Good Morning
Good Morning

Four supersized LI families share their best money-saving tips

Dawn Marie and Joseph Hernandez of Coram discuss

Dawn Marie and Joseph Hernandez of Coram discuss the challenges of raising a large family.  Credit: Randee Daddona

In these Long Island families with at least five children, bigger is better. But a bigger family also means bigger bills. These four supersized families shared budget-beating hacks that can benefit any family. 

Meet the family

Randy and Nicole Hollingsworth of Freeport and their five children, Brandon, 19, Elijah, 16, Myles, 14, Delaney, 9, and Emmett, 7. Nicole, 42, is a part-time real estate agent  and, with Randy, 46, co-owns a Laundromat in Valley Stream.

How they save on food and household goods “I’ve recently started couponing,” Nicole says. A friend is teaching her how to group them, double them up and use them at specific stores on specific days to maximize savings, she says. Her youngest two children will help her snip them from circulars. She also signs up for text alerts at every store she frequents so that she’ll hear about flash sales. She notes “deal days” at different establishments. “Carvel has certain days you can get two-for-one ice cream,” she says. “Those are things I fully take advantage of.”

How they save on camp, extracurriculars Some programs will offer an early-bird discount if kids are signed up by a specified date, Nicole says. They may also offer sibling discounts.

Meet the family

Krista and Brian McDonald of Huntington and their seven children, Brianna, 20, Anthony, 18, Aedan, 16, Liam, 14, Kaci, 13, Timothy, 11, and Ava, 9. Krista is a school aide and Brian works in sales. Brianna is a college junior studying nursing at Fairfield University in Connecticut and Anthony is a college freshman studying cybersecurity at Utica College upstate, playing football for the school team.

How they save on sports activities “A lot of hand-me-down cleats,” Krista says. “Whenever people ask me, ‘Do you need this?’ or ‘Do you need that?’ I always say, ‘Yes.’ ” When there are away tournaments, the family avoids staying in a hotel overnight and will instead get up early and drive back and forth in the same day, Krista says. “We don’t do extra clinics,” Krista says. Instead, older siblings who already play the sport will coach the younger ones in their backyard, Krista says. “It actually really works,” she says.

How they save on miscellaneous costs “They all work,” Krista says of the children. “They love to make money baby-sitting, collecting mail for a neighbor. When the younger ones see the older ones making money and buying stuff for themselves, that makes them want to make money, too.”

Meet the family

Dawn Marie and Joseph Hernandez of Coram and their 10 children, Joey, 15, Rebecca, 13, Nicholas, 10, Madison, 9, Julianna, 8, Alex, 7, Zoey, 6, Noah, 4, Hunter, 2, and Savannah, 2 months. Joseph owns a fine arts business and Dawn Marie is a nurse at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson and teaches nursing at Adelphi University in Garden City.

How they save on housing Instead of moving when their family grew, they expanded their three-bedroom, two-bathroom house up and out. It now has eight bedrooms and four baths. “It was more in the budget to do it that way,” Dawn Marie says.

How they save on child care “We take opposite shifts,” says Dawn Marie. She works the night shift and Joseph works during the day.

How they save on entertainment/vacations “We all can’t go on vacation at the same time,” Dawn Marie says. So they take turns sending the kids on vacation with different family members; Dawn Marie’s sister Babette will often take some of the kids to Hershey Park or to Florida or camping, Joseph says. Joseph belongs to frequent usage clubs for hotels and car rentals, which the family can then use when they do travel.  When closer to home, they seek out free entertainment such as visiting area parks.

Meet the family

Nicole and Matthew Pascucci of Kings Park and their five children, Anthony, 14, Luca, 8, Christian, 5, Roland, 2, and Ophelia, 6 months. Nicole, 36, is a stay-at-home mother who home schools their children, and Matthew, 36, runs a cybersecurity firm.

How they save on housing Nicole and Matthew met in fifth grade at South Shore Christian School in Levittown. But when it was time to buy a home, they purchased a four-bedroom house in Suffolk County. “It’s way less expensive than living in Nassau County,” Matthew says. Their eldest child has his own room and their newborn daughter has her own room. The three middle boys share a bedroom — there’s a bunk bed and one single bed, Matthew says.

How they save on food Outside of the mortgage, the family’s biggest expense is food, Matthew says. “My wife does some crazy meal planning,” he says. “When things are crazy busy and we can’t have a ... plan, that’s when we say, ‘Oh my gosh, where did all that money go?’ ” Says Nicole: “I try to plan out eight to nine meals for two weeks. It makes it easier, so you’re not wondering every day what you’re cooking.” Having a plan helps avoid eating out or having to be constantly picking up extra ingredients at the store. She tries to keep meals inexpensive by using, for example, chicken thighs or legs that cost less than breasts, or ground beef instead of more costly cuts.

How they save on lawn care The kids pitch in. “My oldest is 14, and he’s been mowing our lawn since he was 10,” Nicole says. The 8-year-old will help rake leaves in the fall. “It saves us money because then we don’t have to hire landscapers,” she says. 

More Family