Thursday, March 1, 2012

How a Large Family Can Live on $30,000 a Year

We are a family of 7 and growing. We are also a one income family, and not a $50,000+ one income family, we're talking between $24,000-$30,000 a year.

I would like to say we're living comfortably, but we're not, and for one big reason. 
No, not the amount of kids we have, DEBT. Yep, we have been young and stupid (sometimes we still are) and have gotten ourselves into debt. Oh if only we knew then what we know now. It's taking a lot of hard work to get out of it, but we'll get there, we're determined, and we know this isn't what God wants for our lives. In the meantime, He has used it to teach us some very valuable lessons, a lot of them on being frugal. I write this as much for me as I do to inspire you. Though I know these lessons, as I'm sure many of you do, following them is often another story. Maybe we can encourage each other to stay on track with this.

I love this old saying, and I think everyone, large family or not should adopt it as one of their family motto's!

Oh if only this world could learn to "Do Without" (if only I could). Baby steps right? We're getting there.

So, on our over-debted, low income budget, we still manage to ease through (though sometimes, like winter when hubby is laid off, we wish we had spent a little more time following these guidelines ourselves). I want to share with you some of the ways that a family of seven and growing can get by on under $30,000 a year.

  • Learn the difference between Needs and Wants: and APPLY it to your daily living and shopping. This will be the biggest financial change you can make! Do you really "need" a cell phone, jewellery, new shoes, two or more cars?
  • Take a GOD Sufficient Mentality: Learn to be content with what you have, and that God is enough. When we're in need we should turn to Him (and not our wallets) first and foremost. Trust God more in providing for your family. Allow Him to reveal Himself to you and bless you.
  • Take a Self Sufficient view of things: Look up ideas on being self sufficient. I really believe this is a lifestyle God wants us to try to emulate for the sake of ourselves and the earth He created. If you're doing this, everything else fits into this category.
  • Make it from scratch: Every chance you get, make it from scratch. Don't buy prepackaged anything if possible. No packaged bread, baked goods, takeout, anything. Nothing beats hanging out at home making pizza with your kids, and no takeout pizza can bring those same memories...or bizarre kid creations.
  • Stay Out of the Stores: If you don't go in, you can't be tempted, simple as that.
  • Grow Your Own: Start a veggie garden, get some chickens for
    eggs and meat, maybe even a goat or cow for dairy and meat. If you're saying I don't
    have the space, really look into it before making that assumption. There are a
    ton of "Urban Homesteaders" out there. Start with a "growing" some sprouts on
    your counter.
  • Take the biblical view of debt: It's bad bad bad, if you
    don't have it, stay away from it, if you do, pray and use every ounce of
    willpower you have to get rid of it!
  • Get Rid of TV FOR GOOD: If you already have the hypno box
    out of your house, good job! If you're like us, and love to curl up at night and
    watch a movie, and find yourself accepting the free for a month cable offers,
    STOP! It's not worth it I tell you, it's not worth it! I can write a whole post,
    maybe even a series (maybe I will) on the horridness of television, but let me
    put it simply for now. It takes time from everything else you should be focusing
    on, it costs money you don't "need" to be spending, and it makes you want to
    spend a whole lot more money through advertising and unrealistic shows. Should I
    even get into what it's doing to your kids? We have also tried netflix to avoid the commercials, no better, still a time waster, don't do it. Now that I've said that, we're still working on kicking ours to the curb.
  • Save your leftovers and USE them: You wouldn't believe some of the amazing meals that I've managed to come up with using scraps of food we normally would have thrown away.
  • Buy Used: Do this whenever possible. Why buy new when you can get the same thing at a fraction of the cost. The world is filled to the brim with stuff, we don't need more of it, use what's already there.
  • Go to the library: The absolute best spot for great free entertainment. You really shouldn't need anything else.
I could go on about many different "thrifty" ideas like how to coupon, or cut costs at the grocery store. Truth is, cutting costs is a lot like dieting. All the fad diets and tips and tricks don't work. What you need to do is change your lifestyle and way of thinking. 

