Pass it on
One of the hardest parts about having a big family are the BIG expenses that come along with it. My husband and I often joke about how we are going to go bankrupt just trying to keep our kids in snow boots and snow suits. Four of everything! It’s crazy! Four educations to save for, four people to dress, four people to feed, four people to put through daycare, four people to put into gymnastics and skiing and dance (well, maybe only three people in dance, but Lukas can certainly go into dance if he wants to). As well as a bigger vehicle to transport all of the people to said activities, along with a bigger house that has more bedrooms, which means more furniture, and things to fill those rooms. As soon as we found out we were having baby number four, we listed our house and started mini-van shopping. The point is, the bigger the family, the bigger the expenses. So my husband and I have had to change the way we do things over the years. When we just had the two girls, we could be more extravagant and more frivolous, but now that we have four we’ve really had to learn a new way to operate, otherwise we’d be broke (or at least more broke than we currently are). So how do we do it?
Hand-me-downs: We have been really lucky in this department. We happen to have some very generous people in our life – friends and family – who have really helped us out so much. Often we will buy new for our oldest daughter and be a little more frivolous in terms of budget, but it’s easy to justify because we know that we have four other little girls (our two other daughters and two nieces) to pass it all down to, so we know that we will definitely get our money’s worth out of it. We have also passed along a lot of the girls’ clothes to other friends and family who needed it and I am so happy to have been able to help others out this way. On the other hand, it is really hard to justify the same kind of spending on Lukas. Not only is he the only boy, but he’s also the youngest, so we don’t normally splurge when it comes to things he needs. However, our friends and family that have older boys have very generously passed along some really great stuff, so Lukas is going to be one well-dressed little dude, and hubby and I are ever so grateful for these wonderful people.
Consignment stores and mom-to-mom buy and sell sites: The other thing that we have started doing is shopping at consignment stores as well as mom-to-mom online trading sites. We have a few really great second hand consignment stores in our town that are very particular about the kind of things they accept from people; they must be name brand and in good condition (gently used, no stains, rips/tears, etc). I will often make one of these stores my first stop before I think about buying new. The money that you can save is unbelievable, and I always walk out feeling like a rockstar when I have found something great that I need at an amazing price.
Plan ahead: shopping the end of season sales this year for the things the kids will need next year is another great way of saving money. Sometimes it’s tough because it’s hard to know how much they’re going to grow over the year, so choosing a size can be difficult, but for the most part it works. If in doubt I buy two sizes bigger, especially when it comes to outerwear. You have to have a system in place to make sure that you don’t forget about the things you’ve already purchased and repurchase them again a year later. As a new season approaches, I will take an inventory of what I’ve got and get the kids to try everything on and then add things to the shopping list or pass things down accordingly.
Grandparent gifts: Grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren, don’t they? It’s great, but I’d much rather that the money that they spend on the grandkids also be beneficial to our needs as parents. Our parents have become really good at asking what the kids need before they buy presents for things like birthdays and Christmas. I know the kids would probably prefer that the money be spent on the newest toy that they are dying to have, but I also know that they will most likely forget about that must-have toy within days of receiving it and it will sit somewhere in our home collecting dust. However, those new pair of snow boots that G&G bought them will certainly come in handy during our Northern winter and will get lots of use every single day. Everyone benefits; the Grandparents get to do the spoiling, the parents get a little financial relief, and the kids get to have warm toes. Makes sense? I think so.