A single income family.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a single income family? Do you long to stay home with your kids, but don’t think it’s financially possible? Or, maybe you’re already a single income family but you’re struggling to make it by, maybe you’re here looking for a couple of tips to help you thrive – not just survive – as a single income family.
Either way, you’re in the right place.
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I have seen far too many women tearfully drop their kids off at daycare only to drive to a job they don’t love. I know far too many wives and mothers who are longing to stay home with their children but simply can’t afford to, and it breaks my heart every.single.time.
Becoming a one income family was the single most life-changing choice my husband and I have made, but it wasn’t an easy one to make.
We knew that when we became a single income family it meant we would be giving a lot of the luxuries we enjoyed in life up. We knew that we would have to actually make and stick to a budget, and we knew that we were going to have to have a PLAN for our finances.
We thought it was going to be hard, and we weren’t wrong.
Despite it being hard, it has been the most rewarding thing we have done for ourselves.
Being a single income family isn’t for everyone, but for us, it means that regardless of my husband’s irregular work schedule, I can be home to greet him as soon as he gets home from work. It means that if he gets a couple of days off we can leave right away and go somewhere without having to worry about my work schedule.
It means that I get to stay home and raise our family and be a homemaker even though we are living on one LOW income.
For us, being a single income family has completely opened our eyes to the blessings we have and how fortunate we are to be able to live like this.
Sure, we might not be able to go out with friends every time we get invited and most date nights are “date night ins” rather than “date night outs”, but we also get to live the life we WANT to, and I get to be a stay at home mom to our children, and that alone makes all the sacrifices worth it.
Living frugally is not a single choice; it’s a lifestyle.
When we decided to become a single income family we knew we needed to completely revamp the way we did our finances. We needed to PLAN our spending, we couldn’t continue spending carelessly like we had been. And we needed to find ways to live frugally.
Neither of us were really BIG spenders, but we did like to spend. And we often did it without thinking twice about what we were buying, so becoming a single income family really forced us to hammer down and put our frugality to the test.
Over two years later we are still thriving off of one income and we have learned SO many frugal living tips and tricks that I want to share with you, to help YOU see that it IS possible to be a single income family, even when it seem financially impossible.
You CAN be a single income family EVEN when it looks financially impossible.
Related: How We Feed a Family For $300 a Month (when we used to spend $1,000 a month!)
While giving up some of the luxuries of life might sound brutal to you, if you really want to stay home with your kids the good will ALWAYS outweigh the bad. Living as a single income family will enrich your life in so many more ways than you thought possible.
Being a single income family will open your eyes up to how wealthy you are.
In fact, we never feel like we are missing out on the “glamorous lifestyle” because, though we have cut certain aspects out of our lives, we still have far more than we really need.
How to thrive as a single income family
1. BE HAPPY WITH LESS
The number one thing you can do to thrive – not just survive – as a single income family is to be happy with less.
If you always have to have the latest and greatest of everything, there’s a good chance that you won’t make it too far living on one income.
Learn to be happy and make do with what you have.
Adopting this way of life has enabled my husband and I to save a lot of money, and has helped us realize that the very things we thought we needed were things we really didn’t need after all, and that we can almost always find something that we do have to do the same job as whatever it is we wanted to buy.
2. FIND FREE ACTIVITIES TO DO
Being fiercely frugal does NOT mean you have to sit at home all day and do nothing just so you don’t spend money.
There are countless free activities you and your family can do to keep yourselves busy without spending a dime. If you do a quick Google search of “your town + free activities” you’ll usually come up with a long list of free things to do. You can also look in the newspaper for activities or ask at the library if they have any activities going on.
If your family is going out to eat for dinner, find a restaurant in your area that lets kids eat free for a much cheaper option.
3. BECOME A ONE CAR FAMILY, IF YOU CAN
Now, I realize this won’t work for EVERY family out there, for a variety of reasons, but if it is feasible for your family to become a one car family you will save a lot of money.
Not only will you be saving money on insurance every month, but you’ll also be spending less money on fuel and car maintenance.
My husband and I became a one car family shortly after we became a single income family, and though it took a bit of extra planning and some time to get used to, we quickly became accustomed to it. I love how much more it forces me to go out and walk to places, rather than taking the easy option of hopping in the car to go somewhere.
And on days that I do need the car for some reason, we just plan ahead and I’ll drive my husband to work and pick him up from work. For us, being a one car family is the perfect fit, but I know it’s not for everyone.
If the only thing that’s keeping you from becoming a one car family is fear of the unknown, it’s time to ditch that fear. Being a one car family isn’t the end of the world, and you’ll adapt to it quickly.
