Tuesday, March 20, 2012
When people hear I am raising 7 (2 already out of the home) kids on one budget w/a mountain of student loan debt, a mortgage, AND we eat healthy, the question is always the same, "How do you do it?" I really couldn't answer that question until I read this book. We are a radically frugal family. I don't clip coupons, I don't work part-time, I still go to the occasional movie, and we don't eat beans and rice everyday (although we do love beans and rice).
Don't get me wrong, when the student loans came due, my hubby went and got a second job and nearly killed himself working 90+ hours a week. That only lasted a few weeks before we realized there HAD to be something else! As a mother of a large family, I didn't have time or energy to work another job. . .my job takes up as much time as I can spare. There was another solution though. I created my own little "part-time job" by doing some research. I studied and read lots of blogs and books on how to save money with a large family. Clipping coupons wasn't really an option as we were already established in healthy foods/products. Coupons are not available for fresh produce and all-natural products. I'll write another post another time on my feelings about couponing in my area.
The first thing I did was stop buying my Melaleuca products. That was hard for me to give up, but was costing me a whopping $50 or more a month. I love Melaleuca and I loved cleaning my home and clothes w/their products, but the price is a little steep for us right now. I set to work to make my own laundry soap, household cleaners, tooth powder, and even my own dish washing soap. WOW! The savings were instant! Then, I discovered how to use baking soda and vinegar as a shampoo and conditioner. Again, w/our size family, that's another big savings! I was already making my own skin care line. I'll share that another time too.
I began to make strict menu plans w/shopping down to a science. With a few supplemental foods, I was able to lower the grocery bill to about $150 a week. This will increase a little when school is out because then we will be feeding them lunch as well. I stopped shopping once a week and went to twice a month w/NO shopping in between. I even carpool with others as much as I can. Saves me on gas, and makes shopping more pleasurable (it is my least favorite chore). Being that I have to travel 20 + miles each way to shop, this really saved us a lot on gas! I also started a car pool w/2 other moms to help off set the cost of gas driving kids to and from school. Now they can start walking with the weather so nice.
So how much did doing menus, shopping less often, doing car pool, and making my own products really save me? A LOT, but not enough! I'll write in another post to tell you what it was we did that REALLY gave us financial relief. It's an entire post in and of itself.