The word frugal itself has a tendency of leaving a sour taste in people’s mouths. There are multiple levels of frugality and hundreds of purposes behind frugal ventures. Our frugal adventure started because of a simple need to stretch each penny as far as we could. I experimented with different ways to save on energy costs, food costs, clothing cost, soaps, laundry supplies, personal supplies, pet supplies, and many others.
I enjoyed researching different ways of spending less, saving more, finding deals, and of course making deals. One thing that I did learn along the way is that there are times when there is a sensible limit to being frugal. That limit, I feel, has to be set by each individual. One limit that I have is when it comes to feeding my family. I enjoy learning affordable meals, I love saving by buying in bulk, but I will not purchase poor quality foods to save money as long as I can help it. Also I feel the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure” may just apply in the frugal sense, I don’t feel that stretching the use of some things is worth the damage you may cause by neglecting maintenance, care, cleaning, etcetera.
I hope you enjoy this growing list of frugal ideas. Please feel free to add ideas and comments about your experiences to help guide those who may be in need of a good frugal idea!
I recently added an article toA Mom’s Handbook about using vinegar to soften clothing and prevent static cling (click the link if you would like to read the full post). Else wise to sum things up I recently ran out of softener, and had of course listed vinegar as a valuable and frugal way to launder and soften clothing. I tried it out and had mixed results, so of course I went to the internet to learn why, and I did! Andrea at Simple Organized Living suggests and trialed the use of vinegar as a softener and safety pins to eliminate the cling, I duplicated her trial in my home (with fewer loads) and am happy to say I have had consistently nice smelling, soft, and cling free clothing!! Thank you Andrea for you valuable tip!!
To Cloth or Not to Cloth? That Really is the Question!!
The answer I think will surprise you. There is no one answer, just like there is no one way to cloth diaper your little tike! There are a number of people who choose to strictly cloth diaper their children, and another larger number of people who only diaper their kiddos in disposables. There are of course a wide variety of reasons each side chooses to do either. However, it is quite common to talk to moms and dads alike who settle in the middle!
Our personal journey into cloth diapers started out of necessity. Although I had thought often about cloth when our first baby was born, for one reason or another it never got past the thinking stage. However, when our second was born we had the hardest time keeping her bottom healthy. Sweet Pea was a very happy baby, and a mamma’s girl I’d like to add, but diaper changes hurt, literally. I knew that I was changing her plenty often enough, we tried creams, air drying with no diaper (what a mess), and even some natural oils and creams, water only cleaning, and a very interesting diaper layering system that was built with creams, powders, and lotions. The rash would not give; it may get better for a few hours but would not go away.
Finally another visit with her pediatrician was in order and she came to a couple of conclusions but the rash had to be treated. At this point she had open sores and it made me cry nearly as hard as she did when I changed her. Allergies were a concern that we discussed, we started watching her diet and mine. That same weekend I had a ladies retreat I attended with my beautiful 5 month old baby. Although my darling girlfriend had suggested cloth before I was looking for quick solutions. At the retreat I was blessed to meet her sister who also cloth diapered and had young children. I was now motivated to try cloth, hey I was very desperate to alleviate the pain she was experiencing several times a day. I went to Wal-Mart the very next day and purchased flat folds and vinyl bottoms. They did what they were supposed to do, but they left nasty rings around her legs and back, because she was not a one-size-fits-all sort of baby.
I was nearly at the brink of giving up when I was given some amazing fitted diapers. This of course spurred me on to see what else may be available to use. WOW! I was overwhelmed, amazed, and completely in love with cloth diapers and modern diaper covers!! I was loaned a box of diaper goodies from my friend’s sister that she was not using as she had an older and bigger baby. I used these for quite some time, I started to develop my own system and before too long I was purchasing my own supplies and even making my own pattern I had created for fitted diapers. The theory of course was that the chemicals in the diapers were creating an allergic reaction in her skin. This theory, which seems pretty obvious to me as she has aged, seems to hold some water. Sweet Pea has asthma and is quite sensitive to milk products, but the icing on the cake is that she has eczema. Although it may all be unrelated I feel confident that her skin could not handle disposable diapers.
In the mean time of course, Sweet Pea was having a great time, her bottom did not hurt any more, she had pretty new diapers, and she was figuring the bathroom routine out very quickly. So quickly in fact that she potty trained at 18 months. That was amazing to me as our son was 3 years before he worked out the kinks. She did not like to be wet and would tell me when she needed changed, then of course she would cry through the change, and I told her one day if you don’t want to wear diapers you have to go potty in the big girl chair. That was it; it was over… no more diapers! (Until our third child came along of course!)
We experimented with flat folds, pre-folds, fitted, all-in-ones, and a variety of covers. My husband even got in on the cotton and really said he noticed little difference in changing a disposable compared to an all-in-one. He has more experience with other styles since then.
Having already picked our favorite supplies the only things I had to worry about for our Tater Tot was smaller covers and some new cloth as we had worn the others rather wimpy. So we purchased the newborn size covers, and I enlisted my sweet-sewing-machine-loving mama to help me build the pre-folds I had been dreaming about making. I purchased the material and a couple of crazy sewing days and a huge prego tummy later, viola flannel pre-folds. We made a newborn size and she is still using them, I fold them into thirds and use it as a big soaker pad.
Alright here is the drill. If you want to learn more about the diapering world, I have included some information in the format of an outline. Want more specifics? That’s great just start to follow links. Also, I am always up for more information or sites you would like added to the list, just let me know!!
Cloth diapering goes back, I am talking way back. Although history lessons in school rarely spend time discussing methods of diapering and sanitation involved with diapering, it was still there. The choices given to a mother was based upon what supplies were available.
History Lesson – I have a hard time imagining how difficult it would be to diaper a baby, and of course how time consuming it could be, especially with all of our modern conveniences such as washers, dryers, and disposable diapers. The idea of wrapping a baby completely in linen and then wrapping again in a waterproof skin to keep the waste in really makes me feel very privileged to live in such an advanced era. Often I think of the work involved in keeping my babies clean, but after reading the history of the work involved merely a couple of hundred of years ago, I feel quite lazy and spoiled!
Flat Folds– Flat fold diapers go back far in history but are also apart of recent history, in fact if you visit with your parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents many of them had no choice but to diaper with a good ole sheet of cloth folded to their liking and pinned on to their bundle of joy! They did have the good ole “rubber pants” to keep the mess in, but those lovely vinyl diaper covers, which are still being produced, although affordable came at a cost. Aside from a non-adjusting uncomfortable fit, if diapers did not get attended to right away rashes were very common! Flat folds are still preferred by many people in the cloth diapering community, as they have amazing benefits, for example they wash and dry in stellar speed! So not only do you need less flat folds in your diaper rotation, but they are affordable to purchase also. A common concern about flat fold diapers is folding to get the perfect fit to keep the mess contained. Personally interviewing the generation prior to my own, I received a different suggestion in folding each interview. My darling mother had a pretty specific triangular shape she made, and it amazed me that after all these years she could still replicate her own fold.
- Flat Diaper Reviews by Brand Name
- Green Mountain Flat Fold page
- Diaper Pin flat fold instructions
- Wal-Marts flat fold (comparison shopping)
- Baby Cotton Bottoms
- The Cloth Diaper Connection
Prefolds – Prefolds come in a number of styles, and thicknesses. The most commonly mentioned prefolds are Indian prefolds and Chinese prefolds. Prefolds have a thick bulky center area, that speeds up production because it takes away the need for folding prior or during a diaper change. With a couple of basic folds to fit the baby, or to simply use as added soaker prefolds are easy to use and versatile! They take a bit longer to dry than the flat diapers, but are still relatively quick. How many things actually get better with use? Prefolds take a while to “break-in” after a number of washings prefolds work better at absorbing. Prefolds come in a variety of sizes which helps to reduce the bulk, or lack of diaper in a small or larger baby. These diapers can be used as soakers to double up on protection during long hauls, nap times, or beddy time. They can be folded and put inside a cover, or pocket diaper, or fasted on.
- PreFold Diaper Reviews by Brand Names
- Green Mountain Prefold
- Cotton Babies Prefolds
- Nicki’s Diapers Prefolds
- Diaper Junction Prefolds
Fitted Diapers – Fitted Diapers also come in a variety of styles, and made from a variety of materials including hemp, terry cotton, and flannel. Fitted Diapers are designed to fit around the baby with no folding. Fitted diapers are convenient for a fast diaper change, but require a bit longer dry time. As with all diapering styles you have to pick and choose what is best for you lifestyle and time available for diapering, and the care of your diapering supplies! Fitted diapers are held on baby with hook and loop, snaps, or diaper fasteners depending on what your purchase or prefer. Using fitted diapers allows you to purchase a minimal amount of diaper covers changing them only when you really need or prefer to.
- Fitted Diaper Reviews
- Fitted Diapers Nicki’s Diapers
- Diaper Junction Fitted Diapers
- Kelly’s Closet Fitted Diapers
- Thirsties Fitted Diapers
Ask different moms and dads about their diapering supplies, and for that matter methods, and you will likely get a different story every time. Supplies should make things easier or more comfortable for you and your bouncy baby, not more difficult and time consuming. There are many products out in the market world for the cloth diapering family. There are products to help you go green, products to be in the “now” of cloth diapering, products that are convenient, and products that make diapering a “breeze”. The chore is finding what works best for your individual situation, which of course varies greatly from your best friend, neighbor next door, the mom you want to emulate, and the cloth diapering company that promises they want to make things easy and affordable for you! So go on ahead and jump in with both feet, or tip-toe cautiously which every is your style, and be prepared to make cloth diapering your very own by that great thing we all know and love; trial and error!
