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Category: Money-Saving Ideas

Our Almost $0 Baby Budget For Our 1st Baby (How & Why We Did It)

Our $0 Baby Budget

Ten and a half years ago, we welcomed our first child into the world — a beautiful baby girl, Kathrynne. Jesse was in law school at the time, I was trying to piece together enough income from various online pursuits to keep us afloat, and needless to say, we were poor as poor can be.

We were so poor, in fact, that we spent right around $0 out of pocket on baby things. Not because we didn’t want to spend anything, but because we literally had no extra money to spare.

As best as I can recall, the only thing we spent money on was a baby blanket. For real.

{I was overdue and we realized that we were going to be having this baby sooner rather than later and it was January, so we probably needed more than the one blanket we’d been given by a friend!

We scrounged together a few dollars, went to Walmart and bought a blanket, and that was the last we spent until Kathrynne was close to one year old and we went and bought her a cute new outfit to get her pictures taken for Christmas gifts.}

Our $0 Baby Budget

How did we spend almost zero out of pocket on baby things? Well, here’s how:

1. We Used What We Were Given

We were blessed with very generous friends. So blessed, in fact, that we ended up having three different showers thrown for us! One was by Jesse’s co-workers, one was by our little church, and one was by our church back home.

When people asked what we needed or wanted, we suggested practical things — like diapers, wipes, onesies, sleepers, and blankets. We ended up being gifted enough clothes to make it through almost the entire first year of Kathrynne’s life without buying her any new clothes.

A few people went in together and bought us some of the larger items — like a stroller, playpen, and carseat.

Our $0 Baby Budget

2. We Willingly Accepted Hand-Me-Downs

Some friends kindly offered to let us borrow their baby items or passed along baby clothes to us. We willingly accepted all of these offers and they were a huge blessing!

Yes, Kathrynne may not have been outfitted in name brand, brand-new clothes most of the time, but she survived just fine! Plus, I discovered that I didn’t have to worry if something got stained or ripped because it was already used and worn. 🙂

3. We Focused on Needs Versus Wants

It’s nice to have some of the non-necessities, but I’m here to tell you that your baby will be just fine without them.

Kathrynne didn’t have very many outfits per size. In fact, in most sizes, she only had 6 outfits, plus PJs. Yes, this meant I had to keep up on laundry more, but she survived.

We also had very few toys or baby gadgets. Some of the gadgets are nice and helpful, but very few could be considered actual necessities. {I wrote a post here with a list of what I consider to be the only items you really need to buy for your baby.}

This might not work for you. You might not have friends who bless you with multiple showers or offer you hand-me-downs. But I hope that this post encourages you to think outside the box and to realize that babies can get by without all the bells and whistles.

What are your best tips for saving money on baby things? I’d love to hear!

Why We Didn’t Use Cloth Diapers With Our 2nd and 3rd Kids

While cloth diapering is great for many families, you don't have to feel guilty if you choose a different option! Here's an honest look at the pros and cons of cloth diapering!

Cloth diapering is one of those things that is a frugal no-brainer, or so it seems. Using cloth diapers is often much less expensive. It’s better for the environment. And it’s a one-time investment that pays for itself again and again and again — especially if you have more than one child!

However, while we exclusively cloth diapered for our first child, we chose not to use cloth diapers with our second and third kids. Why? Well here are 4 reasons:


1. Our Kids Had Extremely Sensitive Skin

Kathrynne, our first daughter, had no issues with cloth diapers. Which was a huge blessing because we had no money at that season of our lives. And I do mean no money.

Some friends of ours gifted us a full set of Fuzzi Bunz diapers and it was one of the best gifts ever. We never invested a dime in diapers — other than paying for the laundry supplies and electricity to run the washer and dryer.

But when Kaitlynn came along, it was a different story. Every kind of cloth diaper broke her skin out. We tried a few different brands. I tried putting them on different ways. I tried washing them different ways.

To no avail.

Only Pampers diapers didn’t break her out. So I finally just gave in and gave up on my plans to exclusively cloth diaper her, too.

2. I Learned How to Get Diapers for Free

By the time Kaitlynn came along, I had discovered this thing called Drugstore Shopping. By carefully pairing coupons and sales with rebate deals, I was able to not only get groceries for free, but I was also able to get overage — and I used that overage to cover the cost of diapers.

When Silas was born, I had learned about Swagbucks and I was able to use my p


oints called SB to earn free Amazon gift cards that I used to buy diapers for him. Best of all, when he was a baby and toddler, Amazon Mom did all sorts of incredible promotions that netted all of us some of the hottest diaper steals. I kid you not, the prices were insane — like $1 to $2 per package of name brand diapers shipped!

