Mom of 5 needs desperate help!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mom of 5 needs desperate help!!
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 10:19am
Hi, all. (Thanks for bringing me here, Les!) I am a SAHM of 5 beautiful kiddos. Ages: 9, 8, 4, 2, 8 mo. I quit my job as a 5th grade teacher almost 3 years ago and can NOT get things together! I am hiding an almost $9,000 cc bill from DH that is driving me to ulcers. I can NOT grasp grocery shopping... it has skyrocketed to almost $900/mo! HOW do I find coupons? Do you know how hard it is to shop wisely w/all 5 present? I usually start well, but end up just grabbing and trying to run to the nearest exit!

I have gotten good at accepting hand-me-downs. (The boy hardly has ever had anything but!)

I try to search online for shoes and stuff.... I don't wear makeup anymore. (Though I'm still huge due to stress eating, I think)

I cd and resell my dipes on wahmall/ebay/mother's nature and the fleamarket... I don't take the kiddos to have pics done as much... but I'm still scared I will have to go back to teaching by the end of this year!!

School's about to start again (the older 2 will be in 4th & 3rd, and the second set of 2 w/be in the Church's Prep School program twice a week) and I need to get shoes... but have had NO income all summer so nothing is left... DH's salary has frozen (I'm thankful he hasn't been laid off!!)

WOW.... I guess I'm more upset about the money issue than I thought! I LOVE being a SAHM and do NOT want to go back to work!! Please send me doable menus.... cheap cuts of meats that I can spread a LLOOONNNGGG way (we do have a deep freeze, but it's usually empty)

My oldest daughter is usually the one who gets the least.... all 4 of the other's have someone passing down to them, but she doesn't.... so as of right now she has my flipflops she wears and a worn out pair of tennies! Any place you know of that has shoes that last for a reasonable price?!?

Sigh.... ok, I need to go pay bills.... I'm still shopping for a new internet provider, too, but noone has a local number so it costs to have dial up long distance (I want to change my phone # so It can just be local instead of metro (~$20/mo savings!))

TIA for coupon ideas, shopping tips, menu ideas, etc!!

~Mish & The Wrecking Crew

fiftytoestokiss @


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 10:54am
Hi Mish. and welcome

First off get the Sunday paper and clip your heart out, buy only whats on sale and eat that for the week. Don't forget to scan those flyers for what is on sale. Save-a-lot has good price (but i find its all junk food so I never shop there)

I shop at CS for my girls they have really cute close that are name brand with great prices, so I would start off with those for clothes and shoes.

I would come clean with DH about the bills, you'll feel better. What about getting a parttime job at nights when DH can be home with the kids? Or taking in a few kids to watch?

Heres some great recipe and it serves alot.

Mexican Chicken

whole Chicken and boil it up

1 can each of cream of mushroom, chicken, and celery

1 jar of salsa or taco sauce

1 bag of cheese

1 bag of doritos

and rice

Boil the chicken and peel it off the bone. Mix your taco sauce and soups together in a bowl, crumple your doritos up.

start layering start with doritos, soup mix, chicken, cheese and keep layering until you run out.

And serve it over rice. (I don't use all the chicken so I refreeze it for another dish or use it for my rice a roni)

Rice a roni dish

I take two boxes of rice a roni (genertic or name brand) (this is for my family of 5)and sautee the rice up, then put the mix and water in along with the chicken (the rest from the mexican chicken) and simmer until done.

I serve this with veggies on the dies.

Chilie is always good and goes along way. Serve with crackers

Veggie soup w/ a loaf of french bread

Spagitti (I make mine with It. sausage) with salad and bread.

If you limit your snacks, junk, juice and soda you can cut your bill down. Keep a jug of water in the frig. Make kool aid, don't buy juice boxes. Try and shop when you don't have to take the kids with you. Trade off with a friend if she watches yours you'll watch hers.

BUY WHEN ON SALE, I can't stress that enough.

HTH Mishelle

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 11:20am
Hi MIsh, Big hugs to you. What you are going through sounds really stressful but I'm sure you will get tons of great ideas here that will help. Shopping for things on sale will be a huge help and only buy what's on sale. Does your grocery store have a children's room? Like Giant Eagle has the "Eagle's Nest" where kids 3 and over can play while parents shop. They have computers and video games for older kids, and toys and crafts for younger ones. That would unload 4 of yours -lol. (I know how hard it is to shop with kids -my 2 year old got "butt naked" in the store last night and I wanted to kill her! lol

I bought my DD brand new shoes at a consignment store for $3.50. I was also thinking about the Kidadvantage program at Sears for shoes for your kids. I'm not sure how expensive their shoes are but I know they will replace them in the same size for free if they wear old so that way you don't have to worry about that.

