Friday, June 30, 2006

Secondhand Strategy

If you've noticed all the "find of the day" posts recently, it's because I've only had minutes at the keyboard. My husband has commandeered the computer for the last part of his dissertation. Sharing a photo and the story behind it has been a quick--if shallow--way to keep Like Merchant Ships relatively fresh. While it's always fun, sometimes I feel like I'm straying from the mission here. Ann V. gently reminded me to thank God for the handmade paper at Salvation Army. I had--just not in public.

So many of you have emailed to ask for bargain-hunting advice , I think it merits a series of posts. First, though, an explanation: I truly believe that our secondhand success can be credited to a trust that God will provide for our needs--and occasionally, our wants--in a way that honors our budget and exceeds our expectations. There are just too many times when we've found exactly what we needed in the most unlikely of places. It's a phenomenon that defies logic. It's downright humbling to see how the smallest of our desires are met, or, if not, replaced by contentment in what we already have.

Here's another way in which this trust was deepened, just this week:
We have been using disposable diapers because my husband didn't want to deal with cloth. I acquiesed because, hey, I didn't want to be the only one who could change the diaper. (Flashback to my grand garbage experiment of '05.) Then came the baby's turn in the Bili-bed, and I was suddenly cleaning no diaper at all. I remember thinking, cloth diapers would be a luxury compared to this!

Yesterday we bought our second case of Pampers with a guilty conscience. $30 a month for diapers! How do people afford disposables and formula, too? We talked about it on the way home. I said, Lord, I would really love to try cloth like my friend Stephanie, but I'm afraid to invest all the money. I'm afraid I am too lazy for the laundry. I'm afraid I will not follow through.

Today my mom had a biopsy. I was praying my way to the hospital with a screaming baby in the car. She called to say that the surgery had been delayed. I would have to kill at least an hour, so I followed the next neon yard sale sign. Here's what I found on the very first table:
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40 fitted cloth diapers with Velcro tabs for the exact amount of cash in my envelope.

23 comments:

Taleyna said...

What a great deal! I have some like that for DS and they are so absorbent. Seriously-the laundry isn't so bad.

It is amazing-I had been down in the dumps a bit over not having the money for household items as we pay down debt. Nothing major but nothing I could justify the money for either. We went garage saling and wow-I found hardly any of the clothes I thought I was looking for a bounty of other items that had been on my someday list.

Glad to hear he's in the home stretch of the dissertation Woo..hoo..by the way when it comes time for binding don't forget to check with the library he's teaching at. Ours sent out and had the binding done at around $5 per copy versus the $75-100 the other locations were charging.

momxtwo said...

I have recently started usuing White Cloud diapers. You can find them at Walmart. Walmart bought out the White Cloud company and they now carry the diapers and also wonderfully soft tissue.
Anyway the WC diapers are a lot less than Pampers and Huggies and hold just as much. I have a 3 yr old wearing them and I haven't had the first leak. I wish I had thought to try them a couple of yrs ago. I would have saved soooo much money.

Good luck with the cloth ones. I never tried those but I know several people who use them and love them. They save the Pampers for trips to the grocery and whatnot.

Peace

Donna said...

What a neat testimony! God is so good!

lady laura said...

What a great find, Meredith. Providence, me thinks =)

I have had so many experiences where just what we needed, and sometimes things we wanted eventually made their way to us in one way or another. Sometimes I bought them cheap, sometimes they were gifted to us. There is no doubt in my mind they were all blessings from God.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this testimony of God's faithfulness, Meredith. It is good to be reminded that God really and truly knows-intimately- the circumstances of our lives, and takes care of even the things we have left unspoken in our hearts. I was reading this entry on your blog when my husband happened to walk by, glance at the picture, and say, "Is she using CLOTH diapers? I don't want to mess with cloth diapers!" We are expecting our 5th baby later this fall, and I HATE starting in with the disposables again because they are SO much money over the two or three years that the babies are in them. My husband has about the same level of enthusiasm, though, for cloth diapers as yours does! So please keep us posted on how you honestly like them and whether or not you think they'll work out on a long term basis.
Blessings to you!
Susan in Illinois

Meredith said...

