Large Family Living on One Income

(Originally posted in 2014)

Being the stay-at-home mother of eleven children, I always face the inevitable question- How can you afford to live on one income? It’s not something I actively think about often because it’s been a way of life for such a long time now. Lately, though, I’ve been getting many inquiries about not only raising children on a tight budget but homeschooling them, too. Since I am a staunch homeschool advocate, I really want to encourage women that it can be done! Today, I’m writing the first of a two-part series about living and homeschooling with limited funds. My hope is to help some of you who want so badly to homeschool but aren’t sure whether or not you can afford it.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Part 1- Living Frugally

The most obvious place to start would be how to live within your means. I think the most important thing to remember in all of this is that it can be hard. You may not be able to get your hair and nails done or wear the latest fashion, but you need to put it into perspective. What are your priorities? Sort them out first. Make sure they are in line with being willing to sacrifice. Believe me, you will sacrifice, but it will be so worth it. Of course all families have different budgets, so this is just a glimpse on how my family manages.

We are a one-vehicle family, and it’s twelve years old. I know some of you are probably gasping in horror, but this situation is doable, especially if you look at the benefits like:

– No car payments
– Lower insurance rates
– Less gas consumption

We rent our house, instead of owning it. This may seem counter-intuitive at first because mortgages are usually less than rent rates, but think about it. If the roof needs to be repaired the basement floods, the furnace breaks down- it’s not our responsibility. We also don’t have a huge bank loan to pay off in this shaky economy.

We rarely go on vacations. I mean RARELY. The last one was almost two years ago when we drove 1,000 miles to Fort Leonard Wood, MO to see our oldest graduate from boot camp and AIT training. Before that was tent camping on the beach in Wildwood, NJ…eight years ago. And that one ended in disaster, as a tropical storm decided to show up and wash pretty much everything we had there out to sea. My husband and son were literally holding the tent we were in, so that it wouldn’t blow away, but that’s a story for another day.

We do a lot of shopping at Aldi. Have you seen their prices? We don’t go there every week because there are some things they don’t have that we like, but we do shop there twice a month.

We only go clothes shopping once a year, usually at Walmart or Target because they seem to have the lowest prices on clothing. The rest of the year we do get a lot of hand-me-downs from friends and our church has a clothing closet. In this case, my children are really a blessing because they are so thankful for the clothing we get from others and never complain about it, and when we do take them clothes shopping, it’s like Christmas to them.

Most of our furniture is secondhand. Again, our church is such a blessing because the Helping Hands Ministry will locate furniture for anyone who needs it and will help set up a way to either have it delivered or will at the very least help load it into your car.

– We rarely, if ever, go to the hairdresser. My daughter, Devin, is excellent at cutting hair. (Arianna’s getting pretty good, too!). Also, once a month, my church- yes, my church AGAIN- has a free haircut day using licensed hairstylists who are either members of our church or who generously volunteer their time.

Craigslist is our friend. All kidding aside, other than major Black Friday sales, this is how our family acquires electronics. We actually just bought three laptops for about $600. We’ve never had a problem yet!

Perhaps the most important thing is this- WE ARE ALL CONTENT WITH WHAT WE HAVE. In a culture that is obsessed with the next best thing, so far, my kids have never gotten upset that we don’t have every gadget known to man. They are very resourceful and truly appreciate everything they do have.

I hope this post has helped in some way! Part 2 will get down to the nitty gritty of how to homeschool with a limited income.

If you have any questions or have some more tips on living frugally, leave a comment! I always enjoy chatting with you!


Linking up with:                     


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Sitting Among Friends Blog Party

No Rules Weekend Blog Party

Friendship Friday

Throwback Thursday

Mommy Monday Blog Hop

Hip Homeschool Moms

Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop

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Wise Woman Link Up

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Thriving Thursdays

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Share the Wealth Sunday


Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

25 thoughts on “Large Family Living on One Income”

  1. I admire your family’s frugality! Sacrifices are definitely worth it. Our only debt is our mortgage because we have lived within our means. Great advice. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I often wonder this as well. I understand that you don’t think about it because you have been doing it for so long – but how do you not let it bother you?

    We don’t do some of these things – but it bothers me to never have any money. To never have any extras.

    I guess I just need an attitude adjustment.


    1. Believe me, I get you. Since I was a bit spoiled as a child, this lifestyle did not come naturally to me. At first, I was resentful about it but over time I’ve been able to observe people who are “living in the lap of luxury,” and you know what? It seems like they’re never satisfied. They’re always out for the next best thing. Living without the “next best thing” has been a huge benefit for me because I’ve learned to find joy from life and family instead of objects. Do I wish sometimes that we could get away for the weekend? Sure. But I’ve come to realize that this is not our season for that.


  3. Learning to be content with what you have is probably hands down the best advice for living within your means. We’ve been focusing on not spending as much as possible this year, and it’s amazing how doable it is if you put your mind to it. We don’t feel like we’re missing out very often.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Shelly! Thanks so much for linking up to Thriving on Thursdays last week. You know, I’m very much like you. We don’t buy anything new (except maybe underwear) and I’ve lived like this most of my life it’s just a very regular thing. I’m so used to it. We have a fantastic life, living within our means. I give you credit for homeschooling 11 children though. I’ve only got 2 and even though I contemplated it, I don’t think I could ever do it. Good on you! I’m featuring your post at tomorrow’s party. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Our daughter is about to turn 3 and we’ve only bought her 3 clothing items in her whole life! One for each Christmas so far, but I was even able to use $10 off $10 coupons for each one at J.C. Penney and didn’t end up paying a thing for them! We have been VERY blessed by hand-me-downs from close friends and family – which may sound like we’re mooching off people, but they’re so happy to pass their children’s clothes on to someone who will love and appreciate them, rather than dumping them at Goodwill, so I really don’t think that’s the case. Plus, we understand how great that feels, since we love to pass those same clothes along to others, when our daughter is finished with them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is awesome! My kids love hand-me-downs—even my teenagers! It doesn’t sound like mooching at all because, like you said, people are only too happy to give things to people they know will use them. As a little girl, I always used to look forward to getting my cousin’s hand-me-downs. They always brought them in a brown paper bag, and they always smelled like their wood stove. Ahh, memories!


  6. Reblogged this on onelessthanadozen and commented:
    Another Mama with a large group and she definitely knows what she is doing. I have also been shopping at Aldi a lot lately and am loving that their store brand is completely artificial color & flavor free now, also they have many, many gluten free options at a way lower price than any of the other stores around. And avacados for 50 CENTS!! what’s not to love?


  7. This is a great post! I really enjoyed reading it!!! I have half as many children and we do many of the same things. Let me tell you when that tree fell on our house last May, I wish someone else had to pay for it and endure it! Also you are so right contentment is the true blessing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I hope your house is all fixed now. My mom has been having trouble with her roof from all the snow this past year, and she just can’t get the insurance company to come out for anything. So frustrating.

      Liked by 1 person

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