Financial issues in large families

Second post in as many weeks! Sorry.

I am looking for some information about the financial realities that large families face. For the purpose of this discussion, I classify “large” as being four or more children.

(Full disclosure – I’m 28, single, never-married, no children.)

My parents got married in Australia in the late '80s and were expecting baby number four by their tenth anniversary. Both my parents had reasonably well-paid professional jobs, and they took turns being the parent in the paid workforce.

They were at their limit with four kids, and did not have any more. My mother was 36 when the last baby was born, and my father was 45.

We had secondhand clothes, secondhand cars, no extravagant holidays, homecooked dinners, birthday parties at home, one TV, no PC till 2005 and no internet till 2007. We all attended lowish-cost Catholic schools. My parents went out once a year on their anniversary, never had luxuries like takeaway coffees, unnecessary pairs of shoes or gym memberships. My mother never had her hair or nails done. They also had no debt other than the mortgage.

We didn’t lack anything we needed, but there was nothing left over for unnecessary items or luxuries. My parents did, however, consider it necessary to have private health insurance, income protection, life insurance and comprehensive car insurance. All kids had braces, and three of us had expensive (but necessary) treatment for severe cystic acne.

Bearing all this in mind, whenever I hear about couples with many children, my honest first thought is, “How? My parents had nothing left over at the end of the month, and they only had four.” I’ve never found anything that really gets down to brass tacks. I even bought a book by a woman who had 18 kids because I wanted to know how it’s even possible. The book told me nothing.

So is anyone willing to share with me how their parents did it? Or how you yourselves do it?

Do you rent? Do you live in the city or in “the bush”? Do you homeschool? Do you have income protection or disability insurance? What do you do about orthodontic treatment or other medical necessities? Do you earn a massive paycheque?

Obviously I don’t expect extremely detailed personal financial information, but I guess I’d like to know how close to wind large families are sailing. Would job loss/death of breadwinner mean life on the streets?

1 Like

I think you can probably cost out most of what you’re looking for yourself, based on the choices you’d like to make. That would be my advice. Most people, however well intentioned, are going to present a rosy view of large families because of social expectations, because admitting that they don’t have health insurance, life insurance, college savings, retirement savings, or other key items is embarrassing.


What do you mean by the first sentence? I don’t know what “cost out” means. I think this is an American-to-Australian translation issue.

1 Like

No, I suspect it is an accounting term. In the context, and from what little I know about accounting, it would mean constructing budgets for families using various values, like eight children and an income of $100,000 a year.


I think the answer is, one at at time. The family and the budget adapts. The older ones get part time jobs. The older ones help with the younger ones. It works out.

I have many friends with large families. I think of one in particular who has 8. She’s a stay at home mom and her husband is a computer programmer. He makes a good living, but not a super high income. If you ask my friend if she’d rather have another baby or nail/hair spa days, she would say “another baby” hands down. It’s the life they want. Your post seems to have an undertone that all those things-- homecooked meals, hand me downs, second hand car, and not extravagant holidays are somehow bad or deprived. My friends with large families don’t look at it that way. They would rather have little souls for God in heaven than a fancy vacation. It’s just the way they are wired and the way they view the world. And frankly, it’s a wonderful view of the world. So, they adapt their budget and prioritize the children over other things.


That’s not how I meant my post to sound at all. Look, I’m single with no kids and I wear secondhand clothes and drive a secondhand car. That’s normal to me, although to many it isn’t. I mentioned those things in order to point out that my parents were already doing all those things as a way of life – there were no fancy extras. The other reason I brought it up is because when I’ve found mummy blogposts on managing money in large families, the author always seems to write something like, “It’s easy! We just never had takeaway coffee!” And, well, it doesn’t seem to add up.

1 Like

Exactly. Create line items of what you earn and spend in various scenarios.

1 Like

Both sides of the equation require offsetting trade offs. Larger families are less able to provide individualized attention, affection, and personalized education to each child. We acknowledge the education and raising of children to be valuable, and the quality of that upbringing is material. Smaller families have less of the gift of iindividual lives, but can invest in each more intensely. There’s a balance to be had, and what the right balance is will look differenr from family to family.

Depending on the emotional, physical, psychological, and relational attributes of parents, the same family size and financial picture could be either neglectful and undermine child well-being, or deeply loving and attentive, with strong positive value for the child.

There’s no one answer.


Thank you :heart:


There were six in my family and somehow my parents always had enough for us. I would rather have five awesome siblings than new items for myself.

As for secondhand stuff…it’s underrated. I got all my best suits in thrift stores for under €20. I never have and never will buy a brand new car as it makes much more financial sense to buy a slightly used car as you don’t have to take the depreciation hit.

I feel like more kids are life-enriching rather than money leeching. It’s amazing how far you can stretch a tight budget when you need to as well.