I will, Susan! At this price I can afford to experiment, and if it doesn't work out for our family, pass the blessing along to someone else.


Momx2, I also love the White Cloud diapers. I used those almost exclusively with my first one. ONly they were sold out of the smallest size when I went to Walmart! So I bought the Pampers with some coupons for now.

Taleyna, thanks for the binding tip. We are only waiting for the last set of data to be released by the school system. It's so long overdue that he missed the May deadline and had to pay an additional semester's tuition for summer. Yuck!

Anonymous said...

Thank You for that reminder that God has always provided. It like the diapers came when I needed it most!

Mom2fur said...

Oh, my goodness, if God didn't direct you that way, I don't know who did! That is so cool! And I'm glad the biopsy went well...does that mean your mom already got her results? If not, I hope the news is good there, too!

Jane said...

What a lovely post, Meredith - which was only tangentially about cloth diapers. My diapering days are long in the past (children now 26, 24 and 19) but I always find things in your blog that apply to my life today and this one sure did! I am always amazed and humbled by how well He cares for us.
About the diapers, though. I used cloth (which was a little odd to most of my friends even back in 1979!) because our first son was very sensitive to the disposables available then and would get a rash (not like diaper rash, this would happen all over his diaper area wherever the diaper touched, even dry) didn't have any trouble with cloth. By the time son #2 came along we were well used to them and never considered disposables. Son #3 was born in an especially difficult time for us financially and the cloth diapers and breastfeeding (also did that with all three) meant that the new baby didn't add to our financial burden. For all those years I was the only person I knew using the cloth diapers, but really it became very easy once I was used to it. I remember many a snowy, slick day or one with a sick child who just wanted to stay in bed, when I was very grateful that providing clean diapers for my baby meant going to the laundry room instead of the store. So sometimes they can be EASIER than disposables. Blessings to you, I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

If you haven't already, check out www.punkinbutt.com for easy washing instructions and other great tips. Now that my son is older (read: not just breast milk poopies) I also use flushable diaper liners (NOT the Gerber brand they aren't flushable), but wash and reuse if only wet.

Good luck!

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

I appreciate this post, too...and second the diaper liners in a month or two.

emily said...

Thank you, Meredith! Your post was very convicting. I'm a SAHM married to a grad student and keep wanting to buy household *stuff* that isn't honoring to my husband. (He wants less household stuff - which is reasonable, since I don't do a great job of keeping what we *do* have very clean.) This morning I actually asked my husband what would be alright for me to buy before I went garage saling and what was desired (a bike helmet for our son) was provided (as well as a few other things that I knew he would approve of).

Mrs. Linebarger said...

Meredith: I've enjoyed your blog for months, but don't think I've commented before. How wonderful that you found those diapers at the sale!! God truly does provide. You might want to check out my eldest daughter's blog. She did a post recently about cloth diapering (she has two in diapers just now, and at one time had three in diapers!). Here's the link to the post http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Corin/155113/ God bless you!

Coffee and a Muffin said...

That's so awesome! God is so good to His children.

We used cloth diapers for most of my last 3 children's diaper years. You get into a routine and it's a breeze. The loads add up quick so you do them fairly often. You can put some cleaning solution like Lysol in water in the diaper pail so they soak all the time if you like. I didn't, though. Too heavy! Rinsing them does a lot of good in keeping the smell down. It sure does save money in the long run. And then you can either resell them or use as rags. You have to change them more often than disposables due to the wetness being right on the skin at all times. But like anything else, it gets easier over time to know how often to change. When traveling in town, just keep a Ziploc bag in the diaper bag to hold the wet ones till you get home and can put them into the diaper pail. I also put soapy wet washcloths in Ziplocs in the diaper bag for wiping their bottoms. Those can go in the diaper pail, too. I had designated wash cloths just for wiping. That can save a lot of money on wipes which get used in abundance, as you probably already know. The plastic pants can be washed with the diapers and wash cloths and then hung to dry (so they last longer). Blessings! Kim (who hasn't changed a diaper in quite awhile)

Anonymous said...

