When I found out I was pregnant, one of the first decisions I made was that Weston would be cloth diapered. At first, this decision was solely based on saving money. I had zero clue of what went into cloth diapering, all I knew was that having a baby was expensive and that I needed to try to cut those expenses as best I could. While I started cloth diapering just to save money, I have learned so much about the benefits of cloth diapers.
Exposure to Unnecessary Chemicals
Weston wears disposables when he goes to bed at night and when we go out of town. We had to try several different brands of disposables before finding a diaper that did not give him a diaper rash! Much to my surprise I found out that disposables have a wide variety of chemicals. A simple google search revealed, that some disposable diapers contain dioxins, sodium polyacrylate and tributyltin. After reading about the variety of chemicals that were put in disposable diapers, I was thankful for not only the decision I had made to cloth diaper, but also for the companies that have made a commitment to eliminating harmful chemicals in diapers.
I’m an Oregon girl, therefore I’m inherently a tree hugger. I never truly realized how many diapers newborns go through. The environmental impact of choosing cloth is CRAZY. It is estimated that in the first year alone, parents change 2,500-3,000 diapers! My garbage would literally be overflowing each week if we used disposables. The environmental impact of cloth makes washing diapers every other day a little easier!
Initially when I first started researching cloth diapers, I read that children that are cloth diapered potty train more easily than those that are in disposables. The theory behind that is children that are cloth diapered can feel when they are wet, while those in disposables cannot. Weston is 19 months, we have *sort of* tested the waters in potty training but not really. I am hoping this theory is correct! I am ready to be done with diapers (at least until we have another).
I knew cloth diapering was not going to be the easy way, but after a year and a half of doing it, I am proud. The decision to cloth has saved our family over $500 a year, saved my son from being exposed to unnecessary chemicals, has had a positive impact on the environment and hopefully makes potty training a breeze! Oh and one last thing, how cute are they! So many different colors, designs and patterns!
Financial stability is a touchy subject for most. For me, financial wellness is one of my passions. My passion was sparked by The Great Recession. I was a junior in high school. In economics classes, I remember watching several documentaries of individuals who lost everything due to the loose lending laws, that allowed individuals to live way beyond their means. Living through The Great Recession while sad, was a blessing, it taught me the importance of living within my means.
My husband and I have debt, we are by no means perfect, but we work hard to live within our means. I believe this is crucial to being financially well. When we first were married, we did not have anything in our home except a futon, a dog kennel, mattress (that was not on a frame), and little wire baskets that we kept our clothes in (we have them to this day). I was fresh out of college, just started a new job and my husband had just graduated basic training. Instead of racking up credit card debt, we slowly made big purchases. We only had internet for several months. We eventually purchased a TV and at that point we only watched DVDs on the TV, no cable. My point here is, while the house we lived in was not the best decorated, or the fanciest, we survived and did not feel like we were missing out on anything.
In this blog post, I will go over some of the things that have helped us be financially stable.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been the best at budgeting. While, I was good at paying bills right when a paycheck came in, I was not always good at keeping track of where all of our money went after that. About a month ago, I created a budget, it was a simple spreadsheet, it was fine, but it was not great. The spreadsheet consisted of the bills each month, groceries, gas and “Fun Money”. I did not have a way to keep track of every transaction, so I did the categorization by hand, which took FOREVER. Then I came across this AMAZING set of spreadsheets from the SavvyNester. The Complete Budget Planner and Income Tracker came with 6 spreadsheets: Summary, Income, Bill Pay, Budget, spending AND my favorite part, a debt calculator that also pre-filled the maturity date of the loans we have. Looking at our debt side by side to our income was a little overwhelming at first, but also great at the same time. This set of spreadsheets really helped organize everything in one place and cut down on the time I spent budgeting each week.
In my family, I handle all of our bank accounts and finances. My husband has zero desire to do any of this. Every week, I sit down with my spreadsheet, with a cup of coffee, some scratch paper and I start entering all the transactions from the previous week. The first time I did this it was a little overwhelming, because I had to enter in all the bills we pay each month, as well as all of our loan information. However, now that I have done that, it is a breeze to enter in transactions and categorize them each month, not to mention relaxing with my cup of coffee. Entering in all the information let me know how much money we had leftover every month, which then let me know how much we could save every month.
