The Green Stuff

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Money Matters
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how finances affect their parenting choices. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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The Green Stuff.

Yes, I’m talking about money (and a little bit about saving trees).

Yikes. I don’t talk very much about money on the blog, but anybody who is familiar with military enlisted pay knows that it’s just enough to get by on, and nothing more than that. We’re hovering . . . right around the national poverty line.

I don’t fret too much over money, though, even though there is not a lot to go around every pay-day – mainly because I know that as long as my husband is in the Coast Guard, we are blessed with medical coverage and an affordable dental plan that he earns through his service. I know that there are those who are out of work all over this country that have much more to fret over and worry about than I do. So instead of fretting, I just make sure to stretch every dollar to its maximum potential.

Becoming a natural parenting family has influenced our budget in positive ways. Cloth diapering is the most money-saving practice in our house, followed closely by using reusable towels in the kitchen and bathrooms and using cloth napkins except for parties and gatherings. Another huge money-saver is my inspiration to cook whole foods and shy away from convenience meals and take-out. I started to do this to avoid contaminates and preservatives and excess sugar. But I find myself really really loving the extra savings on my grocery bill. Natural parenting has also led me to embrace and enjoy making things – sewing and knitting items that I would never be able to splurge on otherwise (and being able to practice cloth diapering and fill my house with reusable linens for a fraction of the price).

Diapering
We no longer spend money on diapers, since we are fully cloth diapering our son, and our little girl is recently potty learned. I bought my last large box of sensitive disposable wipes a few months ago – knowing that after Abbey was done using baby wipes for pull-up changes, we would be fully converting to cloth wipes for Joe. Cloth diapering alone saves us at least $50 per month, if not more. Sewing my own cloth diapers has saved us 75% more than that since I can make them much more affordably.

Re-usable Household Linens
Using reusable linens is not only friendly to our environment (saving trees and cutting down on waste) but it’s friendly to my pocketbook as well. When my friends and I get together for our weekly couponing pow-wow, I have no need for paper goods besides toilet paper – unless I can get paper towels or napkins for FREE. . . in which case, I’ll stash them for the next birthday or holiday party. (Yes, I am becoming one of those krazy coupon ladies. . . more about that in another post) Besides. . . using cloth napkins makes it more fun for my little girl to set the table – choosing which color napkins to use, and folding them corner to corner to place them by our plates.

Cooking Smart and Using Whole Foods
Using whole foods (and using them to their maximum potential) is a natural parenting practice that I have recently become more aware of and somewhat committed to. Basically, this means that when I shop and cook, I don’t waste anything if I can help it, and I use the best quality, freshest, least processed foods that I can afford. Jennifer over at Hybrid Rasta Mama is an excellent resource and one of my foodie mentors. Her article on whole baby foods and baby-led weaning has been particularly interesting to me lately as Joe is beginning to reach for table food! But, really, planning meals and cooking with whole foods with a waste-not-want-not mentality has been a huge life-saver for our family’s budget and our health. I’m slowly trying to move from the level of avoiding processed foods to buying organic and even growing our own produce. . . but no matter how “green” you get with your cooking, cooking smart is a money saver for sure, and it keeps your family healthy and happy!

Creating For the Family
And to my very favorite money-saving perk of being a natural parent: I have been inspired to create – via my sewing machine, and my knitting needles, and my craft closet. Three years ago, I barely knew how to sew a straight line or load a bobbin. I thought knitting was silly. But now, I make diapers and relish the feeling of wool yarn between my fingers. I know that the wool soaker (diaper cover) or hat or piece of clothing or toy will be held and used with joy and that it was made with love.

I make diapers, diaper covers, hats, scarves, mittens, household linens, clothes, dog-beds, playthings, and more (for a fraction of the price that I would pay for something comparable in the store). It is so wonderful to produce things for my family as versus buying them. There’s something special about saying “I made this for you” – and when I sew and knit and craft, I find myself feeling somehow connected to all of the mothers and caregivers through past generations who provided for their families’ needs with their hands.

If I hadn’t become a natural parent, I never would have made these:

. . . or these. . .

or this. . .

. . . and I definitely would be a LOT more stressed about helping my husband provide for our lovely family on a military salary. Parenting authentically and naturally definitely made a positive impact on our household financially, in addition to the other positive changes we’ve experienced during our parenting journey so far. Because of my learning to cloth diaper, shop and cook smart, and create things for my family, we are able to save enough aside per month even on a super-small, single salary budget to do things that we know are smart money-wise. . . like invest for retirement and pay off credit cards. And we wouldn’t be doing these money-saving, natural living things if it weren’t for my fall into the arms of the natural parenting community!

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How do you feel about your finances?

