Tag Archives: saving money

10 Minutes to save $15 per month

I just spent 10 minutes on the phone with Verizon’s “Elite team” and lowered our Internet bill *and* increased the speed (not that we need more speed).

We have FIOS Internet, and have since we moved into our house.  In fact, one of the “requirements” for our house when we were looking was that FIOS was already in the neighborhood, or being put in (not just in the planned stages).  We started at a small 5/1 speed for $59.99 – you couldn’t do any better without bundling, and we didn’t need TV or phone, so that’s what we got.  Over the years, We made it up to $64.99 for 15M/5M – I honestly haven’t noticed the difference in speed – at most, we’re streaming *one* show/movie/music at one time, so 5 really was just fine for us (I’m also reminded of when DSL speeds were 384k/56k and we liked it – get off my lawn!)

I got the notification of my new Verizon bill, and I was being charged $72.99 – whoa! With no notice, my rate goes up, so I checked online to see what the new prices/rates/bundles were.  I could get a 3/1 for $69.99, but for $3/mth, we were going to just stay with the 15/5.  Nothing much available for us through their web page.  So, I looked over at Cox – our local cable company: they had 25/5 for 48.99/mth for 3 months, then 59.99/mth after that.  I don’t really like the cable company, but we use them for our office, and it’s been stable and we haven’t had to deal with their customer service, but hmmm..

I called Verizon and got transferred to their “Elite team”, and spoke with a nice gentleman who asked me how I’m liking the FIOS and what I’m using it for.  He did try to up sell me to a TV package, but I told him we just don’t watch TV (and anyway, our house isn’t wired for TV – I’d have to run the wiring myself – yech!).  I told him what Cox was offering, and he said “let me see what I can do for you”.  He looked through his computer and was able to offer me 20/5 for $57.99/mth for at least one year, but after that, it’d go up to whatever the current rate was at the time.  I accepted and set a reminder in my calendar to call again next January!

The whole call took me about 10 minutes, and some of that was BSing with the guy who lives in Pittsburgh about Pittsburgh (I gave him my Pittsburgh area code cell phone for a callback number).

Twice this year, I’ve been able to save money by talking to a human on the phone for about 10-15 minutes.  Have you called the services you use to ask for a better rate?

Saving Money with Baby – Home Birth

One of the major costs of a baby is the pregnancy and giving birth.  A home birth is an option that some people should consider in order to save money.  Daughter Person was born at home with the assistance from midwives.  They charged $3500 to my insurance company, and I paid $20 – for *everything* from the midwives.  There are some “hidden” costs that you learn about as you go along, but they did not exceed $1200 (and some of it was reimbursed by my insurance).

A home birth is not for everyone.  It’s only available to “normal” pregnancies – anything high-risk means you have to begin working with an obstetrician (twins, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, breech baby, etc).  There is no pain medication available – and I know that’s important to many people.  There is always the risk of an emergency, and you’re not already in the hospital.

There are also definite benefits: you’re at home, someplace you are comfortable and “relaxed” – or as relaxed as possible while in labor.  There is no “going home”, because you’re already home.  I was out and about visiting the afternoon after Daughter Person was born (not the best idea in hindsight, but *shrug*).

Why did I choose a home birth?

It wasn’t for any financial reason – we had excellent insurance, and I would have paid about $500 total for a hospital birth – although, I’ve heard that an epidural is considered “elective” and insurance doesn’t cover it, but I can’t confirm that.  I did a home birth for the simple reason that I *hate* hospitals.  I am extremely needlephobic, and just the thought of getting blood drawn “just because” was enough to keep me from getting pregnant to start with.  Until I found my midwives (Birthcare & Womens Health).  They offer an introductory session every month, and I attended and asked questions.  I could get by with 2 needles total – assuming everything went well, and we decided to take the risk.  The fear of needles was stronger than the fear of labor pain – and for any woman who’s given birth, that gives you an idea of how much I hate needles – I still would rather go through labor again than have blood drawn.

Safety of Home Birth

There are many differing statistics on the safety of home birth – and much of it depends on the skills of the midwives.  As any couple who’s been pregnant can tell you, there are *many* things that can possibly go wrong during a pregnancy and birth, and you can’t necessarily be prepared for all of them – whether at home or in a hospital.  So many women choose a hospital on the off chance of something going wrong – they’re already in the hospital.  Home birth midwives focus on reducing the risks that something will go wrong – that’s why any high-risk pregnancy cannot attempt a home birth.  There are also backup plans in place in case something does go wrong.  My midwives work closely with an obstetrician who will take emergency cases.  If anything had started going wrong, I would have been transferred to the closest hospital via ER.  If I had decided that *I* wanted to be in the hospital for any reason (like pain medication), we would transfer to the obstetrician’s primary hospital.  Luckily, I made it through pregnancy and delivery without any major issues (although there were some close calls).  But home birth midwives are aware of the risks, tell their patients ahead of time and let their patients decide.

Hidden Costs

There are some “hidden” costs to home birth that are not easily available.  The first is that my midwives required that we attend a natural birthing class: $175.  The second is that we have to provide a majority of the disposable supplies: $85.  The final cost is that the midwives work with a birthing assistant (also a nurses’ assistant), and we have to pay for their services.  Our birthing assistant charged $800.  80% of this was reimbursed by my insurance company, but it’s also a cost that we paid up front.  So our total costs including the midwives (assuming no insurance) would have been $4,700.  That’s a lot less than the quoted $30,000-$50,000 average for a hospital birth.