Saving is so important, and so easy this day in age. I have a completely separate bank account set up for our savings account. My theory here is, I do not look at this account everyday, so out of sight out of mind. Every payday, I have an automatic transfer set up to transfer money from our checking account, to our separate bank account. When we were first married, we did not have a lot to put in savings, I think we only started with $15 a paycheck. A little is better than nothing at all. Slowly, as my husband started ranking up and we started paying off loans we were able to increase this.
We love credit cards! Not because of the high interest rates or the huge fees that credit card companies have, but for the rewards! As a military family, we travel by plane more than most. We have a credit card that gives us miles for each dollar we spend. We use credit cards for every day purchases. We hardly ever use our debit cards, which the experts say is safer anyway and better for credit scores. While we love credit cards and use them often we do not have any credit card debt. I am diligent at paying the cards off whenever there is a balance. Credit cards do not have to be scary and the rewards are awesome!
When I created our budget a few months back, I included an allotment for Chris, Weston, and I to have each pay period. For a long time, I would not buy anything for myself. Overtime, I would build resentment for never being able to buy anything. Eventually, I would want to make a big purchase and overspend because I had gone so long without buying anything. Building “Fun Money” into the budget has allowed me to buy things for myself. Are they small things? Yes, but I have the option to save my fun money and make a big purchase as well. I have learned that it is just as important for me to take care of myself as it is for me to take care of my family. The same goes for my husband, he enjoys to freely spend money on whatever he wants. Even if the budget is tight, I will always make sure I have a designated amount for us to spend because I have learned it is so important.
Money matters, not because money is everything, but because you need money to survive. Financial wellness is important because when money is poorly managed it can cause the body so much stress and anxiety. My hope is that with this post my story can help others manage money and live life within their means.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, but all opinions are my own. This should not be taken as professional advice and just intended for me to share my experiences. Please see the disclosure page for full details.
December of 2017, I told my husband I wanted to get a new dining room table. When we were first married, we did not have any furniture. For several months, we had a futon, a bed (no frame, just a box spring and mattress) and two dog kennels. Instead of maxing out credit cards, we slowly built up furniture, most of which was just new to us. One of these purchases was a cheap dining room table from Walmart. The only time we ever sat at this table was when we had company over, it was mainly used as a craft table. For this reason, I wanted a new table, a table that we could enjoy eating dinner at every night. I knew we could not afford a $300+ table that I had envisioned, but I was determined to make it happen in 2018. In late December, my neighbor was deploying and he put the PERFECT table outside for FREE!
When I say it was perfect, it was not perfect looking, but I had the perfect vision for the table. The table had dog chewmarks on the legs and seats. My mom is a DIY specialist, she has redone countless pieces of furniture, so I immediately sought her advice. First, I purchased a sander and masks on Amazon (of course). I bought two different types of sand paper 80 grit and 200 grit. I used the 80 grit over the entire table, including the spots that were chewed. I learned when sanding, it is really important to get all of the finish off, if it is still glossy keep sanding. Sanding was a lot of work, I enlisted the help of my husband. He finished off the sanding with the 200 grit sand paper over the parts we would be staining. This made the table smooth and ready to apply stain.
After we completed the sanding, I wiped the table and chairs with a soap and water mixture.I loved the idea of the gray stain because it looks so modern! I purchased the stain at Home Depot, it looks like you can also get it on Amazon. Again, I had to ask my mom how to stain, I learned that you have to wipe off the excess stain with an old rag. After applying the stain, I waited about 15 minutes before wiping off the excess. It is really important to dispose of stain properly, because it is a fire hazard, here is a link that tells you how to properly dispose of stained rags. I let my table dry outside for a few hours, before bringing it in the garage. I kept it in the garage for a few weeks, with the door cracked to let it fully dry and air out.
Lucky for me, the table was already white, so painting was a breeze. Chalk paint is great because you do not have to sand or apply a primer prior to the application. The chalk paint I purchased was the Americana Decor Chalky Finish, I purchased two jars, it was more than enough. I did two coats on the table and chairs. I finished the table off by putting the Americana Decor Clear Wax over the legs, seats and table top to seal in the paint and stain.
It took several weeks for me to do the entire project. This was a lot longer than I had anticipated, but so worth it! I am so in love with my table. The best part was whole project cost less than $100, way less than all the tables I was looking to buy. We now eat dinner at the table every night, just as I envisioned.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, but all opinions are my own. Complete any and all projects at your own risk, I am not a expert and this should not be taken as professional advice. DelightfullyAbby does not take any responsibility for the reproduction of this project. Please see my disclosure page for more information.