Diaper Pails/Washing – Setting up your diaper pail depends on what works best for your living situation. You can go all out fancy, or recycle something you might have in your house. Also in the mix of decision making is, “Do I go wet pail or dry?”. In a wet pail you soak your diapers until they make it to wash, obviously the dry pail you just drop in those dirty nappies and wait until laundry day. There are a number of ways to set up your personal diaper pail system, as well as different things you can do to keep your smells down. I have used a couple of different methods, but find I prefer a 5 gallon bucket with a lid, and I line it with a water proof wet bag, on laundry day I carry off my mess and viola, no washing out a diaper pail! I can dump in and go!
Make sure if you choose a wet pail as they way to go that you have it safely closed and preferably locked. Water in the pail left accessible to a toddler or small child means a big mess and a potential life threatening hazard!
Don’t forget that sunshine is amazing! Hanging those diapers outside in the sun helps kill those yucky germies, removes stains, saves on dryer costs and gives that dryer a much deserved break!
Diaper Pail Tips and Hints-
Diaper Fasteners– If you need to fasten your diaper around your bouncing baby the time honored safety pin is still an option but for those that are concerned about pocking a baby, there is a newer fastener available. Wipes– If you are going to make the jump to cloth for whatever reason, you may consider cloth wipes as well. Cloth wipes help reduce waste for those environmentally minded consumers. Resusable cloth wipes cut costs on repurchasing throw-away varieties, and they can be carried with you the same was any other wipe. One thing that I personally found with cloth diapering was that when changing a diaper it was a pain to separate trash and washable when I could throw it all in the pail and go.
Obtaining cloth wipes is really quite simple! You will find several different varieties available online or wherever you purchase you cloth diapers, and just like cloth diapers you can make them yourself. You can purchase soap for you wipes, or you can make your own, there are several tried and true recipes available online for diaper wipe soaps. My favorite are the ones that I can add essential oils to, I really enjoy adding tea tree oil to kill germs and help keep skin healthy! · Zany Zebra Designs Cloth Wipe Solution Recipes
- The Diaper Jungle Wipe Solutions
Diaper Washing- Incredibly just like the whole concept of cloth diapering there are several choices for washing those dirty diapers. So many choices can be confusing but one concept that has carried me through is simple is better! It is best to research different methods and suggestions to be most successful for what fits your lifestyle. How you manage your diaper pail will play a part in determining how you wash those diapers. Which washing machine you utilize will also play a role in washing. Also keep in mind that soap residue build up is your enemy and mind warning to avoid this stinky non-absorbent mess is important!What the Heck is a Diaper Snake? Imagine with me the first time you have washed your new diaper stash. Anticipating the fresh smell of clean cloth, and the soft nature of that cloth you reach into your dryer and pull out one of these prized diapers. When behold you have not one, but twenty diapers slithering their way out of the dryer! Ooops!! You forgot to close the Velcro on your diapers didn’t you!!
Diaper Review Sites
It is always nice to have a second opinion, especially when you are feeling like you are shooting in the dark. There are several sites available that focus on reviews, and there are many sites available willing to tell you their favorite products. Often times these sites share their best sellers as their favorite products, so it is good to seek the opinion of several people, if it helps to finalize your purchase.
Diapering on a Shoe String
It can be expensive to get started on your cloth diaper stash. There are many ways to get started depending on what approach you like, and that accommodates your family situation. · Frugal Cloth Diapers
Diaper Review Spot
I received my most recent cloth diaper order yesterday, April 18th, from Nicki’s Diapers. Our tiny tot is a much bigger baby than her sister was, so I am enjoying ordering a larger size. I have been a fan of Thirstiesdiaper covers and their pocket diapers. I had the opportunity to try their newest design the Duo Wrap when ordering the smallest size as we did not start our cloth diaper adventure until our older daughter was 5 months along. Our newest order contained two Duo Diapers. I was surprised when they came in the mail so fast!! I was also surprised at the new design and how it effects the pocket diapers, but as usual I was pleasantly surprised and not at all disappointed in the quality. My husband appreciates the ease of changing the pocket diapers when the occasion comes that he needs to change one! So there you have the newest update to the To Cloth or Not to Cloth section!!
