How Can You Afford So Many Kids?

so many kids

Out here in SoCal, we’re pretty unusual having four kids. I can’t tell you how many people seem shocked that we can afford it on one income–I’m constantly being asked, “How can you afford so many kids?”  Obviously God has provided enough for our needs as a family of six, but I think part of our ability to “make it” has to do with shifting our attitudes about needs vs. wants.

Right now, we can only afford to rent a small three-bedroom house. Our three big kids share a room, and the baby shares the guest room.  It’s how all of our large family friends out here do it, so we just live with it. My kids actually enjoy sharing a room—they certainly don’t think they’re each entitled to their own.

Most of our kids’ clothes are hand-me-downs from friends or purchased used, and I almost never buy for the younger ones. So far, my little ones enjoy wearing stuff that their big siblings wore. I keep bins of each gender and size, neatly labeled and stacked in my garage for the next kiddo. Now, take this with a grain of salt, because fashion is not my thing, and I don’t care if my kids are wearing babyGap stuff from a decade ago!

Since I’m home and enjoy cooking, almost all of our meals are completely from scratch, which is definitely cheaper than eating out. We do not eat organic food or follow any trendy (and expensive) diets.  I tend to make meals that spread the protein through the dish, so I can feed a family of six on 2-3 chicken breasts or a pound and a half of ground beef. We have not found that warehouse clubs (like Costco or Sams) save us money. I do the price checking every time we move to a new place, and out here, our local natural grocery has the best prices on the things we eat the most.

Obviously there are many more frugal tips out there, but I think that modest expectations for housing, clothing, and food have given us the freedom to have a “large” family without denying our children any essentials.  And of course, my decision to stay home and care for our children myself means that our family size is not limited by daycare costs.

Do any of you get asked how you can afford so many kids or how you can survive on one income?

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2 Responses to How Can You Afford So Many Kids?

  1. Brigitte says:

    You have a beautiful family and good priorities. I found the hard part economically comes with deciding on lessons and sports, and then later with braces and tuition for catholic school and especially for college. Day to day stuff is not that bad if you economize in the ways you mentioned. Bigger car with less gas mileage also. And we got to a point where we could not stay in one hotel room if we traveled. In fact, we had to stay in a motel even when visiting family because I have a big extended family and there was not room for
    us. Just giving a little perspective. Keep up the good work!

    • Emily says:

      Thanks for commenting, Brigitte! My post was intended, as you say, to address the day-to-day stuff that I get asked about by people in the grocery store or on the playground. You’re right that additional kids are not free–larger vehicles (though many of our friends with 1 or 2 kids drive minivans and SUVs), more food, more airfare if (like us) you live across the country from your family, additional costs as kids get older. However, some of the expenses you mention–private school tuition, paying for your children’s college education, paying for kids’ activities–are still wants or choices rather than needs. My family was not able to afford any of those things when my brothers and I were teens, so we had the choice to do a free school sport or pay for lessons on our own, we took AP classes at the public school, and we all paid our way through college with scholarships and work (one of my brothers joined the military). It can be a blessing to have to learn financial responsibility as a teenager by having to pay for things that many teens are just given. I certainly appreciated the lessons I learned from it, and I’m sure my husband and I will have many agonizing discussions in the future as we figure out what to pay for and what to ask our kids to pay for!

      We can still all fit in one hotel room now, but I’m sure we’ll spill into two hotel rooms, too, as our kids get bigger and we have another 1 or 2 kids in the mix!

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