Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saving money

As parents to 7 kids, soon(NOT SOON ENOUGH!!!) to be 10 children, we get asked all the time how do you do it?  How do you afford that many children?  Well, it's not the kids that cost you the money.  Really, it's not.  It's the lifestyle you live.  But, we made that lifestyle choice.  We chose to have this many children.  I don't really believe a whole lot of people originally go into a marriage & plan on having a family w/ 10 kids in it.  Not many folks anyway.  And not us either.  Our "plans" were indeed to have a family but I think both of us were more around the 2 or 3 kid mark.  I mean,shoot, we got married, both of us had jobs.  He worked where he still works...# 1 company in America for family, and I used to work at Merrill Lynch.  No, I won't give out stock advice.  LOL.  We could go out to eat if we wanted to.  We could go into a store  and buy something if we desired.  We bought a hot tub years ago when first married.  Could we do that now w/ our kids?  No way!  Yet, we wouldn't want to either.  Well, not going to lie.  Sometimes it would be nice not to have to worry about the budget or money. 

We still get to do all sorts of things.  Yes, we're on a tight budget.  However, that doesn't mean we sit at home and do nothing.  I think that is a common misconception of people.  We take our kids places.  There are many things to do out there that don't cost money.  Join local groups to find out in your area where they are.  I think you'd be surprised.  Most states have free local museums and free state parks to explore.  There are also community farms that you can help out at.  Our kids are not deprived by any stretch of the imagination. But, they do know how we save money. 

Some of the kids looking at what we just brought home from yardsales.  The girls and I go to yardsales when we can.  This last one we went to, we caught a learning store that had gone out of business & then sold all their stuff at the yardsale.  So, $30/$40 toys still new in the box for $2.  not bad.  yardsales are a huge part of how we save money for sure.  

Another yardsale find that the kids absolutely love.  It has gotten much use .

Alyona enjoying her yardsale find she picked out... a baby carrier.  

So, yardsales and consignment shops are really big ways we save money.  We also do craigslist but really not that often.  I also occasionally do shoppping online at Zulilly.  If you've never heard of it, it's great.  Just check out Zulily.  

I can get some great deals on this site.  Though, you must shop around.  Some deals are much better than others.  I try to buy some toys that last.  They have played w/ this cookie set and cake set I got every single day.  Both my kids and the "littles."  

You have to budget & save money in every aspect of your life when you have 10 kids.  That includes landscaping of your yard.  We found someone selling plants on the side of the road.  $2 a plant.  Awesome deal.  I knew they were root bound but that is fine.  Doesn't take long for that to go away.  I just check to make sure the stem at the bottom is green and all is good.  Even if a plant looks dead on top, if the bottom is green, it can come back to life.  We buy all our plants super duper discounted.

This is one of our hostas just starting out this season.  They typically will get around 3 to 4 feet across.  It's kind of in  a triangle shape.  I round it up and take whatever was cut off and put it in another part of the yard.  I do this w/ the hydrangeas as well.  I reuse the plants we have b/c they are constantly growing.  Do it every year.  I know it's slow but it's free!  

Saving money includes staying put.  We'd LOVE to move but financially, a better choice to stay and not lose money on the house in this economy.  Instead of moving when we brought new kids home, we just rearranged the house to make it work.  House was originally totally unfinished upstairs.  Now it is.  Our dream would be to add on a garage addition w/ a transition apartment above it as some of our kids will not be able to live independently.  Again, that's a dream.  

Another thing we have to watch closely to save money is food costs.  We don't go out to eat too often.  When we do, it's either a special occasion or we received a gift certificate.  And none of my kids seem to mind this either.  In fact, if we have something unexpected happen and we have to eat out for a few days in a row, the kids will always ask when we are going to be eating at home again.  They are just more relaxed at home I think.  

We also experimented last year w/ a garden.  The above is from this year's garden.  Pepper plants.  It's trial and error for sure.  And despite what some think, we don't have ramen noodles everyday either.  We pick sweet potatoes for free here after the farmers have harvested their crops.  Sweet potatoes can last around 8 months if kept in the box.  It's great.  We also buy produce from the reduced racks.  Since it is eaten the same day, there is no waste and no spoilage.  My kids & the ones I watch go through 2 bags of oranges a day, around 12 apples a day, and grapes(they're expensive so limited on when I can get those).  We save by going strawberry picking and freezing what we get.  Bread we buy at Big Lots for $1.20 a loaf versus $2.79 a loaf for the SAME EXACT thing.  Just as fresh.  Natures Own.  We do use coupons but not much as we stick to mainly fresh fruits, veggies and meats.  Not many coupons for those things.  

Meat we also save on.  Catch things on sale and you're good to go.  We buy turkeys when they are .69 a lb. and keep them throughout the year.  A huge turkey for $7 is not a bad deal.  I try to keep total dinners for $1 or less per person.  Most meals end up being between $5 to $9 for the entire family.  Breakfasts here are super cheap.  Yes, it does still cost a fortune to feed us but thankfully, we budget well.  

having a big family doesn't mean you have to miss out on things.  You just have to learn to budget better is all.  It's also not about what you want, it's about what you need.  Big difference.  My kids have a social life and go plenty of places.  This weekend is the big airshow and we are hoping to go.  It's all free.  We go on vacations every year.  When we went to Mrytle Beach, we got $250 rooms for $35.  Camping helps too.  You just  have to take the little bit of time to look.  Enjoy finding bargins.  We save the money for the important things like med costs here or medical expenses.  So, when people tell me they can't afford that many kids, yet are driving that Mercedes SUV or the like, I tell them think again.  We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination.  But we are very rich in many other ways.  Adoptions are expensive.  Not going to lie about that.  But raising kids doesn't have to be.  You can still experience life and new experiences with your kids.  It may not be Disney World, but whatever it is, I'm sure it will bring a smile to our kids' faces and that's what counts.  My dream is to one day take all the kids on a Disney Cruise.  HUGE dream as I know it costs an arm & a leg to do that.  However, I also know that once a year, travelzoo has a deep Disney Cruise discount around September or October.  Ends up being $200 per person!  Still would be too much for us w/ all the adoptions (takes us a few years to recover) but it would be an awesome dream come true for sure.  An experience of a lifetime.  Mean time, in the next few months my kids will experience an airshow, strawberry picking, a zoo trip, trip to the mountains for Deaf Camp, a reunion for Orenburg, a beach trip or two (we only live an hour & 20 minutes from the beach), a possible trip to Ohio, visits w/ their grandparents, camping, and I'm sure quite a few other things I left out.  So, not Disney but definitely some fun times for sure.  So, that's what I have to say about saving money.  Not much but hopefully it explains how we can have 10 kids and do okay.  Didn't even get into the used car bit but I just think that's common sense nowadays. 


  1. You are a wonderfuly wise woman! Your kids have experiences way beyond what kids in "normal" families might have simply because you seek out so much that is fun for them where others may just turn them loose with the TV and video games. I love all the ideas you share!! :) Blessings, Jennifer

  2. I loved this post! Great ideas. Fun to read. Great for people to know that having a large family is totally do-able!!

    Sabrina (mom to 9)