How We Raise Six Kids on a Tight Budget

Six kids?! Yes, my husband and I are able to raise six adorable, lovable and extremely happy kids on a tight budget. We also raised them on one income for twelve years.

We now, because of this blog, are raising them on two incomes. But, we still have to budget!

how we raise six kids on a tight budget

When it comes to raising a house full of kids, I’ve learned one thing: it takes creativity, planning and self-control to afford to educate, feed, clothe and entertain a large family.

Most people assume a large family cannot possibly provide for six growing kids unless they’re bringing in some highly envied paychecks.

Yes, I said paid checks — with an “s” — because it’s plural.

But hear me out.

It is very possible and you don’t have to eat rice and beans for every meal!

Now, that’s a relief — isn’t it?

Don’t worry, mom friend.

You don’t need a large family like ours to try these ideas.

They can help a family of any size enjoy a fatter wallet — and that’s one area we all would love to gain a few pounds!

Sadly enough, many parents have yet to tap into money-saving options when it comes to children.

Too many parents focus on giving their kids “only the best.”

Some parents simply haven’t delved into the ideas of saving and budgeting.

Let’s change that today!

how we raise six kids on a tight budget

How We Raise Six Kids on a Tight Budget

  • We’re not ashamed to visit thrift stores. I have seen women literally sour their face when I mention a thrift store or yard-sale.

    Not me!

    I LOVE finding a good deal!

    I have gotten many brand-new items that must have been extra or unwanted gifts at the local thrift store or neighborhood yard sale.

    Baby clothes are always easy to find since little ones grow out of their layettes at top notch speed.

    I have snagged Nike, Adidas and Sketchers brand toddler shoes for my kiddos for just a couple of dollars. There are treasures to be found, so get to treasure-hunting!

  • We make lots of food from scratch. Those multi-flavored Popsicles look yummy, don’t they? Why not try making them at home?

    Since we live in a tropical climate, my kiddos enjoy chugging down shakes.

    They like peanut butter shakes, chocolate shakes, vanilla shakes, banana shakes, mango shakes, Oreo shakes and the list goes on.

    If I buy them at a coffee shop close by it is $2.00 per kid. I have six, so you’re talking $12 just for each kid to get a shake.

    At home, I make the shakes for $1.50-$3.00 for all eight of us!

    Making homemade hot cocoa, sandwich bread, soups ( we rarely buy canned) helps us keep our grocery expenses super low!

    Kick the canned, packaged foods and frozen foods. Save money and make healthier, tastier meals.

  • We encourage healthy hygiene. Hygiene goes a long way with keeping kids healthy.

    Many childhood illnesses are a result from unhealthy habits.

    Encourage kids to wash their hands before mealtime, after school or any public outings.

    And one very big, bad habit of so many kids?

    Remind your kids to keep their hands out of their face!

    My husband is awesome about keeping tabs on this issue!

  • We teach our kids to treat items with care. A real money-stretcher is a simple thought —- take care of the items you already own!

    Things need replaced less when maintained with care.

    Don’t allow your kids to jump on your furniture, write on the walls or throw objects.

    Take time to show your kids how to care for books, DVDs and toys.

  • We believe in the “Just a dab will do ya!” mantra. This is a famous saying from my Grandma — and boy, is it a wise one.

    Do kids really need a tablespoon of toothpaste to brush teeth? What about shampoo and soap?

    For sure they don’t need a ginormous glob of shampoo slathered onto their tiny tresses!

    It’s amazing how much money our family has saved just by monitoring the amounts of toiletries, food and drinks the kids use.

  • We start with small portions. After I prepare dinner, I prepare my husband’s plate and then my kids.

    I probably give each child about two tablespoons of the side veggie and then two tablespoons of the main dish.

    If the kids want more, then I give them more.

    But what happens if I give them a teen-sized portion and then there is uneaten, left-over food?

    It goes in the trash.

    Serving smaller portions to your kids will, in time, cut your grocery bill at least by 20%.

    Trust me on this one!

  • We avoid debt. The amount of money people spend on interest alone is staggering.

    If we want to make a purchase, we save up for it and pray about it.

    Our family motto for the past 16 years has been, “If God wants us to have it, He’ll provide it.”

    We pray and budget for those items — cars, vacations, plane tickets, surgeries etc. and avoid debt as much as possible.

    For now, that’s been our entire marriage!

