense provides. Your post reminded me in some ways of “Your Money or Your Life;” sometimes, when you think about how much life energy you use to earn the money to afford an item or experience, you decide that it is totally worth it and that is just as thoughtful a decision as deciding not to buy something. Sometimes it really is worth it to spend money (as long as it is money that you can afford to spend – not a problem for your family) even if someone else might be judgmental about your choices. On the environmental implications of cloth v. disposables, we all make choices along the spectrum. I talk about the fact that we all choose the places where we decide to do the “right” thing with my 9 year old because she cannot understand why some people who know about factory farming still choose to eat meat. I remind her that there are plenty of things I know are harmful or hurtful but that I do them anyway – none of us are perfect and we need to be gentle with each other. Please be gentle with yourself and do not apologize for your choice – it is what is best for you and your family right now.
Thank you for your kind words! I love that Your Money Or Your Life calculation–I think about that metric a lot too. It’s a helpful reminder.
If I were a blogger this would be the most excellent choice of subjects to talk about my motivational triad. My lifestyle habits are influenced primarily by three incentives: desire to be gentle to the planet, maximize savings and promote good health. Generally, I find that the better choice is one that incorporates at least 2 of these incentives (I’m sure many of you do this too).. things like: cooking vegetarian foods, cleaning your own home, buying/freely receiving used clothing and household items, sharing a dish at a restaurant, taking public transportation, walking or biking to work, etc. Sometimes there is one dominant motivator in a particular lifestyle habit but more often there are two and overwhelmingly these lifestyle choices are based on ecological sensitivity and personal economics. My choice to cloth diaper brilliantly highlights how these 2 motivators work in tandem. We used an assortment of cloth for just over a year. We started on prefolds and covers and eventually worked in more and more pocket (fuzzibunz). At 9 months of age my son was exclusively using pocket diapers. At this time we lived in subsidized student housing in the upper midwest. Although not planned, we were fortunate to have the laundry room right outside the front door. In this case shared facilities was better than having our own… there were always more than enough washers and dryers at my disposal and the cost of water (hot water) was included in our rent and coin laundry (so not totally “free”). Drying the diapers was actually easiest in the midwest winter. They wren’t very attractive, but they helped add much appreciated moisture to the dry air. They dried out very quickly. I also enjoyed looking for used diapers online. I only paid retail prices for my first set of prefolds (the least expensive anyway) and everything else was bought consignment or on Craig’s List and I was able to sell ALL of them when we were done. Imagine that… 10 months of diapers being SOLD for CASH instead of 10 months of diapers filling up a landfill… Ka-boom! That is the sound of two motivators working together for one very big punch.
So one might as what happened, surely my son wasn’t potty-training at a year, was he? Nope, but he did start solids and had a series of gastrointestinal viruses in short order. And he got big. And we moved into a townhome that included our own washer and dryer.
It quickly became too much. I was overwhelmed and the social pressure was too great (it’s okay, you did it long enough already”… “your mental health is more important”… “you need more ‘you’ time”… ). We quit and used disposables for the next year. Fortunately, he did potty train just after his second birthday.
I’m very proud that I stuck it out for nearly a year and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
As for what limitations exist in my current life? Well, occupationally I am quite limited.. because I do all these frugal things (mostly without my husband’s help.. he struggles with ADHD-ish issues.. it’s amazing he can keep such an awesome paying job) I simply don’t have time to do self-serving activities.. I don’t have time to blog, retrain for a different career, I don’t have time to cultivate friendships (or any relationship for that matter), I don’t have time to do more environmental activism. I don’t have time to do anything that would designate me as an individual or something special. I’m doing the right thing, but I’m pretty damn boring doing it. I am a domestic worker.. no different than house keeping at the Sheraton… the hamburger flipper at Burger King… the woman working at the dry cleaner… there are several people pay me to specifically take their dog outside to take a dump (I charge $10 for the ultra quick potty break). .. the amalgamation of my choices limits my identity and there will always be a part of me that craves more social value, economic value and material value. That’s the core of acceptance right there.
At the end of it all though, I am able to accept it, make peace with it even. It goes back to my daily and hourly visitation with my motivational triad: I know what’s right. I know what’s required. My days are bombarded by stories of people being careless, reckless, greedy and irresposible. My heart is troubled and saddened by stories of species going extinct, of babies being born with defects because of a mosquito that has been enabled to grow wider and stronger, of the millions of people that have lost their home, or will soon, due to drought, wild storms or eroding coastlines… The consequences of hedonism. The consequences of unrestricted capitalism. The consequences of millions and millions of people that all feel that a few more diapers won’t matter… cases of plastic bottles… cans of paint… miles in a SUV…
It’ll be okay.
We’ve put it in the balance.
We’ve decided on our priorities.
And we’d rather write and take pretty pictures.. or comment on blogs of people that do. 🙂
I can’t imagine doing cloth diapers!! Kudos to anywhere out there who does 🙂 I totally agree with this article. If your saving well in other areas, something like this is pretty minor in the long run, cost wise, but the time and hassle it saves is worth so much more.
