Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How do you afford all those children? - Part 2

When I am asked how we afford all of the children we have, I always point out how important it is to build up a great relationship with your children rather than buying them everything. I know that sounds like an answer you give when you are struggling to provide for your family. But before you think that my poor children are deprived of anything that would enrich their lives, that's not true. We do selectively let them participate in activities that we feel will be good for them.

Just as I covered the value of relationship within the family last time, I will try to cover a few of the actual logistics of how we can afford a big family on one income. You can read part 1 here. By all means, you do not have to do everything that we do. We try to make living a frugal life fun for our family, not a burden we must carry. We never want to feel as if we are missing out on anything. That is no example to anyone just how wonderful a large family can be.

Lately I have written a few posts on some of the frugal things we do as a family. The first thing I do is to plan a food budget, menu plan, and cook from scratch as often as possible. I have a $300 a month grocery budget but I have coming under that lately. Here are some of the posts that I have written about how we make that $300 work for us. You can also read my grocery budget series here.

1.We have a vegetable garden that we get many seasonal vegetables out of. We do a summer and fall garden. This is a great family project that the children love to help plan and do. You can read my post about our garden here.

2.From the excess in our garden we preserve what we can. We preserve by freezing and canning. It's much easier than you think. Of course I have lots of willing helping hands that make the work lighter. Sometimes I have too many helping hands, if you know what I mean. You can read my post about preserving food here.

3.We have our own chickens that give us eggs and meat. We do not get enough meat to last us the year though although we plan to do more next year. They are so much better tasting than store bought chicken, and way cheaper than what you'd pay for free range, hormone free at the store. This is another great family project. Even the little one loves to go and get eggs for Mommy. You can read my post about our girls here. This was a post that generated alot of response. Have fun reading it.

4. We make our own laundry detergent. Now I was getting my Tide He at CVS for nothing, but my youngest daughter has very sensitive skin and reacts to many different detergents. I found out that people actually made their own detergent so I had to try it. I was pleased that it worked so well and was easy to do. I have tried both the liquid and the powder version. You can read my post for my tutorial on the powdered kind here. I have also had quite a people ask me to post my recipe for my liquid version as well, so I did that.

The next thing we have done is started paying down bills. When I was working it wasn't really necessary to pay down anything. Now that I am home we have made it a goal to have all our extra debt paid off by the end of the year. We are well on our way to doing that. It is much easier to live with less debt. Once we pay off the debt, we will start saving for a house with more land.

Scott has been taking small side jobs painting since I have quit. It was to pay for all the extras and to pay down debt. Now he has actually become quite busy with it. God has blessed him so much, he now has a waiting list. Maybe one day this will become his full time profession, although he does have a great job right now.

There are some good resources out there for paying down debt. Dave Ramsey is the first one that comes to mind. Debt is a ball and chain for many people. With the economy the way it is, it is even more important to get out of debt.

I want to mention here that we live within our means. People are always buying more and more things, or bigger houses, or new cars. Yes, we could go and buy that big country house now, or we could get my husband the truck he's like to have, but would it make us happier? No, because we would have the extra debt that comes with it. Extra debt adds stress. Even if we could manage higher payments now, doesn't mean that we always will be able to. We might have to wait a few years, but those things will come. We are content with what we have right now. Contentment is a good lesson for anyone to learn.

Now, next on the list is clothing. Many people don't see how I can afford clothing for all of my children. Well, to be honest I really don't have to spend much here. We are given clothes from people on it seems a regular basis. Sometimes it is too much, so I pass the blessing on to other people who need it. I think we are first on people's minds when it comes to giving away clothes since we have a large family. People figure that someone in the house will fit in the clothes.

Usually I just have to fill in the gaps seasonally with what we're missing. For my older girls it helps to have young aunts that pass on nice clothes. For my younger girls I sew lots of their clothes and they are given quite a bit. I do sew some of the older girls skirts too. Even my younger son gets clothes passed on to him, thanks Carlie! It's usually my 10 yo son that I have to buy for the most. It seems as if most 10 yo boys are pretty hard on their clothes so nothing is really worth passing on after they're done with them.

Next thing that comes to mind is staying home. We stay home more than the average family. That means I save on gas, I save on food, I save because we're not involved in everything under the sun. Our home is the center of everything. Yes, we go out, but like I said we are home much more than anyone else I know. We manage to stay pretty busy here. Being home most of the time is something foreign to many people. It is a simpler life than most are used to, but it is a full life.

Last thing i'd like to talk about is activities. Our children do participate in a few select activities. They are involved in 4-H, which they all love. We participate in our local homeschool group by going on field trips, playdates, and PE. They are on their puppet team at church. They also participate in Awana. The two oldest girls will also be starting piano lessons in the fall. They are trading out babysitting two hours a week for free lessons. It works out wonderfully. All of these activities are low in cost and either teach the children or give them a chance to serve. The best thing is that it's not overwhelming.
At times it takes a different way of thinking and doing things to make it work in a large family. I can't always explain it well. We are a team. We need everyone on our team. Without one member we just wouldn't function as well. Even the youngest has her part. She is learning to work along side of us in our family. She is only two now, but in a few years even she will participate much more in our daily family life.

