Learning to Live on One Income

a82557d704b04e5e9723269a497eb1eeIn this economy and day and age, living on one income seems impossible, especially if the income is less than $60,000 a year before taxes. However, I am here to say it can be done and comfortably. Among all of the advice I received as a newlywed, the most valuable was to live on one income, even if we were a two-income family.

That advice was easier to hear than actually do, of course. After one year of marriage, my husband and I were expecting our first child and wanting to buy a home instead of rent. It was then I started putting my paycheck into a separate savings account, and we struggled to learn to live on one income. In hindsight, it was a struggle because we had to address our spending habits, but it wasn’t a struggle because it was impossible to do.

Those 8-9 months of living on one income helped us establish a basic emergency fund and have a down payment for our home. Now, we still live on one income, since I am a stay at home mom. Here are just a few things we do differently.

1. Cut Out All the Extras: We are still working on this, and there has been many times of failure. We don’t have cable, gym membership, or a lot of new things. I think my family and friends have seen me in all of my outfits by now and may be wondering when I will get new clothes. We rarely eat out and our toddler will not be enrolled in any special classes or preschool. There are several more things I would like to cut down on, but basically, I just made a list of all the extra costs in our life then talked it over with my husband about how we can decrease the costs. I am still trying to convince him to become a one-car family.

2. Stop Going Out: When you are cooped up with a busy toddler all day, this is hard to do. It seems that whenever I leave the house, I am tempted to spend money. I get in the car and instantly crave a Starbucks (weird, right?). If I go to Target or any other store, things magically appear in my cart. Also, even going to free events and play dates, I use up gas. So I try to stay home as much as possible.

3. Sell the Excess: After we moved, I went on an extreme junk cleanse. I decreased everyone’s closet by half, got rid of half of the linen closet, got rid of most of our entertainment stuff, and even got rid of a lot of dishes. We just didn’t need all of that stuff. The crazy thing is that we probably didn’t have as much stuff as the average American. Selling all of that excess stuff probably gave us over $1000 in cash through Craigslist, consignment sales, and garage sales. The best part is that my home is a lot easier to clean, and I save time in the long run.

4. Buy Used, Use It, Sell It: The Duggar family has the motto of, “Buy used, save the difference.” I like to think my motto is a little bit better – “Buy used, use it, sell it for a profit”. I have applied this principle to many things, especially baby items and clothing items. For example, I just found a nice Banana Republic blouse at the thrift store for $5. I have worn it several times so far, and I found the same blouse selling for $15-20 used on Ebay. So once I get tired of it, I plan to list it and pocket a small profit of about $5. Of course, this isn’t a “get rich quick” kind of plan, but it is a simple way to make your budget stretch a little further.

Living on one income may not be the most popular choice today, but it can definitely help with your financial and personal goals. Already a one-income family