We’re expecting baby #2 and have received a lot of hand me down clothes (our first babe is a boy, #2 will be a girl). All the really “boyish” clothes have gone to friends or consignment in exchange for $$. Baby #2 will be so much cheaper as stroller, crib, and all those other big expenditures have already been purchased. We had a hand me down rickety old stroller for baby #1 so our only NEW item was a brand new stroller and car seat which we got for FREE through Air Miles. It makes me happy to think that the money can now be either saved or put towards something fun like a yearly pass to the zoo!
Congrats on expecting baby #2 :). And I’m with you–I’d much rather buy a zoo pass than a bunch of new stuff!
This is going to be such a “Dog Mom” response, BUT, I recently started using re-useable diapers for Mosby. He will sometimes anxiety pee when I leave, so he gets diapered when I go to work. Just the other day I was wondering how on God’s green earth new parents have time to handle re-useable diapers when babies are making WAY more of a mess than Mosby. Plus, with no washer and dryer in the apartment, all of that work would be by hand. Props to you for recognizing your limitations and making what would seem like a non-frugal choice for the sake of being frugal with your time.
Haha, I love the dog mom response :).
Amen. In my opinion diaper designers are second only to NASA engineers. The amount of liquid disposable diapers can hold, the comfort of them and the number they can fit in a box is just amazing. And when you buy them at BJ’s in bulk they’re something like 30 cents a piece.
We did cloth, but I know it’s not for everyone, and I certainly won’t judge you on it! I thought disposables were more work! And we still ended up having to use disposable night-time pull-ups for the 5 yr old who still can’t be dry through the night! But, we formula fed for my sanity, and we paid for it ($16 a can at Costco, and we went through about a can a week!). The best part about being frugal is that you spend your money on what’s important to you, not to anyone else. Keep going with your disposables!
I did mostly cloth diapering but I wasn’t anal about it (ha ha, see what I did there?) –we used cloth about 80% of the time, but grabbed a disposable if we were going out. Cloth definitely made more sense during the time that we had two in diapers. When the older kid potty trained, our easy routine of a quick laundry load every day or two was suddenly upended, and kid #2 had pretty much exclusively disposables after that.
The cost of the reusables was brought down significantly by sharing one set of covers and liners with my sister and some friends who had babies of slightly different ages. I think among us we had seven bottoms covered by the same set of diapers, and once we were all done having babies, they got passed along to another circle of friends. I imagine they are still hard at work somewhere.
You hit another nail on the head. We are fair-weather cloth diaperers. We have them, so every time I use them, I feel like I win… but I don’t use them if I’m tired, stressed, or if we’re going out. Focusing on the little returns will just keep us all stressed out all the time. Big changes make a bigger difference than sweating the small stuff. You guys have it all figured out. When does that happen for the rest of us? 🙂
Hah–we do not have it all figured out by any means! But glad I have some people fooled 😉
Love reading your blog! I especially appreciate the honesty about some of the ways you are less frugal in order to strive for more balance in your life. It’s so encouraging, since sometimes the frugal journey can be challenging. Totally worth it, though!!
Being frugal for us is a journey and if we wanna make it in the long run, me and my husband are trying to balance, based on our needs and wants, when it’s worth making a change with when following the mainstream path it’s just fine. We have a sailing boat and a car, and a money pit house and if we showed up at a frugal convention we’d probably feel like failures considering how much other have optimized their resources. But we are so damn proud of ourselves ( most days)! We work hard to stay out of debt, we have a savings account, paid the house in full and now I am ready to start my retirement business in dog walking/ dog sitting 🙂 The fact that we accept our limitations in so many areas doesn’t make me feel guilty for spending the money or being wasteful, as long as we are both happy with our lifestyle I couldn’t ask for more. Could we save more?! Absolutely! But if we gave up the sailing boat my husband would be not only bored, but extremely unhappy and the smile on his face after a boat race or just a sail around the island means the world to me.As new parents I hope you guys remember that it’s not about this particular battle, what happens in the long run matters. You saved so much from the landfills by reusing furniture and baby items, baby Estelle’s diapers will not be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the environment or for your wallet. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are killing the planet and wasting money, if those cloth diapers don’t work for you so be it!!! I know when our time comes to have a baby, I’ll be doing everything in my power to keep my family healthy and happy, at the end of the day that’s why I save where it doesn’t matter for us, in order to afford what does matter. You guys are such an inspiration for so many, including my husband and I, that it kills me when you are being criticized for a decision that make perfect sense for you family! Sending much love from our family to yours, and again thank you, thank you, thank you for documenting every step of your journey in such an honest and open way.
Thanks so much for your kind words! I’m a big believer in everyone finding what works best for them–in frugality and life. I try hard not to judge others because we’re all on a unique little journey through life 🙂
A frugal baby hint. When visiting the doctor, ask if they have any samples.
OMG that cute baby.