One last thought. I have spoken once before on the provision of God in our lives. Sometimes there is no other explanation except that God provides for us and meets all of our needs. While we work hard to make our family run well, we know that He gave us these children to raise so He will meet all of our needs according to His riches and glory.
Graphics courtesy of


Frances said...

This is a wonderful post - thank you so much for sharing! You are a great role model for those of us who long to stay at home with many children.

ohhollyf said...

That is a beautiful testimony to the Lord, thank you, Teresa

Nisrine said...

The one question I have for you is this: How can you afford the medical bills?
We receive medical bills a lot as we had taken Elora to the hospital many times for fever etc... and I m just not sure what to do about all the medical bills. Do you have a very oood insurance or do you pay monthly payments?
You have been such a big inspiration to me. I have saved so much in groceries, I started even bakin my own bread and pizza :)
I am looking forward to start my own garden soon and my husband thought that it might be a good idea to get a chicken to raise in the backyard when I told him you did that :)
Thank you so much

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

When my 3 oldest were young, we were always in the doctor's office or the ER. They had chronic ear infections, bronchitis, and one was even diagnosed as an asthmatic. I was in nursing school at the time they were little.

Now that they are older I have learned to treat them more naturally. Not that they are never sick, but when they are I reach for natural treatments first and then go to the doctor. No more ear infections and no more asthma.

This is where my nursing degree really comes in handy. I know when it truly is an illness that needs attention.

Now, the bottom 3 have rarely been seriously sick like the older ones. I attribute it to the way I do things now, and the fact that they aren't in daycare like my olders were.

We have pretty good insurance, but we've had better. Scott's company is always changing insurance companies and plans. When an emergency has arisen though, we have been known in the past to make a few payments, if need be, or just pay it off.

The one thing that has helped the most with this is to put aside an emergency fund. We started with the amount that Dave Ramsey suggested, $1,000. It has helped in other areas too, like car and home repairs. When we use it, we just start putting right back in. It has saved us many times, even just recently, from suffering serious financial setbacks.

Sorry my reply is so long, but I had to make it make sense. Oh, and if you have questions about the chicken, if you end up getting one, just ask. You can always email me, just look on the side of my blog. It's somewhere over there.

Carlie Faulk said...

Speaking of clothing, I bought my boy two pairs of jammies. They were on sale for a buck. You didn't expect me to pass them up did you?!

Nisrine said...

Hello Teresa,
Thank you for the reply.
I tried to email you but it just went to my mailbox.
Can you email me @


Anonymous said...

Not sure if this where I should post this but aren't you the one doing Albertsons in the South Region? What days do you post it? I get my flyers on Tuesday and wanted to wait until I see if I missed any deals you mention :-)

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

Yes, I do post the Albie's deals here. I usually have them up by Wednesday afternoon. I am just finishing up the last of it now. Thanks!

Kate said...

Teresa, you have once again managed to blow me away with your encouraging, well-written words that really cover all the bases. I applaud you and Scott for all of the work you have done, and are still doing on a continual basis. I love your outlook and how you make it clear that living a frugal life with many children is filled with joy, happiness, and faith.

Honey said...

Came over from Life as Mom. My husband and I got married in 2000. In three months we were pregnant with our first (left my social work job). When he was 10 months old, we were expecting twin girls. When the twin girls were 7 months old, we were expecting twin boys. So I had 5 children in 2.5 yrs- although we didn't mean to:). It was overwhelming at times, except that God's grace was at work in my life. Strangers do not know (and don't mind telling me) why anyone would have so many children. Some in my family wonder (and don't mind asking me) why I don't send my children to school so I can have time to myself, or why we don't buy a bigger house, car, etc. Thsse questions only make sense if you leave out the sovereignty of God, being satisfied in God, and His kind provision toward His children. The world believes children are a burden, scripture teaches children are a blessing. The world believes a man controls his destiny, scripture teaches that God is sovereign over all things. The world says you need more stuff to be happy, scripture says joy is found in God. I actually appreciate the limits of our budget as it has been a safegaurd to our children (and us) not to be as overindulgent, self-centered, and entitled as we would be. We're all tempted in this way, because we are all sinners. But being in a large family has served to confront our selfishness in many ways. One of my scriptures for this year says, "Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because he himself has said I will never leave you..." (Heb 13:5) God is faithful and we are doing so much better than we deserve!!! We can't prove it with our checkbook, but we are so RICH in Christ! I enjoyed these two posts-so insightful, true, and encouraging.