Lindsay Luebbering - The Penny Hoarder

When my baby was tiny, I was in denial at the sheer number of diapers she went through.

I remember selecting one of the smaller packages at the grocery store, thinking, “This has 30 diapers in it, so it should last for a while.”

Ha! I’ll blame that math on sleep deprivation. I had to go back to buy more later that week.

Here’s the truth: Babies go through a lot of diapers. You’ll probably change your baby’s diaper thousands of times by the time she’s a year old. The (only) upside of all that diapering: You can save a lot of money if you do it right.

Here are the best ways to save money on diapers, starting with the most affordable option.

1. No Diapers

The only thing better than saving money on diapers is not paying for diapers at all. How, you ask, is that possible?

Elimination communication involves paying attention to your baby’s “poo cues” from day one so you can hold your little bundle of joy over a toilet when it’s time to go. You’ll continue to use sounds and signals in association with toilet time until your baby can eventually use the toilet on command.

Although elimination communication has recently gained some popularity in the U.S., it’s much more common in areas of the world where people don’t spend much time indoors, and where parents are more likely to stay with their kids all day long.

If you’re intrigued, check out The Penny Hoarder’s full post on the topic. If it’s not for you, you might like the next most affordable diapering option.

2. Cloth Diapers

Even when you buy the fanciest cloth diapers on the market, factor in the cost of washing, and splurge on accessories like a diaper sprayer and wet bags, cloth diapers usually cost less than disposables over the course of a few years. Most parents also plan to re-use the cloth diapers for their next baby, which increases the savings.

Besides affordability, cloth diapers have other advantages over disposables: They come in cute patterns and colors, they’re easy on the environment, and, in my experience, the double leg gussets and back flaps are much better at preventing leaks and blowouts.

Unfortunately, cloth diapering also requires getting more hands-on with the dirty diapers, and also requires a lot more laundry (you should wash cloth diapers at least every other day).

If you’re interested in cloth diapering, you’ll quickly learn that there are a lot of options available. You’ll save the most money if you buy basic prefolds (also called “flats”) and separate waterproof covers. Opt for the one-size covers so you won’t have to buy more as your baby grows. Since you have to do the laundry almost every day anyway, you won’t need to buy more than a few days’ worth. You can also buy fewer covers than diapers, because the covers often survive a few diaper changes unscathed.

If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can upgrade to cloth diaper inserts (no folding required and some stay-dry features), or to the more expensive diapers that come completely put together (all-in-ones). Some crafty parents opt to save more money by sewing their own diapers, or even by creating cloth diapers from old T-shirts and towels from around the house or from the local thrift store.

(One bonus savings tips for cloth diapers: If you want a diaper sprayer, don’t limit yourself to the ones that are marketed for diapers; any handheld bidet will do.)

3. Disposable Diapers

Most parents choose disposable diapers for the sake of convenience -- even some cloth-diapering aficionados switch to disposables when they’re out and about. You’ll still find plenty of ways to save on diapers:

Go Generic

Consistently choosing the generic option is one of the simpler ways to save. Store brands often cost half the price of brand-name options, but their quality varies. I’ve heard good things about the generic options at Target, Costco and CVS.

Also, consider generic wipes; they seem to be just as good as their brand-name counterparts and, unlike diapers, there’s no risk of messy disasters if their quality isn’t quite as good as the name brand.

Join Loyalty Programs

Amazon Mom and Diapers.com offer discounts when you sign up for subscriptions, which save you trips to the store and time worrying about coupons.

Plus, most diaper brands offer their own loyalty programs, which typically involve submitting codes from the boxes you buy and entering them online.

Use Coupons

Your grocery store might offer its own coupons, and there are plenty of coupon opportunities online. You can also use the same apps that you use to save on groceries, such as Pirc, which will send you email alerts whenever your brand of diapers is on sale at a store near you, and Ibotta, which occasionally offers rebates on diapers in exchange for a picture of your receipt.

Other Tips and Tricks

As with any retail product, buying in bulk is cheaper, so go for the big boxes if you’re sure your baby will be in that size for a while.

You can also try to keep your baby in smaller sizes longer because the smaller sizes have more diapers per package.

Finally, toilet-training your child and moving him out out of diapers as soon as you can is a great way to save -- though you can’t necessarily control a child’s potty-training timeline.

Good luck, Penny Hoarders!

Your Turn: How do you save money on diapers?

Lindsay Luebbering is a freelance writer and former journalist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She helps people and businesses communicate in clear, consistent and compelling ways.

It might seem weird to think of businesses vying for the attention of college kids -- after all, students aren’t exactly flush with cash.