4. UTILIZE LIBRARIES
Rather than renting movies or buying books, get a free library card and start taking movies and books out of the library, for free.
Okay, I realize that very, very few people rent movies these days. Most people have cable (which we’re going to talk about in a second…) or Netflix or Amazon Prime movies, but if you DO still go to a brick and mortar store to rent your movies, you can save money by utilizing the free movies that your library has to offer.
5. CUT THE CABLE
Ahhh, can you imagine cutting your cable?
Well, it might be time to.
The average American family will spend around $100 a month on cable TV.
And, since there are many other options out there to use that cost a FRACTION of that cost per month, there really is no need to pay for cable.
You could sign up for Netflix to watch a wide variety of TV shows and movies (without the advertisements!) for less than $20 a month, or you could sign up for Amazon Prime movies for far cheaper than the cost of cable. (You can also try Amazon Prime for free for a month, here.)
So yes, it’s time to cut the cable and find a much cheaper option.
6. BUY SECOND HAND
There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying stuff second hand. Whether that be from a thrift store, a buy and sell, or a garage sale, you can find all kinds of treasures for a fraction of what they would cost to buy new, still in good shape.
(Just make sure you’re only buying stuff you actually need. Don’t buy everything and anything just because it’s cheap or else your house could end up like this.)
My husband and I buy virtually all of our clothes second hand. Plus, we kept our eyes on our local buy and sell and Facebook groups and were able to get all the clothes our baby will need up to 9 months for $10!
7. MEAL PLAN
I’ve been meal planning for a long time now, but when I first started (when we first became a one income family), I hated every second of it.
Okay, hate might be a bit strong of a word, but I really, really didn’t enjoy it.
But I had heard so many people rave about meal planning and all the money they were saving, so I was determined to make it work – and after a few dreadful months, I was able to make it work. And now? I absolutely love it and can’t imagine not meal planning.
(It takes away ALL mealtime stress.)
If you’re just looking for a quick-fix to stop overspending on groceries, this is all you need.
I could blab on and on about meal planning for hours, so I’m going to stop now before I get started. If you are interested in meal planning, head over here to see how I use it to save my husband and I $700 every single month.
8. REALIZE THAT EVEN LITTLE SAVINGS ADD UP OVER TIME
While it might not seem too important to buy the generic brand of cereal at the store when it’s only $.50 cheaper than the name brand, it is important.
If you could potentially be saving $.50 on cereal, and another $1.50 on apples that are on sale, versus a different kind of apples that aren’t on sale, and $5.00 for buying a different brand of toilet paper than the brand you normally buy.
That’s a total of $7.00 in savings in one shopping trip. While that might not seem TOO significant, over time it will add up to a lot in savings, especially as you become more aware of the brands that are cheaper and the cycles of the store’s sales.
9. BECOME A FLYER SHOPPER
Becoming a flyer shopper is another way you can save money, especially on groceries. When you start to look through the flyers before you go shopping and create your meal plans and shopping lists according to what’s on sale for the week, you’ll be able to save a lot of money on groceries.
Because of flyer shopping, I was able to make 20 freezer meals for less than $100, all because I made meals that used ingredients that were on sale.
If you’re interested in freezer cooking, this is the freezer cooking method I use that has saved us hundreds of dollars on food (and it stops us from eating out so much).
10. REUSE, REUSE, REUSE
Reusing things, even things that aren’t meant to be reused is another frugal living tactic that has saved my husband and I a lot of money over the years.
Rather than throwing that plastic sandwich bag in the garbage after one use, why not wash it and use it again and again? Instead of tossing your plastic grocery bags in the trash, why not save them and use them to line the garbage cans around your house?
Here’s a list of 12 things you should be reusing that you’re probably just throwing in the trash.
11. MAKE A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
It’s no lie that becoming a single income family can wreak havoc on your finances until you figure out a system to make things work.
To help you figure out that system faster, you need to be using a budget. Rather than setting a budget up and using the same budget month after month, you should be redoing that budget every single month to keep it up to date and to ensure you’re not spending more money than you should be.
This is the budgeting method my husband and I used to get our finances organized when we became a single income family, and it’s the same method we still use to this day.
If you’re looking for less of a comprehensive workbook and more of something that you can simply write numbers into to get the perfect budget, this is probably what you need.
You can also make your own laundry detergent and cleaning products.
10 Ways We Save Money While Living on One Income
How to Freezer Cook to Save Money on Food
20 Things We Took Off Our Grocery List to Save Money
22 Things That Frugal People Don’t Do