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My Two Cents: Saving money and time on diapers

When we found out the boys were coming, we advised family and friends to buy stock in Pampers.

Our hot stock tip did not disappoint and we made people a lot of money and kept diaper production plants running full throttle.

I've changed a lot of diapers over my lifetime. My husband has probably changed more. At one point, we had four kids in diapers. Thankfully two of them were only at night and we had a dependable garbage man, who was tipped well. I've come up with a few tricks and tips to help you save money (and time!) on diapers. While the theme is baby this week, there is information that can be applied even if you don't have kids!

The first thing we did as new parents when we brought our first set of twins home from the hospital was turn our dining room into a mobile baby command center, which featured a changing table assembly line. I picked up a tool caddy on clearance at Target and filled one side with diapers and on the other had wipes, medicine (until the girls started crawling - then it went on top of the fridge in a vault), two booger sucker things and about a ton of burp rags.

A week later I bought another one to keep upstairs. The beauty of having all the baby crap in one spot is that we were ready to go. No matter what the issue, we were set. It took one incident of being puked on by one baby and pooped on by another to get things figured out. I'm a quick learner.

There is a huge debate about cloth diapers. Is it really less expensive when you consider the extra water, electricity, detergent and wear and tear on your washing machine and dryer? I have to be honest, we never used cloth diapers, but I did research them.

Cloth diapers have come a long way in the last five years. While the initial investment upfront is a lot more, they claim over the time your child is in diapers, you will spend less money using cloth. Never having just one baby at a time made the appeal of disposable diapers pretty hard to pass up. Maybe if they would have come one at a time I would have tried harder to use cloth diapers. In addition to the extra work required, I can't shake the image burned into my retinas of my brother, Jason, running around in his cloth diaper with little plastic pants over it that he used as a holster for his bottle. We've planted trees to replace the ones destroyed to keep our kid's bottoms dry, so I think it's a wash as far as the environmental impact we've caused.

Having gone through so many diapers, I've had to learn how to save money. I would shop sales and buy a lot when I had coupons to coincide with the sale. Something like diapers doesn't have an expiration date, so it's an easy item to stock up on. Stores have a sale cycle. That means that sales basically repeat themselves every twelve weeks or so.

If you save ads from your favorite stores, you can see this. If there is something that you buy a lot, buy it when it's at its lowest price rather than when you need it and you will avoid paying full price.

When stocking up, I try to estimate how long the babies will be in each size of diapers. If I guess wrong or they have a growth spurt, I'll exchange them (the diapers, not the babies!) for the next size up.

I always save receipts, even if I think it is one I will never use again. I keep receipts in our filing cabinet and have hanging files for each month.

It takes a second to put them away and can come in really handy if you need to exchange or return something.

Some stores are able to look up your receipt by swiping the credit or debit card that you used for the purchase. If you pay with cash or a check, you are out of luck, and may get store credit back instead of cash without the receipt.

If I can't find any good deals locally, I'll take my diaper hunt online.

The beauty of buying diapers online is that I don't have to go anywhere, stand in line, lug the big boxes out to the car, and then haul them into the house. The UPS or FedEx guy will take care of it all and I can do my shopping in my jammies! It's a win-win!

Normally, I'm all about shopping local. The store owners are from the area for the most part and play a vital part in our community. However, there are times when I either can't find what I want locally or the price difference is huge. I'll be writing a whole column on ways to save money when shopping online at a later date.

Our boys will be 3-years-old on March 1, and we've started potty training. In order for them to start pre-school in the fall, they need to be fully trained, and I am on it!

I can finally see the light at the end of the diaper tunnel, and our checkbook is smiling as big as I am.