Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Much Does a Large Family Cost?

I'm sure you've heard that it costs about $7000 a year to raise one child. The $7000 includes food, housing, transportation, school, insurance, clothing, child care, and miscellaneous. Just imagine how much it must cost to raise a large family!!!! Or does it?

Here's how we manage on one income. We have five home schooled children ages 2-11. I am a stay at home wife/mom. My husband works outside the home. We rent our home. It is a smallish three bedroom house with a decent sized yard. We didn't rent a home out of our price range. We have a girls room and a boys room. We have paired down clutter to make our home seem larger.

We garden. We also can lots of produce. I was able to go most of the winter without buying any frozen veggies, pizza sauce, ketchup, salsa, and tomato sauce. We also do once a month grocery shopping and cook in bulk. I cook almost everything from scratch. Yes, this takes time. My kids and I spend several hours in the garden everyday. The kids also help when it's time to can what we grew. They also pitch in when I have a freezer cooking day.

We don't buy clothes new. I shop at yard sales, thrift stores, and Once Upon a Child. I am able to find wonderful quality name brand clothes for as low as $.25 per item. I also accept all hand me down clothes offered to us and pass on what we don't need. My girls are close in age so I also save clothes for them as they grow.

We're in the process of reducing our utility bills. Our electric bill keeps climbing even when we're using less electricity so we're on a mission to reduce it! I'm also trying to reduce our trash.

I'm using a budget for the amount of gas I put in our car. It gets so easy to run around all the time but those trips start adding up! We're in a busy season right now with 4-H and other activities but as they wind down we'll be reducing our gas budget as well.

My kids don't participate in a lot of costly activities. I encourage each of them to pick an activity they love and then we try to find a way to make it affordable. My daughters did dance and gymnastics last year. My son played football. We didn't participate in a different sport each season. We pick what we love and that's it. We also make our children wait until they're 6 before we'll consider any activities.

How do you cut costs in your family?

For more frugal ideas check out Life as Mom


Nikki said...

We buy all of the kids clothes at yard sales. Use coupons for food. Play the drugstore game. Eating out is only something mom and dad do once a month for a date. Otherwise the costs would be too high. Thanks for sharing!

Miranda said...

We also look for free activities... my boys are currently taking a 3 day cooking class (food and everything provided) sponsored by our County Extension office to promote healthy eating. We also limit activities and keep track of gas usage. I try to put back a little money each summer month and we buy ALL our school supplies for the year when they are super cheap in August. Beats paying 3x the cost later in the year. With 4 kids it saves a lot.

Anonymous said...

I actually get quite angry about this "cost per child" business. We're expecting our 3rd and family and friends made it very clear we were expected to stop at 2 - after all, "children cost SO much money!".

We have lived on 1 income throughout our marriage, even when that was virtually no income. Between creatively buying and preparing inexpensive foods, to living in a home that is not fancy but definitely adequate, to having 1 older car while every other family has 2 or even 3 cars under 2 years old, to only buying/making as much clothing as we all need (rather than want) and to finding joy in the little things in life, we have always found a way to make ends meet.

We are also by no means "struggling". While we have had lean times, mostly we have earned more than we spend and simply prefer to spend less and save more. Because we don't spend money on things others do (new cars, fancier home or renovations to our current home, shopping at discount outlets, etc), a surprising amount of people seem to assume we are poor. Then when we do something nice that costs a bit, like go on an overseas holiday or buy our animal-crazy daughter a new dog, or buy a new musical instrument to add to our collection because we're a musical family, they react in shock (and usually assume we're charging it to a credit card!). Its actually insulting.

Children, like many other aspects in life, cost as much as you allow. There are many ways to approach finances, and with a little thought, self discipline and planning, we get by very comfortably on a fraction of what the rest of our peers do.

And I dare say we have more fun!