Tuesday, January 29, 2008

diaper mayhem

Expenses that I always think of as key when trying to save money are those that are repeating. Those little repeating purchases that never end, like gasoline, dishwasher detergent, and even toilet paper, can really add up over time and not allow you to keep the money you want to save, invest, or spend on more worthwhile pursuits. They may at times seems trivial, but these small repeating expenses can pull you down like an anchor when you are trying to move ahead financially.

Becoming a parent, the first new repeatable expense that really kicks you in the a$$ (pardon the pun) is diapers.

Now keep in mind, I have been a parent for less than two weeks, so I am speaking from my very limited personal experience. Here is how I see the situation so far:

The Contenders:
Huggies - by Kimberly Clark (KMB)
Pampers - by Procter & Gamble (PG)
Teddy's - Loblaws Private Label (L)
Kirkland Signature - Costco Private Label (COST)
Parent's Choice - Wal-Mart Private Label (WMT)

Our Preference:
It did not take us long when we were filtering through the diapers we were given by friends before our son was born, to realize that Pampers are the best. I am not sure if they are just a better product, or if this is unique to a baby's shape, but we have found that Pampers not only fit better but work better. The Pampers advantage over Huggies is so pronounced that I am afraid I do not want Huggies no matter what the price.

I've heard negative reviews of each of the above brands of diapers with the exception of Pampers.

The Problems:
I fail to understand why Pampers size 1 diapers (which are made for babies 8lb - 14lb) are not available in bulk sizes. As far as I can tell the largest quantity these are available in is about 90. Considering we probably go through about 8 - 10 diapers per day, I would welcome a 256 pack.

I have heard from several sources that Kirkland Signature from Costco are actually Huggies private label which makes a lot of sense since Costco only sells Huggies, aside from these. My fair Costco, you have disappointed me for the first time...I forgive you..

The Numbers:
Kirkland Signature at Costco bulk pack - $0.15 / each --------- $1.50 per day
Pampers at Zehrs (Loblaws) on sale = $0.17 / each
Pampers at Zehrs (Loblaws) = $0.19 / each
Pampers at Wal-Mart - $0.27 / each ----------------------- $2.70 per day
Teddies at Zehrs (Loblaws) = Not Available
Parents Choice at Wal-Mart = Not Available

As you can see, diaper costs can really add up. I imagine that if I just blindly purchased my favourite diapers from any store, at any quantity, I could easily end up spending about $5.00 / day, or $1,825 annually on diapers.

The Conclusion:
I'll admit it - I am a slave to the Pampers brand, I want to know where I can buy these little puppies the cheapest per diaper. So far the winner is Zehrs, which is surprising. Any suggestions?

I welcome much participation in the comments section here by fellow diaper geeks...I know you're out there...


Philip the Magnificent said...

Having put 3 kids through diapers it really is more based on the child. My one son could only use Pampers, but my other son could use the Walmart brand no problem.

Quest_4_A_Million said...

I've been a father now for approximately six months. I would have to agree that Pampers are far superior to any other diaper brand currently on the market. My wife and I also noticed that the frequency of diaper rashes dramatically reduce when we switched to Pampers from another leading brand.

Traciatim said...

I'll have to chime in on the Pamper train too. We've tried a few store brands, as well as huggies, and have found that by a large margin for both our kids (6 and 3 now) that pampers were far superior. So much so that I don't even look at sales or coupons for other brands.

Jake (Dividend Investing Blog) said...

I have been through two kids and I am done with diapers now. We used Pampers exclusively as well. As you are discovering, when it comes to your child only the best will do. You have to give it J&J;, they know how to make a diaper.

FinancialJungle said...

MG - I'm feeling a little lost when you don't speak PE ratio or dividend yield. Are you suggesting to buy PG shares?

MG said...

thanks for the comments.

Wow Pampers are really popular, one has to wonder why you almost see more Huggies out there.

FJ, I put the stock symbols in there for you...

TKO from Ontario said...

Congrats on the little one MG!

We too have just been blessed with a baby girl, ten days ago. Our bundle of joy burps 'lady like' and farts like a trucker, kinda wish it was the other way around.

For us it must have been 'Sexy Back' by Justin Timberlake that led to where we are now.

