As I have mentioned before, my wife is a stay-at-home Mom to our 3 children. Financially, it is very challenging but the rewards far outweigh those challenges. I did a post awhile back about the benefits to both of us, and especially our kids, of having at least one parent at home. So I wanted to take some time and write about the ways we survive on one income. Some are obvious and some may take some creativity on your part. Since I love lists, I came up with 5 ways we survive on one income.
- Budget Baby, Budget! When you only have one income to draw on, you better have a really good idea how your money is being spent each month. Fixed bills like utilities and housing are easy to account for. The other stuff gets tricky: food, clothes, entertainment, etc. But by allocating money for groceries, gas, entertainment, clothes, it really helps my wife and I create some accountability for our spending. Proper financial planning is really essential to being able to survive on one income, which is why we use Quicken as it helps us set up our monthly budget. The financial planning software tracks our monthly expenses and notifies us when bills are coming due.
- Shop Where The Deals Are. Hit the discount grocery stores, we shop at Winco Foods (just try to avoid the crowd on the 1st and 15th of the month). Shop for clothes at Ross and Marshall’s. Although if you have found my blog, odds are you probably do this already!
- Generate Some Extra Income. I sell a lot of stuff on ebay. If the kids outgrow some clothes and they are in decent shape, they go up on ebay. Toys? The same thing. Also, if you are into crafts, sewing, or woodworking, consider selling the stuff you make on ebay. I have an acquaintance who does this with woodworking and she has a great little side business.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Downsize. Downgrade or negotiate your cable bill, or get rid of it all together. Downgrade your cell phone package to the fewest minutes package. Pick a designated night or special occasion once per month where you take the family out for dinner. Plan your vacations wisely, stay with family and friends when possible. These are a few of the things we have done to survive on one income. It has been our experience that there is NO way you can survive on one income and keep up with the Jones’. Take that idea out of your mind and flush it down the pot. This might sound like we are home-bodies who have no fun. Wrong! I would argue that our lives have actually improved since we started downsizing. We focus on experiences and time together and not on what we don’t have.
- The Big Decisions. Everyone reading this is in a different financial state. If you have a lot of credit card debt it is obviously going to be much harder to survive on one income. Same goes for a large house or car payment. This is where making some big decisions is necessary. Whether it be moving into a smaller house or trading in your gas guzzling SUV for a smaller car, these decisions are often at the tipping point on whether or nor you can make this work.
Bottom-line: From personal experience, I am a firm believer that it can be done if you make the decision that it can be done. It comes down to what you are willing to sacrifice in order to make it happen.