Cloth Diapers for the Clueless

Husband mentioned that we are using cloth diapers with Baby Boy. We're following the example of some friends of ours that use cloth diapers and love it. Supposedly, cloth diapers are a cheaper way to go, and better for the environment. We don't use cloth exclusively. We use them only when we're at home. I'll leave Baby Boy in the cloth if I'm running a quick errand, but if it's likely that I'll need to change him out and about, I'll switch him to a disposable. I have no desire (or room in the diaper bag for that matter) to carry dirty cloth diapers around. There are some really good websites out there with lots of information on cloth diapering, but there's a lot of information to sift through. It's EXTREMELY overwhelming.

Here's what we've figured out after a month of cloth diapering:
> Financial observations:
While a sizable investment on the front end, cloth diapers are less expensive overall than disposables. We go through a jumbo pack of diapers in approx. 5 days. Averaging $8 per jumbo pack (with the help of coupons, sales, and rebates) and using 73 jumbo packs per year, that's $584/year. Our disposables so far have cost $230 for 24 Kissaluvs Size 0 (KLOs) and 4 diaper covers. These should last us the first 3 months or so depending on how fast he grows. Keep in mind, we can resell these to make some of the money back, or we can save them for our other kids later on. (If we were to have 3 kids... that's $230 cloth or $672 disposable assuming we didn't replace any of the cloth and no inflation on the cost of disposables.)
A note on KLOs - They're great for people new to cloth diapering. Very easy to use, no folding, etc. They work just like a regular diaper except that they require a waterproof cover. Our son is a heavy wetter, so you may want to include a doubler, or change him every 1-2 hrs. The fit is GREAT!
The expense of cloth diapers doesn't end with the diapers, covers, and doublers (if you choose to use them). You've got the cost of water and energy to wash them (1 rinse, 1 regular cycle), as well as the energy cost to dry them. I have been drying ours on the clothesline. They smell great and the sun bleaches any remaining stains after the wash. I do toss them in the dryer for 10 minutes or so after I take them off of the line in order to soften them a bit. Too long in a very dry sun can make the diapers a little rough. (Cost of clothesline: 40 ft. line for $14 on Amazon... plus shipping)

> Environmental observations:
Diapers take up INSANE amounts of landfill space. One week's worth of disposable diapers (the little newborn ones) filled a huge Babies R Us shopping bag. That was just 1 week of the tiniest diapers for 1 kid. I can't imagine how much space diapers take up annually even for 1 city! (Why did you have a week's worth of disposables, you ask? The first few days of poop is a sticky, tarry goo and it's hard to get out of cloth. Until Baby Boy had all of that out of his system, we stuck with disposables.)
Using the clothesline for the diapers showed me how easy a clothesline can be to use. So now, I use it for some of our other drying... thus, saving more energy.

> General observations:
I like the cloth better than the disposable. The poop sticks to the cloth diaper much more so than the disposable diaper, so there is less to clean off of him when he's wearing cloth.
I've yet to have a blowout of poop. I have no idea if this is a result of cloth, but all my friends with babies that use disposables have many tales of blowouts.
The cloth diapers are the same thickness throughout. With that, we point his penis down when he's wearing the cloth diaper so he doesn't soak the top. If we forget to point it down, he soaks through the diaper much faster and it can leak onto his onesie a bit.

There are many websites to help... I recommend searching for blogs. They have the best and clearest information that I have found. Here are a few other sites I look at:

The benefits of a clothesline

So we've hung the clothesline, and it is already paying off. We hung our new cloth diapers, and the few light stains that remained after washing were bleached out by the sun. Here in Houston we have no shortage of hot days, so it took no time at all. So far we've been impressed, but we'll see what we think once we dry a load of clothes.

Image source: clemente

I've got 18 years to save for college

Now that we're parents, we have 18 years to figure out how to pay for Baby Boy's college. After researching various options, we've decided to go with Ohio's CollegeAdvantage plan. In case you find yourself in a similar situation, I wanted to outline my thought process for selecting the best plan for us.

Check your own state first

We're from Texas, which offers the Lonestar 529 and Texas College Savings plans. We don't have a state income tax, so there is no in-state tax deduction for 529 contributions. Other states' rules vary, so you should check out a list of states that offer a 529 Plan tax deductions. It’s not the most recent list, but the best I could find. If your state offers a tax deduction, it might be best to go with that plan. If not, look around at other states' offerings to see if you can find a better deal on fees and investment options.

What to look for in a plan:

  • Minimum Investment
    Some states require $1000 or more to start a 529, and others require as little as $15. Depending on how much you have to invest, this could be a factor.
  • Maintenance Fees
    Some plans charge yearly maintenance fees. Depending on the invest options and a plan's performance, this could eat up a good portion of your investment.
  • Expenses
    Similar to mutual funds, 529s have expenses. I tend to stick with index funds because of the low fees. I found fees ranging from .30 percent to well above 1 percent.
  • Investment Options
    Most 529s are set up like retirement plans, with age-based plans, equity plans, balanced plans, etc. Many plans also are operated by big names, such as Vanguard or Openheimer
The verdict
We decided on Ohio's CollegeAdvantage plan because of the low fees (in the .30 percent range) and the investment options (we like Vanguard). I haven't yet set up the plan, so there may be some hitches in the system that change my opinion, but for now I think we've found a winner. I'm still debating between an age-based plan and developing my own portfolio with their offering of funds. I'll likely do a little of both.

We've been saving for our initial 529 deposit by socking away money in a sub-account at ING DIRECT. If you'd like to start your own ING savings account and help Baby Boy's 529 plan, shoot me an e-mail at I'll send you a referral link where you can receive a $25 bonus for opening an account with at least $250. Baby Boy's account will also receive $10, and I know he'd be very grateful.

Why we blog, part two

Why we blog, part one

I'm not really sure why we started this blog, but we hope it offers us a place to discuss the competing (or compounding) interests we face as we start our family (as I type, my wife is laying in the hospital bed across the room, in the early stages of labor). First and foremost, we want our lives to glorify God and our savior Jesus Christ. Second, we feel it is our Christian calling to respect, preserve and protect this place we call Earth. Finally, we'd love to save money in the process.

Is this a religious blog? Yes. Is this a "green living" blog? Yes. Is this a family blog? Yes. Is this a personal finance blog? Yes. Trying to squeeze all of these topics in one Web site is why we've decided to call this Compounding Interests.

We hope you enjoy what you read here, and maybe learn something along the way. Please participate in the discussion and hopefully teach us something new. Feel free to drop us a line at

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