It’s budget time and the pollies are hard at work with their spin and rhetoric about how they’re going to spend the money that you and I worked hard for last year. When you have a big family, the money left over (after tax) needs to be spent a little thoughtfully. But, does life with a big family mean it’s all about rationed minced-meat, porridge and misery?
Whilst I don’t mind the odd sausage, I’d be lying if I said I was the off-the-grid, churn-your-own-butter kind of mum. After all, I’m a city girl who likes the urban lifestyle. Good coffee, nice clothes and the odd vacation are essential ingredients to this mum’s sanity.
But obviously, there needs to be compromised when it comes to a footprint our family’s size. So, how do we live a cost-effective urban life without sucking the fun out? Here are some of our hacks that keep it cheap but cheerful.
A pair of these canvas retrospectives are all a big family needs. Grab these guys and you’ll be happily wearing, washing and passing them on to your next kid…and the next. Your kids will love them and will step out in total style, mastering the well-worn look of a hipster.
Shoes looking a tad shabby by kid #6? Just grab a pack of gender-specific coloured laces to freshen things up for the next kid down. Converse are a big-family essential. You’ll pay a premium at the front end, but these bad boys will endure both in style and substance.
Some frown at the thought of these, but I’m a thrifty gal and I’m totally in favour of them. A big family leaves a lasting impression (not necessarily a good one). The upside is, we’re clearly the first ones who spring to mind when our charitable friends and family clear out their wardrobes.
Friends, cousins, neighbours and the woman who walks past our home with her dog… all very happy to drop off their latest purge. Although we’ve never asked for the multiple deliveries, there’s such abundance that we’re afforded the indulgence of being selective - Christmas!
Of course, the benefits are multiplied when it comes to school uniform seconds. People think…. ‘Ooo that big family needs some help’. Yep, that’s right folks, keep it coming.
#3 KIDS STAY, PLAY AND EAT FREE DEALS
We love the idiot who came up with this one. Who doesn’t like heading away for a vacation? But when you’ve got a big family, you’ve got to do these escapes super smart. And don’t talk to me about camping, I’m not the camping kind. All family escapes avoid transportation where we’re required to pay per head, so it’s drive, drive, drive… still waiting for that road to be built between here and Tahiti.
Anything that says ‘Family Deal’ and upon close review, you discover that there is NO small print stipulating the family size… and it’s happy days! These deals are designed by some actuary for the average size family. If you’re smaller than average, bummer about that.
#4 50 CENT CONES
Every kid deserves a treat at some point but if you have a super-size family, they can be a little on the margin.
When we’re feeling hard-pressed to please, we swing past (a very thoughtful) Maccas for a 50 cent cone - guaranteed to bring a smile, without breaking the bank. And let’s face it, a trip home from the beach demands a yummy soft-serve. Toppings? Not happening.
#5 ECONOMIES OF SCALE
Shops that entice the small spender to spend more, are our best friends. Especially when our favourite shop promotes ‘Buy 2 pairs of school shoes, get the third free’. What this poor retailer did not anticipate was that we were buying six pairs anyway. So, basically, they just gave us free stuff.
Almost makes me want more kids (almost).
#6 PASTA, RICE and POTATOES
If you’re carb-free, a big family is not going to work for you, my scrawny friend. There’s a lot of collective bellies to fill in this household and if you haven’t got your trolley full with these carb-loaders, you’re dashed.
They are the perfect CHEAP compliment to just about any family meal.
If your economic goal is storage of wealth, then I’ve got nothing for you and I really don’t know how you’ll get there with a bunch of kids in tow. But, what a big family misses out on, in terms of luxury, will most definitely be made up for with fun!