Money, money, money

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I’m just wondering if anyone would like to share some tips on living “cheaply”. We are a family with five children and one income. We just moved to a bigger house and I’m finding the mortgage payments increasingly difficult to pay. We don’t currently use a credit card but did in the past and it carries a balance. 😦 Add to that two car payments, activities for the kids, and books and such (we homeschool) not to mention food and utilities. Sometimes it just seems so hard.
I’m just wondering if anyone would like to share some tips on living “cheaply”.
Get Dave Ramsey’s book ‘Financial Peace’ He has lots of tips on paying off debt, and on ‘living on the cheap’. This book absolutely turned our families finances around.

… and while he’s not Catholic he is a devout and unashamed Christian.

We made it through college and training by having one vehicle which stayed at home with mom and the kids. I biked or ran to work. If we had a big enough snow storm that I couldn’t make it, then I would either take a bus or get the family out of bed for a ride. Only works if you live within several miles of work, but worth considering (and great fun too!).
Just a few things:

If one of you is working, pack your lunch every day instead of eating out. This change saved me a ton of money. Actually, avoid eating out as much as possible.

Groceryshop at Walmart and buy their generics. ($1 for a jar of spaghetti sauce)

Instead of spending on a big family vacation, buy a cheap tent and go camping. We have found camping to be a very inexpensive way to have a lot of fun. For less than $100 you can go camping about anywhere for the weekend and do whatever you want to do (the beach, hiking, bicycling, fishing, nature walks, etc.)

If you are a AAA member, sign up with MBNA to get their credit card (No annual fee but 5% discount on all gas purchases at the pump) Just make sure you pay the balance every month to avoid interest. This card saves me about $80 a year.
You are not alone. My husband is the only one working and we live very slim. However, for us this is a choice. We buy as much as possible in bulk. Flour, sugar,rice,beans,etc. I mean like 25 and 50 lbs at a time, depending on what the store sells. I buy whole milk and dilute it to 2%. We have a huge garden, do lots of home canning, freezing etc. We have our own chickens and ducks. We don’thave to buy eggs. We bake our own bread. We grow and pick as much fruit as possible and freeze it. I am homeschooling 4 right now and we spent the most ever this year. 400.00 for all 4 kids. Usually we spend 200. I save all their books, making copies for my children to use, so that the next one in line has a “new” book. We buy all of our clothes from yardsales, 2nd hand stores etc. I am teaching myself to sew and a biggie for babies is use cloth diapers& homemade wipes. We have no credit cards, a huge house payment and 1 very small car payment. I drive an 84 suburban, paid for. The car costs us 100.00 a month. There are so many things you can do to cut corners, it is amazing. I hope these helped some. For us we make around 30,000 a year, pay 600 in child support for his 2 chidlren from a previous marriage and still make it.

Praise and Glory be to God!
Probably more important than living frugally is a mantra I live by - pay yourself first. Take a certain amount per month out of your paycheck and forget about it. It grows in no time.

I have done this and I can’t beleive after only 7 years (and even with the stock market bear market/tech. implosion) I have around $40,000 in retirement money between my wife and I’s retirement funds. This is at age 35. Not the greatest. But not bad either. We aren’t trying to finish first in this department.

Do we have debt? Sure we do. It’s kind of one of those “certain things in life” things but we feel we are making progress.

Anyway, I know the topic is more on frugality but the title did say, “Money, money, money”🙂

I guess on the subject of frugality, I think as a society we have spoiled our kids too much with material things. I don’t know if you are guilty but I find myself constantly trying to reign my wife in on this and participate with objection. I can remember our family vacations consisted of going to Wildwood, NJ to a free beach and maybe spending $20 at the boardwalk one night of the week. We stayed with my mom’s parents at their mobile home for free.

And I remember, as a kid, I thought this was “da’ bomb”. Yet, it seems our values have changed for the worse in this regard. Part of it is a prosperous grandparent generation who spoils the grandchildren and part of it is just society as a whole losing focus.

Well, I’m ranting. . .as far as the activities for the kids, it’s okay to cut them out. I didn’t have a lot of activity and I did not expect my parents to lose their house because of it.
Thanks everyone! We do use cloth diapers and wipes/wipe solution. We buy in bulk, belong to a food co op, and rarely, if ever, eat out. I drive around with a stocked cooler in my car. Water, juice, fruits/veggies, etc are in it. We use hand me downs and try to buy from resale shops as much as possible. Lots of generous friends and neighbors give us their old stuff. I don’t really buy too many toys. I leave that to the grandparents 🙂

What about “activities”? Dance, guitar, violin, stuff like that? I am currently working one night/week at our local Gymboree so my two youngest kids can get free classes. Plus I get paid for it, which is nice. Dh can’t walk or bike to work and I don’t think we could do it with one car. Would love to find an old van or suburban, though. The lease (I know, leases are bad) on our minivan is up soon.

