My Story: Financial Tips for Large Families

contributed by Paula


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In twenty years of marriage, my husband and I have had 23 different people live with us at different times, not including our five birth children. Ten years ago, we had a household of fourteen! My husband has always been the "breadwinner" and I have been the stay-at-home Mom; he earns the paycheck and I figure out new and creative ways to make it S-T-R-E-T-C-H! Here are some of our tips:

  1. Everyone works! My grandmother used to say, "Many hands make light the work." If you are not employed outside the home, then you are working inside the home. We have had as many as nine children between the ages of 7 and 17 living with us at one time. Each learned how to do their own laundry and took ironing lessons, given for free by the chief ironing instructor, namely me!

  2. A "chore list" helps eliminate much of the bickering that comes from trying to figure out who does what on which day. All chores needing to be done on a daily basis are noted on a chart, with the person responsible for that individual chore rotated on a weekly basis.

  3. We all have worn hand-me-downs and were thankful to get them. I have taught and encouraged my children to sew to expand their wardrobe possibilities. I also have set limits as to how much I will contribute toward a purchased article of clothing. For instance, I will spend $20 to $30 on shoes. If you want something more costly than that, you must earn the extra money needed. Plenty of opportunities to earn extra money have been extended to our children by family, friends, neighbors, and members of our church.

  4. We have told our children (and any extra kids that we have raised) that we will not pay for their college education. We have encouraged our kids to do well academically and athletically in high school to earn their way through college. Two of our kids earned four-year college educations by playing collegiate volleyball. The rest have received partial scholarships and worked their way through college. We allow them to live at home free of charge, providing housing, groceries, and laundry privileges, while they are pursuing higher education as long as they are willing to abide by the rules of our household.

  5. To feed a household of fourteen, we have employed many tightwad tricks. Some of these are:

    • Bottle-fed a three-day-old calf and fed it out to butcher for the freezer.

    • We garden for fresh vegetables during the growing season and can the extra produce for use during the winter.

    • We do not buy convenience foods! A big no-no was boxed cereal! At one time, we had six boys in our household, with four of them being teenagers. I found that if I fed them a good, home-cooked breakfast, then they wouldn't be in the refrigerator all day, looking for "fill-er-ups!"

    • Raised our own laying hens and butchered the extra cockerels for fryers.

    • Some of my sons are pretty good hunters and fishermen. They've brought in young squirrels, white-tailed deer, wild hogs, and catfish to put meat on the table and in the freezer!

    • In exchange for mowing a yard, we have received garden produce. One year, we received enough pears for me to can 75 quarts!

    • Every year, my kids were allowed to "skip" two days of school in the spring, so that we could pick "dewberries" (wild blackberries) along the fencerows and country roads. We try to pick as many as possible, as we not only freeze them for use in pies and cobblers, but dewberry jelly is a real favorite!

    • In the fall of each year, I purchase between 500 and 1200 pounds of fresh Texas pecans. We shell and sell enough to clear our original purchase price, and then we freeze some for our own personal use. The rest are either Christmas gifts to our family members or are sold to fund our Christmas.

A large family is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun! I hope these tips help you and yours to know the joy that a large family provides!


"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by MyStory@stretcher.com

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