Getting out of debt

Here's a funny look at how to reduce your debt. Even though it's a tongue-in-cheek piece, it's still a good reminder. :o)


Maximizing your tax refund

If you haven't done your taxes yet (I haven't), I found some great advice from ABC's Good Morning America personal finance expert Mellody Hobson. She outlines Five Ways to Maximize Your Tax Refund, and gives tips on practices that might not work in your favor. Doing your taxes can be so intimidating, so it helps to know ways to get the most bang for your buck.

(AP Graphic)


Why I switched to cloth diapers and how much money I'm saving

After my daughter was born, and we started buying disposable diapers, I quickly realized how expensive diapering her was going to be. We were dropping $10-12 every week and a half. I know that's fairly average, but wow . . . that really adds up! Being the frugal bargain shopper that I am, I started trying to find coupons, shopped the sales, etc. But, I was still having a hard time with the fact that we were easily throwing away about $50 a month--literally THROWING IT AWAY! Ugh! Our money was literally getting pooped on and thrown into a landfill. Now, that's just not right. I'm not trying to make a political or philosophical statement, but we decided to look into other options.

Several friends of mine have recommended cloth diapers, and I've known several people who swear by it. So, my husband and I did a little research. The downside to cloth diapers is the up-front cost associated with them, but if you have the money on-hand the pros far outweigh this one con. And, if you buy pre-owned, you don't have to have as much cash on the front-side--you can save even MORE money. As we did our research, here are some Web sites that were helpful for us:
Don't be afraid to ask around, too. Odds are you know someone, or know someone who knows someone who uses cloth diapers. Get their opinions on what works best for them, and how they care for the diapers. As we were researching and thinking through things, I e-mailed a couple of my friends who use cloth, and got their input. They had a ton of valuable information to offer.

One thing I was curious about was how much effort it would take to clean and care for the diapers. The answer was quite surprising--not much, depending on the kind of diapers you choose to use. The basic cleaning procedure is:
  1. Cold rinse
  2. Hot wash with 1/4 to 1/2 your normal amount of detergent
  3. Additional rinse (cold water is fine)
  4. Dry--either in the dryer or under the sun
That's it! Surprising, huh? 

So, what did we decide to do? You've probably guessed by now (as if the posting title didn't give it away) that we decided to take the plunge and switch to cloth diapers, but we didn't want to invest in brand new diapers. Instead, we decided to buy pre-owned diapers, in order to save even more money. Most resources will tell you that you're most likely to spend about $2500 per child on disposable diapers, by the time they are potty-trained. Purchasing brand new cloth diapers can run from $200-1200, depending on the diapering system you choose adopt. Prefolds are the cheapest, but most complicated option. All-in-one diapers are by far the easiest, but most expensive option. Also, if you choose anything other than one-size-fits-all diapers, you will have to purchase additional sizes. We chose to go with the simplest option in one-sized, all-in-one diapers, so we wouldn't have to buy different sizes as our kids grow. We wanted a one-time purchase. 

I kept my eye on our local Craigslist to see if anyone was selling off their gently used cloth diapers. Oftentimes, people will try to resell their entire stock of cloth diapers, once they don't need them anymore, so taking advantage of this is a great way to save even more money. Sure enough, I found someone who was able to sell me 19 diapers--15 BumGenius pocket one-size, and 4 Thirsties AIO size small--and two wet bags for a total of $175. Most resources will tell you that you want 24-36 cloth diapers (2-3 days worth), so that you're not washing them every day. In order to round out our supply, I joined Diaper Swappers, and searched their forum for someone selling the same kind of diapers that I already had. I found someone selling 5 more of the same kind of BumGenius pocket one-size, and two additional one-size diapers. I paid $78 for all 7 diapers. 

The grand total? $253 for a 2-day supply! Now, that's much better than $2500, and we're not throwing our money in the trash.

We've been using them for a couple of weeks now, and I couldn't be happier! Our daughter doesn't know the difference, and she looks so dang cute. Plus, we haven't spent any money on cloth diapers. It doesn't take any effort to wash them, and because they don't have any chemicals in their makeup, we don't use or need diaper cream. It's been easier to make the switch than I ever thought it would, and we're so happy we did! 

If you're interested in looking for bargains on gently used cloth diapers, I recommend these sites:
If you're interested in saving some cash and going green, cloth diapering may be for you. If you don't have the cash up-front, save up little by little. You'll save a TON of money in the long run.

And the winner is . . .

Thanks for all the wonderful money saving advice you all shared on my "Question about saving money on diapers!" post. I really appreciate all your insights and sage wisdom. Being a first-time parent, the costs for all the "gear" and supplies can be a bit intimidating . . . even for this resourceful bargain shopper. Good news on the diaper front, though—we've switched to cloth diapers and MAN! have I saved some moolah! I'll share more on that in another post.
Now, as promised, I dropped all the commenters names in a basket and pulled one out. The winner of the Restaurant.com gift certificate is ~C! Congratulations!! I'll get in touch with you to find out what your zip code is, and then will send you your gift certificate. Thanks for your advice on the cloth diapers! Don't have the toilet sprayer yet, but will definitely be investing in that.

Keep commenting, guys, and sharing your awesome money-saving tips.

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