Calling all large families! I want to know, HOW DO YOU DO IT?
I don't mean managing, I think we do pretty well...though I often feel like a small family by comparison to some of you lol And I don't necessarily mean, how do you afford it, because I believe when God has called us to care for so many, He provides in various ways. What I want to know is, how do you stretch your dollar, or cut corners?
While I believe God provides and asks us to be faithful, I also believe He stretches our dollar greater when we are good stewards with what He has given us.
Each time we begin an adoption, I try to find ways to cut costs. While my initial thinking is about how to save money to put towards the adoption, truthfully, the more ways we can find to decrease our living expenses the more money we will have available for our new addition(s) and perhaps God will continue to call us and bless us with more further down the road.
As I've experienced through each adoption, every dollar makes a difference! So lowering an expense by $5 or $10 will add up! Especially when you eventually find several areas to do that, even if it is not right away.
I am asking you to please, please, please share your savvy savings secrets in the comments section of this post. Perhaps if I get enough responses I can compile the list into one post to share with others.
Here are some things we do to save a buck!
- No paper towels (drives my mother crazy lol) Instead of spending money on paper towels, we use rags made from old t-shirts or wash clothes.
- Use vinegar and water to clean (I've admittedly have slacked on this and started a love affair with Greased Lightning but back to vinegar and water we go)
- "Basic" television plan. Out here in the boonies (lol) cable is not an option, only satellite tv. We had turned off DirecTV a while back and just had Netflix (dvds no streaming) for a while. Eventually we got Dish Network (in between adoptions at the time) but when I tried to cancel our service, I learned of an $18 option and jumped on that. We no longer have a subscription with Netflix or Blockbuster.
-Family Share Plan for a "house" cell phone for long distance calls instead of using the landline. We pay $10/month for the extra cell phone. The kids use it to call out (seems that EVERYWHERE is considered long distance from here) and Dan & I have our own. The kids also take the cell with them if they are staying after school or something. We still have a landline because I've never been without one and am chicken but that is going to be canceled today. We will save $54/mo. doing that + another $10/month for the long distance service I was paying for but will add one more cell phone (for $10/mo) to our plan for a cell phone that will always stay in the house --I never want the kids home without a phone.
EDITED: Just got off the phone with Verizon. I have chosen to get the Home Phone Connect. They explained it to me as similiar to a router. We can plug up to 2 home phone devices into it. Because we have the cordless phones that run off of one base, we would only plug the base into it and can still use the 3 other phones that run off of it throughout the house. This device does use cell towers. It is also mobile, we can take it with us wherever...I guess we might if we went on vacation...I don't know. And we can keep our home phone number.
I had 2 options, one was to add it to our family share plan for $9.99 but we'd be sharing the minutes. Or pay a seperate $19.99 and have unlimited minutes, no roaming charges. I chose the $19.99 plan because I could see us possibly needing to increase our shared minutes plan and the $19.99 plan would be better. They waived the equipment fee but will charge us a one time $35 activatiion fee.
Hopefully this will be worth the switch and should save us $45/month!
PS mentiion me if you do the same, I will get a $25 credit on my bill ;)
- Adjust the thermostat. We don't know quite yet what the savings will be but it's time to stretch our comfort zone. Admittedly, we've been pretty spoiled with keeping our home at about 74 in the winter and 76 in summer. I know "gasp"! We have now dropped it to 68 and 65 at night. Those temps may be adjusted further depending on our bill next month.
- "snack money" for my teens. We call it "snack money" but it has just really turned into allowance, which was not my initial intention but does not seem to be an issue...as a matter of fact it has worked out well. My teens were costing me a fortune with their snacking. So I decided to let them know that I will feed them meals but they had to budget their own snack food each month with the $25 I give them. (that's not to say that they don't eat other food in our house between meals but real snack food or pigging out between meals is for them to figure out). $25 is actually a decent amount of money for snack food if they budget right and shop at Aldi, Bargain City or Walmart. With 4 teens, that costs me $100 a month but trust me, before it was costing me a lot more as anything that went into the pantry was gone in a second and I had to play food monitor (who ate how much, who got none, blah blah blah blah). So they have their own bins in the pantry where they keep their stash. Amazingly, no one has quite the obsession with snacks anymore and often prefer to spend their money on other things or save up for expensive things.
-Major grocery shopping at Aldis. If I shop weekly, I can probably feed our household of 8 for $125-$150 a week. I have tried and tried to get with the couponing program but it just isn't happening. I have no time or focus for that, I really wish I did. No, I don't have an hour a week I can commit to...not at this point in my life, anyway.
- Drink water. Water is the best thing for us to be drinking. Soda is garbage. Juice and milk can get expensive if 8 people are chugging it. So for the most part, we drink water (or I've been drinking hot tea like crazy lately). We always have milk in the house and the kids can drink it (I am lactose intolerant and don't recall the last time I've seen Dan drink a glass of milk) but they are not allowed to pig out on it. Juice, we don't keep in the house regularly but we do buy it here and there. It's not a rare thing, but it's not a staple either. Soda, Dan buys Mountain Dew for himself, the kids can use their own money to buy it if they want it (and some of them do).
I have not yet begun making our own laundry detergent but thanks to Leslie, I will be very soon...maybe today! :) I can't wait!!
I know to some this seems, odd, crazy or poor. To me, I find joy in being able to stretch our dollar. I am thankful that I we are (mostly but not totally) good stewards with what God has provided. I believe it plays a good part in why God continues to bless us with children and finances to get them home.
So please share your secrets! I know smaller families have savings tips too, and I'd love to hear them, I'm just thinking that those enormous families have just GOT to have many great secrets to share.