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?