Lately, our days have been filled with homeschooling…but also this little perk called Disneyland. I know we live in one of the most beautiful and attractive places in the US and there are certainly incredible things about being here that we enjoy. But those “perks” come at a steep cost as a family of 7 as this is also one of the most expensive places in the country to live.
We constantly drive around and look at the beautiful homes and wonder what in the world people do to be able to afford to live here. Sometimes I daydream just going door to door to ask what each owner does for a living!
I had someone just yesterday ask me how we make it work here as a large family on one income, which seems to be a question we are asked a LOT, so I thought I’d share some of my responses with you all. Living here is a huge, huge, huge gift, but I wouldn’t ever want to give off the impression that the cost of living here is not something that greatly impacts us, because it does. We are constantly having to talk about money and how to make life work here within our constraints. So here’s a little peek into how we handle it…
- We have always lived on one income, so we never got used to having double and then needing to cut back. That has helped a lot for us to be able to keep me home with the kids because there was never a time when I needed to get to a place for me to phase out of anything. I worked a little bit when we first got married, but mostly part time work and the money was used for extra spending or play money, not for actual expenses.
- …but obviously kids are expensive…especially when there’s a lot of them that all came super fast. Our family dynamic shifted so quickly and it’s taken awhile to learn to work together to keep costs as low as possible as we’ve expanded as a family. Conversations aren’t always fun, but we have had to learn how to approach one another and how to listen well to one another.
- We had never had “extras” like cable or multiple phone lines or fancy internet. We get the bare bones basics of what we need to get by to make things work and since we rarely watch TV it’s worked out fine. We really feel it during football season (or most soccer games) when we can’t watch the games we would want. But Matt will just take the older boys to a restaurant to catch some of those things whenever he wants.
- In the 15 years we have been married, we have only once bought a new car. And the only reason we did for that one time is because Matt’s parents let us use a ton of points that had built up on their GM credit card that we could apply toward a new vehicle. Other than that we buy used every time.
- We never buy new furniture and we haven’t spent much money on any home decor. I will typically find deals off of Craigslist or at Goodwill or people will just give us stuff they don’t use anymore. There are a number of things in each room we know we will just be throwing away whenever we move because they just aren’t worth keeping.
- We take pretty simple vacations. My parents have timeshares, or we rent places from people we know. We will combine trips with things that we are doing in other places of the country to take advantage of cheaper travel. But most of the time we do “stay-cations” and sleep at our house but take day trips together.
- We look for discounts and bargain shop quite a bit. We watch for sales and shop online to be able to get the cheapest prices on items we need or want.
- We meal plan a month at a time and buy in bulk to make things last longer. Planning it out helps us to stay on track with what is budgeted. We will leave room for weekly items, like produce or milk or little things we run out of.
- We save for things for a long long time to pay in cash for stuff we want. We have credit cards but we only use them for monthly expenses and then pay it off each month so we don’t have any debt.
- We love people’s hand me downs, especially for kids clothes and we go to second hand stores for things for them as well. I normally buy their shoes new, and we’ll usually get a few things from Old Navy or Target to fill in the gaps of what wasn’t given to us.
- Things like getting my nails done is a once or twice a year type thing, and only then for special occasions…but hair, you know me….if there’s one thing I’ll sacrifice for it getting my hair hilited. I do not like my hair dark at ALL. This is my one bigger splurge every couple of months, although less lately because I’ve let the roots grow in a bit so I can spread it out longer. I get mine cut maybe 2x a year, so that’s usually not a big deal either. I cut all of the kids hair myself, which helps a ton because boys’ hair grows so fast!!!
- And here’s one of the most amazing parts about living here….the homeschooling charter we are a part of pays for Kate’s ballet (she goes 5 days a week now which is NOT cheap at all) AND Disney passes for our whole family!!! Theres no way we could do those things on our budget so it took looking into other ways to be able to afford them. I see homeschooling as a sort of part time job to get the funds to be able to afford the extra fun stuff….(***if you live in Southern Cali and want to know how we have school money cover Disney please just message me and I’ll tell you exactly how we did it!)
- Blogging- this little journey has certainly helped a little bit in making a bit of extra money as well, although I didn’t want it to originally. I wasn’t really open to it before but just as of this month I really am hoping to accept more offers for it to be a line of income. I’m still learning and am trying to soak in as much info as I can to make the changes necessary to start making more money here, but up until now I’ve mostly been given a lot of free product.
This bag was given to me from this company called Beeve. I saw so many bags of theirs on Instagram and even though most of the pics were of people filling them up with wine I couldn’t help but envision taking ours out on all of our family outings! We go to Disney for “school” at least twice a week now, and since we pack in our own food to save money we needed something to take it all in.
And this bag gets SO many compliments from people who notice what it is! On the outside it’s an adorable purse, but the inside is lined for keeping things hot/cold and the best part is the little “bladder” that holds liquid! I fill it up with ice cold water and we can typically refill all five kids water bottles at least 3 times before running out.
I have a coupon code for you too! Use the code INSTALOVE for 10% off at Beeve!
P.S. For those of you who are in the market for a double stroller I could not possible recommend this one enough. It is one of the best purchases we have ever made. Perfect to fit into doorways, super agile for tight space and perfect for jogging.