Hey there! I hope your week is off to a great start! Today I wanted to discuss some ways to live successfully on a single income. Almost a year ago I started working again since all three of my kiddos are in school now, but before that, I stayed home. My husband was a youth and college pastor so living on one income was not always easy, but it was important to us for me to be home with the kids so we made the sacrifice and it caused us to be creative in finding ways to save money.
Here are 7 ways to live successfully one income:
Sell your extra car.
I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but when we found out we’d be moving and we knew I’d be staying home, we sold my car. The new church where my husband worked was about a mile from our house and it made it easy for me to drop him off if I needed to go grocery shopping, etc. We just worked our schedule around one vehicle.
The car was paid off so we made a few thousand dollars, plus we saved on insurance and tags/taxes. Not to mention the money saved on maintenance and upkeep. If you can make this work, it’s a huge money-saver. Maybe the working spouse can car-pool or you can work out a drop-off/pick up schedule.
Memberships for Birthday/Christmas gifts.
Instead of family members purchasing your kids more toys for birthdays or Christmas, ask for memberships to your favorite places. We lived in Omaha, NE when we were living on one income and we had an amazing zoo and a really cool children’s museum. With a yearly membership, we were able to visit as often as we liked without spending money.
It was great when we needed to get out of the house but had no money in the budget for entertainment. We’d pack a lunch or some snacks and head out for a day of fun!
Become a thrift/end-of-season shopper.
Thrift shopping became a hobby of ours since we didn’t have the money to spend at department stores. We would shop garage sales and thrift stores. We had a Goodwill just around the corner from our neighborhood and that’s where we purchased a lot of our clothes and some of our furniture and decorations (that I was able to refinish or repurpose to work for our home). I would also catch Kohl’s end-of-season sale when everything was 70-90% off and buy clothes for the next season. This saved a ton of money!
Sign up for Even-Pay on your utility bills.
If you’ve been in your house for 6 months to a year, you probably qualify for even pay. This is where your utility company takes the average of your monthly bills over the last several months and makes that your new monthly payment. I loved it because it made budgeting so much easier knowing that you’d pay the same amount each month and there were no surprises when we had a really hot or really cold month.
At the end of the year, the utility company would reevaluate our usage and adjust the bill accordingly.
Refinance your mortgage.
This is another one that won’t be an option for everyone, but it could work for some. About two years into owning our home we found out that the interest rates were quite a bit lower than when we had originally purchased our home. We looked into refinancing and found out that we could afford to refinance to a 20-year loan (from a 30-year) and our house payment would actually be lower than we were paying on our original 30-year loan! Not only did we save money on the monthly payment, we dropped 10 years off the life of our loan!
Something else we did was opt for the bi-monthly payment on our house to make budgeting easier. My husband received a paycheck every other week so this made sense for us plus it cut another couple of years off of our loan because it meant we were making an extra payment each year (he received 26 paychecks, so we paid half of our mortgage every other week which equaled one extra house payment/year). We were paying extra on our house and living on a single income – pretty awesome!
Budget well and shop smart for groceries.
I skimmed our grocery/household budget down as much as possible. We purchased washcloths to use in place of paper towels. I looked for ways to stretch our meals and made more from scratch-not only cheaper, but also healthier. We shopped at our local Baker’s (part of the Kroger chain) and Aldi for our groceries. I shopped Baker’s for their amazing sales – I usually didn’t purchase anything there if it wasn’t on sale. They had a great coupon app that you could use to apply coupons on top of the sale price.
You also earned fuel points for everything you bought and could redeem them at their gas station for money off your gas fill-up. If you signed up for their loyalty card you qualified for extra deals plus an automatic 2 cents off every gallon of gas. They would also offer 4x the fuel points when you purchased gift cards. So if you needed to purchase a gift card for someone or knew you were going to be eating/shopping at a certain restaurant or store soon, you could purchase the gift card at Baker’s and get the extra fuel points – score! I shopped Aldi because of their amazing prices and great selection. So check and see what fluff items you can eliminate from your budget and do your research on your local grocery stores to see what they offer to save money and make your budget go further!
Do your own repairs.
We knew we didn’t have extra money for big repairs so when something would break, my husband would repair it. If he didn’t know how he’d watch a YouTube video. You can find almost anything on YouTube! He’s fixed plumbing, changed out water heaters, handled the maintenance on our vehicles, and more.
Do you have any tried and true ways to make a single income stretch further? I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments!