Money Talks, So Should You

Blended Family Finances: Fighting against the "more" mentality

Sarah Kinbar
by Sarah Kinbar, Dimespring 30 (@bigblendedfam)

I was always annoyed by those T-Mobile commercials where Catherine Zeta Jones told us how important it is that we "Get more." Why do we need more of anything, except for vegetables? I'm no minimalist, but financial restrictions have made me conservative about spending money, and I don't want to be urged to seek more stuff, more options, more space.

Instead, as a family we're making do with less, and it's alright. At this time of year when we all tend to assess our circumstances and decide how we want to grow and improve, it's also a good opportunity to contemplate our successes, financial and otherwise. We made a smart decision this year that counts as a win.

READ: Money Coach: Setting mindful money resolutions 

Since "upgrading" to a larger house that would allow each of our four kids to have their own room is not in the realm of possibility right now — and perhaps will never be a priority — this year we made adjustments to how we use our space. In our case, and I suspect in yours, making lifestyle changes indirectly but significantly impacts finances. It's not just about how you spend money; it's about how you don't spend it.

Our biggest budget saver this year had to do with the kids' bedroom configurations. We were feeling pressed for space because my son, who is 10, had been sharing a bedroom with his younger sister, and Todd's two daughters were sharing a room as well. Ten is a good age for separating gender's sleeping spaces. And a 10-year-old boy, whether he realizes it yet or not, is better off having some privacy.

READ: Budget Whisperer: Living large (enough) on a budget

With one master bedroom and two smaller bedrooms, what were our options? Moving wasn't one, but how about an addition? Tens of thousands of dollars later, we could have the extra bedroom we desired. A more reasonable choice was to move all three girls into one bedroom. A fairly new space-saving bunk bed from Craigslist (queen on the bottom, twin on top) and new sheets (that match the lavender walls) capped off at a total of $325.

Instead of feeling forced, there's an air of specialness around the room change and the bunk bed that has made the experience positive for the kids. It's not a permanent solution, but it's a financially-wise one for now.

Do you have an expensive decision looming that could be averted by a cost-conscious solution?

Sarah Kinbar of Blended Family Finances is a mother of two and stepmother of two who writes about the extra-complicated financial situations that blended families face. Sarah is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.