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Monday, February 3, 2014

Cloth Diapering

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Old Fashioned Cloth Diaper
I know...who in the world WANTS to use cloth diapers. Not many. But, there is a growing demand for people to save money and let's face it, disposable diapers are a multi-million dollar a year business. Plus, the reduction of waste that cloth diapering provides in relief to our land fills makes this growing trend one to seriously consider.

When I thought of cloth diapers I think of huge, sagging, dripping, soggy, white diapers with gaps and pins. Not to mention the necessary crinkly rubber pants that went over them that sometimes worked...and sometimes didn't...at keeping the clothes from getting wet or poopy.

Not any more! Cloth diapers are now cute, colorful, and much better at doing their job than they used to be.

Disposable Diapers - What does it really cost?

The average baby will use 6-10 diapers a day for about 2 1/2 years...give or take a few months for potty-training. With the figures above we estimate:

10 diapers a day for 6 months = 1825 diapers

8 diapers a day for 12 months = 1460 diapers

6 diapers a day for 12 months = 1095 diapers

Totaling 4380 diapers at an average cost of $ .13 each for LUVS if you buy in bulk = $569.40

If you buy Huggies it is more like $ .26 each = $1138.80

That is a LOW estimate as we all know that we often do not get the best deals on diapers and babies seem to go through a LOT more than the average. Some estimates suggest the average family spends over $1500 for diapers before potty training is complete. The older the child is at potty training age, the more a family spends on diapering. Not to mention the bed-wetting that sometimes last up until (or past) school age.

We have not even talked about wipes yet...

There are few services that offer cheaper diapers like Amazon Mom where the first 3 months are free to get up to a 20% discount on disposable diapers. The first 4 months are at a 5% discount, so the longer you subscribe, the more you save. I personally didn't think it saves enough, so I didn't even give it a try.

Cloth Diapers - Is this really an alternative?

I decided to give cloth diapering a try.

Wow! Cloth diapers have come a long way baby! The PUL outer fabrics are cute and actually keep the clothes from getting messy. The insides soak up things quickly and are soft for baby's skin.

There are a ton of choices and they range in price from $4.75-$29.95 each! Whoa! That is a huge difference in price. I searched around and decided to try both purchased and homemade varieties of training pants and bed-wetting pants.

12 Sun Baby Diapers w/ Inserts
I purchased diapers from SunBabyDiapers.com. They are made in China and shipped to the USA, making the price the lowest I found for what I figured would work for the 22 month old I'm putting into cloth diapers. I specifically bought the trainers because she will be potty training in the near future and I figured these would get us through. They have 2 smaller sizes as well and they list the approximate weight on the different sizes. Plus, they have several different prints to choose from, making them very versatile for both boys and girls.

I bought the 12 pack with 12 blended inserts for $69, making them $5.75 each with FREE shipping. They got here pretty quick considering they are coming from China.

Another alternative is to shop directly from Alibaba.com or DHGate.com which are also websites for Asian suppliers in which you purchase directly from the manufacturer. Check out their reviews before choosing a supplier. I have purchased other products from these sites and only had problems once.

I found that these trainers would also fit some bed wetters we have in our home (age 5 & 6). The kids were happy to switch to these because they are much softer than Pull-ups. Plus, they think they are "super cute" which made them an easy sell. So basically these 12 trainers were for all three at first.

I was spending about $70 a month on diapers and Pull-ups for these 3 kids. Diapers for the 22 month old and Pull-ups for the 2 bed wetters. I do make them re-wear Pull-ups if they are not wet the next night, which saves some money.

For the price of one month of diapers, I bought the 12 reusable trainers, 2 to use for the bed-wetters and 10 to use for the almost 2 year old. This does mean I need to wash a load pretty much every day, but as you'll see in the next post, I later made some and we'll then compare the differences and costs.

Sham-Pocket Style
The ones I bought have removable inserts. They are sham-pocket style which allows me to change out the types of inserts or double them up for big time night wetters. This is nice if over time, as they grow, their habits change. For my heavy night-time wetter, I ended up doubling the insert. I wish I would have bought twice the inserts.

They are remarkably easier than I thought they would be, even the poopy ones. I have a utility sink in my laundry room. After I dump the solid waste in the toilet, I leave a small bucket of soapy water in the utility sink and put them in throughout the day. This acts as a pre-soak. Then I dump the bucket out in the sink and loosely rinse them out, separating the inserts from the outer shells. I put them back in the bucket and dump them into the washing machine.
No Stains - Cold Wash

I have an HE Maytag Front Loader (that I got used for a great price) and set the wash to Warm/Cold with an extra stain cycle and an extra rinse cycle. I am so thankful to have these options on my machine. As you can see in the picture, you can't even tell which ones were poopy and which ones were just wet. I do not dry the outer shells, but pull them out to line dry on an indoor rack.

