A friend of mine is pregnant with her first child, and as I was going through her registry, I remembered how broke my husband and I felt by the time our own baby arrived. Even with two incomes, a tightly edited registry list, and friends and family's help, we still dropped a lot of money on preparing for our little one. And—shocker—the hemorrhaging of money didn't stop once he arrived. There were hospital bills (so, so many hospital bills), a bunch of stuff we didn't realize we'd need until we brought him home and, of course, lots and lots of diapers.
Hands down they ate up the biggest chunk of our monthly baby budget. And since not using them wasn't an option, I looked for ways to trim costs where I could. We signed up for automatic shipments; we bought in bulk; we returned superfluous gifts and used store credit; we happily accepted unused leftovers from friends.
So when I read about some lawmakers' efforts to make diapers more affordable for parents in their states, I all but stood up and started clapping. As Elissa Strauss details in her column for The Week, there are two new bills on the docket that could put some much-needed cash back in parents' pockets. In Connecticut, Bill 06595 would exempt diaper purchases from the state's 6.35 percent sales tax and save the average family there $300 a year. In Illinois, the current proposal is to lower the sales tax on diapers and wipes from 6.25 percent to 1 percent, which is the same as you'd pay for essentials like food and medicine. Moms and dads in Illinois wouldn't save a bundle—maybe around $45 a year—but hey, every little bit counts, especially for those of us taking unpaid leave, juggling multiple jobs, or caring for other children.
Now, is lowered sales tax as awesome as, say, Finland's baby starter box or Sweden's luxuriously long paid leave? Not by a long shot. But these two bills are a step in the right direction and, hopefully, just the nudge other states need to make this very essential baby item a little more affordable for parents.
Tell us: How do you save on baby supplies, especially diapers and wipes? Share your tips in the comments below.
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
Image of baby in diaper courtesy of Shutterstock