Our family of four lives on one income. Before, we get deeper into this post, I do want to clarify that this is not a post about why every one should live on one income. Different things work for different families. I’ve worked outside the home in the past, but for now, we’ve decided that I should be at home instead of working out elsewhere, it’s what works best for our family. When writing this, I had only just started making money on my blog, but we weren’t able to live off of the money. It’s going straight into savings for our house (after taxes), so we were still living off of one income, my husbands.
I share lots of money saving tips, because frankly, you do have to get creative sometimes to survive on just 1 income, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or even miserable! One thing that I have learned is that money saving starts in the mind, your head has to be in it, before you get your budget and checkbook to follow suit. Here are the top ways that that help us to save mentally.
- No Credit Debt – We have recently gotten some credit cards, but only to build credit. We pay them off every month, and never let ourselves get into debt that way. While, we will eventually have a home mortgage, we don’t want any debt beyond that, other than what is necessary to build credit. This ensures that we continue to live modestly, and we don’t end up paying interest on everyday purchases.
- We Live Beneath Our Means – From our very first jobs as a married couple, we’ve made a conscious effort to live beneath our means. Officially, we might be able to afford specific extras, but we don’t let ourselves get in the habit of using every dime that comes into our bank account. This helps us to save more money for a house and live generously, even though we are not making loads of money.
- Creativity – It definitely takes creativity! Finding the cheapest places to buy essentials, shopping in thrift stores for “new” clothing, using these tricks in the grocery store to save on food and doing things like this for birthday presents. You can save money on pretty much anything, if you just take the time to figure out how. Sometimes, it’s not worth the time or effort it would take to save on something, but it’s worth checking to see if there’s something you are missing!
- Worldview – This is a big one. I lived in the Philippines for several years as a teen, and the memories from my time there do a lot to help me keep my spending in check. I taught school, and sent my students home at night, knowing that many of them wouldn’t have another meal until their free lunch at school the next day. Some of my best friends fed their families on $1 a day. Remembering that we are so blessed to even have a clean home, with sufficient food for our children, does a lot to keep us thankful and thrifty, even when we are tempted to buy more than we should.
- Forget the American Dream – Our culture tells us that we “need” and “deserve” so many things, when the truth is, we do not. I’m not condemning having nice things, but there is definitely a line between needing something nice, and obsessing over the next purchase. Many times people have told me things like “well you have to enjoy yourself” or “you need to indulge in XYZ too”, as if it is an essential part of life. My answer is always; “no, I don’t”. I don’t have to indulge in anything extra. I can, and I do, but it’s not a requirement of my life or essential to my happiness. Thinking this way actually enables me to enjoy things more when I do choose to experience something, because it truly is special. It’s not something I feel I’m owed, it’s something I’ve made an intentional decision to enjoy or participate in, and that causes me to be thankful for the opportunity, instead of feeling entitled and wanting more.
- Be Content – This is a mental game as well. Choose to be content with what you have. Don’t spend your time desiring what you don’t have. Set daily reminders for yourself, of what you want more than whatever you are choosing not to indulge in. Maybe you want to save for a house, or retirement, more than you want that new piece of technology. Perhaps you would rather give money to a charity more than you really want that new pair of shoes or the adorable new top. Or for you, maybe it’s staying home with your kids, and you’d rather do that, then have the means to get your hair cut in a fancy spa every month. When you really compare what you are sacrificing, to the reason that you are making the sacrifice, oftentimes it enables you to be more content. Contentment has been a long journey for me, but I’m so thankful that I’m getting there, and learning to be truly happy where I am, even when I still desire other things.
Some of these tips can be helpful ways of thinking, regardless of how many sources of income your family may have. While each point may not apply to everyone, I hope this post helps you evaluate how you want to be spending your money, and encourage you to work towards your goals!
What is your top tip for saving money? Does it start in your mind as well?
For more practical savings tips, check out these posts by clicking the images!
How to stretch your paycheck even farther!
I love number 4 – Worldview. So many people around the world live on a tiny amount of money each day and I guess keeping that in mind leads into number 5 – Forget the American Dream. You are right, we are almost trained to think we need more and more material things.
Earlier this year my husband and I looked at building a new, much larger house for our family, which would have meant DOUBLING our mortgage! Although we could have afforded it we decided our current home is actually sufficient for us and by staying we can afford to spend on other things like travel – important to us to introduce our children to number 4 – Worldview.
As for tips, one I like is only buying things at the supermarket you will actually need before your next shop. Unless those tinned tomatoes are a super bargain, your money could be better used paying off a loan, or earning interest in your savings account.
I love your list, especially #6- i’m always reminding my self to “be happy now” and enjoy what i have and be content with it, because its more important for me to stay home with my kids than have a bigger house! thanks for the reminders :) http://www.handmadeintheheartland.com/
I love these points! I, too, lived in the Philippines for a few years (tho not as a missionary), and it really changes your perspective on spending! I know that if the “one income” is minimum wage, it still may not be livable for a family of 4, but many American families CAN live on the income of one wage-earner, if they adopt your points : )
In the last four months my husband and I have transitioned from two incomes down to one. We can live off of one, but we are giving up a lot to do so. It all comes down to perspective really. As you shared above in many of your great points, we think we “need” or “deserve” things that we really don’t. I love Dave Ramsey and he often says that we buy things we cannot afford to impress people we do not like. How true! I once bought a Mazda CX-7 because it had a navigation screen built in because that is what two of my co-workers had in their vehicles. Never mind the fact that it took premium gas and had a turbo charged engine that caused many problems. So silly now when I look back!
My advice on saving money: usually a marriage has a saver and a spender. I’m the spender and for years, even though I was paying the bills, I was not being held accountable to my spending. Now my husband has taken over and we are doing great on just one income, but he’s the saver!
Love your blog Paula! Transparency helps others (including me) feel like we’re not alone or going through things that nobody else has gone through before. Blessings!
Leslie R. says
Thank you for sharing this. It is so important to remind young families that living on one income is possible. We have lived this way for most of our marriage and I think it made us stronger as a family. I have a linky party at seasoned homemaker(dot)com. I would love to feature your post. Blessings to your family.
Great post! Especially number five. We certainly don’t need all the things we ever wanted, despite what society tells us.
Love these tips on how to live on one income! Getting creative while living on one income is something my hubby and I have also come to embrace. My hubby is a pastor and I stay at home with our three kids and it has been worth the sacrifice :-)
Number 5 is exactly dead on! My least favorite word is “I want”. Okay, that’s two words… We all want things that are awesome but do we need them? Do we need a new 50″ tv or do we need to buy groceries? Not that I don’t have a nice tv but I really evaluate big and small purchases everyday. Great post.
Great post! I like #5, too. I think too many people think they always need the latest and greatest of everything. I am so glad I don’t feel that way. My car is 8 years old and it is just fine – I don’t need a new one every year. We have lived on 1 income for a long time. It is manageable if people learn to give up a few extras every week.
Carrie This Home says
I’m so glad you shared this at Frugal Crafty Home Blog Hop, Paula! These are great tips! A lot of money saving comes from how you view money. I think my favorite was number 6–be content with what you have. How we would all benefit from having this mindset! I’ll be featuring this post in my next blog hop on Sunday night!
I found your post through the Wednesday Whatsits Link Party. I love that your list really deals with a mental approach, and not just a list of actions! If you don’t change your mind set, you won’t be able to change your actions! One thing I’ve found about staying home and living on one income is that it makes you realize just how easy it is or was to become materialistic! Once you can’t buy all that you want, you realize that you don’t need it. It is actually very liberating!
Mary Leigh says
These are all great tips! I certainly think it has a lot to do with your mental perspective on money! I can definitely relate to these tips. For us, we try to be sure that we are constantly thinking of being stewards of the resources we’ve been given rather than simply owners of the things or money in our lives.
Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above says
Thanks so much for sharing them with Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Link Party.
Have a great week.
Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above
Powerful words for such a young lady! Thank you for sharing!
This is such a great post! Thanks for the tips.
P.S. I found you through the link party on http://saynotsweetanne.com
Great post! Our family has managed on one income for 18 years now and we are doing just great! My wife loves being able to stay home with the kids and to have the time to volunteer and help at the school. Your list is great, but if I could give you one piece of advice, please be really careful with #1 – Credit cards are dangerous! National statistics show that if you use a credit card you over spend, even if you pay it off each month. We found that in our life and so we have stopped using credit cards at all. That’s how “they get you” by telling you that you need to build credit by using a credit card. If you do some homework you will find there are ways to qualify for a home mortgage without “building credit”. Go with a lender that does traditional underwriting and they will see you are a great credit risk for them even if you don’t have “credit”. Dave Ramsey is a great source to look at for this option, his website can point you in the right direction to find a lender you will lend to you without a credit score.
cynthia Harris says
This makes me feel better because I feel like I get so much grief over running a tight ship and not indulging in spending money. I am a saver and don’t mind sacrificeing now to, like dave ramsey says, to live to one else later. I am always tryingn to live below our means. Especialy since we are adjusting to living off my husbands income as a truck driver which fluctuates with the seasons and freight. Not That my income was ever more than 600 a month but it was something. I am always trying to save up for the next winter and to reduce our debts and bills and expenses. And couponing has been a saving grace. I rarely have to spend money on household essentials and hygene products unless I know I am getting low and have found a great deal that’s free or dirt cheap to get us through a few more months. I do what I can. Next major thing is to find ways for hubby to spend less money while on the road. That right there can be a pretty chunk of income. But we can do it by working together to find what he needs to reduce costs out there.
cynthia Harris says
Another thing.my husband and I have NEVER had a credit card , EVER. I won’t touch them. We started building credit by making small loans. (This was all before we ever heard of dave ramsey). But thanks to dave ramsey I am set on not taking on more debt. We are now down to the truck, car, and house.
great suggestions here. Living on a budget is more a mental thing than anything else… it is the biggest struggle for me. I am glad someone finally addressed that part of it!
Thanks for the words I wanted to say for years, I was a stay at home mom now a stay at home grandmother, but through all the sacrifices and you will make plenty as the years go by, every one is worth it hanks for sharing
Thanks for the encouragement! My husband and I have been married a year. We have cut down on a lot of expenses in the past few months (mostly cause of Dave Ramsey and Sam’s Club). I feel like we’ve scrunced as far as it will go. We have to wait till our lease is up to get cheaper housing. I struggle with 4 jobs and my husband is gonna have 2 jobs. Having one income would be amazing! I don’t know what else to do. We both don’t have much schooling and can’t get high paying jobs. I can’t drive.
Hannah Flack says
You’ll find it near unattainable to encounter well-updated men or women on this issue, but you come across as like you understand whatever you’re writing on! Thanks