Meredith,
Soaking overnight in the washer with Biz will conquer almost any stain. The ammount is adjustable depending upon water quality, load size and soil. The secret is to use cold water until the stain is gone. I then wash in hot for disinfection purposes.

What are you doing for covers? The vinyl ones you buy in Walmart do not live through the first wash. I loved the nylon ones that are shaped like underwear(pull-on). Do not put these kind in the dryer but the washer is OK. If you find a cheap source I would love to hear about it. Mine originally came from J C Penney in 1996. Penneys no longer carries them. I have seen these on eBay. They are still not cheap. I had about 4 covers per size. I also used the style of covers that are like a cloth disposable diaper that has a waterproof lining and velcro fasteners when she was < 6 mos. She was nursed and that style worked fine.
Like many other parts of a frugal lifestyle it becomes a matter of what you are used to. Sometimes it is simply a matter of what you are willing to try and experiment with until it works for you.

The Tightwad Gazette I or II has a great article about all kinds of cloth diapering/laundering options if you run into problems or want to tweak your laundering system without resorting to expensive products.

What a great find! -Melissa

Amy said...

We are cloth diapering our little one too. I have been exclusively cloth diapering her for the past six months and it is going so good. I think you will really love it! I did buy the more expensive types of diapers (Fuzzi Bunz) b/c they were husband-friendly (he changes the baby, but doesn't do the washing of them), babysitter-friendly, and they are a dream to wash. I actually bought mine off of Ebay, used them for four months, sold them back on Ebay, and actually ended up making FOURTEEN dollars back. I then put that towards the next size up and I just plan to do this again.

Our daughter has been EBF and we are just starting solids. I will definitely be looking into the flushable liners. I had the Gerber ones, but didn't realize that you couldn't flush these. Good to know- my septic system thanks you!

Thank you for the thoughtful reminder that God does provide. He provides for the things that we didn't even realize we need- He is so good!

Nancy said...

Good for you! I would love to have done cloth diapers, for economical AND ecological reasons, but we live in an apartment building and share our laundry room with a whole bunch of people - I just didn't feel comfortable using communal washers for diapers. It's $1 per washer-load, too, which I'm pretty sure is more than someone's household washer.

Maybe for the next kid...

Anonymous said...

I used cloth diappers for all our children. When you wash them, especially if you use the Biz [or bleach]as sugested, make sure it is rinsed out good as it is pretty strongfor her tender skin. I used some vinigar in the rinse to cut the detergent and it also softened the diapers. If you decide to go back to the pampers keep some cloth ones and covers for those days you run low and don't want to run to the store at that moment...

Meredith said...

Thanks for all the advice! I feel much more courageous about trying them now. I do have a few Diaperwraps I bought at a thrift store earlier in my pregnancy, so that's what I'll be using for covers.

My Boaz's Ruth said...

Nancy,

That's the same reason that, right now, if we have a baby, I don't think I'd use cloth diapers either. $1 a load and not in the apartment, it's shared with the entire building.

although we have a LARGE balcony I could put them out to dry there... How difficult are they to wash in the sink? Of course, when you've got a newborn, one more thing to do is not what you need.

stephanie said...

God is good! :) (On both counts - the diapers and biopsy!)

Goslyn said...

What a blessing, on both counts! The diaper find is amazing. I hope it goes well for you. I have not done cloth diapers myself, but I know many people who love them.

However, if you decide to keep on with the disposables, I LOVE White Cloud brand. They can be found at any Wal-mart, are very inexpensive (for disposables) and work as well or better than Pampers.

Stephanie said...

We are on our third child in cloth. Be happy to help if you have any questions!

What an incredible story! He always does provide.