  • We create a budget for almost everything. My husband is very studious in filling out a spreadsheet monthly with all our expenses and income.

    We budget for rent, health insurance, home-schooling expenses, groceries, home-schooling, traveling, utilities and even holidays.

    Seeing our expenses and budget side by side helps us understand what we can and can’t spend money on every single month.

    It keeps us on top of our finances so we can give our kids a financially secure childhood!

Do you have any ideas to add to this list? Share them with us on Facebook!

If you loved that inspiration, we're sure you'll love these too!

50 thoughts on “How We Raise Six Kids on a Tight Budget”

  1. You know that last useless sliver from the bar of soap in the shower? Instead of throwing it out, our family puts it on the new bar. Once it gets wet, it just sort of sticks to the new bar and before you know it, that tiny little sliver gets used up with the rest of the new bar. Probably saves a few bars of soap each year, and over time, that really adds up!

    But I think my favorite trick is on the rare occasion when we treat ourselves to a meal away from home. Instead of ordering an expensive (unhealthy) soda or non-alcoholic specialty drink, I almost always ask for water with lemon. Once it arrives, I squeeze the lemon into the water (hopefully it’s a nice thick wedge. If not, then I ask for more) and add sugar from the little packets you find on the table until it’s the sweetness that I want…fresh squeezed lemonade! Free, and so much better than anything they would serve you anyway.

      1. I’ve been doing the left-over soap trick for years now. No one in the family is complaining that the new soap bar is deformed! Savings! Savings! Savings!

  2. Cloth napkins – family of six with lots of friends and a busy house… Even if you have to wash them often, they just go in the next load of laundry. Higher quality napkins fresh out of dryer or hung dry rarely or never need ironing. Most of the time my kids don’t use the napkin beyond putting on their lap. Nice touch with dinner, too!

    1. We’ve been doing this for years. I make our curtains too and when they begin to fade, I use the good parts to make more napkins. Free napkins that match our décor : )

  3. At bath time, I pour the amount of soap needed per child into a medicine cup. I supervise as they clean themselves. They feel so “Big” doing it themselves, and it saves a lot of soap from being wasted.
    Also, when going to a sporting event that will allow it, I pack our hot dogs and snacks to take with us. The kids want what they see others eating. By doing it at home and packing it we save a lot on overpriced concessions.

  4. Coupons! I am by no means an extreme couponer, but I don’t buy anything without a coupon. I probably save $15-30 with each trip to the grocery store just on the things we use all the time.
    Also, whenever we’re going to have a movie night we always skip the redbox and head straight to the library. Our local library usually gets brand new releases within a month of them coming out and it saves us a few dollars a week. Every little bit adds up!

    1. Absolutely, coupons are great! Check my side-bar for some amazing ones:) I love that part of being a blogger, I get to find out about major deal and coupons! Happy clipping:) If you haven’t checked out The Frugal Girls or Money-saving Mom,. those are great places to find coupons and deals too! Thx for mentioning this tried and true technique to money-saving!

    1. HI Kathleen!
      I would start with what is most important to you, clean hands, face, teeth etc. and use a points system to reward and discipline for these bad habits. I do not view bad hygiene on the same scale of tantrums and lying, so this point system helps our family. It takes re-enforcement from the parents! I will most likely be covering this topic in an upcoming post! Stay tuned! Point System for Bad Habits

  5. I used white vinegar in the rinse aid part of my dishwasher. Rinse aid is expensive and I hate having to “rinse” my dishes in chemicals. White vinegar works just as well and my dishwasher never gets that funky smell everyone always talks about. Just fill the rinse aid part with vinegar just like you would rinse aid.

  6. We have a few frugal things we do.
    *I save all my onion, leek and celery scraps in a large freezer bag. I add the ends and peelings from carrots and apple cores from cut apples. I use all these with a few herbs and spices to make tasty vegie stock.
    *Vinegar and water soluble lavender oil made up like cordial instead of fabric softener. Much better for the machine too.
    ….cont

  7. …more
    *’Rescue fruit smoothy’. All that chopped up fruit that the kids don’t eat or fruit a bit too ripe goes in the freezer to be added to smoothies. Watermelon and grapes are fabulous for thickening smoothies in place of plain ice. Yoghurt close to use by date is frozen for same too.
    *Slow cooker surprise….I use some stewing beef and a large can of chopped tomatoes with tomato pesto and all all my ‘sad’ looking vegies in and cook for 6-8hrs. Add barley about 1/2 way thru. Freeze in serves

  8. I rarely throw away leftovers. I use chicken carcasses from roast chicken to make stock, I freeze leftover vegetables in a “soup bowl” in the freezer that I just keep adding to until I need to use it. I also use leftover rice in my soups. They too go into the freezer until needed.

