Raising kids is not cheap, and we are certainly not rolling in money around here, so I frequently hear the question, “How do you afford all those kids?” Being raised in a family of 7 was great preparation for learning how to save money, and I learned many of my best tips and tricks for stretching money from my mom and grandma.
Tips for stretching the family budget
- Buy in bulk – many people come to Better in Bulk expecting a money-saving shopping blog. Despite the fact that I don’t talk about budgets very often, I do, indeed, buy most of my food in bulk. When something that I know we will use goes on sale, I buy a ton of it and stock my “reserves” closet in the basement for later use. Not only does that save me money, but it also saves me time. When I haven’t planned meals ahead, I can always “shop my shelves” in the basement and find something to cook.
- Cook at home – as much as I love to eat out, a dinner at a restaurant for our family can be very pricey. We save dinner at a restaurant for special occasions (or for date night!)
- Hand-me-downs – we recycle clothes like crazy! My fifth child (a boy) is currently wearing jeans shorts that I bought for my first. It’s amazing how long good clothes can last.
- Thrift stores – we do a lot of our shopping at thrift stores, from clothes to books to furniture. Thrift store shopping takes patience and time but the reward is worth it.
- Simplify expenses – we don’t have cable, house cleaners, lawn service, or other similar expenses that, admittedly, would make my life much more simple. However, we have decided to do without a lot of “extras” in order to free funds up for more important things.
- Take turns – we love to give our kids opportunities, whether it’s a class they want to take or a camp that they want to go to or a sport they want to play. But with 5 kids, we realized early on that we couldn’t have everyone involved in multiple activities at once. Not only is it an extra expense, but it’s kind of insane on the schedule. When we give each person a chance to chose their one or two activities per year and NOT per season, everyone is happier.
- Learn to work – my kids are very self-sufficient, a fact of which I am very proud. They have learned how to cook and clean and take care of their responsibilities at a young age. One of the biggest benefits NOW of my kids’ self-sufficiency is that Mom and Dad’s time is more freed up for other things (like work). The biggest benefit of self-sufficient kids won’t be realized for many years, and I promise that my kids will thank me when they’re the only ones in their college apartments that know how to cook and manage their own time. My kids also know that they need to work for the things that they want. Whether they work for me, or get a “job” working for someone else, it teaches them valuable skills and means that I don’t have to pay for all of their wants.
- Trade babysitting – back in the day when I needed a babysitter (thank goodness for teenage daughters!) most of our date nights were achieved by trading child care with another young family like ours. Not only did we save a lot on babysitter expenses, but we had a lot of fun memories with our friends at our post-date hang outs.
Honestly, these are only a few of the things that we do to stretch our money and make big-family living possible. Other tips include planning and saving, using coupons, etc….really, the tips that I use are the same tips that any frugal-minded family would utilize. Managing the finances in a big family is no different than any other family. We just have to learn to split the money a few more times.
What are your best family budgeting tips?
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