I tried cloth for 1 week with my older son, with a service. Two problems:
1. He was 2 weeks early, so we didn’t have the delivery yet. Used disposables for the week until they delivered
2. He was so small, he looked ridiculous, and they didn’t fit.
We gave up after a week.
When we had our first child, we were all-in on cloth diapers. We loved the idea of saving money and doing something that was better for the earth. And, we knew we wanted more kids, so figured the compounded savings would be worth it. In the end, the extra work of cloth diapers was too much for us—extra loads of laundry ALL THE TIME, stuffing the diapers with inserts, etc. We caved to the convenience of disposables. So not only did we spend $300+ on the cloth diapers, but we also bought disposables regularly. Frugal fail!
Good for you for finding your limits and striking a balance, instead of doing the perceived “right thing” and struggle, or worse, do what you are doing (disposables) but weeping and wailing and gnashing your teeth in guilt! That’s the downfall of many a parent.
I remember identifying myself, in a conversation with another similarly environmentally minded mum, as suffering from what we then named “Eco-guilt”. Funnily enough it was about nappies, too, as well as not always feeding my twins organic, freshly made food, using the odd bottle of formula etc…! I have to say I breastfed them on demand until they were 3 months old, when I was struck by a horrible bout of mastitis and had to introduce formula, but I managed to part breast feed both until they were 17 months, so it’s not like I hadn’t tried my best. I was stuck in an upstairs one-bed flat with DH and the babies, no garden, no space where to hang laundry, breastfeeding them on demand and trying to to all the right things. Except for using terry nappies! And I felt such a failure, bad mummy, bad citizen, you name it, for having opted on disposables. It was only after a few years of meeting other mums and talking about the conflicts of being an environmentally sensitive parent, that I finally realised that it would have been madness to do it all, 100% “right”, and that I would have paid with my sanity. So, give yourselves a break, knowing that loving parenting takes many shapes and accept my congratulations for doing what’s right for you and your family.
You are quite right–there’s no way to do everything perfectly. It’s insanity to try!
The reason I used cloth diapers – and it wasn’t an easy decision – was not so much the cost but the foot print I left behind. 3,000 diapers in a landfill was not a pretty sight to me. I’m not judging anyone else. That’s what I had to do. I am a Green Peacer and an original Nadar Raider, so forgive me…
Good for you!
You know what, I absolutely judge other people when it comes to planet welfare. I just read Naomi Kleine’s new book and I am alarmed. Deeply alarmed… and so should be everyone else!
Babywoods is adorable and she is clearly well-loved and content! . Are *you* and Mr. FW OK with your choices? That’s all that counts. I nursed and cloth-diapered my firstborn; Baby No. 2 had bottles and disposable diapers. Both are well-adjusted adults. Each family has to do what is right for them. Lots of love as you keep figuring it all out, frugally!
If was a relief for me to read this. I know there is a big debate about which method is actually cheaper, but I did get the impression after a bunch of research that cloth diapering was the more frugal option even though it’s so much more work. I know it sounds silly but after reading this post I feel like I have permission to not do cloth. I wrote about some similar topics this weekend as far as not cutting out things when the sacrifice causes you to be miserable, even though you might save money.
Makes sense to me giving what you stated. We went with cloth diaper because we determined it saves us money in the long run, especially when we will be having a second kid. Air drying hasn’t been an issue for us as we just hang them inside during winter.
Question: What brand did you end up going with? I did a price comparison, but have yet to pull the trigger on going completely with one brand and in bulk. I have a new little baby bear (5 months) and am trying to frugalize with baby.
Congrats on your new little bundle :)! We’ve been getting diapers from Costco, which are $0.15 per diaper. That seems to be the cheapest option we’ve found, but let me know if you find something better!
I love you, Frugalwoods family! I like your open and honest take on your lives/expenses. Babywoods is gorgeous, and I have to admit, I’ve gone through the Frugalhound pics repeatedly because Frugalhound so reminds me of one of my old greyt dogs! Thank you so much for your posts. They inspire, amuse, and entertain, and I would even pay (!) to read your posts.
Cheap diapers hint:
Target Cartwheel is always 5% Off Diapers
Target Redcard is always 5% off
Every 3 weeks Target Features a Buy 2 Boxes get a $5Gift Card on UP&UP Brand diapers, and at least half the time the price of diapers is reduced by $4 per box.
Stacked together, these usually yielded diapers in the $.12-$.13 range. I wouldn’t go out of your way for that level of savings, but if you need to go to Target at some point anyhow, check the only weekly ad to see if you’re going to get the deal or not.
With this baby, we’re getting some cloth diapers for free (along with an unnecessarily large bin of homemade diaper detergent), so we’ll be doing a combo of cloth+disposable.
I definitely recommend the cloth diaper covers rather than swim diapers.
Thanks for the tips :)!
We diaper with disposables too. $0.15/ diaper is a pretty good price without deal hunting and stocking up. My stock up price was$0.10/ diaper for store brand ~$0.20 for Pampers in size 1. When my son started sleeping through the night we found pampers baby dry kept him driest and got him through the night without waking/changing. Sometimes Target has sales on their up&up brand where you get gift cards for buying 2 or 3 large boxes. On cyber Monday they had a deal you could stack a rebate on $x of baby purchases as well as rebates for buying so many boxes of diapers or so many tubs of formula so I stocked up on both for the next 3 months. Amazon occasionally has great deals on Huggies diapers and wipes that are comparable to the best prices at Target. If I see a smokin’ deal on diapers in the next couple of months I’ll try to remember to com back here and comment!
Oh and howmanydiapers.com can help you estimate how many diapers of each size you will need based on your baby’s weight. In my experience they overestimate how many you will need but it is still a useful tool.
Good to know–thank you for sharing :)!!
I’m shocked! Cloth diapers are no biggie and you can hang them indoors on a drying rack. You don’t need hundreds of them- maybe 15. I always had a load of baby laundry daily so a few diapers weren’t any harder to wash. I just hate the idea of paper on anyone.
We do cloth diapers and wipes. We did last time, too. I didn’t personally find that it added much work or utility expense, but then I don’t mind laundry. We got this set handed down from my sister. These diapers are on their 4th baby! But I don’t fault people for using paper diapers. I don’t always choose the most frugal and eco-friendly option either.
But I did just pay for a haircut, for the first time many years. My hair was falling out postpartum so I got it all whacked off into a pixie. I didn’t feel confident about doing this myself in my current state of sleep deprivation, so for the cost of a month of disposable diapers, I outsourced it.
Being frugal does not being a martyr, living the cheapest possible life, regardless of your happiness, and it’s great that you are doing what works for you and your priorities. I have had 3 babies and have always used disposables. Yes, I recycle (quite unusual in my part of the world, certainly not the norm), I consider myself reasonably frugal, and try not to waste money keeping up with the Jones’s… but my problem with cloth diapers is the number of times they need to be changed! At night, when baby gets a bit bigger and sleeps longer, waking up to change a wet, leaking nappy and for no other reason would get… really old, really fast! Even quite avid cloth-nappy-users I know tended to go with a disposable at night!
And another thing, if at some stage, a few months down the road you need to start using (whisper it!) formula (AKA poison) because you have chosen to stop loving your child (KIDDING!!) it will only be for a little while… you do exactly what you need to do to live as comfortably, happily and ethically as you know how. If that requires disposable nappies or only organic produce or… or… then that is perfect and you are doing a great job. It is exhausting, it is draining and emotionally up and down, your life has gone and a new one is beginning blah blah. Use the disposables. Have the extra cup of coffee. Take a yoga class that does not involve the baby, whatever. No medals, no trophies for most martyred mommy… believe me, I’ve asked!
I used cloth diapers for 4 years, 2 of those years we had 2 in cloth. The much higher than average utility costs where we live along with special detergents due to hard water and allergies made cloth more expensive for us than disposables. We were spending more on laundering a month than we had on disposables for our oldest 10 years before and disposable prices had come way down. I checked current diaper prices and we were spending $30 a month for cloth. We stuck with it because they were cute.
After moving to a new rental with a few months having to wash in a laundromat we switched to disposables. The savings and less work were so nice. We never went back to cloth.
That should say $30 a month more!
Some of the mom/saving blogs have deals where you can get really cheap disposables, sometimes.
I just read on a blog that Amazon Prime gives 20% off diapers. I don’t know if this is current. Just passing along the info. 🙂
Yup, no cloth diapers in this house either. I thought about it, then I remembered that I only deal with 10% of it and my wife is doing the work here, so the decision is hers. She never mentioned cloth diapers, so I assume the choice has been made.
And, yeah, you could lose the car. Not being judgmental here, but cars suck! Ok, I’m being totally judgmental 🙂
Babywoods is just the cutest little gal! You must love her to bits!
When I read the title I thought “oh my, what have they done?!?!” I expected it to be a far bigger expense than $100! Definitely do not beat yourself up over that. I am soon to become an aunty and I am sure my sister will be trying to keep things as simple as possible. Love concerned Frugalbaby!
It’s OK. Enjoy yourself with no guilt. She is adorable and quite beautiful. God bless you all.
You’ll get no judgment from me. But then again, I am a “bad mom” because I quit breastfeeding after 3 days with my second child. And I use disposables. And I am a “working mom.” I’ve got a lot of boxes ticked against me, but it makes me really glad that I don’t care what people think. 🙂 Unless you’re paying my bills or taking care of my kids, you get no say!
Rock on, Frugalwoods!
I don’t think you’re a “bad mom” at all! To the contrary, you’re doing what works best for you and your family, which all any of us can hope for 🙂
Well said. Sometimes you have to think of “value” outside of dollars and cents…so you can keep you senses! 🙂 Happy February!
I think everyone should do whatever they want, so no judgement here.
That said, I used cloth diapers with five kids, two at a time sometimes, and no dryer. It’s difficult to make the case that it’s a ton of extra work. Throwing in an extra load of laundry every other day isn’t really more time consuming than buying diapers at the store. It’s hard if you make it hard. It’s not if you don’t.
Honestly it was an environmental choice for me. The amount of electricity and water it takes to make disposables is no small matter. Adding hundreds of plastic diapers to the landfill is haunting. Plus if you don’t dump and flush you are adding to the possible pollution of groundwater, so not that much water savings.
I enjoyed cloth diapering. I liked knowing the baby never sat in a wet diaper just because the diaper could hold it. If you change a disposable as often as you would a cloth diaper (and why would you not want to?!) then disposables get even more expensive.
I liked the whole process. There are 23 years between my oldest and my youngest, and I never considered disposables with any of them.
Like I said, everyone needs to do what works for them. I don’t think you need to try to justify that there isn’t much difference , because really there is. It’s perfectly acceptable to say you just don’t want to do it and not be disingenuous about the costs monetarily or environmentally.
The values outside of dollars and cents is what I do to the planet. The planet gets to judge me – no one else.
Do you feel that way about people who consume a lot and destroy the planet? That nobody ought to judge them either? Cause I think that’s the way we’ve been doing it for quite awhile here and I’m not liking the results.
Well, I’ve been on the environmental bandwagon for a long time. I feel that what I can do is model what I feel is good stewardship. People have all kinds of reasons for not being conscious that what they do impacts others. However, preaching at them doesn’t help I’ve learned – so I do what I do and hope it helps. Education is key but that has to come from people more powerful than me. Or, it could come from lots of people like me who band together because they feel the environment is important.
I am sort of shocked you’re not doing cloth! We do both, so I don’t judge either way. We live very close to a landfill, so the mounds of diapers and wipes are always on my mind. Our calculations showed saving much more than you showed per year…?
You can get diapers for .11 per at Target right now! The store brand (Up & Up) has buy 2 receive a $30 gift card, 5% off with RedCard and 5% off with a cancel-anytime-subscription via the website. And free shipping!
Your baby is adorable!
In my frugal life, I have realized that I can’t just eat chicken thighs every night as my protein source. I have to have other things as well! 8D So I splurge a little but and buy salmon and shrimp! I buy my salmon at Costco and my shrimp at Winco! Both I believe are good deals and I take advantage of them every month! Also, since I like reading Japanese comics, I always make room in the budget for at least one a month. That is my bit of happiness each month. ^ .^
And unless you check on Amazon, I don’t think you’ll find a better deal on daipers anywhere! As a frugal person, I love buying things at Costco! I’m even so frugal that after my last trip to Costco, I didn’t buy anything there because I didn’t want to shell the money out I didn’t budget out for things there! I’m very proud of myself! I just love perusing the store though and eating all of the free samples! Yum! ^^
Take care! C:
I don’t blame you at all. We went the disposable diaper path and don’t regret it at all. They really aren’t that expensive as you have noticed. I looked into cloth diapering and it didn’t look like it would save us that much money (water is relatively expensive here, and laundry soap not particularly cheap). Plus we use the clothes dryer, so there’s another small chunk of change that cloth diapers incur.
Not having to scrape the “larger leavings” out of a cloth diaper is truly priceless. My sanity is worth quite a bit. We are finally out of the woods with kid #3 (a month or two of wetting maybe 1 diaper during that period), so it’s all history for us but no regrets on the choice we made.
I bought most of our diapers from Dollar General dot com. With an online coupon plus free shipping, the price per diaper was unbeatable. The quality was pretty good when I bought them (better than many name brand diapers). For size 1 diapers, it was well under $0.15 per diaper and almost $0.15 for even size 5’s. Worth a shot for possibly cheaper diapers delivered to your door. Worst case if they suck, you can use them for naps and use the good quality ones for overnight heavy duty stuff.
Well, no one can do everything! When we had two in cloth, we had all free utilities*, so our savings were greatly magnified. I am really glad to have it behind me. (Little Brother sleeps in Pull-Ups. Yes, there are cloth options, but I am soooo over rinsing poop in my toilet. Also over the smell of pee-soaked cloth that has been marinating overnight.)
You can really cut down on the amount of diapers you use over Babywood’s lifetime by potty training at 2 instead of 3 1/2. My boys were not independent until 3 1/2 but both wore underpants from about age 2–they did have accidents sometimes but I saved so very much laundry (over cloth) and lots of money on disposable diapers (which they wore at day care).
Some of my limitations include that I only occasionally bake bread and on the rare occasions we eat bone-in chicken or turkey, I actually THROW AWAY THE BONES. I do not make broth. (I am, however, considering investing in a chest freezer, which would give me enough room to make and store broth.) I also did not make baby food more than once or twice and when the breastfeeding going got rough (several months in, both times) I just gave up and bought formula instead of trying harder.
*Not included, but actually free–we were living in a boarding school and did not pay rent either.
I’ve only been reading your blog for a few months now and I love it! This one really hits home too… with my first child, I refused to do cloth diapering (when many of my new mom friends were) b/c I was a new mom, figuring it all out, had no help or family nearby and was returning to work. Now, I have since had twins after my singleton and live near family, have more (free) help, and decided to give cloth diapering a go (and my husband fully supported this which also made a difference!). I don’t think it would have been worth it for us with just one but after the first few weeks of taking out a big bag of disposables to the trash with twins I had to make the switch and figure it out. Plus the $ spent was double. It took some trial and error but we are finally in a good rhythm… and we still use disposables when the need arises (like when my mom offers to babysit lol). We are very frugal in many ways but I think you hit home that it becomes about the life balance – everyone has to decide what works for them.
I’m so glad you posted about this. It is such a *hot* topic… For me, I felt like it was just “one more thing” and I could not take on that one extra thing with all of the other changes of being a new parent.
I have found that a combo of Amazon Mom and Amazon’s Subscribe & Save are the best options for diapers for me. They come in better than Costco pricing for me. Live work just fine for my kiddo and I pay around $26 a month for diapers & they are delivered to me for free each month.
You have to do what is best for you 🙂
My husband & I have raised 6 kids and all wore disposables. I was not opposed to cloth, until my neighbor came over with her little guy and I was going to watch him for an hour or 2. He was in a cloth diaper, and I had to change him….and I almost threw up. That was it for me! ha!
Have you read Amy Dacyczyn’s “The Tightwad Gazette?” Originally it was 3 volumes, but now can be bought as “the complete works.” If you don’t have it, it definitely deserves space on your bookshelf. (She had 6 kids, used cloth diapers, and is VERY funny!)
I bought a package of cloth diapers before our son (now seventeen) was born. They were invaluable as spit up rags, then were just as valuable as cloths for straining, yes cheese, and even as rum-soaked rags for wrapping fruit cakes. We never used them as diapers. Disposables all the way. There are other places to save.
Hello Frugalwoods!!! Congratulations on Babywoods!! 🙂 She is adorable!!!
My girls are 16 months apart (now 3 and 2), so using disposables probably would have saved us money considering my 3-year-old still wears diapers at naps and bedtime. However, like you, that tiny extra savings is totally not worth it. Not to mention it’s something my husband would NEVER agree to, and we all know to be frugal, you’ve got to be on the same page as your spouse!
Loved this post!! Hope you are doing well and feeling good, Mrs. Frugalwoods!!
I understand why city dwellers like you would find it difficult to get rid of the diapers that are not easily recycled. You may have a valid excuse – but my strong belief is that as long as you live in a modern developed country, whatever you do in the name of sustainability are just drops in the ocean. In the large America has already destroyed a significant part of natural wealth in this world for these conveniences(like plastic diapers). And the system forces you to be part of it, no blame on you. Even talking about sustainability sitting in a developed country is pointless IMO.
I am with you Mommywoods, I could never have done the cloth diaper route simply for my sanity’s sake. Especially because you have probably experienced what we called the “colon blows” and I can’t imagine having to deal with a cloth diaper when those happened. For me, I have a cleaning lady and I’ve had her for 8 years now and she keeps me sane and productive so I have no issues paying for her every time she comes.
We’re doing a combination of cloth and disposables (also Costco) which works for us. We use cloth when we’re at home, and disposables when we’re out and about or travelling.
When my son was a baby we had to switch to cloth diapers because he had allergic reactions to every brand of disposables. New cloth diapers are pricey but I was able to buy an entire set used for $25 online at cafemom.com and this lasted my son until he potty trained. If you use disposables look at the clearance section at all major stores. I recently got my sister four giant boxes at Target for half off, and just the other day they had wipes on clearance. I haven’t personally bought diapers from these sites but I’ve heard good things about jet.com and Amazon’s subscribe and save.
While I did gasp a little, I’m completely with you on this one. Having changed a lot of diapers for my daughter, who refused to poop on the toilet until she was 4 1/2 and had been peeing on the toilet for over a year, the thought of shaking/scraping all that poop off and washing the diapers, still makes me gag. I may be financially or environmentally unwise because of it, but I try to make up for those shortcomings in other ways.
And you’re so right about making sure decisions are informed, and keeping the “personal” in personal finance.
We have two kids and never seriously considered cloth diapers, even though the idea of all that waste was the biggest turnoff for us. Diaper after diaper… but then again scraping wasn’t that appealing either. This is definitely a “micromanaging” thing where you don’t get much financial benefit.
Glad you wrote about this topic! I was nervous when I went to Chautauqua that everyone would be a “perfect” spender and my imperfect choices would be shunned but I was surprised to find that no one was perfect. I looked around and say Ray-bans and people spending money on wine, and sharing with others. It was good to know that no one in the FI world is perfect and that bloggers can make the best choices for them without feeling pressure to be perfect. Thanks!
Another consideration to plug into the equation is that if you’re planning on having more than one kid, (at least some) cloth diapers can be reused.
Love your blog. I have a baby girl almost exactly a year older than your daughter. I tried a lot of diapers brands and now use Kirkland diapers consistently. Cost and quality wise it’s a great deal. I think if you watch coupons for other stores you can get a better deal but I’m not so good at that, so Costco it is. Sometimes Costco will have a coupon for $10 off an online purchase of $100 and that will bring the cost down. I order 3 boxes and they have free shipping. Kirkland diapers are made by huggies so I just buy whichever is on special at the time. I have found really good deals at target but you do have to watch the ads and coupons. Anything under .17 per diaper is pretty good in my experience. Enjoy that sweet baby!
Good to know! And, I agree, it’s a lot easier just to get them from Costco since we’re already there (and I really don’t go to other stores much)
It’s an important parenting lesson in general; “pick your battles.” I think your using second hand clothes/gear/furniture for Estelle is just as, if not more important than doing the cloth diaper thing.
She’s such a doll!
I think you deserve to be less frugal at some point of your life Frugalwoods. I know you look forward to this and it feels great when there is some change every now and then.
Estelle is so cute! My daughter is doing both for her baby, using disposables for bedtime and when she goes out. I cloth diapered both my kids for frugal and environmental reasons. Flannel diapers with pins and plastic covers for my daughter, and newer velcro type diapers for my son (who will soon be 26).
Your baby is adorable!!! And I don’t blame you on the cloth diapers, either. I never had time for that!
Mrs. FW, I’m still curious about cloth diapers for my own (future) children. Would you consider hosting someone who can do a serious Excel style throwdown on the expense of different types of cloth diapers (along with descriptions… it’s confusing terminology) and maybe you could compare your own expenses to theirs?
I’m so glad you asked! I actually had a guest post on that very topic a few weeks ago: The Ultimate Guide To Frugal Diapering. Hope this is helpful!
I had some cloth diapers given to me when I had my first child, I tried them thinking it was a great idea, but that lasted about a week. It was very labor intensive and I felt that it was just too much. And the fact my ex was ZERO help, didn’t make the situation any better. So I switched to the disposables. With my second, it was disposables from the start. While he felt I was doing nothing, I was raising children and still was running my business from home, the logistics of cloth diapers, didn’t work. Thankfully my children are past the diaper stage. My new guy is more frugal than me and has me doing a lot of the stuff I grew up doing. He does 98% of the cooking and I help with cleaning, laundry, etc. We do a lot of the repairs we can manage and look for ways not to spend money. He has been cutting my hair for me since we first met, from the views of most of the posters here, I think most would say I was a lucky lady. My mother and a few friends thought I was crazy and that it was a control thing. But the salon was an expensive hassle for me, I do not miss, I prefer telling him I am due for a trim and he does it for me as I ask. He gives the children their haircuts as well. Saves me the trouble and costs of taking them to the barber. And both boys prefer him giving them their haircuts, they fired me 🙁 But I am still saving hundreds a year, so that is OK.
He put up an antenna getting 23 free local stations, cable internet only with a Roku and Amazon prime for movies, etc. Plenty of free channels on the Roku. We have shared this with friends who did not know you could get tv stations with an antenna, they were raised to think cable was the only way to get them. We don’t get ESPN, Fox News, CNN or other cable only channels. But it is not worth the cost, and we don’t miss them. My mom and sister think we are crazy, they overspend on new cars, cable TV bundle, shop for things they do not need and eat out constantly. Then they cry they are broke all the time. For me I am happy the house is paid for, no car loans or debt. To me, that financial security is freedom and being called cheap doesn’t bother me.
Glad to hear you’ve carved out such a fulfilling frugal life! Sounds like you’ve got it figured out :)!
I never seriously considered cloth diapering but it was more of an environmental decisions than finance. I hate the idea of diapers filling up landfills for years and years. I try to “make up” for this by increasing my recycling of other materials, reducing consumption, etc..
I don’t have kids so I can’t comment on diapers. But I agree with the general philosophy of your post. Time is money. My example is that I am a woman living alone and I work A LOT of hours. And I used to have a heinous commute from Philly to NYC. AT that time, I hired a cleaning service. I hate to clean–and it was worth it to me.
On the other hand, it’s important to realize that “splurges” can change over time. I am still a woman living solo with a high stress job. My commute is much shorter, nevertheless, I kept and enjoyed the cleaning service for years. But lately, I noticed they weren’t doing as good a job as I would do–and I fired them. I’m not minding cleaning so much now that I gave myself a years-long reprieve. In fact, I’m enjoying my home more when I am done cleaning because I do a great job and get to bank the money instead.
The beautiful message that I got out of this is that there’s no need for us to beat ourselves up over being maximum-level frugal with all things at all times. A problem I’ve been experiecing since my paradigm shift into frugal and conscious living is that it’s very easy to be floundering along the frugality spectrum, wondering if I’m far along enough now that I’ve discovered it. Guilt and spend-shaming are by no means conducive to enjoying and truly appreciating a conscientious lifestyle so a big thank you for reminding us that frugalizing is about living with joy, and when something pushes us into the realm of frustration and unhappiness, we may need to re-evaluate our choices.