You can always keep an eye out for Eckerd's rebates if you have one near you. I only use them for things that I would normally buy. You just save your receipt and send it in and a lot of the time you get things for free or a few dollars off and they will send you a check to reimburss you.

As far as recipes go (my weakness) Sometimes our stores have BOGO pot roasts. I just throw it in the crockpot, add potatoes, onions and carrots and seasoning and let it cook all day. It is so tender from the slow cooking and it goes a long way.

Good luck and stick around!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 11:55am
(((Hugs))) Mish!

A few thoughts came to mind while reading your post; now if I can just form some coherent sentences... ;-)

First, are you shopping in the grocery store with the best prices? You may be able to slash your bill considerably just by switching stores. If your DH's schedule allows, go in the evenings after the kids are in bed so you can shop alone. You'll be able to focus on your shopping, and you'll get a little time to yourself which is always a bonus. If you can't work out a way to leave them home, put them to work. The older ones anyway, can be given their own little lists, or just sent up and down the aisle fetching things for you. If you keep them busy "working" they'll have less opportunity to cause mischief.

I've found that coupons don't save me anything, personally. They're generally for names brands, junk or convenience foods, stuff I wouldn't normally buy. And none of my local stores (as in within a 45 mile radius) double coupons. I do better just sticking with store brands.

I also avoid things like junk food, soda, storebought cookies, etc. except for special occasions. No nutritional value and just runs up the grocery bill.

As for cheap cuts of meat, watch your sales and look for whole chickens/turkeys, whole roasts, etc. I've found whole chicken, for example for as low as 59 cents/lb. When you find the really low prices like that, stock up. (Assuming your kids will eat it, of course. Mine are pretty picky. *sigh*) When you do buy whole birds, don't forget to boil down the carcass to make your own stock. Throw it in the freezer if you don't have a plan for it right away. And as somebody already mentioned, the crockpot is your best friend. ;-)

Have you checked out all your local 2nd-hand and thrift stores for clothes and shoes? Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers... I find great deals on good, high quality clothing that I could never afford brand-new. Shoes may be a little harder to find, but they're there. Also watch your clearance racks at Walmart, Target, Kmart and Mervyns. (I don't shop Mervyn's at all full-price, but their clearance prices are amazing!) And don't forget the Christmas list. When those grandparents ask what to get your kids (who are already overrun with toys if they're anything like mine! LOL) direct them to clothes or giftcards to clothing stores.

HTH! Welcome to the group; you'll get tons of great ideas here.


SAHM to Justin (7), Kyle (4) & Alicia (2)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 1:29pm
First off, {{{hugs}}} to you. Grocery shopping used to be my biggest budget drain, but I thought that I was so good at it. As Dr. Phil says, it wasn't working for me. Here were my mistakes (I encourage you to take a good look at your habits. I had to make these changes bc "for me" what I was doing was very wasteful - food and $$wise):

1) I didn't menu plan

2) I bought things with coupons

3) I shopped at different grocery stores for the sales

4) I was overly ambitious about my meals

5) I stocked up

Here is why these things were wasteful for me:

1) I didn't menu plan. I ended up willy nilly all over the store. I would end up leaving out ingredients and buying stuff I really had no idea what to do with. I would get home and find that I didn't have everything I needed. I would then have to run out for what I was missing and then half of what I bought would rot in the fridge.

How I fixed it: I plan out every single meal, even if it just says, "Cereal and milk." I also make sure that I have at least one back-up option in the freezer (frozen pizza) in case something happens and I don't get to cook. This has been my single biggest money and food saver.

2) I bought things with coupons. Save $$? WHat can be bad about that? I was so coupon crazy that I just used them bc I had them. They rarely save me $$. My regular store has wonderful prices on their own brand. I swear. Now you can open my pantry and it looks like an ad for Hannaford.

3) I shopped at different grocery stores for the sales. I wanted to get the best price, but the store that had the best sale prices, also had the highest regular prices. It is rare that everything that you need is on sale at one place. I have 2 little ones so I just can't drag them in and out all over the place. Sounds like this wouldn't work for you either. My main store that I shop at has absolutely fabulous prices so I pass up the sales at other places and end up doing much better on my entire shopping order.

