Parenting little people already comes with a myriad of expenses that we must always be mindful of; in my case I am parenting 7 daughters in one of the world’s most costliest places to live (oh joy!). The rental, utility and grocery prices in the Cayman Islands are about three times higher than in the USA and near 10x higher some countries in the world – it also doesn’t help that we import just about everything and produce near to nothing on-island. All this expense aside, I wouldn’t trade my island home for anywhere in the world; the peace of mind, safety and splendor of this island paradise is priceless.
Fortunately, even when supporting a family of nine (7 kiddies and two tired parents) there are a number of ways to keep costs as low as possible and over the years of trials and tribulations we have finally found tried and trusted ways to keep the costs of running a big family to a minimum without sacrificing love and happiness.
- We stick to free activities – the beach never gets old for the kids and it is absolutely free, so that is great! We also have a number of awesome beaches to choose from. There are also great parks and best of all is the safety of our parks! Or we will even grab a few boxes of sidewalk chalk, find an old secluded road and play, color and skip or carry the kids bikes along for a fun, scenic ride. This are advantages of the serenity and safety of our island home but are also activities that in many cases can be enjoyed around the world.
- Shopping in bulk – Grand Cayman (the largest of the three Cayman Islands) has two wholesale stores that offer great bulk bargains [by Cayman standards] and we grab our frequently used items there. For our family that is especially diapers, toilet paper, body washes, shampoo/conditioner, sanitary napkins (8 lady household!), poultry, fish, spices, seasonings, (now that I think of it, just about everything has to be bought in bulk for or fam);
- We cook at home as much as possible and have a long list of great family meals for our big family that can be made to feed up to 10 for under $20 (more on those soon);
- Limit the car trips, gas is near US$6 per gallon in Cayman so being mindful of mileage is key to saving hundreds per month;
- Instead of hiring help to run our big fam and home everyone chips in, some days the eldest daughters will cook dinner and even the toddlers get their chance to vacuum the play room;
- Netflix vs Cable – we go for Netflix – it saves a good $100 per month and we have better control over what the kids are watching;
- Phone calling plans with Digicel – this helps prevent unaccounted for telephone expenses and really helps with keeping communication costs down and more predictable;
- We stick to traditional toys and books, this alone saves thousands. The children have one TV, connected to Netflix and a schedule for younger kids and older kids, everyone is welcomed to watch eachother’s shows but knowing whose turn it is for age appropriate content alleviates confusion.
- Hubby and I have daily spending apps on our phones; this helps us track spending in every area and reminds us to add expenses for the day;
- Be realistic with income and finances – spend on absolute necessities and ask the question “do we neeeed this now, now?” It is important not to overstretch for anything unnecessarily as the headache this can cause for your family is not worth the temporary pleasure of the purchase.
In addition to all the cost saving measures we also have found easy to start ways of making more income apart from the day-jobs which has been a real life saver and helps us to not crumble under the usual financial stress of a large family.
Having a big family is wonderful truly but the biggest issue facing families these days is usually finances – it can tear a loving family apart. Overcoming that by appreciating minimalism and eachother is key.
When running a big family our monthly grocery bill can quickly amount to an average mortgage payment and any paid family activity easily doubles that of a small family. Remember – do not consider your children or family to be an expense – children are one of life’s most valuable assets and like any asset they require investment and room for growth.
I am sure that something is missing from my list as there must be another dollar I can save – any tips please pass them along in the comments !