How To Live On One Income
Many families long to have one parent at home with the kids while the other works outside the home. These Tips For Becoming A One Income Household are a great start for your family to make this transition. A one income household seems out of reach for many people, but in reality the right work and attitude can make it possible for many. Unfortunately, some instances mean it is not possible at this time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at some point in the future become a one income household if that’s your goal!
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My husband and I decided I would stay home with our daughter instead of going back to work. At the time he had a retail job as a sales person in a large department store. He didn’t make a lot of money back then and I still had student loan debt to payoff. In hind sight, we should have prepared better but somehow we made it work! Where there’s a will there’s a way! These are some of the things we did to live on one income.
Tips For Becoming A One Income Household
1. Downsize everything to free up money in your budget. This is an obvious, but often overlooked concept for becoming a one income household. Downsize goes for everything from your grocery budget to your home itself. Start with your budget and work your way down. Some things you may want to consider downsizing are listed below. For example, we downsized into a small apartment with a kitchenette to save money.
2. Do without. Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices in order to live on one income! That’s just the trade off – more time with your family or more money. You need to decide what’s more important right now in your life. Sometimes you just need that second income no matter how much you cut spending because you have an income problem and not a debt or spending problem.
3. Make a realistic budget. You must sit down and write out all your expenses. Make a list of the expenses that have to be paid and ones that are wants (say cable or a membership). Here’s a simple budget sheet to get you started.
4. Learn how to keep your grocery budget low since that’s the one expense that you have the most control over. You can go here and here for tips on how to save money on groceries.
5. Change your vehicle insurance to a lower rate policy (liability only for vehicles that have been paid for, or change to a different company if a lower rate is possible, or increase your deductible).
6. Eliminate or limit extra curricular activities that are costly (limit kids to one sports team, stop going out for movies & mini golf or eliminate activities that cost and offer no value). Find free or cheap things to do for entertainment.
7. Cancel cable or satellite and stream through Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime or use your local library and rent movies for free. Check out this post on the 8 Best Alternatives To Cable. New ones are popping up all the time.
8. Make your own stuff instead of buying things. Make your own laundry and cleaning supplies, your own beauty products, your on “convenience food” etc. Replace disposable products with easy ones that you can make yourself and reuse.
9. DIY beauty and grooming. Cut your own, and your family’s hair at home. I still cut my husbands hair! Dye your hair at home. Skip manicures & pedicures or learn to do them yourself.
10. Declutter! Clean out closets and sell items that aren’t being used, don’t fit or aren’t wanted. Read this article How Tidying Up Can Benefit Your Bank Account. I have lots of posts on how to declutter and what to do with the stuff you want to get rid of.
11. Lower utility bills by turning off more lights and electronics and limiting use of central heating & air units as often as possible. Here’s a post with more tips – 16 Tips For Saving Money On Electricity
12. Stop eating out! Here are some quick meals you can make instead of eating out.
13. Upcycle & recycle as much as possible for crafts, clothing, household furniture and more.
14. Get rid of the extra car if you can (or the boat, motorcycle etc.). We managed on one car for years and we lived in an area that does not have public transit (it’s very limited). It just took a bit of scheduling a head and being able to be happy staying at home.
15. Look into refinancing your home. This is an alternative to moving or selling if interest rates are good. This works toward your goal of becoming a one income household when you are able to use the existing equity in your home to pay off debt that you have in other areas. Even though your home mortgage may end up being slightly higher or for a longer duration, you will be able to eliminate some of your other debt which will help you pay less toward debt every month. This makes it easier to become a one income household in the immediate future, but may extend the time you will spend paying off your mortgage.
Most importantly, make sure both you and your spouse have the same goals. One of the biggest problem when a family is working toward becoming a one income household, is the fact that both spouses may not be on the same page. Make sure you both understand what it means, and what is expected of both of you not only in the process and transition, but after the fact. It’s a good idea to lay out defined rules of what each party will be responsible for and what is expected. Another good idea is to practice living on one income while you still have two incomes!
These tips are all about really thinking and writing things out. There are hundreds of changes you can make in your lifestyle to help make it possible to have a one income household (check out the Frugal Living Category here)! Cutting back, using coupons, moving to a new home are all valid, but you must know what your ultimate goals are and get things organized to make this happen for you and your family.
You need to be happy with this decision and do what you need to do to make it happen. To live on one income you really have to take being CEO of your household seriously!
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At Rivercrest Cottage says
Very interesting post. Years ago, when I had back surgery, I had to take an early retirement which severely cut our income. One of the things I found was that our expenses were a lot less than I expected. Anyone who wants to go down to one income might list all the expenses entailed in going to work (clothing, gas, expenses of a second car, lunches out, dinners out due to hectic life) and calculate how much less costly a one-income family really is.
Manuela Williams says
Yes, good idea. For some the expenses associated with working don’t make it worthwhile!
My husband retired from the corporate world two years ago. He now has his own consulting business from home, and I don’t work. We used MANY of these items on your list in order for him to be able to retire. Actually, your list should be used for anyone, whether there is one person working in the household or two . It just makes sense for those who want to save money. xox
Manuela Williams says
Thanks Diane! We’re working on having my husband retire early so we’re ramping up our frugalness (not to mention that his company just let his boss and his bosses boss go in a downsizing effort!).
[email protected] says
I agree with Diane. Not only will using this list help people save money, but it would also help the environment too.
Manuela Williams says
Victoria @ Creative Home Keeper says
These are good tips. One thing my husband and I did before we became a one income household and before children, was put almost all of the income I made as a teacher into savings so we essentially already knew what it would feel like to live off one income. That built up a pretty nice savings that has come in handy on more than once occasions when big, unexpected expenses (like a new roof) came up. Thanks for sharing this on Intentional at Home, hope to see you again!
Thanks for the post. My husband and I do not have any children yet, but are planning to in the coming years, and posts like these help us to realize our goals.