For those interested in a bit of Sew much fun…
Making your own clothing can be a very gratifying experience. With a little careful preparation it can also be a frugal adventure. I recently made this skirt, and really enjoyed it. Of course I made a few changes that were personal flairs and tips I had seen on other sites. I had so much fun making this extremely simple skirt that from some of my left over material I made one for my oldest daughter! So what makes it frugal? Well for the same basic denim skirt I was able to make one for just over a third of the price as what is selling in our local market right now! The upside… it is the length that I want, the color I like, fits comfortably, was fun to embellish a bit, and was quick and simple to put together!
Vinegar’s versatility and cost effectiveness makes it a great frugal tool for every household, how can you go wrong having vinegar in your house when you can literally use it in each room of your home? Here is my every growing list of vinegar. Feel free to add your additions, and check-back soon as the list continues to grow.
Some of the varieties of vinegar…
( from Wikipedia.com available links if you choose to read more)
Malt, Wine, Apple cider, Fruit, Balsamic, Rice, Coconut, Palm, Cane, Raisin, Date, Beer, Honey, East Asian black, Flavored vinegars, Job’s tears, Kombucha, Kiwifruit, Sinamak, Distilled vinegar, Spirit vinegar
I honestly had no idea there were that many vinegars available!!
Brown (Malt) Vinegar
Condiment for fish and chips
Fight HeartburnFight Stomach acid
May get rid of hiccups
Make a variety of Vinaigrettes (YUM)
Relieve that sunburn
Clean and disinfect cuts and scrapes
Washing machine cleaner
Hair Rinse to remove soap build-up
Toilet bowl cleaner
Cleaning cloth diapers
Coffee Pot cleaner… I have hard water and it works great to get the lime build up out of drip style coffee makers
Clean that dishwasher
Dishwasher rinse agent (Jet Dry replacement)
Athletes foot soak
Remove smoke smell from laundry
Deodorize rugs and carpet
Some sources used for vinegar list :
There isn’t much point in re-creating the wheel, especially these wheels; these frugal sites offer great information!! Happy reading!!!
If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time you have probably noticed I like to blog about our summer gardening adventures. I am so sad to say that we did not have an overly productive produce season last summer. However we built a beautiful compost bin, loaded it with yucky goodness, and we finally have our *permanent location set for our garden… this year is looking good! I cannot wait until it is time to start getting things ready for the planting season.
I am not a master gardener, nor do I have any qualifications so this is a work in progress for sure and I always appreciate hints and tips from those out there with something to share. We have a very short growing season up here in the northern part of the US, so I find following a few steps really help to make the best of our especially limited time.
I placed gardening in the frugal section because I do feel that done with some intent gardening can be a very rewarding venture. I also mention gardening in my family section, what could be more fun that playing with your family in the garden?
First off, we have interesting soil up here and we did little to amend our new garden location last year so this year first off we will be tilling the soil and adding some of our well digested garden compost. There are a few things I have been reading about when adding compost to garden soil to take into consideration so I have added a few links to great sites about composting.
How to Compost has a great number of articles to read that cover a variety of methods to composting.
The EPAhas some interesting articles available for composters.
Composting 101has good tips on getting starting and things to keep in mind while you are beginning.
Smells Like Dirt is one of my favorite sites for composting and she has some videos available for those interested.
If you are interested in learning a bit more about compost tea, Fine Gardening has an article you will want to read!
Next off is planning! Planning needs to take place before you start, while you start, while you plant, while you feed, while you water, while you harvest… plan, plan, plan. About now we are working on getting our plant list, seeds, and any other exciting things we may want to try together in one place to make sure we have those items sent during their particular planting season. This also gives us a bit of time to make sure we have the items we may need to plant and support whatever addition we may have, or that we have a location available that doesn’t interfere with another living thing.
Better Homes and Gardens have some plan ideas available for different kinds of gardens.
Of course after you get the planning out of the way, and you have prepared your soil, the fun part starts! Planting, watering, weeding, and pest control. There are numerous articles available for pests and pest control, so if those bunnies keep eating your lettuce, beans, and carrot greens, or you have pesky slugs raoming for carnage, there are many sites out there to help you cope, rid your problem, and even do it in a pleasant humane sort of way!
As your summer starts to set don’t forget to start researching what you can do with your surplus! You may enjoy canning, freezing, and even gifting that amazingly rewarding hard earned grub! Happy Gardening!!!
Only Because It Came to Mind
I recently wrote an article about water grain kefir with the promise of an update as soon as I had a bit more experience. There are many things that you can make for you home and health that take little more that time. Water kefir, milk kefir, yogurt, sour cream, sour dough starter, sour dough breads, sour kraut, and many more can be made at home. Although they many not all be a great venture for everyone, those that you use often may just save you a pretty penny! Here are a few links for anyone that might be interested, just in the case.
Money Saving Queen – homemade laundry soap… and more!
More Frugality you say?
Money Saving Momma if you are interesting in couponing she has it here!
Miserly Moms The one that got the ball rolling for me Thanks Jonni MCcoy!