4) I was overly ambitious about my meals. I thought, "I am a SAHM and I love to cook. Let me make elaborate meals." Nope. This doesn't work for me. I get frustrated bc it takes too long, is too expensive and my little ones need me more than we need to have a 3 course meal. I am now a firm believer of KISS ("Keep It Simple, Stupid" - lol!) Now I do as many one-dish dishes as I can.

5) I stocked up. Now many hear might not agree with me on this, but I never used what it was I stocked up on - lol! I ended up forgetting how long ago I bought it and then would be afraid to eat it. Into the trash it would go. Now don't get me wrong. I have a well stocked pantry. Everything I need to bake or make the basics is easily on hand, just not 10- cans of tomato sauce. I go to the store every week and they aren't likely to be out of this if I need more. Also, if you have cc debt, you should not be wasting $$ right now on stocking up. Save that until you aren't paying interest on groceries you bought months ago. (I hope that you don't take offense at that, but you wanted my opinion.)

One more food tip. If you end up going out to eat ever, put that right into your menu planner. Don't waste a nice evening out feeling guilty bc you didn't cook. Instead you get to look forward to it all day. ; )

Lastly, I would encourage you to talk to your DH about this. I don't know if that is possible for you. I guess you have to think if it will make your life easier (less guilt about hiding it from him) or harder (him getting on your case.) Either way, we will help you where we can.

Sorry this is so long! I will post menu ideas in a separate post.

{{{{hugs}}}} and good luck!

Amy, Em(12/1999) and Casey(3/2003)

Amy, mom to Em(5) and Casey(2)
Avatar for tidoublegrr
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-12-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 1:53pm
Here is what works for my family. First I got a part-time evening job, working retail so I also get a discount. My paycheck pays for groceries and gas money each month. So if my hours were cut we have to cut back on what food I buy. As for grocery shopping I get the weekly ads and write down all of the loss leaders (the stuff on sale at great prices to get you into their store) and then I shop at Walmart as they price match. I also use coupons but only on stuff that I actually need or if that makes the product cheaper than the store brand. For clothes I shop off season. Example Walmart and Target have great clearance. Last night at Walmart I notices summer clothes for $2 and $3 and sandals for $3 and $5. I will buy stuff for next summer now so next summer I don't have to pay full price. Kids R Us does an extra 50% off their clearance certain times of the year, in February they did and I bought clothes for this coming winter, dirt cheap $2 shirts, $3 jeans, $7 coats. For meal ideas I make a lot of pasta type meals since pasta is cheap. I use about a pound of hamburger or sausage in it so dh gets his meat. We grill hamburgers and hot dogs a lot during the summer. I make homemade pizza a lot too. I still buy nice cuts of steak but only when I can get them on sale. I hope that helps some.

Tiffany -- mom of Brittany 7, Bethany 4, and Zachary 2

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-1998
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 1:59pm
Hi Mish! Welcome to the board, I hope you get lots of advice and inspiration here that you can use. I don't think I have anything to add to all the wonderful advice you've gotten so far.

Just wanted to welcome you and wish you the best of luck.


Avatar for busywith5kids
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 2:24pm
Welcome & hugs from another mom of 5!! BTDT with the shopping with the kids, though mine are a little more spread out age-wise (19, 17, 12, 6, 5); now I'm lucky enough to have some old enough to stay home with the younger ones! Maybe you could go when dh is home and leave the kids with him?? Our grocery budget is about $250/mo. This is food only; I spend another $50--$75/mo on household stuff like toilet paper, dog food, cleaning supplies, etc. Here are some of the things I did/do to keep my grocery budget down.

90% of my grocery shopping is done at Aldi's every 2 weeks. The prices can't be beat (at least in my area). Most everything they sell is their brand. The rare name brand stuff have pretty good prices, but they are special purchases by Aldi's. There are very few things that we don't like of the Aldi's brand. If you don't have an Aldi's, is there a Sav-a-Lot near you? We have both here. The prices are similar and Sav-a-Lot has their own store brand. I've found that by doing the majority of my shopping only every 2 weeks, I've saved money. Before I started doing that, I was easily spending $75/week at Aldi's. Now, with careful menu planning, I spend that same amount only every 2 weeks. I'm lucky to have an extra fridge, so I can buy enough milk, etc. to last the 2 weeks. On the off-weeks, I only have to buy some produce. I also will pick up any loss leaders at the other grocery stores around here, if the price is right.

Menu planning has been something else that has really helped me. I do it a little differently from most people, I think. A lot will plan from what is on sale at the store. I plan my meals from what I have on hand. I usually have a good variety of meat and food on hand which I bought when it was the best price. I mostly shop to restock my pantry/freezer. Of course, it helps to be organized; I have a pantry list as well as a freezer list.

