Money matters – Large family style!

If Datsun’s were currency, I have just bought a washing machine that cost me two Datsuns.  (From Facebook Status 28/4/09)

When I went through high school the car of choice was a Datsun 120Y, it would set you back around five hundred dollars. Ever since then, and I don’t know how this eventuated, it has been a habit of mine to measure the cost of things into how many Datsuns I could have bought for my money. Anyway, the little washing machine that we have had since getting married some ten years ago finally gave up on us. I guess they don’t make them like they used to?  So we decided we needed to upsize it instead of fixing it, the biggest beast of a machine in the shop set us back thirteen hundred dollars,  bit of a stretch from the three hundred dollars our first washing machine cost us, that’s two and a bit Datsuns! This purchase hurt, I don’t like laying out so much money on just one thing, especially on something I can’t even get in and drive. But at least I now have a washing machine that can fill an entire clothesline in one load.  When I think about how many loads that poor little machine used to do a day for so many years, I probably should have had the poor thing bronzed.

So my point is; yes there was a point I was getting to. Is that lots of kids equals lots of washing, no that wasn’t my point. 

My point was that you do have to live a bit larger with more kids.   And that is not necessarily a bad thing.  We are not rich, by no means, but we are comfortable. We have got to a point in our lives where we are happy with what we have. We don’t have a boat, but we’ll worry about that when there is water to put it in shall we? 

I spend a lot of time on trying to save us money where possible.  So I thought I would share some of the things that I do in the hope that they are useful.  Some of these ideas I worked out accidently, some were handed down from family or friends.  Some may not apply to you depending on your living situation; remember we live in the sticks.

  • Buy in bulk where possible. This another thing you can now do easily online, just make sure you check out what the delivery costs are as that may eat into any saving you have made.
  • Don’t forget your humble butcher shop; they often do bulk packs of meat that is usually better value than the supermarket where it is easy to grab packaged meat because of the convenience.   This goes for the fruit shop too; they have fresher fruit and use local suppliers.
  • Grow your own vegetables, yes you can, even if it’s just a tomato bush in a pot on your kitchen bench to start with, every little bit helps.
  • Get a second freezer. You need somewhere to keep all your bulk purchases and vegies you’ve grown.
  • Shop around. These days you can easily compare prices for the big ticket items online, before you go shopping print out the product page and take it with you and haggle with the sales person to do better. If they can’t match the price be prepared to walk out, anyway you can always go get it from the supplier you found with the cheaper price.
  • Join a mothers group, there you will be able to trade kid’s clothes, borrow equipment or toys for your kids. Be prepared to be able to offer up items as well though.  And you will most likely make some great friends too.
  • Buy second-hand clothes; it’s not as bad as you think. You can get some great hardly worn kids clothes from online auctions at a fraction of the price, as kids can go through a couple of sizes a year it makes sense. And you can resell after you are done with them. This is another time when buying in bulk is a good idea from the same seller as they will usually combine postage costs into one price.
  • Learn to sew. Being able to repair your own clothes will save you lots, and if you are really talented you can even sew your kids’ clothes. You can get material very cheap at the larger fabric shops. And remember until they get old enough to have a fashion sense, your kids will wear whatever creation you make.
  • Become your own handyman.  I have learnt to plaster, tile, do carpentry and garden and on occasion make mechanical repairs.  You can save yourself a hundred dollars at least doing the job yourself and not paying a tradesman by the hour. Don’t underestimate your ability it’s not as hard as you might think, and you can usually get instruction sheets for most jobs from the big hardware stores.
  • Join a Christmas club or hamper club. We have done this for the last few years and have been very thankful that we did.  That twenty or thirty dollars a week for a year certainly covers Christmas in our house. And you know that the end of the year is always the time when the car will explode and you have to spend your money on that, so it is good to have Christmas already sorted out.
  • Use a shopping list. Get one that sticks on your fridge and every time you use the last of something write it on the list, this way you buy only what you need when you get to the shop. 
  • Shop the day before pension or pay-day. I have noticed that supermarkets seem to have more bargains on a Monday or Tuesday, when less people shop and there is more on the shelves to choose from.
  • Toys; go for solid old-fashioned well made toys if you can. In our house they have to last a while, and the toys with lots of fiddly little accessories often don’t see a month out before they are lost or broken (or mummy gets tired of treading on the bits and secretly throws them out). Each Christmas we get the kids a big traditional toy; say a trampoline, swing set or seesaw. These toys have provided more entertainment than a game console ever could and it gets them outside and exercising.

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