The last time I held an out-of-the-home position was just over 7 years ago. Over those years our family has grown and our income has fluctuated.
When our family was small and our income was high, we made it a point to get out of debt. J-Dub was in an economy driven industry at the time and we had a good feeling we would be blessed with more children at some point and tried to be wise and intentional with our income. Paying off that debt was the best thing we could have done knowing the position he held wouldn’t last forever. That is the biggest reason, short of God’s grace, that allows me to stay home, even on such an income as ours.
Another major reason we survive is because we tithe. J-Dub and I fully, wholeheartedly believe all we have is from the Lord. God is this reason he can get up everyday and work for a man the Lord put in his path. Since all we have is from God, we have a biblical responsibility to give back to Him what is due. Even on the lean weeks. Even with extra expenses or when food prices or gas prices have gone up. We know that God will use our tithe for His glory and that we will still be taken care of for our obedience to this biblical duty.
Currently, we live in the city so there are many places we can shop for groceries. Typically I do the bulk of my shopping at Aldis, where I can still get a buggy (that’s what Southerners call shopping carts) full of groceries less than $100. I can’t do that anywhere else. The rest, including most of my meat comes from Kroger and I try to get what is on clearance. I can afford the better meat this way, and still save money. Usually it is priced 1/2 off, even 1/2 off the sale price when I time it right. Please be clear: this is perfectly good meat, simply nearing the “Sell By” date. I will have another post on grocery shopping for our family of 6 on a $500 monthly budget up next. Also, we hunt. That save’s us bundles of money on meat.
Additionally, an advantage to shopping at Kroger is the gas discount. I get 1 point per dollar I spend, and receive a .10 discount per 100 points, all the way up to $1.00 off, per gallon. The points accumulate all month and I get a nice discount at the end of the month when I fill up my tank.
I also use money-saving apps like Savings Catcher from Walmart and Checkout 51. These are used after the fact (though a good idea to check Checkout 51 to see the weekly deals beforehand). You take a picture of your receipt, check off what you bought and submit. Easy peasy and a few cents every trip add up over time. You can redeem it when you hit a certain threshold or save it for things like Christmas presents. Bonus: I don’t have to clip coupons.
Speaking of shopping around, many people are able to shop between companies for the best rate for things like: internet, cell/telephone and television services, car/health/life insurance companies, etc. I would encourage you to do that! It will make a large difference over the course of a year. A $20 monthly savings amounts to $240 per year. It all adds up.
The next way I keep our budget in check is by minimizing snacking. That’s easier said than done with 4 children, but I have found they are hungry more often due to boredom than actual hunger. We have specific snack times that I try to stick to and it works well for us.
I make most of our food from scratch and we try not to eat out very often. This takes discipline on my part, but is worth it for the cost savings as well as the health impact.
I have 3 boys and they all wear hand-me-downs. Well, all 4 of my kids do. My oldest wears clothes given to us by a friend of my sister-in-law and those then get passed down to the other boys. Little Sister wears clothes given to us by a friend, and we trade back with them for the clothes that have actually survived 3 boys.
Lastly we have been continually blessed by the generosity of others. Different people in our extended family graciously buys diapers from Costco every few months, sends “ice cream money” to our boys once in a while, and spoils all of us on birthdays and holidays. That love showered on us is another gift from God that we are so thankful for.
Individually, these things may not be much, but combined they make a large dent in our overhead, and with 4 kids we’ll take all we can get!
To recap, what I do to allow our family of 6 to live on less than $50K per year:
- Tithing and trusting God to continue to provide for our needs
- Living debt free and keeping monthly overhead as low as possible
- Shop around for monthly services and shop around for groceries, as well as using coupon apps
- Make meals at home and minimize snacking
- Buy used clothes, or better, trade with friends
What do you do to live on a lower-than-average income?