Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cloth Diapers

Yesterday began our foray in to cloth diapering and I am absolutely loving it. I had always planned to use cloth diapers, but to this point Little E has been to tiny to fit into the diapers we had purchased, or should I say my mother purchased. It has truly been a blessing that to this point we have only had to purchase a small amount of disposable diapers. We had to frantically run out and get more newborn diapers when E was born because we hadn’t planned on her early arrival, but other than that, we have been able to use diapers that people have given us at showers, which has been awesome.

I had done a lot of research before E was born about cding, but I could not seem to find the kind of diapers I wanted. I had babysat for a family that used cds, and they were pocket diapers with snaps, but I couldn’t find any cds with snaps that would last from 8-35 lbs and grow with our baby. (I didn’t even know such a thing existed, but the idea of only buying one batch of diapers for all of her diaper wearing years was vastly appealing to me). BumGenius was highly recommended, but they have Velcro closures, and I was not so wild about that.

Ultimately it was my mom who found our diapers on Ebay. They’re called Sunbaby diapers, and they are awesome. They will fit E until she is out of diapers and they have snaps. They do have a BuyItNow price, but I believe my mom was able to get them from an auction for something like $90 for 20 diapers! I know that Chinese prefolds and covers tend to be the most economical cloth diaper choice, but to not have to worry about folding them is fabulous.

I have yet to have to launder any of our diapers, so I’m hoping that they won’t be too much extra effort. I already love to hang dry my clothes, so hanging the diapers won’t be any trouble, but the extra wash cycles to bother me a bit. I’m also curious to see how our high efficiency washer will fair at cleaning the diapers. I know my husband is a little leery of the process, so I’d love to be able to reassure him.

I also did not have a diaper pail big enough for all of the cloth diapers or a liner, so I had to be resourceful. I ended up washing out an old stainless trash can that had been demoted by my mother in law for not having a foot pedal any longer. In place of a traditional liner I dug out a ginormous lingerie bag that I had sitting around, which was a perfect fit for the trash can. I was pretty pleased I was able to repurpose things around the house to use instead of having to spend additional money.

Additionally, I FINALLY made my own laundry soap. I’ve been wanting to for AGES, but yesterday I actually go around to it. I followed the recipe that Trent at The Simple Dollar has here (http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/04/09/making-your-own-laundry-detergent-a-detailed-visual-guide/) and was pleasantly surprised that it was not a lot of work. I used an old bar of soap that was just sitting around, and I had purchased the borax and washing soda back in Indiana. I love that the soap is more natural and old fashioned than commercial detergent, so I truly hope it cleans as well as Trent says it will.

As geeky as it sounds yesterday some of my frugal, domestic, and environmental dreams were realized. I know it is just doing a small thing to try to keep trash out of the landfills and save a little money, but I feel really good about it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fun, nearly free weekend

I've been meaning post this, especially because it has to do with the weekend; however, lately Little E might need to be renamed to Baby-Cries-A-Lot. Needless to say I haven't had the chance. Anyhoo...

We have recently started the cash envelope system. We have set aside cash for groceries, clothing, allowances, etc. I feel like it's working really well. We're more conscious of what we're spending because we have a physical reminder of how much we have left after each transaction.

Friday we got two Redbox movies and stayed home and watched them. Cost: Free. If you have yet to embrace Redbox it is amazing. You can rent current movies for a dollar, or with a code for free. I've signed up for Redbox's emails, so occasionally they will send me a code for a free rental, however, you can also search for codes online. I'm not sure if this is entirely ethical, but while I feel ambiguity about it, I'm taking advantage. The codes can only be used once ever on a debit/credit card, and it does magically keep track. (When we moved from Indiana to Arkansas I thought that the different machines would not know we've used the codes, but alas, I was wrong). Next time you go to your local Redbox try it. The codes I've personally used that work are: Breakroom, DVDonme, and at Walgreen's DVDatwa.
Check more codes out here: http://www.insideredbox.com/redbox-codes/

Saturday we went to Target and spent a grand total of $8 for $45 worth of merchandise! So exciting. With the combination of sales and coupons we got several things for free and others at greatly reduced prices. Here's how we did it.