Try to cut down on the amount of meat you use. A serving of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards! Dh would eat 3x that!! I try to use meat more as a side dish or in a casserole. You can really stretch the meat if done in a casserole. Make other dishes that are filling and fairly cheap--rice, pasta, potatoes, beans. For example, when I make spaghetti, I only use 1/2 lb. of ground beef in the homemade sauce. My recipe makes enough for all of us, plus a little leftover (if 19yo ds doesn't do 3rds!!) Try planning a meatless meal each week too. One of our favorites is bean & rice burritos. Or serve breakfast for dinner; scrambled eggs are cheap and easy. So are pancakes. Sometimes to these I'll also fix a package of brown & serve sausage (Aldi's brand).

Make as much from scratch as possible. I never buy store-bought cookies, muffins or any of the baked goods. I do all that baking myself. About the only I don't bake regularly is bread; dh has to have Wonder! But I get that at a bread outlet store. Is there one of those in your area?

I don't use many coupons because I buy the store brands. Aldi's doesn't take coupons anyway. (I'm not sure about Sav-a-Lot.) The coupons I see are usually for things I don't buy anyway, like convenience foods.

I hope some of this helps you. It sounds like you're under a lot of stress! I'd probably come clean to dh about the money. It's not worth getting an ulcer over. Hugs to you!


P.S. If you get a chance, come to our Frugal Living chat on Tuesdays. I'm one of the chat co-CLs. We bounce a lot of ideas around there too!!

Avatar for mquin73
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 2:30pm
Hugs Mish! You have your hands full that's for sure! lol You have come to a good place though.

First off I would definitely come clean with your dh, it will make you feel better. Then you both can sit down a make a plan to pay it off. My first suggestion would be to check out if you haven't already. I love flylady and she has helped me to do more than organize my house! lol As for cutting down on groceries I would say that's the easiest part to cut back on. For me, my dh, and 2 kids (4.5 and 2.5) we spend around $200 a month for groceries. Of course, we are also able to shop at the commissary (military grocery store) so that helps a bunch. Shop the sales ads and use coupons whereever possible. I know that some people don't beleive in them but I have probably saved close to $2000 in the past yr b/c of them. Of course, only buy things that you already use and if you need coupons there are coupon sites that you can get them from for a small fee (this is for the persons time spent working on them). You can also use them at places like Eckerds, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, plus do their monthly rebate deals (like someone else mentioned). I've gotten alot of free stuff that way as well. Also stock up when you find a good deal. I have toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, toothbrushes, deoderant, body wash, soap, shaving gel, pasta, aluminum foil, canned veggies, juice, and butter stocked up right now and had cereal, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and some other things stocked up at one point (need to stock up again! lol). Do you make your own baby food for the baby? I have never done it, but I don't think it's too hard plus it's better for the baby.

As for clothes shopping I would check out salvation army stores, good will, and consignment shops. I know sometimes you can find some really good stuff there. At one of the children's consignment shops around me they are really picky about the clothes they buy so in turn they have some really nice clothes. They also have shoes, toys, books, videos, baby items like beds, highchairs, strollers, and such. Also I know someone already mentioned checking out Sears for the kidvantage program. I'm thinking of checking that out myself, but it sounds like a really good deal.

Other tips I have on cutting costs would be paying bills online (saves stamps), print your own address labels, making your own bread, and cooking more from scratch. On the internet provider thing you might check out Kmart if you have one near you, they have the bluelight internet deal and it only costs like $10 a month. I'm not sure if they might be able to give you a local number.



signature 2008

Avatar for cl_lfbennett
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 2:58pm
Wow! Great tips everyone. I don't think I can really add anymore to it, but... well.. you know me... I will try. LOL

The area where we waste the most money is with food. And like the others mentioned, planning a menu is the best darn thing we do to save money. If we *don't* have a menu, we tend to eat out or DH stops for food on the way home from work. Even if we put on the menu "Order pizza - budget $15". Then as Amy said, you can at least look forward to it instead of feeling guilty for being disorganized.

This is how my menu / grocery list is structured. Mine is in columns, but I couldn't figure out how to format it that way here. My grocery list ends up being everything from the "need" column, plus an "other groceries" section where I put things like milk, toilet paper, etc.


