Two years ago, I was expecting our son. I desperately wanted to stay home with him instead of returning to work, but at the time, my husband and I didn’t think it would be possible to survive on one income especially with the cost of health insurance.
While I was on maternity leave, I spent every free moment searching the internet, calling companies, and completing applications for work-at-home jobs. But it seemed like all I ran into was scam after scam. I was so defeated, and I had no idea what I was going to do.
Then 2 weeks before I was suppose to go back to work, a couple of things changed financially for us. We crunched the numbers, and even though it was going to be tight, we decided that I would stay home.
Yes, two weeks before I was suppose to go back to work, I quit! That means we didn’t have much time to prepare for living on one income, but we still made it work. Of course it would be great to prepare financially, but it is possible to live off of one income even if you are suddenly thrown into that position. Here are the things that helped us.
1. Trust God
Recently, I shared the reason we can afford for me to stay home. I strongly encourage you to read that post. It has encouraged many women! Matthew 6:14 says that God will supply all our needs. That’s a promise that you can depend on! Stepping out on faith can be scary, especially if you are used to living on two incomes like we were.
The day I walked out of my boss’s office after resigning from my job, I asked myself if I had made a big mistake. But here’s the deal. If I had never decided to take that step of faith, I would have never known whether or not it was possible to live without my income. (and it is!)
2. Track Your Spending
One of the first things I did was to write down all of our expenses by category so that we could see exactly how much we were spending in each area.
I broke up the categories into the following: bills, tithe, savings, groceries, gasoline, out to eat, clothes, medical, gifts, and miscellaneous. Then I added up costs that only occur every so often but not monthly like home repair, vehicle maintenance, hair cuts, vacations, ect. After adding those estimated costs up for an entire year, I divided the total between 12 months and included that amount in the monthly expenditures as well.
Your categories may be similar to mine, but you will probably have differences too. Just make sure to include everything!
3. Cut the Costs
Once you have the totals that you typically spend each month, decide what is the maximum amount you can spend in each category of your budget based on one income. This may be a little (okay, a lot) painful, but remind yourself why you are doing this!
*I still do this every month and discuss with my husband what areas of the budget we could cut. It is vital that you never go on autopilot with your budget. Always look for ways to better use your money.
One of the biggest expenses is bills. Believe it or not, this is an area that can be reduced! Call each company and tell them that you are wanting to save money. They may tell you about a discount that you were unaware of, or they may just give you a discount. I called our cell phone company and asked if there were any available discounts, and they gave me 10% for the year!
You may have to switch companies as well. We ended up switching car insurance to a much lower price, but we still have the same coverage. I wrote an entire post full of tips for lowering bills that you can read.
A book that really helped me find ways to save is Living Well, Spending Less* by Ruth Soukup. She shared several practical tips along with encouragement for changing my mindset about possessions.
Some areas of our budget we cut out completely or drastically.
- Instead of going to the movies or renting movies, we get movies from the library or find one on TV.
- I quit getting highlights in my hair and went back to wearing my natural hair color. Instead of getting my hair cut every 6-8 weeks, I stretch it out to every 3-4 months by taking good care of my hair in-between cuts.
- We take advantage of free entertainment by going to parks, library book clubs, playing in our own back yard, window shopping, ect.
- I don’t buy clothes as often as I used to because I started buying only what we need. I wear the same clothes often, but they are all clothes that I feel good in! I usually do a load of laundry every day, so we never run out of clean clothes to wear even though we don’t have a lot of clothes in our closets.
- We shop with a purpose and only buy things that we really need rather than buying something because it was cute or on sale. Something I’ve been guilty of in the past!
- I’m better at meal planning which means we eat at home more often. When we do go out to eat, we like to take advantage of coupons and sales as much as possible.
- We quit getting magazine subscriptions. Although, I did sign up for a few free promotions last year.
- I do my own manicures and pedicures.
- My husband mows our lawn.
- He does as much mechanical work at home as he can before taking our vehicles to the mechanic.
- We bought a small house that saves us on mortgage payments, maintenance, and utilities.
- We drive older vehicles that are paid for and do our best to take care of them so that they run well.
4. Give It Time
The first few months of living on one income, I was so scared to go over budget that I was basically a hermit! I didn’t want to spend a penny over what we were bringing in. It took some adjustment and change in our lifestyle, but eventually, we got used to our new budget and way of life. If you are having trouble adjusting to one income at first, remember that it takes time. Don’t give up before it starts getting good!
5. Don’t Compare
When I am mindful of all that I do have, I find that I spend less money. I’m not out trying to find the latest and greatest or spending money trying to impress other people.
There will be others who go on elaborate vacations, drive nicer vehicles, dress in the latest and greatest fashions, and live in bigger homes, but you have to remember that there life is not yours. Someone else is probably looking at your home or vehicle and wishing they had something just as nice. Be grateful for all that you have been blessed with, and the rest won’t seem so important.
6. Support Each Other
Every month when the big bills are due, there are times when I start to worry. I tell my husband maybe I should go back to work, but he is always there to remind me that we are doing okay on just his salary. God always provides. Every couple must work together in this journey. It can be difficult at times, but it is always worth it!
I hope this provided some practical steps so that you are able to live on one income if that is your heart’s desire. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send me an email. I’d love to help or just offer encouragement!
Visit my homemaking resources to learn more money saving ideas and resources.
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