This article ran last week on Larger Family Life.
We were on television in 2007 for TLC, the same network as the Duggars and other large families, in a series called Kids by the Dozen. Similar to the hit movie in the 1960s Cheaper by the Dozen, most people found our finances as the most fascinating aspect of our show. We even did a poll on our website www.jeubfamily.com confiming this:
Clearly, our frugal living hit a nerve. Unique from other television shows on large families, our family enjoyed speaking of our frugality, saving money techniques, and the blessings that flow from living on such a tight budget.
We’re sure you noticed that living prices, primarily groceries, have gone up considerably in the past five years. We live in Colorado. Grocery prices are up at the fastest rate since 1990. Milk, eggs and flour have increased double digits. Hard times are similar across the world. The cost of rice (the main staple for 3 billion people) has caused riots in parts of the world. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low as the global economy faces considerable challenges.
It isn’t a pretty picture. Yet when we explain specifics of our frugal lives, we get the attention of most parents. They often find it hard to believe we are able to live on such a small fortune. Consider:
- We have 16 eaters at home.
- Our income ins less than $40,000 per year.
- We are on no government assistance.
- Our children never go hungry.
- We often have guests over to our home.
- We spend less than $700/mo. on groceries.
Like most large families, we get the question, “How do you do it?” Let’s explain a few principles of frugality.
1. Frugal living requires faith.
Families on a tight budget are somewhat forced to have faith that God will provide. However, we’ve seen families with twice our salary fret over the next bill to be paid. It boils down to faith first. When you pray “give us this day our daily bread,” do you mean it? We hope you do! Living a frugal life is an enjoyable and freeing life, but only when it starts with a faith that God provides.
2. Frugal living requires adaptability.
Frugal families need to remain flexible to the challenges that come their way. God often surprises us with creative solutions to our money problems, solutions that wouldn’t have surfaced if we remained stubborn or set in our ways. The best example is in our cooking habits. We have our favorite meals, but when we are blessed with a large quantity of a certain food, we adapt and cook a lot of whatever was given us. We remain adaptable, and the blessings flow from there.
3. Frugal living requires an eternal perspective.
Focus on God’s plan for your family, not what others think you should do. Sometimes this takes ignoring cultural expectations, styles and trends. Clothes is a big item in our home, yet we don’t participate in the fashion crazes of the latest styles. We’d go broke if we did! Really, God is calling our family to keep up with relationships and love, not trends in clothing fashion, and we believe this is the perspective to keep.
These are the basic principles of a frugal lifestyle. What follows are the typical money-saving techniques that you can find in a million places on the Internet. It’s a liberating life, really. Frugal families, when they have the faith, adaptability and eternal perspective in their family budget, allow the love in their homes to grow.