Big Families :: “How can you afford to have all those kids?”

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on July 6, 2012

How do you not go broke with all those kids?

Is that a question you hear often? My fellow moms of many and I have decided to tackle this very topic in the next installment of our series on big families. Why? Because WE hear this question almost daily!

“How do you do it?” Series hosted by Lolli from Better in Bulk, Lisa from Crazy Adventures in Parenting, Christine from From Dates to Diapers, Kadi from Our Seven Seeds, and Kate from The Guavalicious Life.
Join us each week for more tips from moms of big families!

First of all, let me start by saying that it was very difficult for us financially for many years. We lived paycheck to paycheck and rarely had enough to cover our monthly bills, let alone have anything left to play with. There were many things we did to save money on everything – bills, food, clothing, etc – and God provided in ways we never thought possible. We always had exactly what we needed.

We have a bit of a cushion now, and are able to afford to do many of the things we weren’t able to afford before. We do, however, try to save money on everything we purchase, so we have more money to do the things we enjoy doing, eat the food we love, and spend more fun time together as a family.

Here’s how ::

Cooking at Home vs Eating Out

We have two refrigerators and we buy most of our food in bulk at Costco. Stocking up on most items helps cut the cost of things like ground beef, cheese, milk, eggs, and juice. Cutting down on snacks, which trims the grocery budget considerably, and instead keep healthier snacks on hand at all times- cheese sticks, yogurt, veggies and fruit.

We generally try to eat in as a family as much as is possible. When we do eat out, we search for deals and coupons, and hit restaurants with a “kids eat free” night. Claim Jumpers is a great place to go as a family, especially during happy hour. They have a huge menu, practically feed the babies before the adults have ordered, and even the kids meals are big enough to share. Add in the happy hour deals when you sit in the “saloon” and you’re set for an inexpensive dinner out!

Coupons

Groupon, LivingSocial, and DealChicken are the first place we check when when looking for price breaks on everything from wine to family outings. We used to clip coupons for food, but found it to be a bigger hassle than it was worth. Not to mention finding the time to cut coupons was just not happening. Instead, we like to shop the sales.

Credit and Store Club Cards

We do not use credit on a daily basis, however we do have an Old Navy Visa card that saves us quite a bit on clothes for the whole family, with cash back vouchers to use in store. We are pretty good about paying this card off at the end of each month, so we avoid interest charges.

We also have a Target Red Card that pulls directly from our checking account, with no fees. The Target Red Card saves us 5% on everything we purchase with it.

There are plenty of supermarkets that have a special club card, so make sure you get one. We have  club cards from Safeway, Fresh & Easy, CVS, and more. These cards help you save money on daily purchases, give you cash rewards, and some even give a percentage or your purchase total to local charities and schools.

Travel

Our family loves to travel. We like to visit the sea, the mountains, and we love spending time at amusement parks. Of course, most of our vacations take place within driving distance, with Lake Tahoe, San Diego and Los Angeles among our favorite destinations.

Years ago, when we were young, stupid, and broke, Ray and I purchased a time share. While it made for many stressful months of not knowing how we’d pay for it, the great thing now is that it is paid for and we can use it as much as we want, whenever we want. Pair the time-share with travel during off-season times and we’re able to have some pretty fun and inexpensive vacations.

My blogging venture has also provided me with many great travel opportunities. I have been to Aulani in Hawaii, DisneyWorld in Florida, and many other beautiful places, but I haven’t wanted to travel alone… Ray and I enjoy making some of my business trips mini family vacations. Because we could definitely not afford to take everyone along on every trip, we will have a couple of our kids accompany us on some of my trips. We find some pretty good deals on airfare, car rentals, and extra nights on Hotwire, Priceline, and Kayak.

Date Nights

As I’ve mentioned before, Ray and I make time for regular date nights. We purchase discounted movie tickets and restaurant cards at Costco and combine these cards with other offers. Like, happy hour at your favorite restaurants, for instances. BJ’s  has 1/2 off mini pizzas every evening!

How do you save on the things you need, so you can purchase and do the things you love? 

{ 5 comments }

Big Families :: “How do you do it?” {Meals}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on June 1, 2012

This week in our “how do you do it?” series, my friends and I are talking about meals – who prepares the meals, what we cook, clean-up, and more!


“How do you do it?” Series hosted by Lolli from Better in Bulk, Lisa from Crazy Adventures in Parenting, Christine from From Dates to Diapers, Kadi from Our Seven Seeds, and Kate from The Guavalicious Life. Join us each week for more tips from moms of big families!

