Living on one income isn’t always a walk in the park, but it is doable. I’ve put together a few ways that we save money while living off of a single income.
When my husband and I got married, we both assumed that I would get another job. A few days before our wedding I quit my job, because after getting married I was moving 3 hours north to where my (now) husband lived.
After the wedding, a few weeks had passed and we had gotten all settled into our new place and were getting the hang of married life, so I decided to start looking for a job in our new area. At the time, nothing really jumped out at me, so I just kept staying home and searching for a job.
I ended up working at a seasonal job for a few months of the summer, but when that came to an end and I was home again, I kept my eyes open for jobs but wasn’t actively searching.
Then my husband and I talked about it and decided that it suited our lives best if I continued to stay home.
Before getting married I never imagined that I would be a stay at home wife. I always knew that I wanted to be a stay at home mom when we had kids, but a stay at home wife? It never crossed my mind.
Us deciding for me to stay home has been one of the greatest choices we’ve made, but it certainly hasn’t come without its challenges.
With me staying home, we are living solely off of my husband’s income, we quickly became a one income family so it has forced us to become creative with our finances. We’ve had to look for new ways to save money and to find things that we can cut out of our lives.
We’ve learned a new way of living, and it has been an adventure.
We don’t lead extravagant, fancy lives, but we don’t have to. We’re happy to live with less. It has helped us really appreciate what we do have, and we’re constantly learning not to take things for granted.
Here are 10 ways we save money as a one income family.
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There are so many more ways than just 10, but we’ll save those for another day.
1. WE BECAME A ONE CAR FAMILY
This works for us right now, but it might not always work. Right now we live in town, and I am not working, so living with just one car is no big deal at all.
I do get that this one won’t be for everybody, but if it’s something that would be doable for you and your family, I encourage you to entertain the thought. It has saved my husband and I huge over the months.
2. MY HUSBAND DOESN’T EAT OUT FOR LUNCH
I started packing my husband’s lunches after realizing how expensive eating out gets. Packing his lunch cuts down on our food bill per month a surprising amount. Eating out here and there doesn’t look like a lot at the time, but over the month it adds up to an insanely high cost, that can easily be avoided.
If your husband likes sandwiches for lunch, they’re so quick and simple to make. My husband doesn’t like sandwiches, so I usually try to make our dinners a little bigger than what just the two of us would eat and I send him leftovers to work.
It doesn’t matter what you make, as long as you’re making and sending a homemade lunch rather than buying lunch every day, you might end up being surprised with the amount you will be saving.
3. WE QUIT GOING OUT FOR COFFEE
Okay, not completely. Going out for coffee with a friend sometimes is a nice treat, but we used to grab a quick coffee on our way to church, or on our way to the city, or before my husband went to work.
Instead, we invested in a good coffee maker (this is the one we use, and we love it!) that should last us a long time and we make our coffee at home now rather than going out. Believe it or not, it tastes just as good. Take a minute or two extra before walking out the door to make yourself a cup of coffee, put it in a nice travel mug or thermos (I recommend this one), and away you go.
4. WE REUSE OUR ZIPLOCK BAGS
Zip-lock bags aren’t cheap, and we use quite a few of them in our house. So, if I threw them out after only one use, we would be spending a lot on them. Instead of throwing them out, I wash and reuse them until they completely wear out. The only exception is if they had raw meat in them, then I chuck them.
5. WE EAT (OR FREEZE) OUR LEFTOVERS
According to CNBC, an average American household will throw away up to $2,200 worth of food A YEAR. That is a lot of food and money being wasted.
To help eliminate waste in our household, I try to make just enough food for us to eat for dinner and then maybe enough for a couple of lunches. And I make sure that we eat our leftovers for lunch, or dinner within a few days. If we have too many leftovers I will freeze them so they last longer and it’s a quick meal to pull out on a busy night.
6. WE DON’T HAVE CABLE
Yes, you read that right. You can pick your jaw up off the floor now. My husband and I decided against cable, and instead, we use Netflix. Cable was just another monthly expense that we felt like we really didn’t need, and since it was something we didn’t need, we didn’t feel right wasting money on it every month.
Amazon Prime is another great alternative to paying for cable every month. You get a variety of shows to watch, free music, and free 2-day shipping on Amazon. Sign up here for a free Amazon Prime membership trial.
7. WE STOPPED GOING TO THE HAIRDRESSER/BARBERSHOP
When the cheapest we could get our hair cut around here was $20, it made it pretty easy to give up. We invested in some scissors and a buzzer, and now I cut both of our hair, and save us money. And another bonus of it is, we don’t have to start up the car and use gas to drive to the hairdresser/barber shop.
8. WE USE A CREDIT CARD FOR MOST OF OUR PURCHASES
This one I was pretty hesitant to include on the list. But, I’m including it because it is something that works for us, I’m not saying it’s something that will work for you. My husband and I are both good with our money, so when using our credit cards we aren’t tempted to buy something that we can’t afford.
We treat our credit cards as if they were a debit card or cash.
I pay our bills at least 2 times a month (sometimes more) to make sure we aren’t late for a payment and so we don’t have to ever pay interest. We use credit cards that give us rewards back, so by making our everyday purchases, groceries, gas, etc. we are earning money back.
This works for us, but I’m not saying everyone should do it! If you tend to be tempted to buy more than you can afford when you have a credit card, I would strongly discourage you from doing this as it would not be a good option for you, and there’s no shame in that.
9. I ONLY GO GROCERY SHOPPING WITH A LIST
And I make sure I stick to it. This way I don’t grab something just because we might be running low at home, but I really don’t remember if we need it or not.
Before going grocery shopping take inventory of what you have in your fridge, freezer, pantry, and cupboards, and then create a grocery list of everything you do need. I also look through the fliers before going to the store so I know what is on sale, and if it’s something I do need, I can get it at a good price.
10. WE STARTED MEAL PLANNING
You’ll find this pointer on just about anybody’s “money saving” list. I plan our meals around what is on sale in the flier (see number 9) and write down on my meal planner which meals we’re having which nights. That way I am never flustered, wondering what we’re having for dinner. It also cuts out those last minute grocery shopping trips that add up over time. (Click here to learn how you can meal plan.)
Don’t have time to meal plan right now? Don’t worry, the Eat at Home meal plans have got you covered and will take all the stress and work out of meal planning.
If you want to save money on products that you are already buying online, buy through Ebates. Ebates allows you to get money back when you make your normal, everyday purchases through them, at no cost to you! It is completely free and there are no strings attached. When you shop through Ebates at your everyday stores including eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Groupon, and many, many more stores!
We also use Checkout 51 on all our grocery store purchases and earn cashback. All you do is take a picture of your receipt, select the items that you can earn cashback on, and claim your money! It’s simple, free, and easy to use, you can check it out here.
The biggest change we made was deciding to be happy with less.
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