I wish I would have started cloth diapering sooner. I could have saved so much money! But, I was afraid of the mess and what I thought would be a lot of extra time. It really hasn't been bad. I can see that with a newborn it could get overwhelming since they have so many diaper changes and the consistency of their solid waste would be extra cleaning I assume.

Another observation, the diapers I bought are adjustable in the waist and in the length (or rise) with snaps. I do like the snaps because, as I said, they are fitting 3 different sized kids! However, I think for small babies I would want the actual size and not a one-size-fits all diaper. They would be so bulky on a little 10 pound baby. SunBabyDiapers.com has 3 different sizes. I bought the largest.

Size of my kids that are wearing these particular trainers/diapers:
  • 22 month old - 25 lbs. 75% of her age group (chunky monkey)
  • 5 year old - 32 lbs. 32% of her age group (skinny minny)
  • 6 year old - 40 lbs. 65% of her age group (barely squeezing them on)
After a month, I am extremely happy with the purchase I made, the overall savings, and the switch to cloth diapers/Pull-ups. I decided not to use the ones I purchased from SunBabyDiapers.com with the larger kids after about a week when I found I could make something for much cheaper.

Next Post - Homemade Pull-ups for nighttime bed wetters. You won't believe how cheap and easy they were!


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Monday, January 20, 2014

Tutorial: Wet Dry Bag

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We are about to embark on potty training once again. I really dread this part of toddler-hood. It's not fun and it is not cheap! It is messy and gross to put it nicely.

Potty training is often strife with urine and poop accidents. Thus...the need for a wet dry bag to put all those wet and stinky pants into. These bags are useful for all baby ages since we all know that diapers leak sometimes.

I first found these bags on cloth diaper websites. You can find pretty ones at boutiques and online for around $10 each. I made some for about $3.33 each.

I'll make another batch to give away at baby showers once I find the materials even cheaper! (See the bottom of this post for how I found it cheaper at a later date.)

These bags are also great for wet swimsuits and traveling to keep your liquids from leaking on your clothes.

I bought the following materials:
  • 1 yard of PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) fabric - $14.99 - 40% coupon = $8.99
  • 12 inch zippers to match my fabric - $2.19 each
  • 1 spool white thread - $1 on sale at Wal-mart
I had a 40% off coupon and decided to use it for a cute fabric rather than a solid. The prints at Joann run around $14.99 and the solids around $7. They always seem to be OUT of PUL fabrics everywhere I check, so I didn't have a lot of choices. 

I also checked Amazon.com and found a few that might have been cheaper, but would have been harder to match the color of the zipper. So, I went with Joann.

With 1 yard of PUL fabric I was able to make 6-7 bags depending on the size. I made 6 large bags and 1 small one. I decided that since we live in a colder climate, the pants will often be bulky long pants so I needed more of the large bags, which measure 11" x 11" when finished.

I made each bag out of one rectangle measuring 12" x 24".



I also cut small rectangles to use as a loop to pickup the bag and to hold while zipping it open and shut. Each rectangle is 2" x 4".



For the loops, I fold in half lengthwise and sew a straight line down the side. I then turn it so it is right side out.

I fold the fabric for the bag so that it measures 12" x 12". 

Next, I match up the zipper so that the zipper is facing the fabric right sides together on what will be the top of the bag (the shorter end). I pin it up right next to the edge. Using a zipper foot, I sew a straight line with it right up tight to the edge of the fabric.



I open the zipper and match the other side of the zipper to the opposite side of what will be the top of the bag, right sides together (opposite short side). The fabric is slippery, so I pin this side to make sure it is centered on the fabric and so that the zipper will zip up evenly. Again, using the zipper foot, I sew a straight line with it right up tight to the edge of the fabric.




Zip the zipper shut and line up the sides of the bag. Place the loop on the side with the end of the zipper where it starts so that you have a loop on one end and can grab the zipper pull with the other hand. Pin the loop in place and sew simple straight lines up each side using the regular sewing foot. I do a reverse stitch on the top and the bottom of the bag to reinforce.



Unzip the zipper. Fold over the top so that the fabric sticks up by the zipper slightly with just enough fabric to lay nicely over the zipper when it is shut.



This next step is the hardest. Pin the zipper tabs so that they will lay down flat when they are sewn. Starting at the open end of the zipper, using the zipper foot, sew straight lines from one open end all the way across to the other open end.



Flip the bag so that it is right-side out and zip it closed. Wha-la!



Before using, you will need to dry the bag in a hot dryer for 20 minutes to seal the holes.

Care Instructions:

Wash in warm water with mild detergent. Do not use fabric softeners. Occasionally dry in a hot dryer for 20 minutes to reseal holes.

