Author Topic: Critique these discretionary expenses, I'm bracing for face punches....  (Read 13768 times)


  • Stubble
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I feel you with all the feels!  I have 4, and while one is a teenager (which is a handful in totally different ways), the others are 8,4,newborn.  Crazy business.  I don't do babysitters but I don't judge Based on that especially with your husband traveling.  If I really need some time, my husband takes them to have a day with him.  That may work for you once you FIRE. 

Yes! Once husband retires, the babysitter category goes away! We live 3,000 miles from family and do not have the community or support that we wish we had. So I have to pay for it instead. The 8 hours/week my sitter comes....I am not off shopping or sipping coffee. I probably have only 2 completely kid-free hours of the 8. Right now our kids are a 2 person job. The sitter and I tag-team the day and basically work the house, cooking/meal prep, errands or playing with the kids. When we FIRE we plan to move near family....I cannot wait for that. But right now we are just totally in the thick of it...the baby is up by 6am and my oldest isn't asleep until 10pm. That is a long ass day, particularly with my husband away so much. And, we rarely turn on the TV or do screens.

I want to know how you clothe 4 growing kids for $25/mo? Do you live in a nudist colony?

Is is possible some of your $80/mo for clothes was actually spent on the kids?

I have mastered clothing my children ha ha:) Mostly I buy from local fb pages. The other day I got my 3 yo 4 pair of shorts for $3. Basically nothing new. My kids each own only two pair of shoes - crocs and rain boots. Three of my kids are girls. So pretty much all hand me downs. My baby was wearing these little pants today and I was thinking about how they had been through at least two kids before they hit my three girls.

As for my own clothes. I said this in one of my replies but it probably got lost. I really don't think I spend $80/mo. When I think back to the last 12 just doesn't make sense. I did two shops for about $150 each, which would average to $25/mo. BUT, I tend to buy like $400 worth online, try on at home and then return what I don't like because I do not have any time to go to stores and stuff like that. I think that I made mistakes when recording the returns into our budget. I am pretty sure of this.

The grocery situation is a pain, I know with naps and everything (here's looking at you 4 year old who now naps exclusively in the car).  Once you do get the ability to plan, you can do it.  It just takes planning out for right time of day and right stores to hit.  Also I only go for groceries twice a month which helps A LOT.  I couldn't make it work weekly.

For makeup/salon, I have long hair lol this makes life simple.  If I need a trim, husband can trim the ends a little and done.  Find the cheaper makeup that works for you and stick with it.  Tons of beauty blogs for that out there.  You can also consider minimizing.  I found that the only makeup I really ended up wanting to do was eyeliner after experimenting with leaving out this or that part of the routine.  With nails, I buy polish and a good quality top coat and do it at home.  Also because I have 2 girls who want theirs done too.  It took a while to get good at it, but now I am.  I do end up getting a pedi once or twice a year because someone in my extended family gives me a gift card.  I enjoy it so much more reverently than I ever did when I got them all the time on my own dime. 

You're doing great!! Add in whatever else will work for you.

Y-E-S. I think PLANNING is my key to unlocking the food situation. I do not know how, because we really don't every waste food....but for some reason, whenever I shop to a meal plan - I spend way less. I'm gonna tackle this one!

AND, I found an Aveda training salon near me - I can't believe I never knew it was there. I scheduled a cut/color for $60 and I anticipate needing this twice/year.


  • Pencil Stache
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With 4 kids, i think ordering groceries online is a great idea. It is way cheaper and more convenient than dragging 4 kids around.

Cutting the food budget is a long process, it took me years until I got the hang of it. I read everything i found about cutting costs, some things work for me some don't.  We spend around 150 AUD a week for a fam of 4 and we eat well. Planning meals and costing them is the key. Plus batch cooking and freezer meals are a life saver. I managed to keep dinner expenses reasonable (way under 10), but I overstocked on cheeses, lunch fixing and even fruit and veg. Analysing the food I threw away helped me a lot in reorganizing what I buy and how much. At 1000 a month I suspect that there is a lot of variety and fancy ingredients, you might want to simplify this. See how low you can go before people start complaining.


  • Walrus Stache
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I hope I'm not crossing a line here/getting into TMI territory, but consider whether waxing (or other forms of hair removal) is even necessary.   Early on in our relationship, my DH asked me if I would stop shaving my legs.  He hated the stubble.  And I hated shaving.   I still sometimes feel a little self conscious about my hairy legs, but I muster my inner German/throw on my Birkenstocks and think of how much time/hassle/money I have saved over the years by going au natural....

It helps that I live in granola heaven, though -- might be harder to pull off in the South.


  • Stubble
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  • Location: MA
Sorry if you already addressed this but can't you just go grocery shopping after work while your wife still has the kids at home?  That's what I do (have 2 kids myself).  My wife sends me the list by email/text and I'm able to go on the way home.  I don't know how easy it is to browse by ordering online but I feel like it'd be easier to compare prices when you're in the store itself.  Thankfully the Market Basket I go to is on the way home but even if it weren't, it's got to be more cost effective to do that rather than curbside pickup.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Sorry if you already addressed this but can't you just go grocery shopping after work while your wife still has the kids at home?  That's what I do (have 2 kids myself).  My wife sends me the list by email/text and I'm able to go on the way home.  I don't know how easy it is to browse by ordering online but I feel like it'd be easier to compare prices when you're in the store itself.  Thankfully the Market Basket I go to is on the way home but even if it weren't, it's got to be more cost effective to do that rather than curbside pickup.