DINNER: Salmon and Noodles with broccoli

HAVE: Noodle mix, frozen broccoli

NEED: Salmon (on sale this week - I know this from the grocery store flyer)


DINNER: Leftover pasta from Sunday with sliced cucumbers

HAVE: pasta and cucumber, dressing for dip

NEED: --


DINNER: Chicken in CP with mashed potatoes and green beans

HAVE: frozen chicken, red potatoes, milk, butter

NEED: green beans (on sale this week)

I start out by taking stock of what's in the freezer and cupboards and see what we have. A can of refried beans? -- maybe we could do quesadillas. Jar of spaghetti sauce? -- we could do pasta one night. I've tried planning lunches, but I haven't gotten the hang of that yet. I can email you my template if you want. It's in MS Word format.

You could start by making a big list of dinners that you enjoy - include veggies and side dishes. Get the older kids involved, too. Then you can pick and choose stuff for the week, and make your grocery list from the menu. (Almost as if you are planning a party.) If the kids want something you didn't plan, they can wait til next week and put it on the schedule.

The other thing I would suggest is writing down all your expenses and income. Try to think of EVERYTHING possible that you spend money on. Once you get it down, keep track of your spending for a couple weeks and see if it's accurate. Then you'll be able to pare down in certain places. Look at your bills in a whole new light -- as if you were an outsider paying it. For example, we've been paying for DH's cell phone for 3 years and he rarely uses it. So, why not just dump it and have an extra $20 a month?

And make it a habit to pay cash for everything. I can't tell you how many times I decided something wasn't worth it when I factored in having to stop by the bank to get cash first. LOL.

I'm so glad you stopped by! Hope you find lots of good ideas here. I'm sure you have tons of your own, and don't even know it. You must have to get creative when you have 5 kids!



Edited 7/23/2003 5:36:17 PM ET by cl-lfbennett

cl-lfbennett @ Frugal Living

Avatar for akamarti
Community Leader
Registered: 02-14-2000
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 4:11pm
My best advice...make a list and stick to it. It can be a real challenge, but give it a couple shots and you will find you do save money.

The Sunday papers are full of coupons and some stores even have doubles. Take advantage of that AND sales. Sales on staples are never to be denied!!! You can't have too many noodles on hand, for example and if they go on 5/$1, buy them!

With bunches of kids, try to cook from scratch and buy in may cost a little more to start...but it pays off in the end! (I have six but 5 are grown and out!)

REFUSE TO LOOK AT END CAPS AND CHECKSTAND STUFF. That's where they get you! And shop and hubby account for a lot of impulse spending!

Stretch hamburger in any form you cook it by adding a little oatmeal or finely chopped bread crumbs to the meat. It absorbs the flavor and doesn't change anything but the bulk!

A skimpy meal (well-balanced but not ample, if you get my drift?) can be stretched with the addition of bread of some sort. Even a casserole is more filling with a roll! Learn to pays off, even if it's just Bisquick biscuits!

Can, freeze and dehydrate anything anyone offers. Zucchini can be ground and frozen for later use if you don't want to make bread or serve it fresh now. People ALWAYS share zucchini!!! Grab up any free fruit and can it or slice and freeze. The techniques are simple and you said you have an empty freezer.

Check into any local sharing coops. Here they have places where for $20 a year, you can get the day old bread and discontinued canned goods and etc. on a weekly basis. Gleaners is the name of it. But, lacking those, look into your closest day old bread place. Buy and freeze it.

Find every recipe you can using rice and noodles....they are filling and nutritious (enough) when veggies and meat are added. I got through a lot of lean times with my massive casserole list...and USE EVERY SCRAP OF LEFTOVERS. They can be soup! You can make all kinds of nutritious and filling soups. If you can't use that last dab of peas, put it in a veggie container in the freezer and pull it out later. Every leftover slice of meat should be saved the same way...eventually you get enough to make a casserole!

You can recycle cans and papers for a small return. Learn to you can remake things for the kids. Mend, reuse and use up! Learn when repairing something is a better deal than replacing it. Look into all of it and weigh each decision carefully.

Learn to scrapcraft, making things at home as gifts and entertainment. A night making popcorn balls can be as much fun as going to the movies. Or try a taffy pull....some of the old fashioned things beat the heck out of t.v.!

Read the hints others have posted here...they are full of ways to cut corners and make ends still meet!!! Best of luck to you!

And, please tell Hubby about the bill. This is not the kind of thing that should be hidden between you. He won't curb spending as much if he is unaware of this....and if someday an emergency arises and he says...we'll just put it on the card....he's perhaps in for a shock. Just tell him the honest truth. It really needs to be done.