The Experience

One question I get often when people hear that I gave birth at home is “how was it?”.  I won’t go into details, but it was both long, hard and empowering.  I didn’t really notice the midwife checking vital signs periodically, and I was relatively comfortable at home.  I could eat what I want, when I wanted, I could get in the shower if I wanted, I could pretty much do anything I wanted within reason.  After Daughter Person was born I felt very empowered and strong.  I had really done that.  The midwife stayed around until 4 hours after Daughter Person was born to make sure everyone was OK, and then we were left at home as a new family of three.   Not to say that women can’t feel this way with a hospital birth, but that’s my experience.

Daughter Person did have to go into the NICU when she was 3 days old, but not for any reason related to the home birth – she developed severe jaundice and needed a blood transfusion.

I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have about my home birth.  Feel free to comment or e-mail me directly: mom at 3isplenty dot com.

Saving Money with Baby – Cloth Diapers

Daughter Person in a cloth diaper at about 6 months old

Daughter Person in a cloth diaper at about 6 months old

Now that we’re almost out of diapers (at least during the day), I wanted to post what I think we saved by going with cloth diapers over disposables. Daughter Person has been in cloth diapers ever since we brought her home from the NICU.

She had a horrible reaction to the diapers they put on her in the hospital, and her whole diaper area looked “burned” the entire time she was there. We had already bought the cloth diapers prior to her birth, but that week in the NICU really hardened our resolve to stay with cloth.


I bought 24 newborn BumGenius diapers for her first few months.  I bought them new for $12.95 each ($310.80), and resold them for $10 each on eBay when we were done with them (-$240.00).  We have 32 of the one-size pockets (BumGenius), which I bought for ~$16.50 each ($528.00) – I bought them in multi-packs 🙂  I’ve also bought new inserts for 25 of them for $15 shipped free on the slow boat from china ($15).  I’ve also bought 25 “refresh” kits to replace the velcro on the larger diapers, they’re $1 each ($25).  I’ve not started reselling the diapers yet, but I plan to, and they’re going for about $7-$10 each on eBay depending on condition – I’m going to guess we’re at the $7/diaper side.  So far, I’ve spent $638.80 on regular cloth diapers.  We went straight to undies for potty training, and we use cloth swim diapers as well ($14.95 each, and I’ve bought 3 – $44.85).  We have three wet bags for her diaper pail ($16.50 each), and two travel wet bags ($11.95 each).  For all Daughter Person’s cloth needs, we’ve spent $757.05.

What would we have spent on disposables for the same time period?

Assuming that we used store brand diapers (which may or may not have worked for us, I have no idea), I’m going to use Target’s prices for their brand.
We changed Daughter Person 12 times per day for the first three months, and she would have been in size 1-2 diapers: that’s 1,080 changes at .14 per diaper: $151.20

We changed her about 8 times a day until she was 1, and she would have been in the size 2-3 diapers: that’s 2,160 changes at .14 per diaper: $302.40

From a year until 2.5 years, she was changed about 6 times per day, and she would have been in the size 3-4 diapers:  that’s 3,240 changes at .16 per diaper: $518.40

Finally, for the last month, we’ve been in undies and diapers at night and nap.  We change undies about 5 times per day, and she’d be in pull-ups:  that’s 150 changes at .34 per pull-up: $51.

Not to mention the swim diapers we’d have had to buy through all this, we’d have spent $1,024 on just regular diapers.

That’s a difference of $266.95 and we haven’t even sold our cloth diapers yet (an estimated $224.  And this is just for one kid!  We’re not having another, so those are pretty much our final costs for the cloth diapers.  If you had more than one kid, you’d save even more.


Using cloth diapers is a bit different than disposables (but not that much!).  We have to wash them every 2-3 days.  It involves a cold rinse, hot wash, then low dry, and that’s it.  It’s just two-three extra loads of laundry per week, which wasn’t that much considering we were already doing all the laundry for her (and my) clothes.  There was some cost to the laundering, but I don’t think it was that significant, and we could have line dried to keep it lower.

We found a daycare center that was willing to work with us using the cloth.  We stuffed the inserts into the diapers when we did laundry, and from then on, it was just like a disposable diaper – except you don’t throw away the old one.  They’d put them in a bag and we’d take them home to wash, and bring in the same number the next morning.

Poop is one reason many give for not using cloth.  There are multiple options here.  1) babies who are exclusively breastfed (not Daughter Person) have water soluble poop – nothing special needs to be done, just toss in the wash. 2) liners – you can buy liners which catch solids and you throw them away – we didn’t use those either. 3) a diaper sprayer (or toilet): you rinse off the solids into the toilet, then wash the diaper.  We used a sprayer to rinse off the big pieces of solids as soon as we removed the diaper, then put the wet diaper into the pail.  Daycare left the solids in the diapers for us to rinse when we got home.  It’s really not that bad.  Especially since you end up covered in poop anyway, no matter what diaper you use!

Cloth diapers are not for everyone, they take some planning ahead and easy access to washing facilities.  Dad preferred the cloth diapers to the disposable ones she was in in the NICU (so did I).  I think they’re just easier to use – and they certainly look more colorful!