Excedrin $5.99--I had a $5.99 coupon from an Excedrin promotion that sadly is no longer running.
2 Up and Up bottles of contact solution $4.39-$1 off Up and Up purchase from Parents Magazine.
1 pckg of Poise Liners (I sadly had to purchase some after a month of living on samples) $4.52-$2 coupon from a sample.
1 pckg of Qtips $1.59-$1 coupon off any Johnson's product from a Sunday insert
4 boxes of Kashi cereal $2.88. I had 4 coupons from Vocalpoint*. One coupon for a free box, and 3 for $1.50 off.
We also got two gallons of milk and some grapefruit juice.
Our subtotal was $45 then we had a reduction of coupons, and we used two gift cards we had gotten for free from previous purchases. We also had a $3.80 return which was also added to our grocery envelope too. (I had bought some dandruff conditioner thinking it was shampoo. Unfortunately that is something I have to buy because I suffer from oh so attractive dandruff in the winter. That's another post though).

Grand total for all of the above $8, but I suppose after the return it was more like $4.20. Woo HOo.

I've been trying to save a lot of money with coupons and sales for ages, but I'd say this was by far my best shopping trip EVER.

Sunday we took a family walk down to our library where we got a ton of DVDs and books. I'm currently reading Chelsea Handler's My Horizontal Life which is hilarious. On the walk home we picked up a Sunday paper for $1, which contained a ton of great coupons. It was great to get out, enjoy the weather and spend time together as a little family.

All of this simple fun cost a grand total of $9. I realize that it might sound like a boring weekend to some, but for us, it's a simple life, and we love it.

*Vocalpoint is a great website to sign up for. I'm not quite sure how it works, but they select you for different products to try and then you provide feedback. A great way to get freebies! Vocalpoint.com

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Inner Conflicts of a Frugal Environmentalist

I admit, I HATE to pay for things when I can get them for free. In fact sampling has become one of my favorite hobbies, if you can call it that. My favorite time of day is when my mail carrier pulls up in front of my house. Every day is like Christmas. I never know what I will get. Just this week I was given a sample box of cereal, a coupon for a free bottle of Excedrin, two sample packages of feminine products, a coupon for a free box of Kashi cereal, and a shampoo sample. Truly exciting stuff. In fact, I wish I would have known that manufacturers actually give things away for FREE earlier. I probably would not have needed to take out as many student loans during my poor college days. I have become quite adept at finding samples, stock piling, and planning ahead with my stash; however, I am left wondering, am I taking it a bit too far?

Admittedly, sampling is a rather large chink in my environmentalist chain. I do recycle absolutely everything I possibly can (packaging is reused for Amazon sales, plastics and cardboard are recycled, etc.) but I still cannot recycle everything. Not to mention all of the hours of energy spent producing the tiny bottle of shampoo and the energy it takes to get the tiny bottle of shampoo to me. Yet, I still personally find value in sampling. I haven't paid for shampoo for years. I haven't had to buy feminine products since college, even after giving birth in which I needed a plethora. I fortunately collected a large number of newborn diapers while pregnant, which we needed desperately when Little E came three weeks early and was too tiny to fit into our cloth diapers.

When I think about the amount of money that has been saved through sampling and the usual accompanying coupons, I am absolutely astounded. Almost every toiletry need that we have has been met through samples and I have to admit that I love the challenge of finding samples, as well as trying new products.

I am, however, left finding myself conflicted between being a frugal living enthusiast and an environmentalist. To this point I cannot financially justify cutting out samples, even if it does expend a large amount of carbon emissions in the environment. I suppose that I will simply try to off set that energy by trying to lower my energy expenditures by hanging laundry, breast feeding, and using natural light instead of electric.

In the mean time, I cannot wait for my mail man to arrive with my next present.

Monday, March 1, 2010

And So It Begins...

This blog is truly a long time coming. It's something that I've always talked about doing, but have yet to put my money where my mouth is. I currently find myself with a bit more free time; in a manner of speaking, I'm at home on maternity leave, so I thought I'd jump in head first.

I certainly do not claim to be a frugal living expert; nor, an environmental expert. I realize that some of my personal choices tend lean more toward being frugal than environmental, or vice versa, but I've learned a lot over the past few years, and thought it might be helpful to share.

I've grown up with an appreciation for a good bargain. It is not uncommon to hear at a family Christmas, "Guess how much I paid for that...$2! 75% off!" My mother is the queen of clearance sales, and my father is perhaps Goodwill's number one patron. It is with that spirit that I have tried to become a good steward of my finances, as well as always keeping an eye out for a deep discount, sample, or freebie.

I can't wait to get started...