Finding Bargains for Baby
The Associated Press recently wrote a story reporting that some frugal moms are switching from disposable to cloth diapers in an effort to save money.
I admit that I don't have kids, so the idea of washing out a poopy rag is really not that appealing. But many of my mommy friends share my opinion. Proponents of cloth diapers say that they are more environmentally friendly and really not that unpleasant. But the point that intrigues me the most is the argument that cloth diapers are actually cheaper.
This debate is interesting because it is essentially about cost vs. convenience. What price are we willing to pay to make our lives a little bit easier?
I did some digging online and found this very handy spreadsheet on The Happy Housewife that shows cloth diapers have higher start-up costs but they pay for themselves after 8.4 months. The calculations account for the cost of the water, detergent and electricity required to wash the diapers at home. If your child is in diapers for two years, you would save $824.27 by using cloth rather than disposable.
However, many parents opt to use a diaper service instead of washing them on their own. I checked out a local cloth diaper service to find out average prices. Modern Diaper Services in Alexandria charges $16.50 per week to clean 50 diapers and tacks on a $3 monthly fuel charge.
According to the spreadsheet on The Happy Housewife, kids go through an average of 7 cloth diapers per day, which would result in 49 diapers per week. Following Modern Diaper Services' rates, you would pay $1,788 in cleaning costs over two years.
Add in the initial investment of $440.20 for the diapers, and your two-year total is $2,228.20. The two-year cost for disposable diapers is only $1,680.04. That means going with cloth diapers and a cleaning service is $548.16 more expensive than going disposable. But if you use cloth diapers and wash them yourself, you could save quite a bit.
I never say never, but I think I could be easily persuaded to give in to the convenience of disposable diapers from a cost standpoint. Of course, there are other factors to consider, such as the environmental impact and what is best for your baby. I don't think this is a debate that will go away any time soon!
What do you all think? And how much are you willing to pay for convenience?
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