When you get married and have children you begin to make choices based your family’s priorities and goals. Family finances play a role in making our goals a reality. For us, providing experiences and life-memories for our children has always been one of our top priorities. And cloth diapering has been one tool we use to help make that happen.
Early Family Financial Choices
My husband and I married right out of college, with student loans and careers that had not yet been established. Financially, we were starting from nothing. I had accepted a teaching position right before our wedding, but knew our ultimate goal was for me to stay home with our future children. After returning home from our honeymoon, we discovered we had been blessed with our first child.
During those 9 months of pregnancy, I worked while we lived on my husband’s very minimal (just barely above minimum wage) salary. We put every penny of my income in the bank while we very carefully calculated whether or not it would be prudent for me to resign from my position after the birth of our little one. Just weeks after he was born, I resigned.
As part of our decision for me to stay home, we realized that this new baby didn’t have to cost us anything during his first year. We received bags of hand me downs from very generous friends and family, I was breastfeeding, and we began to cloth diaper (our original stash was gifted to us as well). I had been cloth diapered as a baby and remember hearing my mother talk about her experience while I was growing up, it just made sense that we would do the same. We chose to cloth diaper because we had to conserve every penny that my husband made; disposables were a luxury we could never afford.
That baby will be turning 8 in just a few short weeks, we have added three more children to our family, and my husband has a much more respectable income. Although we aren’t rich, our penny-saving ways have stuck with us all of these years. All four of our children have been cloth diapered (although I do now splurge on every new print release), something that wasn’t always financially prudent) and all of those extra pennies have added up over time.
What do we do with this savings? We travel! We give our children experiences that will remain in their memories and help them grow in so many ways. We’ve taken a 26-hour road trip (each way) to Florida, road tripped through parts of Canada, explored Washington DC, and we even just returned from a trip to Italy. Our children are now world travelers!
How we Save Money With Young Children
But how do we do it?? How are we able to set aside so much “extra” money while living on a median income?
- We budget. Household finances should run similar to a business; without a working budget it is nearly impossible to get ahead. Always live within your means.
- We’ve learned to say not right now. I’ve been drooling over the Britax B-Ready double stroller for a few years and I’d like to upgrade our worn Ergo for a Tula, but we’ll get there. We don’t need to buy on impulse, unless it’s a new diaper print…
- We make as many foods from scratch as possible. Flour is cheap! Bread is not. We make our own bread, pasta, pizza, rolls, etc. We do occasionally buy premade, but freshly made food is just so much tastier.
- We bought a small house (1050sqft). Sure, it’s small by many American standards, but it works for us. It keeps our bills low, including our mortgage, heating (we live in the north, it’s cold up here and heating can be expensive!), and electricity. This makes stretching our family finances easier.
- We’ve adopted a more minimalist point of view. Less really is more. We do have more than a stereotypical minimalist, but filling our house with objects that won’t be put to use has proven to be wasteful.
- We shop around for our utilities. Our cell phone bill for two smartphones is only $30 a month! We are always looking for new ways to cut our monthly bills through new companies and new technologies.
- We paid off our student loans!! The income I made while working, it went straight to paying down student loans. Paying off debt has been a very high priority to help us get ahead.
Did cloth diapering alone bring us around the world? No. It’s the mindset. Every penny matters and cloth diapering has saved us tens of thousands of pennies each year! We pay attention to our pennies, we budget, we walk around with apps on our phones to make sure we are spending appropriately.
Most important of all, my husband and I communicate and have a very open dialogue about our finances. We aren’t rich, we’re far from it. But we are wise, wise with how we have chosen to spend our money throughout our marriage.