I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Brianna in person outside of anything bloggy. She recently began her blog Nine on a Nickel and wanted to share a post here. Enjoy! There are some awesome tips below!
People often ask how we afford such a large family. I like to joke that instead of “keeping up with the Jones'” we just drag them down to our level! Although I say it with a lot of sarcasm, I suppose there is some truth to it. While our kids like designer brands and I have a penchant for a great fitting pair of jeans, we don’t necessarily try to “keep up.” At the same time, I think people assume we are doing okay financially. We always have nice clothes, drive decent vehicles (well, my hubby’s work car is getting a little worn out!), we have a cute house and take vacations and do fun family stuff.
We do it all on a very moderate single income.
Want to know how we do it? I’m going to rattle off some general tips that keep our family afloat. Each tip will be a general overview of the topic, but you can always get more info by following my blog! The tips I apply to help our big family can help your’s big or small!
1. First and foremost, learn contentment.
I’m preaching to the choir here, because I work on this every, single day. It is honestly probably the single best tip for saving money. “Needing” a bigger house, nicer car, a closet full of designer clothes and fancy vacations isn’t cheap. Most people simply can’t afford all this stuff. Many of the people who have all these things are up to their ears in debt or are totally stressed out trying to maintain a certain lifestyle. If you can learn to be content with what your have, you wont feel compelled to spend and guess what? That saves money!!!
2. Live with the bare minimum.
We have nice clothes, my kids have Abercrombie and Hollister, but they don’t have a ton of it. I do laundry all the time so we don’t need a huge amount of clothing. I think every person I know would say that clutter is a constant battle. Really think about purchases and only buy things you love. I used to clearance shop for myself a lot and would end up with 10 shirts I didn’t really like or that didn’t fit that well. Now, I spend about the same or maybe a little more, but have clothes that I love and are flattering.
3. Don’t impulse buy.
This is sort of a continuation of the last point. We all tend to buy things we don’t need or love and then have buyer’s remorse. What a waste of money!
4. Your kids don’t “have” to do everything.
We have a one activity per season rule. It’s better for finances and for keeping the stress level of our house at a minimum. It’s okay to say to your kids, “we can’t afford that.” It’s a life lesson that applies to everyone, even the rich. (Hey, at some point even the rich say they can’t afford another Bentley!) Also, take a hard look at the stress level of the families who “do it all.” You may quickly change your mind!
5. Teach kids to chip in financially and make tough decisions.
This is also a continuation of the last point. We give our kids an allowance and ask that they pay for half of things that are truly extras (not school fees, sports or activity costs, etc). I don’t know about your house, but in this house the bombardment of t-shirt order forms, spirit shop or Santa shop at school, etc. is non-stop. We ask that if the kids want something like this that they pay for half. It’s worked beautifully. It’s very easy to ask mom and dad to pay for something and then whine when they don’t.
When kids have a stake in it, it makes them decide if they really want an item or not.
We also give them money for vacation extras and all their school supplies and back to school clothes. They then have to set a budget and decide needs versus wants. It has cut down so much on them asking, er, whining for stuff and it teaches them a valuable lesson about budgeting that most adults have yet to grasp. (I will blog about back to school shopping this summer!)
6. Learn that family activities don’t have to cost a ton.
Some of our best family times have been the cheapest. A hike and a picnic lunch can equal some serious family bonding time. I also have a blog post in the works on cheap family fun, so be sure to check back!
7. Don’t be a brand snob! This isn’t middle school, people!!!
Consumer Reports and online reviews are best friends when it comes to making bigger purchases. I recently purchased a new vacuum and while my heart said Dyson, my wallet screamed in pain. I checked out Consumer Reports and found that the Eureka Airspeed beat out the Dyson. Best part? I got the Eureka for just under $100. I’m a vacuum junkie (seriously, I won’t admit how many vacuums and carpet steamers we own) and the Airspeed is AMAZING! I shop this way for every major purchase. You will find that often the expensive models don’t get the greatest reviews. (I also like products that have won the Good Housekeeping seal.)
8. Groceries. This is an area I really focus on blogging about.
This can take up such a huge part of the family budget and it’s an area where we actually have a little control. Check out this post for in-depth info.
9. Transportation-our method isn’t for everybody, but I’ll share.
We drive older vehicles and pay cash. Yep, cash. My husband’s work car is nothing to shout about anymore (he’s due for something newer!) But I drive a nice Suburban in great shape.
Every month we make a car “payment” to ourselves. When we are ready to buy, we seriously shop around and wheel and deal. Then we lay down a bunch of hard earned/hard saved cash. I hate paying interest to anyone, so we don’t! It works for us!
There are a million great ways to save money and I haven’t even brushed the surface here.I hope though after reading this you’ve found some ways to save your family money. If a tip works for you-use it. If not-forget it! We all have our own comfort levels (for example, washable toilet paper is NEVER happening here! LOL!)