Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Why I chose cloth diapers from a thrift standpoint

Yes, my original reason for researching and looking at cloth diapers was the money we'd save. After we decided that I would leave my full-time job when Lucas was born - it seemed like an easy way to save a lot of money. Buy a stash of washable diapers and have most of our diaper expense paid for before he made his grand entrance. So, I started talking to a few friends that used cloth - sending them links to websites of diapers I was considering (Thanks Sarah and Rachel!) probably scaring and boring them with questions like "Snaps or Velcro?" )btw - I'm definitely in favor of snaps! My journey (and a Facebook ad) led me to Smartipants - where I also found a sale! So a few days later, a big box of fluff appeared! I will be reviewing Smartipants specifically on a future "Try-it Tuesday" since today I want to focus on the thrifty aspect of using cloth.

Our initial investment of 24 sleeve diapers cost $322 (including shipping). Since then I have purchased some additional inserts (we have a heavy wetter!)and just recently purchased a set of hybrid diapers preparing for travel. I would say for diapers/stuffings alone I have still spent under $500. I have spent additional funds on cloth wipes and solution and a couple of wetbags - but those are items that should either be broken down separately (comparing wipes to wipes) or I would have needed anyway. (I would have a wetbag or two to contain disposables, and/or wet clothing when out and about.)

Many people do bring up the cost of laundering as another thing to consider when comparing costs of cloth vs. disposable. I will say, while I don't break down the cost/load of laundry - our water bills have gone up $10/month since our family has grown. Now - anyone who has had a baby realizes that diapers aren't the only increase in laundry with a baby =). Also, I am now at home, rather than spending half of my waking day out - so that increases our use as well. Also, Lucas' arrival happened to coincide with a rate increase for our water/sewage bill, so for the sake of figuring we'll say half of that increase is going for diaper laundry, or about $8 to more than cover some of the energy costs as well.

Before he was born, the cheapest I was able to find disposable diapers was $.18 each. (bulk, store brand at discount club, or name brand with a great coupon) I am going to say the average number of disposable diapers used is about 50/week, which I think is pretty low - yes, you change less often than in cloth - but infants are changed more - and there are going to be times you use more. That figures to $9.00/week, $468/year, or $1170 for the 2 1/2 years that baby will probably be in diapers.

Cloth diapers - I have spent less than $500 on diapers/stuffins and figuring the water/utilities at $8/month for the same 2 1/2 years ($240) or $740.

So, we are looking at a bare minimum savings of $430 for using cloth diapers. Why bare minimum? Once I purchase my cloth diapers - the actual diaper cost is done - it cannot increase. Disposables could go up in price, my figuring was also based on having a warehouse membership (which we do not at this time) and/or ALWAYS using coupons/big sales. Also, this is on ONE child, if we have more kids - the initial diaper investment on cloth is DONE - so it would only be the $240 for additional utilities - SWEET.

Since making this investment - I have also learned that there is a great re-sale market for cloth as well. These are also my figures - I did not by any means choose the cheapest options in cloth diapering - I spent a bit more to have a system that would be easy enough for sitters/friends/family to use, would be easy to care for and launder. Using pre-folds and covers I know I could have spent no more than half of my initial investment.

One thing I know scares parents away from using cloth is the initial investment. I wish I had the money to do no interest loans to parents wanting to use cloth, and let them pay me back the $40/month they would spend on disposables. However, what I would challenge them to do to cover this initial investment is to:
  • As soon as you know you are expecting, start putting aside the $ you would be spending on diapers each week, by the time baby arrives, you could have enough for a basic stash.
  • Register for them, or ask for gift cards for your preferred diaper retailer for any showers and let people know you would like to use cloth.
For those of you unfamiliar with the "modern" cloth diaper - you'll see more on future reviews - but let's just say - this isn't the cloth diapers our mother's used. I challenge you to check out Little Padded Seats reviewed on Tuesday or Smartipants mentioned earlier today - they aren't so scary anymore - in fact the more I researched, I found disposables were WAY more scary - but that's a topic for another day!

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