UPDATE: I just found PUL fabric on clearance for $3 a yard in solid pink, lime green and brown fabrics at Joann.com. They are the "Red Tag" fabrics that are 50% off. Yeah! I'll be posting more about this fabric use later.


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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Free eCommerce Websites...Yes, Free!

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There are a lot of supposedly "free" web hosting offers out there, but then once you start building it you find out there IS a cost if you want to say...collect money? Websites like Weebly charge $4 a month and then a 3% processing fee to connect to Paypal and only are able to have 10 products. Or, Volusion charges $15 a month for more services, but what if you don't sell anything for months?

This website is hosted for free on Blogger.com. The only fee I pay is a yearly domain fee of $10.99 for my thriftylikethat.com domain. That's it! The rest is free.

There are many free templates, like the one I use for this website, which allows for changes to make it look different.

Check out these free template websites:

After a template is installed, it's easy to add your own free PayPal buttons to your website to sell items. Now, you'll have to keep track of sales through PayPal, but that is really not that hard with a Standard Free Business PayPal account. Unless you are selling 100's of items a month, this method is the best and the cheapest.

Have you been dreaming of an online business? Well...get started!

Coming Soon...Morphage.com services to help your business get started today!


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Monday, December 23, 2013

Almost as Cheap as Page Plus Cellular

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I promised a few months ago to report if I found a cell phone plan that was cheap like Page Plus Cellular for T-Mobile, AT&T, and other SIM card operating phones. Recently my daughter decided that paying over $100 a month at AT&T was not worth it anymore, especially when I found her a company that will do the same thing...unlimited services...for only $45 a month!!

Nice...huh!

Check out Straight Talk. Buy a new SIM card for only $6.99 and start saving today. My daughter changed her Samsung Galaxy Note to Straight Talk and it works like a charm. She has the same great service for $55 less a month.

Don't need unlimited? Check out their "All You Need" plan for $30.

Have a Verizon Phone? See our review here of the Page Plus Cellular plans that we use.

Coming Soon...How to Connect your I-Phone to Page Plus Cellular!
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Save That Couch!

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I see it all the time, sagging older couches that still have some life in them. We own such a couch. It is a great La-Z-Boy sectional that was over $3000 new (today the same couch would be over $4000). I bought it on Craigslist last year when we moved for $400 which included delivery. The only problem with it...the back cushions are a bit saggy.

Before

I decided to look into saving this couch and re-stuffing the back cushions. As you can see in the pictures at the end of this post, it looks awesome! The best part, it was cheaper and easier than I thought it was going to be. I should have done this a year ago!


How to do it:

1. I bought a 10 lb. box of Poly-Fil at JoAnn Fabrics when it was on sale for $21. I wasn't sure if this was enough, and I was right. I had to go back and buy a small bag of Poly-Fil to finish the last cushion.

Watch out when you open that puppy! It has a life of its own and wants OUT of the box.

2. This couch is easier than some because the back cushions are removable and have zippered slip covers. I unzipped the cover and removed the inner pillow.


Zippered Slip Cover

3. Using a seam ripper, I opened the seam enough to get my arm and a handful of poly-fil into the pillow.

Inner pillow opened for stuffing

4. Start stuffing! I decided I wanted the pillow pretty full, but not bulging. I didn't want to rip the inner pillows. When I was done stuffing, I closed back up the seam I ripped open.

Fully stuffed inner pillow

5. I continued with each cushion around my sectional couch. I ran into 2 pillows that were ripped up on the inside. I repaired the tears so the cushion would hold it's shape again. I guess that's why those pillows never sat up right.

Ripped pillow

Really badly ripped pillow

Ta Da! It only took me 3 hours to re-stuff this couch, which included repairing the ripped pillows pictured above.

How much did it cost? ---- Under $30!

Finished Couch! Almost looks BRAND NEW!

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Friday, February 1, 2013

How I Feed a Family of 6 on $100 a Week

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I was reading a friend's Facebook post the other day and did an audible gasp. She is single and stated she had just reduced her grocery bill by $136 a week. I thought, "What in the world is she buying?" Her statement was that she reduced her spending by $136, not that that was her weekly spending.

Wow...that's a lot for ONE person. I spend $100 a week for 6 people.

No...we are not on food stamps.

No...we do not eat strictly hot dogs and Ramen soup.

No...I do not coupon.

I make real, nutritious meals that feed a family of 6...4 of which are adult sized folks and two four year old's that eat like big people.

How do I do that?

Simple.

I follow these principles:

I know what food costs.
I pay special attention to the staples, the things I buy each week. I know how much they cost and what is the most I will pay for those items. In the beginning, I kept a spiral notebook and recorded what price I paid, and at which store, for each item. I starred an entry if it was on sale. Over time I was able to see what was the best price and approximately when it was on sale (January and July have awesome condiment sales around the Super Bowl and the 4th of July, for example).