  9. I have to use all laundry detergent cause of my families sensitive skin, stuffs expensive. To cut down on having to buy it so often i use 1/3 the recomended and toss in vinegar to finalize the cleaning.y clothes smell soooo fresh all the time and are super soft. No using extra soap and no need for softener. Andy laundry soap last three times as long! Also, i live in ak, so foods expensive, to cut costs on expensive fresh veggies going bad, half of them get chopped and frozen immediately.

  10. Vinegar and baking soda are awesome cleaners. Hot vinegar with equal amount of dish soap = great tile cleaner. Vinegar in the rinse cycle of the washing machine beats fabric softener. I make homemade laundry detergent. It works just as well as the other stuff, you use less, and it lasts for a long time. I had a 5 gallon bucket of liquid laundry detergent that lasted nearly a year.

    1. Thanks for these ideas! Vinegar does do a great job as a natural softener. We like making our own laundry soap too! Thanks for adding those to the list.

    2. I make my own laundry soap as well but instead of adding a whole bunch of water I don’t I take the mixture and whip it with a hand held mixer and it comes out whipped and fluffy I only use a tablespoon and it works just as well but takes up less room and last just as long and no chunks of stuff floating on the top of the water.

    1. Hi Cassie!
      I normally throw in 1/2 cup of vinegar into the rinse cycle if I am out of softener, but I will be honest, I am a HUGE fan of Downey. But when pennies are extra tight, vinegar is great. I have also used watered down hair conditioner. I also always throw in one cup of vinegar per large load when I am afraid colors will bleed—like a girls’ pink dress with white polka dots. Vinegar is amazing for color-stay! Hope these ideas help.:)

      1. I make my own Febreze with Downy Unstopables. I put 2 teaspoons of the Downy beads into a squirt bottle and fill with warm water. Shake it up……wonderfully smelling odor spray and safe on furniture and fabrics. My whole house smells wonderful when I get done. One bottle last about 45 days or longer if I don’t use it very much. Cheap!!!!!

  11. Here are a few Frugal Ideas that I use. Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!
    1. Plastic zip lock bags. If all I had in the bag was dry pasta then I save the bag for something else.
    2. Clothes that I find at the Thrift Store that might be a tab to big for me well, I just take the pants or top in. All you have to do is follow the seam that is already there and take it in a few inches. Be sure to cut the extra material so your new look is not bunching up.
    3. Old clothes instead of throwing out that t-shirt or pair of jeans hop over to your Pinterest page and look up all the amazing ideas to do with old clothing. I cut up my son’s old undershirts for a dust cloth, Use old shirts for crafts you might want to do.
    4. Plastic containers that your butter, sandwich meat and etc. Just wash the containers out and use them for crafts or your very own Tupperware. Lol If you want to take the ink markings off of a plastic container use nail polish remover to get it right off.
    5. Did you know that you can wash off any gravy, sauce, seasoning from meat cook the night before cut up the meat different and cook your family a new meal instead of left overs. Sounds nutty but I observed my daughter’s Great Grandmother do this and my children had no idea what she had done. I thought to myself brilliant! My children never knew any different. Thanks be to God.

  12. My Mom taught me the trick of putting salt in the washer to prevent the colors from running. It has always worked for me and salt is cheap compared to those special color catcher things.

  13. I make pretty much everything from scratch, from cookies to laundry detergent. Instead of buying soda I make sweet tea. I make fabric softener sheets using coffee filters splashed with liquid fabric softener, throw it in the dryer.

  14. We’ve got two kids in diapers right now, and one way that we’ve saved a TON is to use cloth diapers. It’s more upfront, true, but my higher end, larger than strictly needed stash for both my girls is still less than we would have spent on a year’s worth of diapers for ONE kid.

  15. To save money where my daughter is concerned, I give her an allowence of $2.00 (she’s five years old), and when we go to a store and she wants “a thing” I ask her.. “Did you bring your money?” If she answers no then my answer is also, no. If she brought her money she has to pays for her own ‘toy’. Wow does that make her think about how badly she truely wants that ‘toy’ when she has to pay for it herself!