Thanks everyone!!!
Philip Lenahan, Vice-President of Catholic Answers Live, has a book entitled The Catholic Answers Guide to Family Finances also a set of audio tapes. Phil and his wife have 7 or 8 children and home school also. He has much to offer. His book and tapes have been a tremendous help to us. We began using them in 1997 and are still using his system.

Yes, I went through that program last summer. I need a refresher course!
There is a great book called “The Complete Tighwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn. It’s great . 959 pages of money saving ideas!

It’s for $14 at or you could try buying used copies off of I see some for $1.

It’s well worth the money.
I’ve heard so much about that book. I may have to check it out! Thanks! 🙂
I really don’t have any books for you to read or any of the good advice from the above posts, but I can recommend asking St. Joseph for intercession. He was the provider for Our Lord and the Blessed Mother, so I’m sure he would love to intercede for you. When all else fails, just praise God and don’t worry. When you praise him for your circumstances, even when the circumstances are not favorable ones like tight finances, you place ultimate trust in Him, which gives Him greater room to act in your life and give you miracles. (Read the chapter in Matthew where Jesus talks about not worrying what you are to eat or wear- sorry I can’t remember which chapter it is right now!). If you lived in St. Louis, I’d offer you free babysitting. I’ll pray for you when I go to Mass tonight. Take care!
We made it through college and training by having one vehicle which stayed at home with mom and the kids. I biked or ran to work. If we had a big enough snow storm that I couldn’t make it, then I would either take a bus or get the family out of bed for a ride. Only works if you live within several miles of work, but worth considering (and great fun too!).
I have to agree with you. My husband and I share one car and he uses the bycicle to go to work (which is about 2 miles from home). We’ve been saving a lot by doing the groceries in bulk and I’m in charge of the cooking…I know it’s a lot of work…but I like to eat healthy and my hubby really likes it too!! (no more t.v. dinners or spending big bucks eating out!). Initially I was trying the coupons but generally I prefer to buy just the store brand…We support our Church and other ministries and I have to tell you: Be generous to God (according to your possibilities), live frugally and He will take care of you and your family! May He bless you abundantly!
If your used to getting a big tax refund in the spring, change the amount being withheld. You won’t get the big refund but you won’t go into debt b/c the government has your money that they never should have gotton in the first place.
Find cheaper or free activities for the children to be involved in. Local recreational sports teams are not expensive. We can play soccer for $30. We only allow the children to each pick one activity to be involved in. They don’t all need to be involved in everything.

Buy your curriculum used. Use the library. School expenses can be minimal.

Consider making your own bread, etc. We mill our own wheat (a 50 lb bucket can be purchase for under $25, atleast the last time we purchased any, it lasts a long time.) I can bake 8 loaves of bread for about 20 cents a loaf. We make our own tortillas, pizza crusts, pasta, muffins, granola (buy oat groats and roll our own.) etc.

Do not buy anything pre-made. That can of spaghetti sauce can be cut into half the cost if you buy a 10 lb can of whole tomatoes and make your own and freeze the sauce into portion baggies.
Well, I think it’s the 2 car payment that is killing you. Looks like you are already doing the other things you can to save: cooking from scratch, etc.

We have 4 children, a big brand new house & 2 paid for cars. Everyone asks me why I keep driving my car & haven’t bought a van. Real simple: the car is paid for & since I mostly drive w/the kids sans husband, I dont need a gas guzzling van. I dont know how much you owe or how long your obligations are on the cars, but when they are paid for, do all you can to keep on driving them.

We also lived w/3 kids in a 2 BR house for 11 months so we could make a BIG down payment on our home, lowering our payments & not requiring PMI(private mortgage insurance).
My 16 year old son saw a show on television about how really poor people live in other countries. He told me that we really have no concept in the United States as to what it is to live poorly even though we think we have it rough sometimes. So for lent he asked that we as a family give up all the extras and try to come to an understanding of the poor. Then we could give the money we saved to a charity. Here are some of our ideas:
1.We could purchase no clothes unless we absolutely had to and those had to be from the thrift shop.
2. No junk food. ( He was well supplied by friends so that wasn’t too hard)
3. All food purchased had to be inexpensive - beans, rice, etc.
4. Lower the temp in the house to save on fuel
5. No purchases of toys, games, etc.
6. No unnecessary car trips.
7. Turn off TV - this provides time to save money(cooking cheaper, etc. )
8. Before spending any money on anything think - what would the starving think of us spending money on this.
At the end of lent we found that we suffered very little. People always seemed to give us the things we needed. We learned a lot and we had quite a sum that we have been able to give to charity. We have actually lived with the above rules when times dictated it.
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