I buy when it is on SALE.
Because I know what our staples cost, I know what is a really GOOD price and I buy it on sale.

I purchase as much as I can when it is on sale.
Some specials have a limit of 10 or something like that. I will send my kids through lines with cash to by the max number of items as well, thus tripling the number I can buy at that price.

I stock up.
I am working on a year supply, but have about a 6 month supply right now on most of our staples that are non-perishable. That means I have time to wait for the next sale, which typically comes in 3-6 month rotations.

I buy mostly generics.
There are a couple of items I have to buy brand, like tuna and specialty milk for a child that can't have anything cow. But, for the most part buying generic saves me a small fortune each year.

I don't eat steak when ground turkey (beef) will do.
Sometimes we just can't afford to eat what we want. Nutritious, filling meals can be accomplished with simpler, cheaper ingredients.

I look for cheaper substitutes.
Again, ground turkey is MUCH cheaper than ground beef in many stores, like Wal-mart. Look for it in the chubs rather than the plastic wrapped Jeanie-O brands (again, generic!). Also, there are many tricks to make items extend to feed more people with additives like cooked wheat berries (tuna) and oatmeal (meatloaf and hamburger patties). (See the recipes here and here.) People who eat at my house cannot tell the difference

I do not buy snacks.
The biggest expense I see on people's shopping lists is snacks. We have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks, plus leftovers of many of the meals I make. These are our snacks. No chips, cookies, or snack packs in our house. Not only are these things expensive, they are fattening!

I Ad-Match when I shop at Wal-mart.
I do not always shop at Wal-mart. Sometimes it is better to shop at another store. But, when I do shop at Wal-mart, I ad-match all the items on sale at other local stores.

I shop from a list.
I often menu plan or take stock in my pantry of what I'm getting low on. I make a list of what I absolutely need and ONLY buy what is on the list. No impulse buys! If it is not a low enough price, I wait until it goes on sale.


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Monday, November 5, 2012

Homemade: Fleece Beret

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This was much easier than it looked at first glance. I followed the tutorial video from Martha Stewart (Click these links - Website, Template, and Video Tutorial Part 1 and Part 2). The biggest difference between mine and Martha Stewart's is that I made mine out of inexpensive fleece while hers is an expensive wool. You can do which ever you want. I also added a flower made from scrap material.


Medium Size - 23"
Large Size - 24"
Personally, I like the large size better so that my hair doesn't get smashed down. Also, the Small Size 22" would work well for children. (For more information on sizing, watch the video and view the template.)

What's the savings?

On Martha Stewart the wool is about $20 a yard. I purchased fleece on sale for $4.99 a yard ($5.47 with tax) and we made 8 black berets from that amount. The white beret was made from left over pieces from the Fleece Shawl with Pockets we made previously, making a perfect matching set.

1 yard of fleece at $5.47 / 8 berets = 68¢ each!

Flower embellishment = Free 
from scrap fabric and buttons cut off of old clothes.

Note: I cut mine closer together than what Martha Stewart shows on her video to get more out of the material. She states in her video you can make 5 from one yard which would make them $1.09 each.

This is such a perfect homemade gift that takes about 1 hour for each beret to make and is so inexpensive you can make them for all the girls on your Christmas list! Also, for more ideas check out my Springpad on Easy Homemade Gifts.


 
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Homemade: Fleece Shawl with Pockets

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Finished Shawl
We live in a cold climate and I love easy ways to keep warm. I saw this Fleece Shawl with Pockets in a catalog and thought, "I can make that for cheaper." I found the fleece on sale for 60% off, making it $3.99 a yard. I purchased 1 yard, but didn't need that much.



Measurements of the Shawl - 19" x 65" with two 8" x 8" pockets

Directions:

Cut a piece of fleece 19" x 65" 
(Note: I would make it a bit longer for someone my height 5' 6".)



Cut two pockets 9 1/2" x 8".
There will be 1 1/2" folded over at the top of the pocket.



Fold over 1 1/2" for the top of each pocket and pin in place.

 

Sew straight across the edge of the top of each pocket.


Each end of my fleece has a selvage that I needed to remove.  
(Note: I would make the shawl the other direction in the future to make it longer.)


Line up the pocket in the middle of the bottom edge of the fleece right up against the edge and pin on each side and the bottom of the pocket.


Sew the pocket onto the shawl in a "U" shape, reversing the stitch at the top of the pocket on both sides. Remove the pins as you go making sure that your needle does not hit the pins or it will damage your machine and bend the pins and the needle.


Finished pocket sewn onto shawl.


The catalog version is on sale for $6.95 plus tax and shipping. My homemade version was about $3.00.


Two things I would do differently on the next one:

  1. Make it longer than 65". I feel it is a little too short for my height at 5' 6".
  2. Make the pockets slanted, rather than straight across the top. I think they would be more comfortable that way.


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