  16. to save money we… dry our cloths outside as often as possible, make alot of food from scratch,
    buy discounted meats and cheese, make our own pizza. wear hand me downs. shop at the end of season for next year. Turn off and unplug electric appliances. Go to bed early to use less hydro. I water down everything, shampoo, conditioner, juices, milk(sometimes). Borrow cloths from friends when we have a wedding etc to go to instead of buying new. Library, trade movies and books w freinds.

  17. stock pile good food deals,plan weekly menus, work from home, save envelopes from junk mail to use as scrap paper, use 1/2 the meat in a recipe and replace w beans. prep and freeze dried beans rather than canned, make bread (0.12 per loaf) then eat toast for breakfast. Make laundry soap, wash everything in cold and on shortest wash time possible. make gifts. make wine. Camp in our back yard. picnic at the beach/park potluck dinners w friends. Don’t eat out, Don’t shop hungry, don’t shop for fun.

  18. I also teach my daughter on how to be frugal in a young age because this would really help in solving our money problems. Great post by the way.

  19. Wow- so many great tips in the post and in the comments! Some of my frugal tips are that I batch cook ground beef and chicken and freeze. Rather than using a whole pound of ground beef- I only use 1 1/2 cups of cooked beef. It’s still plenty for chili or spaghetti sauce or casseroles. Same for cooked chicken. I shred it and divide it up. I can usually get at least 3 meals from one roasted chicken. Sometimes the delis here will mark them down the day after they were cooked and sell them cold.

    1. In order to save time, money and boost nutrition for my family, I make a big batch of ground meat (beef, chicken or turckey) and bulk it up with finely chopped or grated onions, carrots, celery as the base. Then I might throw in whatever I have on hand and that might be looking sad (ex.mushrooms, yams, peppers). The mixture ends up being about 1/2 meat and 1/2 veggies and then I freeze it in portions for meals (ex. bolognaise sauce, chili, lasagna).

  20. We buy bulk the items we use often. We’re an allergen free house & I make everything from scratch! Every single food item! We grow a garden in the spring to fall. In the winter we grow herbs and other simple items in pots in our house. We shop local farms or the farmers market, buying only in season produce. We utilize all aspects of our food (bones, scraps make broth, etc.) I clean with baking soda, vinegar & water only. Coupon. Cut back on meat by adding lentils or beans to stretch it.

    1. I also batch cook all my meals….so that I constantly have meals on hand to prevent the eating out on busy days. I buy high quality items less often. I resell my daughters clothes & shoes that are still in good shape. I shop sales and don’t pay Full retail. I work from home, cutting out the need for commuting, car, gas and insurance costs. I do so many more things! But I think everyone gets the idea lol

    1. It’s something I do because I want to. I try to keep my marriage first, and little things like serving him first keep me on track. He is the head of our home, and it is a small way I can show him respect, and the children follow lead. The kids will respect their dad more if I do! My kids know they are super special to me, as well as to their dad, but they also know that daddy is the leader of the home, and just like any other leader, we show him honor and respect in many ways. This is just one of them. Great question!

      1. We do this, too. He works HARD so that I can be a full time mom. It’s kind of my dailly “Thank you.”

  21. Such great tips. Allow me to add…
    I have never purchased paper towels for mess ups and cleaning, I use rags and re-wash them to use again. It has saved me tons in my home for the last 46 years.

  22. I cut my husbands hair and my children’s as well. My kids could get their own cut by a hairdresser, but they had to pay for it out of their own money. I trim mine, if possible, but usually have it cut professionally (I can’t seem to get the doing it ‘backward’ with a mirror).
    I color my husband’s and my hair also. It costs about $6 for mine and $3 for him, saving TONS over the ears.

  23. Many great ideas here! I also use cloth diapers which has saved us a TON. I even have large size ones for my 3 & 4 yo for bedtime rather than buying pull-ups.
    I have also called our phone & cable companies asking if they can offer us a more affordable plan-which has worked everytime!
    When using hand soap, I re-use the foaming pumps & refill it 50/50 water/soap. Saves a ton and makes hand soap last soooo long!

  24. Some really great tips, thank you! Got to say though, I am so glad we have the NHS here in Britain so that medical bills and health insurance is never ever an issue no matter what your income!

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