1 Like

My husband and I have raised 6 of my nieces and nephews. The hardest part for us was being childless one day and having a house full the next! All I can say is it always seemed to work. Things fell into place when we needed it to, and as the kids started getting older they found ways to get whatever we were unable or unwilling to provide (tablets, cellphones, that sort of thing). The oldest four are now in college or working and the two “babies” are still home (high school). We now have a year old daughter and another on the way and my husband is retired. Life somehow works out when we allow it to. Somehow we ended up with just about the same leftover at the end of the month (none) when it was just the two of us and when there were 8 of us, and now with 5 of us. People manage to live the life they are handed and usually can’t truly tell you how. I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but if it is you’re reality it often seems easy. Sometimes it was frustrating that so many people could see how wonderful our life was but thought I and my husband were some kind of superheroes. I wanted them to see the joy and instead it seemed all they saw was how hard it must be to make it all work. If it is your family, it is ”easy” for you (even when it’s hard) and no amount of pondering the hows and whys can help you really communicate it in any other way than that.


My mother and stepfather had six children between them. Basically, they “did it”, by working their butts off! My step-father was a union carpenter. He worked every minute of overtime he could get, cashed in his vacation stamps, and did side jobs as well. My mother worked full-time, often with a side job from home. They had a nice life-style because they built their home themselves. They both believed we should all have practical skills and save money by doing things ourselves that other people pay for. Because of my step-father’s labor union, we always had excellent health insurance, life insurance, disability protection, etc. My step-father also had a good pension plan. The one thing on your list that we did not have was college savings. My mother believed that figuring out how to pay for college was our responsibility.


And it sounds like a life they chose that worked for them. For other families, the trade off of time away from children to work additional hours to suppprt more children would not be appropriate.

Also, it’s becoming rare for employees to have secure defined benefit pension plans, and health plans are increasingly moving toward per person fees.

A large family also assumes a woman is out of the work force frequently, there are significant childcare bills, or reliance on an extended network for childcare is required. For couples where both wish to have demanding careers, it is considerably more challenging to balance work and family with very large families.

It’s all personal. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yes it is all personal. We “inherited” our six so I wasn’t out of the work force often and I’m a teacher so it was easy to just bring them to and from school with me during the elementary years. The day care for the little ones was nearby as well. It worked well since my husband was deployed a lot during those years. Most of the military moms I knew then and now that have 3 or more children usually stay home. It is hard to balance our lifestyle with work and family, but we all just find what works for us. That is how life is. Nothing wrong with having a very large family and nothing wrong with have a very small family. For much of my married life I thought I wouldn’t have any children. What is important is doing whatever it takes to successfully live the life you are handed and not worry about what others think.


God bless you and your family!


I cannot answer your question on large families, but on this one, it is largely depends of the structure of protection offers to individuals by the State, or the public institution, or in the absence, of family solidarity or perhaps to religious institution or private inassurance.

Where I live, It may happened, but more probably it will not. there are paid unployment, social aids, pensions…Even if their life conditions will be sevely impaired.

And if the family will go on the streets, and so solution will be found, the children will be separated of their parents, and be placed in public institutions or foster families. At least if the persons concerned are legal residents. The problem may be harder for illegal immigrants minors with no family.

Yes…in germany, you get at least a sum per child per month until they reach the legal adult mark - and you could live with this the more children you have, frugal, of course, but it´s possible.
If my state collapsed…well, then I trust my parish won´t let me starve to death.

1 Like

Woah, that’s incredible…Australia has a benefits system for people who are close to or under the poverty line, but nothing like everyone just getting x amount of money monthly for having kids. We used to have a one-off baby bonus of $5k for each baby born, but that got phased out. There are family tax benefits, and there’s government paid parental leave, but stay-at-home mums can’t get that.

1 Like

Yes. Europe is more social than the rest of the world.

In France, we have, like in Germany, x money per child every mounth until they get 21 years old. Since the second child. It for all families until recently. Now, there are conditions of means to have them in totality. But you cannot live only with this money, it is just an help.

In France, we have a short maternity leave (4 mounths). But we have to work enough to have it, and like in Autralia, stay at home mother cannot have it.
We have a baby bonus of 950€ for the first child born. It is half this amount since the second. Submit to means test.
We have an allocation for rearing a child under 3 years old. Submit to means test, and recently decreased.

We have also money to help pay day care for parents who work. And help for single parents.

When we are a stay at home mother you don’t have any specific aid, unless you are single.

We have had retirement advantage for parents who raised at least 3 children. recently suppressed too.

A little benefit for families with a special need child.

So, yes, unfair, as if you have a confortable life with 2 incomes, you will have more public money than a poor family with one income for child rearing.

And some allocations too for single people or families that have no income at all.

I don’t known all the help, it is just an overview.
France have the reputation to have generous social system for families and poor people. But now it is more social, and less for families.

We have social benefits too for people in difficulty too.
But it really depends of the work, social, and familial conditions.
It is not something that is automatic for people under the poverty line, which concerned many many people.

Our family of three, (and one on the way) with a single income live under the poverty line. We don’t have any specific benefits, because I am a stay at home mother. If we want to have more money, I have to go to work. But we are not on the streets.

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit