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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

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Tough Economic Times Force New Parents to Cut Back Spending

A new baby brings a lot of joy and a lot of expenses, something that Laura Vivar of Chicago knows all too well when she found out she was having twins.

“We had cut our income almost in half since we decided I would be a stay-at-home-mom instead of returning to work. We just had to get used to having less disposable income,” she said.

One way Vivar was able to save money was by switching to cloth diapers. “I switched to cloth diapers when my twins were a year old. Spending over $120 in disposable diapers each month was killing the budget. When I thought about the fact I was throwing this money in the trash each month, I was convinced I needed to switch.”

Kelly Wels, founder of One Size Diaper Store, says many moms have approached her wanting to know if they can really save money using cloth diapers. “I say ‘Yes!’ In fact, I tell these moms that they may save more than $3,000 by using cloth diapers over disposables. And I’m not talking about moms using the cheap and flimsy pre-fold cloth diapers, I’m talking about the modern, easy-to-use cloth diaper brands like bumGenius, Fuzzi Bunz and Happy Heiny’s that have grown in popularity over the last five years.”

This is true for Lindsay McGowan of North Liberty, Iowa, who spent about $250 to buy a stash of bumGenius and Blueberry diapers for her son. She said that her family saved a lot of money using cloth diapers and, as a bonus, they were able to reduce their daily waste. “We were taking out the garbage daily with disposables. But once we switched to cloth, we saw an amazing reduction in our waste.”

McGowan, who works three days a week outside the home, says daycare costs alone have eaten away at her family’s budget. She had to be creative in finding other ways to save money after her son was born.

“We decided to downsize our SUV to a fuel-efficient compact car. We both drive small cars now, and have noticed a significant decrease in the amount of money we spend on gas each month,” she says.

Not only that, but McGowan also says she breastfeeds, makes her own baby food, only buys clothing at garage sales or off the clearance rack, and even makes her own household cleaning concoctions – all in an effort to save money.

“My husband and I are in no position to waste money right now,” she says. “I would rather spend a little extra time doing price comparisons and get the best deal on something than waste money.”

Vivar also advises that moms should look for little ways to save money. “I buy most of my kids’ stuff from Craiglist, which enables us to reuse things that normally would be tossed in the landfills and cost a fraction of what they would cost if bought new.”

Stay-at-home-mom Marla Beniek of Chicago also is looking for ways to shave off expenses from her family budget, especially after her husband lost his job shortly after her third child was born. She, too, has turned to cloth diapers.

“If I had known five years ago what I know now about cloth diapers now, I would've used them on all my kids. I can't help but think of all the money I would have saved if I was able to reuse my cloth diapers for all my children.”

Wels, who also owns the popular baby boutique Kelly's Closet, says families can rid of wasteful spending if parents are just more diligent about spending. “Moms should audit their monthly spending from top to bottom to find opportunities to save. This might mean taking more drastic measures, like switching to cloth diapers, or simply making an effort to shop at discount stores and thrift shops. It’s just important to do your homework, find something that works for your family and then stick with it,” she advises.

-Post by Jenny L., - Blog Contributor


Serena said...

I wanted to CD with my first child but hubby was against it. However, by my third little one I was determined to sell him on the idea of CD.

I suppose I should have took this approach with him when I first asked him years ago - but SAVINGS factor is what got me the approval from hubby I needed to spend the initial investment in CD.

Spend roughly $400-450 now (on a very generous stash of BG OS) which will cover us from now until potty training - OR - spend that same $400 over the course of 10 or 11 months for disposables (and then keep wasting money on disposables after that).

Hmmmmm? It's a no brainer! Especially with the financial uncertainty the country is facing - the last thing you need to be worrying about is having enough money to diaper your little one!

Kelly said...

I figure I spent about $650 for cloth diapers, a diaper sprayer, material to make my own wipes, wet bags, pail liners, Charlie's soap, etc. And that was doing it the expensive way. I have enough diapers that I only have to do diapers every 4th day. I have a great stash, that certainly could be about half and still suffice, but I can't help myself sometimes when buying diapers! Even spending as much as I did, I still will be ahead in about 2 months, according to my calculations, and I didn't start CDing until my daughter was 3 months old (she is now almost 8). Plus, with out diaper trash, combined with the fact that we recycle or compost everything, I only have to put out trash once a month. I don't have to buy diapers, wipes, diaper cream since with the CDs my daughter almost never gets a rash. I save almost $10 a month on the trash alone. True, my water and gas for the washer/dryer is probably a little higher, but I only really do two extra loads a week, so it is minimal. The savings with cloth diapers are just amazing. And the savings aren't only financial. I am saving the environment, my baby's bum from paper disposables. Solid waste is actually being disposed of how it is supposed to be (check the packages of sposies...solids are supposed to be flushed!)
And I am now the "cool" kid...every time someone learns I use cloth diapers, I get lots of interest and questions.
And back to savings...this is my first child, so I will be able to save with future children as well. I will potentially never have to buy another diaper (or package of diapers) again. I have enough diapers that I could have two babies in diapers at the same time and be fine. Like I said, I spent about $650, and that was doing it expensively, IMO. You could certainly do it cheaper. It just seems like such a no-brainer, especially in tough economic times!

EdenSky said...

I was pretty shocked a while ago when I read that, due to the troubled economy, parents were lobbying to have a tax break or subsidy to cover the cost of disposable diapers. I was disgusted to think that our taxes might be wasted on disposable diapers! Now, if there was some sort of bursary to help parents cover the start up for cloth I would support it wholeheartedly. I just wish more parents would consider the many benefits of cloth, including the cost!

Kelly Wels said...

Hi Serena,
Even though the initial output of funds is a lot the savings overall is just amazing. Then you figure in if you use cloth wipes, don't need to use a diaper genie, etc.

Kelly Wels said...

Hi Kelly,
Yes, $650 can get you a nice stash. We have a lot of customers who will space out their purchases 3-4 months before baby comes so by the time baby arrives they have their entire stash.

Kelly Wels said...

Hi Edensky,
Wow! That is interesting...I didn't know about that. If you have a link with any information I would be interested in seeing it. I am sure others will too!

the momma said...

We made the switch to cloth diapering when I quit my full-time job to stay home with our two children. By doing just a little number-crunching, we figured out that after childcare costs, I would only have 1/2 my income, and would be paying someone else to mother my children- the job I really wanted to do! So a switch to a local part-time job earned me almost 1/2 of my former income, with less "take home" work and stress, and the ability to be a full-time mom! We started cloth diapering with about $100 of AIO diapers and an assorted stash of hand-me-overs from a friend... those lasted us through an entire year and were used on 2 children (currently 20 months and 3 years). Our AIOs have started getting holes in the covers from the repeated washings, so we purchased 6 new (to us, actually used from Kelly's closet, but in excellent condition!) pocket diapers and a cover (to use with the AIOs), which suffice for now for our two children... especially since the older one only uses them for nap and nighttime. I'm looking to expand our stash with more fuzzi bunz and bumgenius pocket diapers in the near future- they are our current favorites- as we prepare for the arrival of dd#3! After a year of cloth diapering, I like to say if I had known how easy it was, I would have used cloth from the beginning... thinking back to all the disposables we used w dd#1 and all the $$$ we could have saved...
I'm a proud cloth diapering momma!

Gina said...

I started cloth diapering in May, when my fourth child was 2 months old. I intended to do cloth at home and sposies when out but once you go cloth, you never go back! Even with my acute diaper addiction, we still save money and convenience. No midnight diaper runs for our family! I would say we've spent maybe $400 for enough diapers to last the kid until he is out of diapers. Then I can resell them :)

Erin said...

It is amazing how much money a family saves using cloth diapers. I could not have stayed home with my daughters had I not been breastfeeding and cloth diapering.

Kelly Wels said...

Yes, if you add up how much formula, disposables, wipes,etc it really adds up!

Samantha said...

We were excited to start cloth when I got a part time job allowing me to be home with the kids. We no longer had to worry about daycare refusing cloth diapers. It is even more money saved! We have been mentored well by friends who went cloth before us. Now we have started to "spread the cloth" by convincing others to join in. We are using hand me down pocket diapers and it is fun to see everyone as surprised as I was at how far cloth diapering has come.