Now, I first must remind you that, while I love to bake yummy treats, I do not like to cook. I never really have. My mom and dad are both great cooks, and I know how to cook a great many things – from homemade lasagna and manicotti to vegetable soup – but it’s a task that has always brought me much anxiety, regardless of the fact that Ray and I totally dig good food.

I suppose some of my anxiety comes more from a lack of organization and meal planning than anything. I’ve never been a list person, so planning a menu and making a grocery list only doesn’t happen as often as it should. I definitely find that when I plan better, all of mealtime goes more smoothly from start to finish.

But, you know as well as I do that, no matter how many children you have, the dinner hour is the most stressful, causing most of my anxiety. Baby starts to cry and needs attention, the older kids need help with homework, and everybody is hungry. (We won’t even talk about evening practices, but will certainly touch on that at another time.)

My real dislike for this task, however, is due to the fact that I always end up burning some part of the meal. Always. It’s either the bread or the rice, but it’s always something. When I’m in the kitchen, the kids are all at ready with the broom to “sweep the smoke away” from the detector. I wish I were joking.

All that said, my biggest secret for mealtime – dinner, more specifically – is to include everyone in the process. Here is what works best to make mealtime a happy success ::

1. Menu Planning – I will sit down and plan out our menu based on what everyone enjoys eating. I will often ask for suggestions and make sure that the favorites are made often.

2. List Making – A list will then be made based on the meals we’ve decided to prepare.

3. Shopping – We generally shop at a few different stores. Costco is where we purchase most of our bulk items – chicken, frozen foods, canned goods, etc. We even purchase the majority of our fruit and vegetables from Costco since we go through it all so quickly. Walmart and Fresh & Easy are both visited for convenience, sometimes a couple of times a week.

4. Prepping and Cooking – Ray is almost always in the kitchen, whether he is preparing dinner by himself, or helping me relax while I prepare with conversation and a glass of wine. Josh also loves to cook, so he is often found either observing or helping to make dinner. The kids all take turns setting the table.

5. Noshing – It is only due to travel (or our date nights) that we do not sit down together for dinner. We all eat at the same time – after mom and dad are seated and we’ve thanked the Lord for our food. We find this to be a great time to work on manners, talk about our day, and plan our evening.

6. Cleaning Up – The kitchen is the only part of our house that is not included in our chore rotation. Although we do assign certain after dinner tasks to certain kids, I am always helping and guiding. Even if it means the dishes are done the next morning.

For those many nights when I don’t have a plan, Ray will jump to the rescue. Unlike me, Ray actually enjoys cooking. He says it’s relaxing. Since he enjoys it, he likes to experiment with different seasonings and spices, but always finds a way to include olive oil. But, his favorite? Fresh & Easy’s pre-made meals.

That’s how we do it. How do YOU do it?

{ 3 comments }

Big Families :: “How Do You Do It?” {Cleaning}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on May 25, 2012

I have a small group of friends in the blogosphere who have large families and are asked the same question I am so often – “how do you do it?” Some of us decided to team up and start a weekly series on our blogs addressing topics such as mealtime, homework, chores, sports, and any other topics about which you may be curious. In fact, if you want to know about how we all do any particular thing, please let me know!

How do you do it? – cleaning tips
“How do you do it?” Series hosted by Lolli from Better in Bulk, Lisa from Crazy Adventures in Parenting, Christine from From Dates to Diapers, Kadi from Our Seven Seeds, and Kate from The Guavalicious Life. Join us each week for more tips from moms of big families!

This week we are tackling the topic of cleaning, so I’m about to reveal my secret…

Over three years ago I entered a video contest to try to win maid service for a year. I pled my case by showing the chaos that my house was in. Toys scattered about, dishes in the sink and on the counters, and bathrooms that were used regularly by FIVE little men and one big one. Although, I didn’t win, I discovered something – I couldn’t do it on my own.

With six little ones, I just didn’t have the time or energy to do much more that what was necessary to make our home livable. Sure, my kids helped straighten up the house before Daddy walked in the door each evening, but I felt like I was drowning in dishes, laundry, and Cheerios. So, I hired a cleaning service to come in once a month and do some deep cleaning for me. Now? We have seven kiddos who have a regular list of chores to do each day, and the same cleaning crew comes every week. And? They will continue to come until my kiddos are not so demanding of my time, attention, and energy.

Now, this doesn’t mean I am completely off the hook. In fact, I have an ever-growing mound of clean laundry piled in my loft, I don’t ever have an empty kitchen sink, and we still do the hurry-up-and-pick-things-up-cuz-dad-is-on-his-way-home dance.

That’s just the way it is.

How do you tackle the cleaning in your home?

{ 5 comments }

Development by eDesign-Pro Company