The other day at church after we had given our Orphan Sunday presentation about our first 4 adoptions and our 2 pending adoptions, another member of the church came up and started ask a few friendly questions. Eventually he got around to asking what we did for a living. I explained that I was a teacher and Brian stayed home with the kids. When I told him this he looked at me like I must be robbing banks on the side in order to make ends meet. "You mean to tell me you have 4 kids on one teacher salary and you're adopting 2 more??? How are you going to afford that?" he said with a little sneer.
Well, somehow we always make ends meet. We paid for our first 4 adoptions mostly with savings, lots of scrimping, and selling lots of stuff at garage sales. We also have had some very generous people in our lives make some very generous donations. This time we are fundraising our hinney's off. I've sewn 12 Congolese blankets so far (keep those orders coming, I'm all caught up), a whole bunch of t-shirts (but our inventory is getting smaller so you might want to order soon), we had the mother of all garage sales, and we have some cool raffle items that will be coming your way soon. We've also taken on extra hours at work and we are looking for any other creative ways we can come up with to do this adoption debt free.
As far as day to day making ends meet and why we can afford for Brian to stay home, well, that is mostly to do with the fact that except for our mortgage, we are debt free. No car loans (pray they give us several thousand more miles), no school loans (we attended a bargain priced college), nothing monthly but our utilities and insurance.
We also have cut lots of fluff out of our budget. We do not have cable, we have moderately fast internet, we got rid of our land line phone. We don't buy Starbucks coffees. We don't eat at restaurants more expensive than McDonald's. We're on a cash and envelope sort of system. But I think there are two really big factors that save us the most money.
First, I am not a very girly girl. I do not get manicures. I don't pay more than $15 to get my hair cut. In fact, I only paid $5 for my last hair cut. I had it done by one of the cosmetology students at my high schools vocational program--and they did a great job! And when I get around to coloring my hair from time to time, Brian does it for me. I don't wear makeup or use any fancy styling products on my hair. I don't use any special wrinkle creams or other anti-aging products. I've come to terms with face. It is what it is. No point in putting a fancy paint job on an old clunker :)
The second thing that I think contributes to our smaller budget is I don't like to shop. For anything. I really hate shopping, in fact. I don't even like to go to the grocery store. Brian is the big chief in charge of groceries. I just tag along to corral the kids. I rarely buy clothes or shoes (something my students will testify to, I'm sure they're tired of my wardrobe). The only shirt I have purchased in the last year is another family's adoption t-shirt. I do have a weakness for books so we stay out of bookstores for sure. Our kids have plenty of beautiful and generously donated hand-me-downs. Most of my furniture is "vintage" or "antique". My appliances all come with the house.
So my big trick to saving money--don't buy things. Pretty clever, huh!
I know that maybe that's easier said than done and I don't want this post to come across as preachy. But when I'm in a store and I think I've found something I can't live without I just try to remember all the things my kiddos would be living without if we hadn't become a family.
And those kiddos, the 4 at home and the 2 we are still waiting for, they're something I really can't imagine living without. So I take it out of my cart and walk away. Oh, except for that bar of dark chocolate. Gotta have that. It's good for my heart. And you have to have a strong heart with 6 kids around :)