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What’s Old is New for Parents Looking to Save Money

Because raising a child in tough economic times can be expensive and financially challenging, many families are looking for ways to reduce their spending without having to sacrifice their family’s well-being. This has resulted in a slew of families getting creative by making old items new again.

Shanaka Brown’s family is one of many that is looking to save money by repurposing and reusing items from around the house.

Brown, a stay-at-home mom, says she believes the consumer-oriented society has prevailed for too long and has to stop. “I think a lot of people are doing things to change the spending mindset. Even if people just take baby steps in changing the way they do things, added up it all can make a huge difference in the long run.”

Brown says that her family is doing a lot of unique things to save money these days.

“For one, I cloth diaper my children which I figured has saved us a ton of money and cuts back on our curbside trash,” she says. Brown also says she regularly participates in clothing, toy and book swaps with the more than 60 moms in her playgroup, makes her own cleaning concoctions, and religiously uses refillable water bottles. After all, tap water is free.

“I also repurpose leftovers to make new meals and look for other uses for things in the kitchen such reusing empty food storage containers. Even my husband reuses milk and juice jugs in the basement to organize his stuff,” she says.

Kelly Wels, the owner of Kellys Closet, a cloth diapering boutique that offers modern cloth diapering selections like FuzziBunz, bumGenius and Happy Heinys, has seen a huge rise in the number of families using washable and reusable cloth diapers. “I think that families are looking for ways they can save and cloth diapers are a surprisingly easy and sensible solution these days. Families can save thousands of dollars over the course of a few years by cloth diapering their baby,” she says.

Kira Williams, a physician from California, says that even though she and her husband have stable jobs, they are still mindful of their expenditures.

“Cloth diapering has definitely saved us money. Even with the extra money we spend on the water bill, we’re saving more than what we would have spent on disposable diapers. That said, while the cost savings are important, I am even more concerned with minimizing waste and streamlining our lives. I feel that so many of us have become obsessed with spending more and having more and it clearly hasn’t made us better individuals nor a better society. I want to teach my daughter to be happy with less and to treasure the simple things in life,” she says.

Williams says she prefers reusing items and says she was lucky to have inherited many maternity and baby clothes, as well as a lot of baby gear, all which she plans to pass along to others someday. She also makes her own baby food and saves the plastic souvenir cups she gets at NFL games, which have become one of her daughter’s favorite stacking and nesting toys.

Texas stay-at-home mom, Amy Scott, is also one of those moms getting creative by repurposing items that she might have once considered throwing out. For example, Scott says she keeps a small bowl on the dining table where her family puts leftover sauce packets from take-out restaurants. “We’ll never have to buy hot sauce or soy sauce again,” she jokes.

Scott also says she and her husband repurposed old nightstands that were dangerously close to being tossed. When her daughter was born, they realized they needed extra storage space. “One of our old nightstands became a feeding station to store formula, bibs, burp clothes, etc., and the other went by my back door to store mail as to not clutter my kitchen counter,” she says.

Wels adds that, with a little thought and effort, moms can save a lot of money by finding new ways to use old things.

“Think of all the new disposable products on the market that are touted as convenience items like disposable swim diapers, bibs and placemats. I don’t understand how it’s easier to keep buying new things only to end up throwing them away and buying more. If more people took a little extra time to wash items that we normally throw out, we can rack up a lot of savings and be much kinder to Mother Earth,” says Wels. “Perhaps this tumultuous economy is just the excuse families need to spend less, reuse more and overall lessen their waste.”

Brown agrees, “New is not always better or necessary. Reusing not only helps our environment but also my pocketbook because I don’t have to spend money buying things over and over again. Being a family of four on one income was difficult at first, but now I feel that we are making it work.”

By Jenny L.


  1. *~*a.l.s*~* said...

    i feel like i just read this post somewhere–it is a great way to convince people that cloth is the way to go! I’m going to forward it to a few of my friends who are on the verge of making the switch…

  2. Brena said...

    Where was this article featured?

  3. While you are washing cloth diaper use hot water use a little detergent or washing soda. you may use your child’s diaper for a log period.

  4. Upstatemomof3 said...

    What a great article!! I find that cloth diapering had put me in a much more reuse mindset. It makes me want to buy less in general.

  5. Amanda said...

    Fantastic post! Very enjoyable read. 🙂 And what about disposable baby wash cloths….I got a coupon for some once and I just could not believe such a thing existed. Is it really that hard to toss your baby’s wash cloths in w/ their laundry that you will already be doing? Whats next? Disposable clothing?

    Amanda G.

  6. Lauren said...

    Most of my maternity clothes, baby gear and baby clothes are hand me downs. Craigs list has been a great way for us to get everything we needed for our new baby at a fraction of the cost. Plus when we are done with these things I can resell them or give them away to someone else!

  7. (: This post brightened my day. It’s always nice to hear about other people who are trying to lessen their impact on Mother Earth. Our Throw Away Society has gotten insanely out of hand.

  8. Anna said...

    I love how much you can save by using cloth diapers!

  9. Jenney said...

    Absolutely! Reduce, reuse, recycle!

  10. Key West Girl said...

    I totally agree with going more simple. I get wayyyy more happiness out of that rather than buying bunches of new stuff and throwing a lot away. I think cloth diapering is important in that goal.

  11. Ashley said...

    Wow, I really love this! It’s so true!

  12. Ally said...

    This is a fantastic post, thanks for sharing! I’ve learned a few things. =)

    I never throw out butter tubs, applesauce/yogurt cups, frosting containers…it is so easy to reuse them and fun!

  13. Brena said...

    The drying hanging thing is at IKEA
    I am totally getting one tomorrow!

  14. AScott said...

    Great tips!!

  15. Brena: The article was written by one of our staff members and has been in over 300 online and print publications.

    Have a great day! =)

  16. Becky said...

    Great article. Really makes you rethink what you are doing with the products that you buy and how each product impacts the earth.

  17. Thrifty Mama B said...

    Another great article from Jenny!

    “I feel that so many of us have become obsessed with spending more and having more and it clearly hasn’t made us better individuals nor a better society. I want to teach my daughter to be happy with less and to treasure the simple things in life…”

    AMEN Mama!

  18. Brittany said...

    This is a great article! I am going to forward it on to my sister. She is on the fence about going with cloth for her little girl.

  19. said...

    ill never miss having to run to the store JUST for diapers. next "convenience" thing to go are disposable pads. as soon as af decides to return (just had a baby 2.5 months ago, with my first it stayed away for over a year!) im going all mama cloth!

  20. TheReddyFamily said...

    I LOVE this article…It just shows that deducing, reusing, and recycling are all part of making the CYCLE work!! Especially with items related to babies, cause ALL of us parents will need a stroller, a mattress, a crib, and diapers at some point. So why by them new (excluding safety reasons). Or better yet, why use single-use diapers at all…I love it!

    And It's not even always ONLY about saving $, or ONLY the environment, or ONLY fill-in-the-blank. It's the beautiful cumulative effect that reusing items solves all of these dilemmas!

    Keep up the good work!

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