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!


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