This is a terrific process.  Blended family of 8 (7 currently regularly around).  My wife works as well, but I tend to do the grocery shopping as she just does not enjoy shopping at all.  I have three places I frequent, Sam's Club, Giant Eagle(GE) for things we do not want in bulk and a local produce store for fruits and veggies as they are much higher quality and much cheaper than either Sam's or Giant Eagle ($0.39/lb for awesome fresh bananas versus $0.55/lb for Sam's Club meh came in on the boat a week ago).  We eat meat regularly and go through 4-5 gallons of milk a week (two of our girls love giant glasses of chocolate milk each day (Hershey's syrup in bulk at Sam's for this)) and our grocery bill for 7 is $600-800/month.  We have an Instant Pot and honestly this cut our grocery bill about $100-$200/month because it vastly decreased our bulk packaged dinner items purchases.  Sam's Club has the Scan and Go app, so you do not even need to go to the checkout, so does not matter how busy the store is.  I can usually get in and out in 15 minutes or less buying my $150 or so for the trip.  Same thing with the produce store.  Tiny little place but they have 6-8 registers open to the checkout line moves lightning fast.  I visit GE maybe one or twice a month.  My weekly visits are Sam's and produce store.  If you can find someplace like the produce place it can be a terrific saver.  Watermelons twice the size (not kidding) of the Sam's Club variety for $2.99 instead of $3.99.  Apples between $0.99-$1.29 pound all the time versus 25-50% more at Sam's or GE for worse quality.  Tomatoes rarely more than $0.99/lb.  Clamshells of grape/cherry tomatoes for $0.99 versus $3.00 at GE.  All greens for $0.99/bunch versus $2.50-$4.00. 

Asides from the savings, me doing the shopping on the way home (all of these three places are at various places within a mile or less of the interstate route I take home) keep my wife from doing a chore she hates and I enjoy.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Just wanted to clarify about the pest control service via DIY pest control.
I was not talking about replacing it with a can of Raid or something, but effective pest control which is sold only in specialized stores.
Florida, where I live, is the bug capital of the world so I wouldn't suggest it, unless I knew it worked.
$400 easy instant savings - totally worth it at least to us. 10 minutes - once a month, $50 total.

On the groceries, as you can see, there are at least six or more responses from people with six or more kids - if they can do it, so can you. That grocery budget is hundreds out of line - pick just one thing that you can improve and do it - voila, progress.
Rinse - wash - and repeat, until it is closer to the $600 range. Instapot is your friend:)


  • Stubble
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The only thing I'll add for food is to consider buying in bulk or from unusual sources. We've bought a half cow before - gave us a better price than stores and really good grain fed beef. I do the same for just about everything we eat. Apples on sale - that's the fruit of the week plus we can and freeze if we can. We also glean wild food when we can. We have sources for currants (makes great jam), wild onions, choke cherries (great jam), raspberries.

One thing I noticed in your posts is a running theme of "keeping your sanity" and that you don't seem have many homeschool moms of many nearby. I thought I'd offer some suggestions for that that you might be able to use to save money and/or cut your costs. I'm a homeschooling mom of many too. When my first 4 were all little, they were ages 5, 4, 1, newbie (first two are 12 months apart, 3rd and 4th are 14 months apart). I remember how crazy it was! My husband also worked long hours although he didn't travel at that time (he did travel when our second was an infant). We didn't have money for a babysitter and I don't believe grocery delivery was available at that time so I learned to do it with sanity intact : ).
So some ideas:
1. put your kids on a schedule so their wake up times and bed times are close. 6am to 10 pm is nuts! Work on your baby sleeping until 7 and your last going to bed by 8. That will give you time at each end of the day - mornings to get going and get some stuff done, evenings to have some down time. 
2. Institute a quiet time during the baby's afternoon nap. Train your kids to play quietly on a blanket in the living room with a few toys/books. This will give you some down time or time to tackle something that is difficult with constant interruptions. It's also great if you need to take everyone to the Dr or elsewhere with you - I always took all my kids to my OB appts for each pregnancy.
3. Set a consistent grocery shopping time for right after breakfast. Little chance for kids to fall asleep. They are also less grumpy since they are newly awake and newly fed.
4. Set up your shopping strategy - put the 3 year old in the front of the cart. The baby either on you or in a car seat across the back part of the cart with groceries underneath. The older two hold on to the side (other hand in pocket if they tend to touch everything). Teach them "little ducks" - if someone is coming toward you, say little ducks which to them should mean "get behind me in a line like ducks follow their mama".

As far as homeschooling: I think I read that you are in NC so you don't have any day or time requirements as far as teaching (although it looks like there are "suggestions" for both) so that should reduce your stress too. At 6, kids don't need more than an hour or two of direct instruction and much of that can be reading aloud (I've found that while my kids eat breakfast is a great time to read aloud since their mouths are all busy), life experience (nature study, cooking/baking, field trips, etc), life skills, pursuing their interests, games/puzzles, etc. Throw in some life math and phonics and you should be set.

Hope some of that helps!


  • Bristles
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With a group of 4 kids, check out Jordan Page - Fun Cheap or Free on Youtube (she also has a blog). She's a mom with 5 kids under 6, has great tips on budgeting ($100/month per person, so $600/month for your family) and good practical advice on things like how much to pay babysitters.