While most of the old-hat budgeting hacks still apply to large families if you get creative with them, there are a few budgeting tricks that don’t apply to large families.
- Shopping. For anything. While it is still a good idea to have a shopping budget, certain smart shopping tactics don’t favor big families. While Subscribe and Save, buying in bulk and grocery ordering can be helpful even for the large family, they can also make managing the monthly budget more complicated. And you need things simple, momma.
How to do it big: As with almost anything big family related, planning is important. Create a separate budget for bulk purchases and only buy family essentials that way – that one teenager does not really need 12 sticks of deodorant at a time. He really doesn’t.
Also, either be incredibly diligent about managing your Amazon subscriptions or just skip them altogether. They tend to sneak up on you, and you only need one week of big family chaos to hit you where it hurts.
Buy next year’s clothing at end-of-season sales.
Another tip to manage these random-feeling purchases is to give each family member a firm budget for non-grocery essentials each month. Remember the teenager’s deodorant? It comes out of their budget. Out of wet wipes for the little ones? Those, too! Many of my fellow mommas credit influencer Jordan Page’s $25/kid rule for helping them manage this aspect of their budgets.
Finally, don’t forget about the Buy Nothing Movement – you can join your local group on Facebook and just ask for what you need before you shop for it. You are not too good for quality hand-me downs. (Most of us big family mommas get over this quick-quick anyway.) Our own large family was gifted a foot spa for all the little toes in our house in need of pedicures and cast iron plants for the front yard. Plus we replaced a kitchen light and found a perfectly good elliptical for our home, since leaving the house even for a walk can sometimes be challenging.
- Childcare and travel. Why did these categories make the list and why are they lumped together? Because smaller families tend to have at least one of these items in their budgets but maybe not both. But in any case, both do become very different when you hit large family status.
How to do it big: When we had five kids with three who would need daycare, it finally made more sense for me to move into consulting and freelancing from home than head off to the office each day. Since then, we have utilized Mother’s Day Out programs or hired a sitter or part-time nanny at an hourly rate instead of using traditional, full time childcare.
Using a sitter is fantastic because you can scale their services up and down with your needs and income.
For date nights and mommy-time, we still use the sitter or pay the teen siblings, yes we pay, to cover for a couple of hours for dates. But for daytime community, consider joining a MOPS group or attending weekly church events that provide daycare at little or no cost. The result is not only being incredibly supported by the programs as a woman, but the kids also get to play and learn and socialize regularly.
Travel is a challenge. Flying as a family of seven-going-on-eight not only makes very little sense for us financially, it is flat stressful. Our solution was to upsize to a 12 passenger van with towing capacity – we needed more space for all the car seats anyway. We hope to go on shorter road trips and camp locally more often now that our family is larger.
Another travel idea is one we actually started when our family was smaller but now makes sense in a whole other way. Consider taking each of your children on a trip farther afield when they turn a certain age (we chose 10 years) to give them one-on-one time and save money.
- Living like your neighbor. It is still true that your life doesn’t need to look like everyone else’s. In fact, keeping up with the Joneses is probably the number one thing that doesn’t work when building a budget for large families.
Owning all the toys (for humans big and small), keeping the pristine house pristine and living the go-go-go life that your neighbor does with a large family in tow is flat impossible. If you rent out the bouncy house place or hire a housekeeper to sort those toys or yard service to manage your flower beds you might be able to look like you’re doing it on the surface, but is all that really in the budget? So don’t even try to keep up with your neighbor, momma. You will run out of space. And if you don’t run out of space, you will run out of time, and if not time, energy. And, of course, eventually you will burn through your money.
We have not even discussed your sanity yet.
How to do it big: You don’t, Mom. That’s the whole point. You have a big, beautiful family. They are the life, the entertainment, the party, and they can generate all the extra fun you’ll ever want. So have that big, family birthday party with a fantastic sprinkler and enough cans of shaving cream for every kid who comes right in your front yard. (Don’t forget to invite that neighbor family who seems to have it all together. I guarantee you they want to be there.)
Also, momma, all those kids, they can scrub toilets and do the yard work and purge toys.
Your large family is the “big.” With a large family, everything else – the lifestyle, the stuff, the events, tend to get smaller. Or at least different. Giving up on keeping up and doing what works for your large family keeps things manageable, so you can focus on what’s important.
Photography Credit :: Amy McLaughlin Photography