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How to be a Frugal Mom and Still Buy Pampers


By Sleeping Mama

This is a guest post: “Sleeping Mama” is a 30-something mom to a two-year-old little boy. Her blog, Sleeping Should Be Easy, chronicles the day-to-day life of her toddler, from proud moments to challenging days and everything in between.

I buy Pampers instead of generic, shop at a farmers market, and buy new toys for my toddler. Despite all that, I still claim to be a frugal mom.

How? By choosing to spend on what’s important to my family while aggressively cutting back on what’s not.

Take diapers, for instance. We tried several brands and even considered cloth diapers, but Pampers won my baby’s heart (and bottom). If I ran my budget strictly by the numbers, I would have insisted on buying the least expensive brand, regardless of its performance and ease. Instead, I’m willing to spend more on what works for us and find ways to lower costs as much as possible (I buy Pampers in bulk online using my credit card rewards mall, which gives me an extra 15 points per dollar for that particular online store).

Buying organic food is another example. We shop at the farmers market so for several reasons—to support local communities and eat tastier food among them—but we limit how much we spend per week (that $30 fish would just eat up our budget!) and use most of our purchases to cook at home.

Frugality is a lifestyle, and like any long-term lifestyle, needs to be sustainable. Yes, we could deprive ourselves and live bare bones, but that mindset will hardly go far and is likely difficult to maintain. Instead, we’ll gladly pay the cost of something we enjoy (assuming that it doesn’t eat up most of our income) and skimp on everything else.

So while diapers and food remain a high cost for our family, we’ve tightened our budget on a few other categories:

We frequent the library

Every week I borrow at least six library books for my toddler to read. I can run a search through my library’s website, place holds on the books I’m interested in and pick them up at my convenience—all for free! If my toddler isn’t interested in particular books, I don’t have to worry about buyer’s remorse since we don’t own them. We still buy him books, but at least he’s “test-driven” them before we even spent a dime. The library also hosts free children’s events such as story time or musical performances that we’ve attended.

We cook at home

We hardly eat at restaurants and rely on home-cooked meals. Since we don’t mind spending time in the kitchen, we’re able to save quite a bit, especially since we use leftovers for lunch at work the next day.

We hang out at the park and find free entertainment

My toddler loves going to the park, whether it’s to run on the grass, climb around on the playground, look for pine cones, scoop some sand, or even simply sit and pick flowers from the ground. We’ve gone to practically every park there is in our city. We also find free entertainment or venues: parades, festivals, free museum days. Even shopping centers offer free playgrounds or fountains (if you can avoid walking into the stores!).

We don’t drive fancy cars

When the time came to replace my dying Corolla, we were tempted to take the money we’ve saved and use it as a down payment for a fancier (or even larger) car. But we had enough money saved that would have allowed us to buy another basic Corolla with cash, which is what we did. For us, we just wanted a car that functions and provides basic comfort.

We look for promo codes and printable coupons

Although we buy our toddler new clothes, we opt for lower-cost brands and look for promo codes or printable coupons. Any time I shop online and there’s a field to enter a promo code, I’ll quickly google the store’s name and the words “promo code” to see if anything comes up. Or if I’m planning to go to the actual store, I’ll google the store’s name and “printable coupons.” Usually there’s a code for free shipping or a coupon for a percentage off your purchase.

We don’t buy our toddler too many toys and gifts

This past Christmas, we bought our toddler one gift—and it cost $16. For his birthday, we didn’t buy him any gifts and instead threw a little party with his immediate family. Children don’t really need too many toys and gadgets. I even think boredom is good for them since it forces them to crank up their imagination. And when we do buy him a toy, we’re almost always sure he’ll love it (because we know what he’s interested in) and they’re usually good-quality, long-lasting toys.

What’s important to you?

Our expenditures may be similar to some families while completely opposite for others; neither is necessarily more frugal than the other. So long as you’re clear about your priorities and your budget has room, you can continue spending on what matters to you and cut back on those that don’t.


Jeffrey tries to remain in the back ground of this blog as much as possible and support the bloggers so that they can share their stories.

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  • Reply Dream Mom |

    I have to agree with you. I think of it less as being frugal but rather being respectful of your money and having your priorities in order. It’s also something you have to work at, like anything else.

  • Reply JMK |

    Living frugally is great, but it always has to start with a very clear understanding of what your family’s priorities are. Yes ther are a thousand places to cut and save a dollar, but unless you are about to live on the street or stave, cutting absolutely everything from your life is probably not the solution.
    In our family retiring early while still travelling in the meantime are our two priorities. Everything else is considered optional and gets carefully scrutenized. But cutting out everything not important to our family, our basics only consume about 55% of our take home pay. With that much “excess” landing in the account every payday, of course we could go out for dinner, or have 300 channels or drive new vehicles. We simply choose not to because we couldn’t care less about those things.
    I know others at times must think taking the kids to Europe for a month on vacation is an insane waste of money. But that’s likely because either A, travel isn’t important to them, or B after spending on 50 other things they don’t have the funds left to entertain taking a trip like that. I gave up trying to justify our choices and priorities long ago. It works for us and that’s all that matters.
    My husband and I are counting down the days to our retirement in our mid 50s and the kids are debating our next destination. At the moment the 10yr old is making a case for seeing the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors, while the 17yr old is leaning toward hiking the Inca trail to Machu Pichu (Peru). Nope, not missing having a cable subscription or a car payment.

  • Reply Stephanie |

    Good for you—especially on not buying a toddler hundreds of dollars worth of toys. I don’t understand people that throw money away on crap the kid will either not want (or have broken) in just a few weeks. Kids that age will play with anything, and don’t need a bunch of special toys.

  • Reply Sleeping Mama |

    @Dream Mom
    Absolutely. We work for our money and should respect the effort we put into earning it; so we should honor our time and money by spending it on what matters to us.

    Our family is in a similar situation as you; we have extra money that could be used for dinners out, cable TV or fancy cars, but since we aren’t foodies, car enthusiasts or watch too much TV, it doesn’t make sense for us to put our money into those categories. I’m sure someone else could care less about Pampers or buying from farmers markets even though for me I’ll gladly spend money on those.

    My toddler is so fascinated with the simplest things—an empty roll of paper towel tube or kitchen cooking tools! We still buy him toys but he can really get a kick out of most anything in the house.

  • Reply Marianne |

    We do most of the same things minus the organic food (we grow some of our own and the rest I have no problem buying regular produce). I’ve blogged about it in a series called Baby on a Budget. http://www.preservingpennies.blogspot.com/2012/02/baby-on-budget-hand-me-downs-and-second.html We cloth diaper but I put my kid in Pampers overnight. Once in awhile if I’m in a bind (was at a store that didn’t sell Pampers recently!) I’ll buy generic or Huggies but I much prefer Pampers to the others. There definitely is a difference!! I get a tonne of coupons so if I wait for the sales and then use a coupon I don’t usually end up spending extra on the Pampers.

So, what do you think ?