How our Family Survives as a Single Income Household

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Two years ago, my husband and I decided to live as a single income household. I was expecting our son and desperately wanted to stay home with him instead of returning to work.

At the time, we didn’t think it would be possible to survive on one income especially with the cost of health insurance.

But I was determined to make a way!

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 meant 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 log from two incomes down to one income even if you are suddenly thrown into that position.

Tips to Go from Two Incomes to a One Income Family.

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 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.

The second biggest category that I cut was groceries. I shared how I instantly cut the grocery budget!

A book that helped me find even more 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 were…

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • We quit getting magazine subscriptions.
  • 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 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 go from two incomes to 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!

Mom life can get pretty crazy.

That’s why I created Balanced Mom Checklist. Keep the house clean. Get dinner on the table. AND take care of yourself.

Get your free copy today and find balance!

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How to live on one income and be a stay at home mom





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9 thoughts on “How our Family Survives as a Single Income Household

  1. At times we have lived on just one income (we are doing that now) and all your points are right on. I worked while my husband was laid off many times but I too stayed at home a majority of the time to raise children. If you can do the trade offs you mentioned they are so worth it. I started back working when my children were almost teenagers and needed (wanted) a lot. I found a job that was in line with their school (school bus driver) and it worked out perfectly. I’m now retired with my husband and glad I was able to make those choices. Some people are not able to do this (single Moms or Dads) but I was blessed that it worked for me.

    1. I love hearing from others how it is possible! Thank you for sharing your story, Vickie. It is amazing how God always works things out like your school bus driving job.

  2. What an inspiring read! I love the tips you gave and the way you showed that even though it’s not always easy, a lot of times it simply comes down to what we make priority.

    For myself I’ve learned that contentment is SO key to making a tight budget work. It’s so easy, like you mentioned, to compare our life with others and start to feel disgruntled because we can’t take big vacations or buy the latest, nicest clothes etc. But the thing is, if I don’t compare myself to others, I actually don’t usually mind doing without those things! 🙂 And keeping the end goal in mind is so helpful too.

    1. That is a good point, Lydia! When we keep our mind on the goal it makes it so much easier. Yes, we really have all that we need (and more). Contentment is a big part of living with less, but always worth it!

  3. I loved reading your story and I can relate! I left my job and a great salary after 11 years in order to be home for my pre-teen son. I was fortunate to obtain a part-time job working from home. It took a little bit to adjust our household income but we did it, well almost. The only problem I still seem to have is my grocery bill, ugh! I can’t seem to get that under control. It’s been almost 2 yrs now, my son is 14 and eats like 2 grown men; he’s 5’9″ and thin as a rail. Any suggestions?

    1. Julee, I’m so glad you were able to stay home and even find a part time job from home! Boys love to eat, don’t they?! I’ve worked hard at lowering my grocery bill since becoming a SAHM. The thing that really helped me was to start making more things from scratch and to stock up on sales rather than waiting to purchase foods at regular price when we ran out of certain things. I will email you with some specific links that may be helpful!

  4. Good for you Emily. Your priorities are in order in life. You will surely have all that you need in life if you trust in God, and you will be far richer than most with more posessions. You have inspired many I’m sure. I have always shared your philosophies and think that others would be happier to simplify their lives. God Bless!

    1. Thank you, Julie! I’m so glad to hear that you share the same philosophies. Chasing after things will never bring true contentment. It has been inspiring to see how God has provided for us over the last few years on one income!

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