If you change your thinking and study carefully the true meaning of needs and wants you will very easily begin saving money.

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

What's the biggest thing you've done or heard that has changed your views or habits on spending?
Check out these posts for more on this topic:
"You Can't Afford All Those Kids!"
Forgive Us Our Debts

Linking up Here:


  1. Totally I agree on all of that! We are in the same place as you. Great post!

  2. I really appreciate this post! I found you through the Little Natural Cottage link-up and I'm eager to explore when I get the chance. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Great post! We too are in debt (mostly from car repairs)and I am working dligently to get out. Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey is such an eye opener on debt. Thanks for reminding me of the old motto that we should be putting into practice each and every day.

  4. its wonderful that you guys are able to do this!! im still trying to figure out how to get my hubby to realize that you have to make sacrifices early on in a marriage in order to have more later in the marriage... its a hard lesson for both of us

  5. The LORD bless you for being willing to step out in faith by having a large family, and trusting God for His provision. We also have mostly lived on one income( I worked for a while years ago, but felt God calling me to be at home), and never above 30,000(we also live in B.C). We have not had cable in over twenty years, and in the last few years disconnected t.v altogether, except for occasional dvds borrowed from church or library. I got rid of any credit cards. We rarely eat out, and I rarely drive anywhere to avoid spending money on gas. We live in the country, and my husband is a school bus driver. He is able to bring his bus home and park it here, thus avoiding having to maintain a work vehicle, in which case our insurance costs, gas, and wear and tear on our vehicle are low :). I have had to learn from some hard lessons over the years, but God has been patient in showing me areas I needed to change. Praise Him. I have found some good information on a website called Crown Financial Ministries. The LORD bless you and your family:)

  6. this was good. thank you for posting it. the tv thing is so true, oh my goodness how true. we almost never turn on the tv, but it's still there... so i'm not sure what that shows. I also wanted to thank Sonja for the encouragement. We are in a similar state but to the blogger - wow, we do most of that with only 2 kids and still wonder how we make it! I really want more details on how you do it.

  7. Great post! Thank you for your insight!!

  8. Thank you for allowing the LORD to use your circumstance to bless others abd testify in His goodness. May God continue to bless you and your family :)

  9. Inspiring, but I could do without the God part. That just really doesn't seem necessary. I'm a husband that is making between $29K-$33K with my new job and I am supporting my wife and 2 kids. I work very hard and have been making great strides towards becoming debt free ($16,000 to go!) But I feel like God isn't any part of it or even needed. If I want to make money then I will pick up extra shifts or (it hasn't come to this yet, but maybe) I will go get a second job. At best, God helps those who help themselves. But if this is true, if I am helping myself, why need a god?
    Living frugally is very important, as is finding happiness with what you have. I really don't see why god is necessary in this equation, though. I work, I get paid by the hour, I make quarterly bonuses but I never get a 'God' bonus. In fact I think that putting my 10% tithe into my savings account is a better way to provide for myself and my family than giving it to the church. Plus not having church obligations 1+ times a week it allows my schedule to be that much more open for additional shifts and overtime. So again why God? He's not needed.

    1. Since this entire blog is God focused you'll be hard pressed to find a post that doesn't relate to Him in some way. I'm sure there are many similar posts out there that don't include Him if that's what you're looking for. We however couldn't do it without God. We've had many God bonuses, money or specific items out of nowhere at the exact moment we need it. Following His lead is the only thing that gets us through, even with my husband working as much as he can now. Sure, if our main idea of success is financial I'm sure we could do that on our own, but that's not how we view success and we couldn't be where we are now without God. I'm glad you found this post inspiring, thank you. :)

  10. How can you afford tuition for your children?

    1. Hi MelB, this post sums up our views on post-secondary education.