Whatever your domestic situation and salary range is, times are economically tough that it simply makes sense to save money whenever and wherever you can.
Whether you’re living alone or with a large number of family members, saving a couple of dollars or even a few cents here and there would eventually add up – and give you a significant amount of savings in the long run.
Managing the Finances of a Big Family
It’s even more of a challenge to cut back on costs if you are a part of a big family. By the way, the definition of a big family is very complex these days. You can consider a married couple with four kids to be a big family. Or, it could be a couple with two kids, an elderly couple who are the grandparents and a flurry of nieces or nephews – all living under the same roof.
The same thing holds true for an odd assortment of friends living together for economic reasons. No matter which of these categories you fall under, you can overcome the challenge of managing your finances as a big family by looking for living aspects where you can cut back on costs.
If you’re a married couple with four kids and you have a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house – the household maintenance costs alone will set you back a huge amount. This is not to mention the utilities, budget for food, the kids’ schooling expenses, the occasional entertainment or family vacation funds, the mortgage, car expenses, etc.
In the following section, we will take a look at how you can save money if you have a big family while still fulfilling the needs of the kids and properly maintaining your household.
12 Money Saving Tips for Big Families
If you have a big family, the first thing that you need to do is assess your overall budget. Depending on the domestic situation that you have, how much total income is coming into the house for you to spend on monthly expenses?
If the mom and dad are earning, set aside the funds for the most important expenses that you have first: food, the kids’ school, rent or mortgage, car maintenance, insurance premiums and utilities. You should also make sure to set aside funds for your kids’ college fund, your retirement fund and even a few dollars for your ‘rainy day savings account’ will go a long way.
Make your budget as detailed as possible and if unexpected expenses arise in the course of the month, adjust other items accordingly so you won’t have to make up for it by taking on payday loans or additional credit. After all this has been settled, you can follow these tips on how you can save money when budgeting for a big family:
1. Plan your meals accordingly
If you’re a mom who is too tired to think about what’s for dinner, you might give in to the request of your kids to go for a McDonald’s takeout or three boxes of pizza. Although there’s nothing wrong in indulging in these convenient food solutions, it will eventually take its toll on your family budget.
If one fast food serving of burger with fries and a drink costs $5, that’s $30 or more for one meal for a family of six. But if you will cook a healthy meal at home, the cost is only $2 per serving or $12 for the entire family.
In order for you not to be stumped with the question “What’s for dinner”, take the time to plan your family meals. The best way to do so is to plan a weekly menu. Go online and look for free meal planners that will let you know which ingredients to buy, which dishes to serve for individual days of the week, and you can even get the nutrition information of what you will serve your family.
2. Be a smart grocery shopper
With everything to do about budgeting, the key to success is to make detailed lists. If you’re a family of six and you would like to save money on grocery shopping, make a detailed list of the items that you need for one or two weeks. When you usually head over to the store to grab a couple of boxes of cereal, milk or an extra loaf of bread, you will overspend and waste gas while driving.
By simply making a list of the items that you need, you can stock up and not have to spend any more than you have to on grocery items. It’s also not a good idea to bring the kids along while grocery shopping – it’s pretty difficult to say no to them and explain that you’d rather stick to a budget whenever they see a box of attractively packaged candy or fancy cereal.
It’s also never a good idea to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry because those hunger pangs will cause you to reach for items that you would not otherwise buy if you’re full.
3. Know when and when not to use coupons
It’s absolutely necessary for big families to use coupons – but only on items that they would usually buy. Let’s say that a coupon gives you a $5 savings but the item or brand is something that you would not normally buy, will this actually save you money? No. In fact, you will end up wasting $5 instead of saving the same amount because the coupon is for an item that you would not normally purchase, anyway.
To wisely use coupons, only use ones which are for brands and grocery items that you would typically buy. The savings will go a long way especially if you’re buying in bulk.
4. Accept hand-me-downs, buy second hand and purchase reusable items
Dressing up a family of four or more kids will cost you big – but not if you accept hand-me-downs from relatives. You can also visit thrift stores so you won’t have to pay the full price for kids’ t-shirts and other garments. The same thing holds true for toys and other household items: you can always buy them second hand or purchase reusable instead of brand new ones.
5. Cut back on your entertainment expenses
A day at the park, the mall or the bowling alley will put a huge dent on your budget if you will bring the whole family along. However, you still need to schedule family time – so what’s a pocket-friendly alternative? Buy a bunch of board games or plan a popcorn movie night with the kids. If you must go out, head over to the nearest parks where you can pack sandwiches and have a picnic or play ball games.
6. Head over to the public library
The public library is the best friend of parents of big families. You can bring home audiobooks, books, free movies or even use the Internet for free. Library cards for residents within city limits are free and even if you fail to return a book on time, the late fees are very minimal.
7. Cut back on your overall energy consumption
This applies to all homeowners, even those with just one or two kids or no kids at all. When you have major appliances with Energy Star ratings and do simple things like adjusting the thermostat to regulate the temperature inside the room, you can save a lot of money on utility bills. Not only that, but you can also do your share in helping save the environment.
8. Do your own repairs
For dads, a great way to occupy your time is to learn how to fiddle with a car’s engine. Have a mechanic friend teach you or even go online to watch how-to videos. When you perform the upkeep of your car by yourself, there’s no need for you to pay a mechanic and it will save you a lot of money, especially if you have more than one car in the garage.
9. Don’t say no to store brands
When it comes to food, clothing and even some over-the-counter medication or cosmetics, you can say no to store brands to save money. The reason why famous companies charge more for their products is because of the millions of dollars they spend on marketing. At a fraction of the price, you can actually settle for store brands or virtually unknown brand products which offer the same quality or effectiveness.
10. Grow your own food
What better way is there to cut back on a big family’s food-related costs than by growing their own food? Build a windowsill garden, or grow some fruits or veggies in your backyard. Even a line of herbal plants in your front door will allow you to save money on spices, while also giving you the chance to include delicious fresh herbs in your home cooked recipes.
11. Cut back on luxury items at home
Do you still need landline? Is your pricey cable subscription necessary? How about those magazine subscriptions which have articles that you can read online, anyway? If you’re still in the process of creating a household budget, think about which luxury items you can cut back on to save money. You can always have them back if you have the extra funds to spare.
12. Pay your bills on time – and online
Finally, it is quite difficult to keep track of all the bills, banking statements, credit card statements and similar paperwork when you have a big family. Have a filing system for these and make sure that all the kids are aware of where the bills should be placed.
To avoid late fees, charges and other penalties, pay your bills online and on time. There are even some merchants who will give you rewards points or perks by paying in advance, so always check out such promotions.
Having a big family does not necessarily mean that you have to live sparingly. By following these money-saving tips, you can make the most out of your monthly budget without having to feel deprived of the little luxuries and pleasures in life.