Have you ever thought about how your lifestyle or parenting preferences influence your relationship with money?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon October 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • Money Matter$ — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her experiences on several ways to save money as a parent.
  • A different kind of life… — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares her utopian life and how it differs from her current one!
  • Show Me The Money! — Arpita of Up, Down & Natural shares her experience of planning for parenting costs while also balancing the financial aspect of infertility treatments.
  • Material v Spiritual Wealth – Living a Very Frugal Life with Kids — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares her family’s realizations about the differences between material and spiritual wealth.
  • If I Had a Money Tree — Sheila at A Gift Universe lists the things she would buy for her children if money were no object.
  • Financial Sacrifices, Budgets, and the Single Income Family — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of living within your means, the basics of crafting a budget, and the “real cost” of working outside of the home.
  • Overcoming My Fear of All Things Financial — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares how she is currently overcoming her fear of money and trying to rectify her ignorance of all things financial.
  • Confessions of a Cheapskate — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that her cheapskate tendencies that were present pre-motherhood only compounded post-baby.
  • Money MattersWitch Mom hates money; here’s why.
  • Money? What Money?! — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts describes how decisions she’s made have resulted in little income, yet a green lifestyle for her and her family.
  • What matters. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life might worry about spending too much money on the grocery budget, but she will not sacrifice quality to save a dollar.
  • Making Ends Meet — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares about being a working mom and natural parent.
  • Poor People, Wealthy Ways — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses how existing on very little money allows her to set an example of how to live conscientiously and with love.
  • The Green Stuff — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares how natural parenting has bettered her budget – and her perspective on creating and mothering.
  • Jemma’s Money — Take a sneak peek at That Mama Gretchen’s monthly budget and how Jemma fits into it.
  • 5 Tips for How to Save Time and Money by Eating Healthier — Family meal prep can be expensive and time-consuming without a plan! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips for how to make your cooking life (and budget) easier.
  • Belonging in the Countryside — Lack of money led Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales towards natural parenting, but it also hinders her from realizing her dream.
  • Total Disclosure and Total Reform — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl gets down to the nitty gritty of her money problems with hopes that you all can help her get her budget under control.
  • Save Money by Using What You Have — Gaby at Tmuffin is only good with money because she’s lazy, has trouble throwing things away, and is indecisive. Here are some money-saving tips that helped her manage to quit her job and save enough money to become a WAHM.
  • Two Hippos & Ten Euros: A Lesson in BudgetingMudpieMama shares all about how her boys managed a tight budget at a recent zoo outing.
  • ABBA said it — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen ponders where her family has come from, where they are now and her hopes for her children’s financial future.
  • Money vs. TimeMomma Jorje writes about cutting back on junk, bills, and then ultimately on income as well ~ to gain something of greater value: Time.
  • An Unexpected Cost of Parenting — Moorea at MamaLady shares how medical crises changed how she feels about planning for parenthood.
  • 5 Ways This Stay at Home Mom Saves Money — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares 5 self-imposed guidelines that help her spend as little money as possible.
  • Frugal Parenting — Lisa at My World Edenwild shares 8 ways she saves money and enriches her family’s lives at the same time.
  • Conscious Cash Conscious — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares her 5 money-conscious considerations that balance her family’s joy with their eco-friendly ideals.
  • Money, Sex and Having it All — Patti at Jazzy Mama explains how she’s willing to give up one thing to get another. (And just for fun, she pretends to give advice on how to build capital in the bedroom.)
  • Money could buy me … a clone? — With no local family to help out, Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wants childcare so she can take care of her health.
  • Spending IntentionallyCatholicMommy loves to budget! Join her to learn what to buy, what not to buy, and, most importantly, where to buy.
  • New lessons from an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a follow-up guest post from Sam about the latest lessons their four-year-old’s learned from having his own spending money.
  • How to Homeschool without Spending a Fortune — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares tips and links to many resources for saving money while homeschooling from preschool through high school.
  • It’s Not a Baby Crisis. It’s Not Even a Professional Crisis. — Why paid maternity leave, you may ask? Rachael at The Variegated Life has some answers.
  • “Making” Money — Do you like to do-it-yourself? Amy at Anktangle uses her crafty skills to save her family money and live a little greener.
  • Money On My Mind — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has been thinking about money and her relationship with it, specifically how it impacts on her parenting, her parenting choices, and ultimately her lifestyle.
  • Spending, Saving, and Finding a Balance — Melissa at The New Mommy Files discusses the various choices she and her family have made that affect their finances, and finds it all to be worth it in the end.
  • Accounting for Taste — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares their budget and talks about how they decided food is the most important item to budget for.
  • Money Matters… But Not Too Much — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting shares how her family approaches money without putting too much of a focus onto it.
  • Parenting While Owning a Home Business — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the pros and cons of balancing parenting with working from home.
  • Crunchy Living is SO Expensive…Or Is It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about her biggest objection to natural living – and her surprise at what she learned.
  • Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems — Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how a financial accountability partner changed her family’s finances.
  • The Importance of Food Planning — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how food budgeting and planning has helped her, even if she doesn’t always do it.
  • Kids & Money: Starting an Allowance for Preschoolers — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses her family’s approach and experiences with starting an allowance for preschoolers.