But businesses know that getting on your good side as you’re gaining your independence can result in a lot of money for them over time, starting in just a few years when you graduate, get your first full-time salary, and figure out how to manage your finances on your own. Plus, college students are tech-savvy and love social media, which makes them an asset for businesses.

Savvy execs know how to get your attention: discounts. So grab your student ID and your .edu email address and check out the many deals reserved just for students.

Entertainment

1. Movie Tickets

Movie theatre chains that offer student discounts include AMC Theatres (discounts on Thursdays), Cinemark (discounts vary by location) and Marcus Theatres ($5 Thursdays) -- but independent theatres often have student discounts, too. Just call and ask.

2. The Arts

Students get discounted access to museums, including major ones such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Want to splurge on an evening at the opera, symphony, theatre or ballet? These organizations likely offer discounts, too, so make sure to check before you buy tickets.

3. Professional Sports

Some pro sports teams offer special student rates, or offer them on certain dates. Check their web sites for promotions before you go.

Also, download some of these apps that help you save money on ticket purchases -- they’re not student deals, but compare to see which discount saves you more cash.

Computers, Software and Education Stuff

4. Hardware

Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Sony, Best Buy, HP and Lenovo all offer student discounts on their equipment, so there’s no reason to pay full price. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)

5. Software

If you need software, you’ll probably get a great deal at your campus bookstore. (Here’s an example of what those deals might look like.)

6. News

Students can save on digital and print subscriptions to newspapers and magazines such as The Economist, The New York Times and the The Wall Street Journal.

7. Textbooks

Even as ebooks and tablets become the norm, plenty of your classes still require old-school, physical textbooks. Plenty of websites help you find great deals on used textbooks and re-sell your own when you’re finished. Barnes & Noble even has a textbook rental program.

Travel and Transportation

8. Lodging and Airfare

If you’re planning lots of travel during your college years, consider getting a student ID or student discount card (but remember, you can always try to use your regular student ID). Also, check out these websites that offer airfare and hotel discounts to students.

9. Car Rentals

Show your student ID at major car rental dealers such as Budget, Avis and Hertz to get up to 20% off (although some age restrictions may apply).

10. Buses, Trains and Planes

Amtrak and Greyhound offer student discounts (although the Greyhound discount requires the purchase of a Student Advantage card). Some public transit authorities, such as the MTA in Chicago, also offer reduced rates for students. If you’re planning a trip across Europe, a Eurail train pass is discounted for travelers under age 26.

11. Cars and Insurance

Buying a used car is likely your best bet. However, if you’re in the market for a new car, check into the General Motors student discount. Also, most major car insurance companies also offer deals for students, so make sure you compare them all to find the best rates.

Other Shopping

12. Upromise

If you need to save for upcoming tuition or already have student loans through Sallie Mae, you can join their Upromise shopping program to earn money toward those costs. You can even share your shopping link with friends and family to earn faster.

13. Amazon

Check out Amazon.com’s student program for free two-day shipping and special discounts on certain items.

14. Clothes and Retail

Plenty of clothing stores offer student discounts. Ann Taylor and J. Crew are just a few that can get you suited up for that first job or internship. Here’s a helpful list of student-friendly retail stores.

Banking, Budgets and Credit

15. Banking

If you need a new checking or savings account, you’ll find plenty of great bonus offers, and some are student-specific (Bank of America, Citi and Chase are a few banks that have programs just for students). However, pay attention to maintenance and overdraft fees -- those will cost you more over the long term.

16. Credit Cards

Many banks offer credit cards just for students, but don’t be fooled by introductory offers. The regular interest rate is more important. (Here’s more info on how to choose a credit card.)

17. Budgeting

You Need a Budget budget software is free to college students, so there’s no excuse not to use it.

Freebies on Campus

18. Food

Are you paying for a campus meal plan? Make sure you get your money’s worth! Grab some fruit or cereal on your way out to take home for later. You’ll also find other free food on campus at open house events, public lectures and club activities.

19. Events

You probably already know about campus entertainment opportunities like pep rallies and intramural sports, but don’t forget that you also have access to free educational events and lectures.

20. Health and Fitness

You won’t get free access to that nice campus rec center after graduation, so make sure to use it now. Also, take advantage of your college’s health center services, along with its complimentary band-aids, condoms and tissues.

21. Promotional Stuff

Here’s a weird tip: most academic departments on campus have their own promotional pens -- you can start quite a collection! Also keep your eyes open for opportunities for T-shirts and other spirit gear.

Remember: You’re only a college student for a few years. It never hurts to ask if a business offers a student discount, so always keep your ID handy.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite student discount? Did we miss any good ones?

Lindsay Luebbering is a freelance writer and former journalist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She helps people and businesses communicate in clear, consistent and compelling ways.