If you are curious about how cloth might work for you, but you're scared to buy a starter stash, I've just discovered that there are trial programs so that you can spend a minimal amount of money to try it out for 30 days or so and see how it goes. This could also help you pinpoint which types of diapers work best for your baby with minimal commitment. Here's a link to a directory of trial programs.
It seemed like everyone asked me in the beginning if I would be using a diaper service. I still can't for the life of me figure out why I would need one, but I guess for some folks, it's a good choice. It might also be a good way to try out a variety of diapers. I haven't looked into it, but the one thing I know is that they come by to pick up soiled diapers once a week. That seems like an awfully long time to have wet/poopy diapers marinating in one's house, but that's coming from someone who voluntarily washes them every day.
I mentioned before that cloth diapers have resale value. This could work in your favor if you're looking to save even more money over the price of disposables. Check Craigslist, Ebay, or do a search for cloth diaper swap boards. If you have a local diaper store, they may sell used diapers as well. It doesn't hurt to ask.
Once you know what types of diapers you want, most brands have bundles you can buy. If you're opposed to buying used diapers, searching for package deals will save you quite a bit of money on new diapers.
One budgeting idea I've heard is that you should put away $60 per month to go toward diapers. Apparently that's what you might expect to spend on diapers per month if you use disposables. Then you can use that money to buy cloth diapers little by little or save it up for awhile and buy a bundle.
Here's an approximation of what our beginning stash cost:
24 prefolds - $48
7 covers - $79 (this is probably 2 more covers than what we actually needed)
2 Diaper pail liners - $33
Diaper pail - $10
1 Travel Wetbag - $21
Snappi 2 pack - $5
3 Wool Dryer Balls - $21
Total: $217 (give or take a few bucks)
If the $60 per month for disposables thing is true, I have made my money back in less than 4 months -and we didn't really shop around or bundle as much as we could have.
If you use disposables, how much do you spend on diapers/wipes per month? I would like to know if the estimations I've read are accurate.