Why We Chose Not to Cloth Diaper


3. I Found the Washing of Diapers to Be Very Time-Consuming

Okay, so this might brand me as utterly lazy, but after a year and a half of washing diapers multiple times per week, I was just plain tired of washing them. You always had to stay ahead. You always had wet and dirty diapers in your laundry room and it seemed like you always, always needed to be washing more diapers.

After my third child was born, I was stretched so thin and struggling with exhaustion and postpartum depression that messing with cloth diapers just felt overwhelming to me. Just being honest here…!

4. I Was Tired of the Stink


And to be perfectly honest, I was tired of the stink. Despite what people will tell you, one of the unpleasant side effects of cloth diapers is that they do stink. You can put them in the most expensive stink-proof bags on the market, but when you dump them into the washing machine to wash them, it’s going to stink… and it can be a pretty overpowering smell.

Now here’s the thing: I still think cloth diapers are a great decision for many families! It’s a great way to save money and I’m so glad we had that option when Kathrynne was a baby.

However, I thought that an honest article like this on the cons of cloth diapering and why we didn’t exclusively cloth diaper all of our kids might be helpful to some of you who are in the middle of deciding whether to take the plunge or not.

Why We Chose Not to Cloth Diaper With Our 2nd and 3rd Child

As always, do what works best for you and your family. And don’t feel guilty if it’s completely different than another family!

Do you use cloth diapers? Why or why not? I’d love to hear!


Why We LOVE YouNeedABudget

YNAB Platforms

Around Christmastime, Jesse was chatting with his sister’s husband, Justin, about budgets. They are both what I’d lovingly refer to as “nerds”.

You know the kind of people… those people who think spreadsheets are fun. And who geek out over features in Excel. Yup, those kinds of people.

You might as well poke my eyeballs out with a hot iron rod than get to me be giddy over creating spreadsheets. But nevertheless, I love Spreadsheet Nerds because they help keep people like me in line and on track! 🙂

Anyway, Justin started telling Jesse about YouNeedaBudget (YNAB). We’d both heard of it before had been good with using Quicken for so long that we’d not considered changing to anything else.

Well, when Jesse saw the features of YNAB, he was intrigued enough to sign up for the free trial. And it was pretty much love at first sight.

Truthfully, I can’t even begin to tell you how often I’ve heard him exclaiming to me, to friends, or just to himself something about, “How cool and helpful YNAB is!”

I’m such a pen and paper and cash girl, but after all his raving reviews, I finally gave in and downloaded it on my phone and had him show me how it works. It’s really, really impressive. I’m pretty sure I’ll forever be connected to my green cash, but I love how we can see exactly how we’re doing in every budget in just one glance.

And since we have multiple budgets for our businesses and personal, it allows us to track them all in one app. Which is so handy!

I asked Jesse to share what he loves about YNAB most. Here’s what he said:

  • I love having mobile access to my budgets.
  • I love being able to access all of my budgets on demand.
  • YouNeedABudget makes budgeting easy by assigning each expense to a category and automatically takes it out of the budget when you record the transaction.
  • If you record the transaction from your phone using the mobile app, YNAB will update the balance and display the new category balance once the transaction is entered.
  • All budgets stay synced on all devices through Dropbox so you always look at the most recent numbers.
  • You can easily import transactions at one time from your bank by importing a downloaded statement on your computer.


I asked the folks at YNAB to share what sets their Budgeting Software apart from others out there and here’s what they shared:

1) You only budget money you have right now.

2) It is flexible. Rule Three: Roll with the Punches – removes any shame in overspending in a particular category any given month. It will happen. All the time. That doesn’t make you a failure. Just adjust, address it and move on.

3) There is a manual component. We are asking you to be hands on, to be aware of every dollar, to be involved with your budget. This requires a little bit of time (although once you get used to it, it’s super quick and easy), but this is also why it works. Without awareness nothing will change.

4) We want you to live on last month’s income. Yes, this takes some time to achieve for most people, but once you can do this you will be shocked at how little stress you have about money. Once you live on last month’s income, you’ll never go back!

5) A lot of people think of budgeting as restriction, but what YNAB will give you is control over your finances, and that control translates to freedom.

6) A lot of people come to YNAB because they are drowning in credit card debt or paying overdraft fees every month – and YNAB changes their lives.

7) YNAB has a killer support team and offers free, online daily budgeting classes.

YNAB Desktop Budget YNAB Desktop Goals YNAB Desktop Reports YNAB Desktop Reports Alternate View

{The four screen grabs above are fictitious examples provided by YNAB.}

Sign Up for a Free Trial

Want to try out YouNeedABudget? Sign up for a free trial here. {Psst! YNAB is free for college students. Details are here.}

Have you used YNAB or another budgeting software before? I’d love to hear about your experiences — both positive or negative.

This post was underwritten by YNAB. We were so happy to share honestly about a product that we’ve found to be a wonderful tool in our home and for our finances. Read my disclosure policy here