Comments

  1. I’m glad I stumbled into NP, because I really enjoy so many of the “natural” practices that also save us money – i.e., cloth wipes in the bathroom? SO much more fabulous than TP. Cloth wipes in the kitchen? Why did I ever think paper towels were a necessity?! And of course cloth diapers – not only are they money savers, but they’re so darned cute :)

  2. Great post! I love your blog!

    Sometimes I forget how doing things like this is really saving us money. Truth be told, a lot of our natural parenting decisions had a lot to do with saving money (or at least that was my argument I used to get my husband to agree), but now that we just do them, I forget that we’re saving in the end.

    I’d love to hear how you get napkins and paper towels for free. We use mostly Skoy Cloths and fabric napkins, but it would be great to get them for free when I do buy them (can’t get myself to clean up some of the bigger/grosser messes with reusable stuff).

    I also need to work on using our food better. I feel so sad when I end up throwing out leftovers and stuff like that. You should do a post about it. :-D

  3. So true… all that technology, whether it’s in the form of disposable diapers, enhanced and modified food, or gimmicky toys that the kids don’t even play with cost so much extra money.

    I love your diaper covers. They are so cute, and you have so many more pattern options when you make your own.

  4. Not only do many of these things save us money, they actually work better than their counterparts – I always manage to spill things and napkins soak up so much more than kitchen roll.
    You’ve made some beautiful things. That’s an area I’d like to work on, actually learning to make stuff! I especially love the owl print nappy/diaper.

  5. Thanks ladies! LactatingGirl, I used to throw out leftovers all the time – but now, I might only throw out one or two things ever time I clean out the fridge! I’ll definitely work up a blog post about what I do to use all of the food that we buy and limit waste. Good suggestion!

    Tmuffin and Phoebe, I agree about the quality of natural living things like cloth housewares and baby items surpassing their disposable counterparts. I wouldn’t go back for the world! Except I can’t get on the cloth wipes in the restroom bandwagon yet. . . Dionna, you’ll have to fill me in on how you manage to use family cloth – the ick factor keeps me from even thinking about that conversion!

    Thanks for your comments! (Phoebe, the owl dipe is by far my favorite, too!) <3

  6. I LOVE your homemade pants and diapers – they are all adorable! I’ve made a few things for Jemma, but need to get organized and whip out a few more re-purposed items soon!

    Now that I’m a SAHM I’m also focusing on cooking with more foods and I’m loving the savings. Convenience costs a pretty penney and now that I have more time, we’re saving $ and eating better. Win-win!

  7. It is fun the way needing to do things a certain way because of money opens you to interests you wouldn’t otherwise find. My mom’s mom sewed & knitted clothes for her family because she had to — but she ended up passing on a love for hand-making things (and the clothes themselves!) to my mom and her siblings, and now on to me.

    Your creations are awesome!

    And I have to say, I love your blog’s new supa futuristic template. :)

  8. Gretchen, it really is all about organization, isn’t it? I really need to prioritize my time more. . . I haven’t really made much for a few weeks. I guess because I finished so many diapers in one fell swoop, and didn’t really *need* to make any more. It’s on to babylegs and booties to get ready for the winter. . . and then maybe I’ll whip up some more adorable fluff. I do love adorable fluff! Thanks!

    Lauren, I am really glad that our budgetary needs led me to learn to make things for my family. Making things has been passed down in my family, too. Not really directly. . . but I started sewing on my grandmother’s old Singer sewing machine!

    Oh, and the new template is thanks to Blogger’s new “Dynamic Views” . . . they’re trying really hard to get me to stay with blogger (not specifically me, per-say. . . but I have been contemplating a move to WordPress and a blog design re-do. . . and then they came out with Dynamic Views.)

    I think it makes the blog more appealing and more accessible. . . but I am waiting for Blogger to let us use custom CSS in to use widgets and custom headers, etc. in the new templates.

    Again, thanks for the comment love, ladies! Now that the littles are sleeping, it’s off to read all your posts! :)

  9. It’s amazing how much natural parenting makes life better in so many ways :-) I do many of the things you mentioned with the exception of making things. I have zero ability in that department, so we don’t have any cute homemade items here, but I do love buying them from other people ;-)

  10. Charise, thanks for the comment! Natural Parenting really has bettered our lives in so many ways! It’s crazy!

    I’ll be (finally) setting up shop to sell some of the things I make here in the near future. . . I’m such a perfectionist, so figuring out all the ins and outs of being a WAHM and having a shop has been and endless back and forth process – choosing a name for my shop, deciding what I’ll sell and what I won’t. . . deciding how to budget my time, etc. But I promise, the real (and very exciting for me!) announcement is coming soon!

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