I actually found that there was less diaper rash when I switched to disposable. I do advocate for flushing the poop down the toilet rather than throwing it in the garbage though. Just a thought to consider in the months ahead as things solidify : )
Everyone needs to find that balance in their life. Life would be miserable if you were 100% frugal in every single aspect of your life. And your baby is beautiful!
I am quite surprised to see that you choose disposables, but if that works for you that is what you should do. I just didnt expect this.
So far I am thinking that I will use cloth diapers when (well in our situation is more accurate to say if) we have a children, since I just hate plastic stuff. I even use moon cup and cloth pads for me, it feels more comfortable (over the years it saved me few dollars I guess, but that wasn’ t my main motivation). I also always try to live as waste free as possible…But I dont know what is it like to have a baby…
What many of my friends that have babies do is the no diaper method. I find it interesting, but quite hard at least from the beginning. However they said it helped them to connect to the child better.
We tried to do cloth diapers for a while with two of our kids, which living in the desert makes a bit more achievable year round. But both times we ended up caving and just going with disposables because parenting is so damn taxing and the benefits of cloth seemed relatively minimal compared to the time and basically break even price of Costco diapers. Also, coconut oil with each diapering seems to give basically the same anti-rash benefits as disposables, at least in our experience. Cheers to you for knowing your limits!
Timely post! We haven’t really discussed what we’ll do, but now I’m thinking the whole thing is going to be hard enough as it is, do we want that extra burden as well?
I wanted to write this in an email but I don’t see one listed on your page (and I missing it? I miss things a lot). I haven’t been reading you long, so you might have written about this before (and without using the phrases I plugged into your search bar), but I was wondering if you have (or you’d be willing to) write a post on your views on frugal living and consumer responsibility. Do you ever choose something that is more expensive but is a more responsible or ethical choice? I was just curious if things like “fair trade” or “sustainability” ever factored into your decision making when it comes to spending. I’ve been struggling with this myself, as I used to research things in an attempt to buy the product that was left the smallest footprint on the earth, or created a living wage for someone, but of course those things are always more expensive. So I’m just wondering what truly frugal people do when it comes to this stuff (I am not at all frugal, yet, but I’m trying to move in that direction).
Have you ever heard of the baby boxes that Finland sends out to all expectant mothers there? It contains most of the clothes you need for a new baby, toys, books, and – get this – a mattress that sits in the box, so you can use the box as a cradle rather than spending hundreds of dollars on one! (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22751415)
I don’t have kids, but after I heard about this I turned to my husband and asked, “Do you think people would be upset if we ever had kids, and used a cardboard box as a crib? Because that sounds very cost-efficient.” He just rolled his eyes. 🙂
We were very pleasantly surprised at how easy cloth diapering was. We started after the tiny infant stage was over (when poo started being more solid). We also did elimination communication which was a ton of fun. With our second child we started EC even earlier and she was trained a ton earlier. Anyhow, we did a combo of disposables (mostly at daycare or when sick), cloth, and elimination communication and it worked out really well for us and really wasn’t all that difficult.
We chose disposable diapers for many of the same reasons. Life is already hard enough with a baby-shaped cyclone of terror and cuteness (ours is 4 months old). I love the idea of using elimination communication to not only save money but also ease the transition into potty training.
Love, love, love Frugalwoods. Thanks for another great post!
New, but devoted reader here. I just wanted to add to the chorus that we chose disposables too for our son (now a college freshman–enjoy every minute, children grow up fast) and not only were they disposable they were the super deluxe name brand fancy ones because they were the only ones that fit him well and prevented leakage. I saved lots of money on other things and I was always just grateful that they fit. Babyhoods is just adorable and has such a wide range of facial expressions–what a blessing!
Disposable all the way. No way do we want the burden of extra laundry.
We were lucky and inherited a box of newborn size from some friends whose newborn was too big for them, along with 1/2 a box of size 1s. We got another box of size 1 as a gift and bought yet another pack of size 1 with the Amazon 20% off registry completion ($0.19/diaper for Pampers). If I average out what we spent for the one box across the entire collection of diapers it’s about $0.06/diaper). Not bad! But paying $0.19 a diaper is crazy going forward. No way.
We have enough back stock while we figure out what will work best. My husband said that off-brands didn’t work well for his son, but I’m told it’s a little easier with girls so we might be able to go with the WalMart brand, which I believe now sells for $0.09/diaper in size 1, or the Aldi or Lidl brands, which run around $0.08/diaper for size 1.
Costco brand is currently about $0.15/diaper for size 1, which doesn’t seem like that much of a savings to me. Yeah, they tried to upsell me on my membership telling me how much I’d save/get back in bonuses if I bought their diapers and I was like, “Let me show you some real math on this …” The sales girl didn’t quite know what to do with that.
I’m also looking into the best price on wipes. Again, we got two huge boxes as gifts so we have time to figure out what will work best for us.