“They’re on food stamps. There is NO way to raise that many children without government assistance.”
This was the statement someone made to other people, about our family–someone we actually know, though not very well.
The fact is that it hurts to be misunderstood, and it hurts to hear false assumptions actually being verbalized to others when no attempt is made to confirm the allegation. Our family is not on government assistance nor have we ever been.
I won’t debate government funding in this post. Our tornado tragedy has certainly brought up a lot of discussion about FEMA and when or if it’s ever OK to receive government assistance. I don’t know all the answers. But we’ve seen the church in action and praise God that we didn’t feel pressured to tap into a grossly depleted government treasury.
But back to the assumption that a large family can’t live without foodstamps…
I’ve written on the subject of family economy quite extensively, and there are many facets that can be discussed.
But the foundational misunderstanding may lie in lifestyle. Americans are accustomed to believing they have an inalienable right to a certain level of lifestyle. It’s just expected and so they reach for it no matter the cost.
Children are only as “expensive” as the lifestyle you choose.
Borrowing money for just about everything is considered absolutely necessary now whereas once upon a time it was a blight on one’s character to do so. As a result, many families are laden with heavy debt that enslaves them.
Younger families are starting out in debt and never catching up because the old idea of “working up” to a bigger, nicer home and better things is obsolete. Now, newlyweds expect to start out with all the comforts their fifty-year-old parents enjoy.
Student loans laden the couple as well, many of whom pay on loans to the tune of 75K for the rest of their married lives.
Family vacations are expected. Name brand clothing is a must. Weekly manicures, multiple dinners out, sports and activities for the kids, electronic gadgets for the whole family, new furniture and appliances, bigger houses than we need, costly recreation, the list goes on.
The alternative? Live more simply, sacrifice a few things we think we deserve, save for desired things, and be content with used things (bearing in mind that in our disposable society, used is often “barely used”).
For those wondering specifically how we manage with so many children, we try to follow the above recipe as well as some other things. We don’t spend money perfectly. We have made poor financial choices just like everyone else. But consider the following if you are looking to lighten your financial load:
- We don’t buy a car for every child. We have one, older, used car besides our van and my husband’s truck.
- We go out to eat but not very often.
- We are given so many nice clothes that we hardly ever need to buy them. We breastfeed our babies and our church gives us “diaper showers”. (Given these two things, our children literally don’t cost anything for the first year of their lives.)
- We stay home a lot which saves gas and the temptation to buy lunch, etc.
- We have one cell phone with a very cheap plan. (Well, someone did give me a cell phone right after the storm.)
- We don’t own credit cards.
- We don’t watch much T.V. which, believe it or not, greatly reduces the pressure of purchasing due to the bombardment of ads.
- And a biggie: we avoid Wal-mart as much as possible. 😉
- We use Samaritan’s ministries instead of paying outrageous insurance fees.
To name a few.
We also trust God to provide and this trusting has brought about miraculous provision again and again.
And contrary to what some may assume, we do not feel the least bit deprived. In fact, we feel especially blessed.
In addition, understanding how a family should really works makes a large family a financial benefit. As I’ve heard Kevin Swanson say, “we are a 7-income family”. Our 12-year-old son already makes a little money from his website using his gift of art. Our daughter has done some photography for a wedding or two. We anticipate that as our children get older, we not only have more hands to work in the garden producing food, or cutting firewood, etc., but we have more possibilities of everyone sharing in the family’s economy. Live together, share life together, provide together.
It is my heart’s desire to encourage families to get out of debt, avoid living beyond their means and enjoying the freedom of simplicity and God’s provision. He has proven Himself so faithful, even in the midst of choices for which we are often persecuted.
I want to pass that hope along to you any way I can.
(Note: This post is in no way intended to make anyone feel bad about accepting government assistance. It is only an expression of our personal experience and there is no attitude of “looking down” on others.)
You can read a bit more about our journey to get out of debt, and find practical help in our ebook, Finding Financial Freedom.