1. Groceries: I sent Hubs into Walmart to get a few things this week while I fed the baby in the car. Food items that came out included a $7.00 package of string cheese (my preferred late-night snack) and two big boxes- $7.00 worth- of Little Debbie Fudge Rounds and Nutty Buddy bars (his preferred snack). LOL! Total spent was $14.00.
One of my ongoing goals is to keep food waste to a minimum. These days time flies so fast that I find whole containers of food in the fridge that haven't even been opened and are close to expiring. For example, last week's Greek yogurt is still sitting in the fridge unopened. There's also an almost-full jug of milk and an avocado from last week just waiting to be used. So one of my goals this week is to use up those items.
2. Garden: I harvested and froze more peppers this week. We're also still eating apples fresh from the orchard.
3. Bought a couple pairs of jeans at Volunteers of America for $1.00-$2.00 each. While we didn't get to VOA on their monthly 50% off everything day, I did buy one pair of pants that was marked 50% anyway (all yellow tag items were 50% off). I picked them from the "less good" rack, which were a few dollars cheaper than the "better" rack. I'm crossing my fingers that I won't have to wear these pairs for more than a year anyhow. ;) I also bought a humidifier for our bedroom (another yellow tag item) because of the dry winter air.
4. Signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime's Masterpiece Theater channel. You know that frugal accomplishments are severely lacking when you start talking about frugal TV. But I'll be honest- I've been doing a lot of sitting on the couch lately and Masterpiece Theater seems to be something that all three of us like to do. Anyhow, if you're a fan of Masterpiece Theater and already have Amazon Prime, it might be worth looking into the free trial week.
5. Cloth diapers: This week I worked on reviving my Econobum diaper covers. My mom purchased them as part of this kit, and when Hubs and I got married she gave everything to me. I had a friend look over the covers in particular to see if they were still usable. She thought the PUL fabric was still okay, but the elastic in the legs might be a problem. She also pointed out that they didn't have double gussets like many of the higher quality covers available. Instead of ditching the covers, I've decided to try and fix them up. I can see that renovating, altering or fixing up old covers will be a more cost effective use of my time, energy and 50% off PUL fabric even though I still want to make a brand new diaper cover from scratch.
The Econobum covers are put together quite simply. The legs have regular 1/4" sewing elastic inside a bias cut edging tape instead of specialty FOE (fold-over elastic). The old elastic was easy to remove; I could see that it was indeed stretched. It would be simple to replace, however I wonder if the FOE would be a better long-term solution for my Econobum covers.
A cloth diaper cost something like $10.00. A disposable diaper cost about $0.20. This means that you'd have to use the cloth diaper more than 50 times in order to make the initial investment pay off. This will happen rather quickly if you're diapering a newborn, and slowly but surely if you're diapering an older baby. The trick, as I understand, is to not buy too many $10.00 diapers. Some sites recommend a minimum of 18 cloth diapers; more are recommended if you want to do laundry less than every other day. Less laundry is nice, but if you have to spend more on cloth than disposables, I think the point is moot.
18 diapers x 50 uses per diaper = 900 uses
900 disposable diapers x $0.20 each = $180.00
Babycenter.com says that most parents spend between $30.00 and $60.00 per month for disposable diapers. At the newborn stage, we are burning through at least $2.00 worth of disposables every day- consistent with their estimate. Depending on the age of your baby, it will take between three and six months to break even with your cloth diapers. You only save money AFTER those initial 3-6 months.
Most kids are potty trained between two and three years old. Therefore, if you wait to start cloth diapers until your baby is 1.5 years old, the savings will be minimal ($30.00 per month after age two- probably between $30.00 and $360.00 total). Worthwhile savings come when you start earlier and/or use the same cloth diapers for more than one kid. The larger your cloth diaper budget, the longer it will take to pay off (although spending more money will probably make things easier for mom).
Cloth Diapers vs. "Mama Cloth"
Now that we've seen the effort it takes to save with cloth diapers, let's look at cloth menstrual pads. If this is TMI for you, feel free to skip this section. I thought it would be worth a discussion though because baby cloth and mama cloth are so similar. If you are doing one, you might as well do the other. But which saves more money?
Recently I bought a set of six cloth/reusable menstrual pads. I hate pads, but they're the only option for the wonderful weeks-long postpartum bleeding that happens after birth. My set of six pads cost $18.00 (or $3.00 each). Disposable pads of a similar absorbency cost $0.15 each. In order for a cloth pad to pay for itself, it would have to be used just 20 times (as opposed to 50 times with a cloth diaper).
Unlike cloth diapers, however, menstrual pads are only used once a month. And you don't have to give birth in order to take advantage of the savings. While full-time pad users will save about $2.50 month, it's likely that I will save just $0.45-$0.60 (because remember? I hate using pads). For a full-time pad user, the $3.00 reusable pads will pay for themselves in less than a year. For the reluctant pad users, it will take between 2-4 years. This seems like a long time, but cloth pads could see 10 years of use (unlike a cloth diaper). Unless you're actively going through menopause, cloth pads are probably a good investment even if you hate pads and only use them overnight.
And what about postpartum mamas? They will save a lot faster, since their only option is to be full-time pad users. Personally I don't like the cloth pads for daytime use because they slip around a lot more- double-sided tape (a recurring cost) would be necessary if you want to do cloth full time. Even so, just one or two uses per day adds up over the course of several weeks. I think mama cloth is good to have on hand, kinda like cloth napkins. Actually, the savings are quite similar. I estimate that cloth pads will save the part-time user about $6.00 per year. It doesn't sound like much, but the investment isn't much either. If you make your own, the investment would be even less.
So those are my ramblings/frugal accomplishments for the last week. How about you? Did you do anything frugal over the last week or so?