The Secret to Affording Six Kids
People often ask me how I can afford to have six kids. I think people analyze their own financial struggles in today's economy and wonder how a family of 8 survives. I do really wrestle (internally) with this question, though. Are you asking me my income? How much money I spend per kid? What my expenses are? Or is this one of those rhetorical questions that actually don't need an answer? Either way, I’m rather uncomfortable, and my response varies, depending on my mood.
So, is having a big family really THAT unusual? Well, apparently, it is, because I don’t know anyone (personally) with the kid-count that I have. Statistically, the average American family has only 1.9 children. What is even MORE crazy is... that statistic has not wavered since 1978! For over four decades, the average American family has been having 2-ish children. Wow. People are really putting a cap on kids, huh? I guess I AM the anomaly, and maybe I shouldn’t get offended with such an intrusive question. So, how ARE we affording six children then!?
Generally speaking, major expenses do not really change whether you have 1.9 kids, or if you have 6 kids. I’ve lived through both, and the struggle is real, either way. A family with any amount of kids will do a ridiculous month to month budgeting act, with a checking account that will occasionally dip into the negative. "Topping off" gas tanks are for long rides, and we're no longer trying to "fill the pantry". We just want to eat through next week, at this point. These are just universal struggles of the American family, no matter how big or small, and none of that changes with 6 kids. We're not gassing extra cars or paying more mortgages. We’re already cooking dinner, so what’s one more box of spaghetti? And, if ALL the lights are on in the house, are the lights MORE on with six kids? Nope! All of this is just the general life struggle that happens, regardless of how many kids you have. That we all have in common.
Now, here lies the game changer. What does change with six kids in a family is... life's luxuries! It's not about AFFORDING more, it's actually about-- surviving with less luxuries. I learned this lesson many kids ago: the more you can live without, the better. We hardly ever eat out as a family (#Ditchuation only). We haven't had cable in years, and a car payment, at this point, will bring me to real tears. I don't buy Jordans, and I most certainly don't pay for kids to have cell phones. For me, "affording more kids" means living with less. For them, they have miraculously adapted and even learned the value of a dollar, along the way. Four of my children have some sort of income stream, while three of them have cell phones that they pay for themselves. My fourteen-year-old bought his own sneakers the other day, and it’s not uncommon for them to treat me to lunch.
So... how can I afford 6 kids? The same way you afford 1.9 :)