With today’s economic factors, it is more important than ever to re-evaluate expenses and finances; especially as a family of 6 (plus a fur baby). I am always trying to save a “buck” when I can and teach the kids the value of a dollar. That doesn’t mean we can never have brand names or the nicer things in life, it just means we make an effort to be resourceful, budget conscious and really think about what’s important to spend our hard-earned dollars on.
Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way and hope they will be useful to you and your family!
Stick to a set budget
This is easier said than done! Especially when those “surprise” costs come in out of nowhere or your child “has to” have the latest toy they just saw in a commercial. I have learned that a spreadsheet will be your best friend here. Sit down and list out all your costs (house, personal, car etc.) and indicate the cost for each as closely as possible. Subtract that from your total monthly take-home and review every week. The closer you monitor this, the better you will become at sticking to your goal.
I live in a wonderful community where “swapping” has become the norm. Whether it be on Facebook Marketplace, local subdivision pages or just simply posting a message on social media, people are selling and even giving away (yes for free) secondhand items that they no longer need or use. I have become quite the guru in scouring Facebook and speaking to my neighbors about things I am looking for, like kids’ clothing and shoes. With the way these kids are growing, I have saved so much money. It doesn’t hurt to ask! You may be surprised by what you may find. I encourage everyone to look into local pages and become members. Not only have I been able to score some great hand-me-downs, as well but I am also able to help others with items I no longer need as well.
Make a grocery list
Buying groceries is a never-ending task, am I right? When you walk through the grocery store, it’s so easy to get carried away with buying snacks and trying new items you come across during your shopping trips. Instead, make a budget and a plan for meals for the week. I sit down every week and come up with a plan for meals and write down a list of meal ingredients and other things we will need. With a large family including school-age children, snacks can take over the expense of the trip. I ask each child their top picks, then compare prices of those snacks when I’m shopping and choose those that are on sale and the best price that week. Whenever the budget allows, I do get a few extra snacks for my kids to enjoy.
Find free activities to do together and plan ahead
When you are looking to entertain multiple kids (who vary in age), it can be expensive for any outing. The library is one place I love to take them and it’s free! LittleGuide Detroit has great ideas and events listed that are either free or very inexpensive. We also look forward to Sundays and attend the later service at Shepherd’s Gate so the kids can participate in the SG Kids program We love how the classrooms and nursery tie in the same message being given during service for us parents. Going to the park is another favorite of ours where the kids can burn some energy and get some fresh air!
Prioritize Expenses (including Tithing)
Part of saving and budgeting is prioritizing expenses. My husband and I constantly discuss what’s important on the expense list (besides living expenses). Vacations and daily outings are definitely on top of the list because it allows us to create memories and expose the kids to different scenery and culture. We discuss with the kids how saving is important so we can reward ourselves with a family vacation or fun event.
My husband Jordan and I believe tithing is important and contribute to Shepherd’s Gate Church. We have been blessed with all that God has given us and discuss the importance of tithing with the kids and how this is a priority that will benefit us and other families. Investing in our church and serving God is something we can do as a family and enriches our lives.
Another priority is saving for education. Each child understands that they have an education fund for when that time comes after high school, and they choose their future. We believe that it is important that when a child is old enough to understand the value of a dollar, they each have a piggy bank to save money they might have been gifted or earned. This is a great way to continue the teachings of prioritization with expenses and saving up for something they really want to purchase.
Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Whether we have been blessed with much or with little financial giving, no matter how much, is a way to do the Lord’s work. As God has blessed you, you can bless others.
I hope that these tips have helped you gain some new insight and get the conversation going on goals and budgeting with your crew!