Gotta agree on Pampers. Although our little has out grown size N yet is too small for size 1. Hence were using Huggies in between as it fits looser. I'm also getting better at functioning on 3 hours of sleep per night.

God bless your child and all others, cheers.

TKO from Ontario

KB said...

At month 3 we went 20% disposable (pampers) and 80% CLOTH - so get with it. If diapers pins are the first thing that come to mind you are out of touch with the times. Cost (and eco) savings abound if you plan on having more than one child - http://www.bumgenius.com/one-size.php

pragmatic said...

My son has exclusively worn Pampers (after trying Huggies and Teddy's choice unsuccessfully) for the last 2+ years.

I usually buy them in bulk (cartons) from the Real Canadian Superstore (Loblaws). And I'll try to get one of those 2 dollar off coupons when I buy them.

Yes, Pamper are more expensive, but given the choice between leakage and cost...cost wins every time!

Kat said...

Pampers at night, cloth during the day. This what I've been doing for the last 4 months. Environmentally friendly balanced which a desire to sleep more. Huggies were tried but never fitted properly either.

Four Pillars said...

A diaper post complete with stock symbols. Lol - I love it!

We found that experimentation is the best thing. I think how well the diaper fits is one of the bigger factors to consider. You might like brand X now but in two months you might find that a brand you don't like now moves to the top of the list. Recommendations from friends etc are limited for the simple reason that different babies have different shapes.

Currently we use Teddy's (L brand) during the day and more expensive ones at night (either Huggies or Pamper's I can't remember).


Larus said...

We've been using cloth diapers exclusively for ~3 months until my wife managed to cut a tendon on one of her fingers (kitchen accident). Until this heals she is unable to pack cloth so we are using disposables now. Unlike all previous commenters she says Huggies are better than Pampers (in terms of elasticity). Maybe european models are different from american ones? Nevertheless we are now using diapers called Babylove, which seems to be a private label of the drugstore we are shopping in (Drogerie Markt, German company). These (surprisingly) appear to be the best and are cheaper, too.

telly said...

Congrats on your new addition!

Mrs Pillars said...

Adding my two cents to Mike's, I noticed that our little guy seemed to fit better into Pampers at the lower end of the diaper size and Huggies when he was getting closer to the upper limit.

MG said...

Interesting comment Mrs.Pillars. Perhaps I should not give up on Huggies. We do still have quite a few at home and I'll give them a try when our little guy gets to around 12-14lbs.

By the way, your potato dragon looks delicious!

danghippie said...

I've got my first on the way. We're planning to give cloth diapers a go. Perhaps I'll figure out what my saving are (if any), and, in a fit of irony, I'll put them into PG. Congrats... and nice work.

Nurse B, 911 said...

To my knowledge the only "easy" way to buy cost-efficient bulk diapers possibly cheaper than at the stores would be www.diapers.com (I think they still have free shipping)

I quickly fired off an email to two reps I know from KMB & PG. Only heard back from one, but unless you want to buy diapers in quantities similar to these stores (he mentioned something like $15K worth) then it's not looking too good.

I've never changed a cloth diaper, but if you wanted to be super cheap & frugal, are those a viable option? (No flying diapers at my head please)

MG said...

Brad, Thanks for checking with those reps but I plan on getting our little guy out of diapers before he is 16 :)

Many people do use the cloth diapers and like them. We are just not going to go there, although a comparison of costs complete with environmental costs would be interesting...

KB said...

Babies in cloth diapers get toilet trained much sooner than those in disposables. Who needs a better argument than that?

Moneymonk said...

It's funny how you listed the diapers and the stock symbols LOL

Look at the diaper thing as a temporary phase, before you know it, the little buckeroo will be in kindergarden

Sethu said...

Congratulations on your new addition !!..
I came across your blog during my lunch break to learn more about Investing.Thank you very much for all the information you have here..

Now my 2 cents on diapers..
I have a 10 month old and Pampers worked for her from day one.. I am on a tight budget and the way I get to the diaper prices is
1. By shopping only during local sales - I buy jumbo packs - smaller packs from companies
2. I combine local sales + coupons from Company. If i am short of coupons , i go to online site and order them in the week begining.

I shop more than 1 pack ...say 3-4 small packs with coupons during sales.. One month supply will always be there .

I have set my mind on paying only a certain price for any premium brand .So far i am lucky ...