We Live on ONE Income (And That’s Not Going to Change!)
Our family on 5 lives very comfortably on one income. And while it’s not as low as it once was, $50,000 for a family of five is still considered “low income.” But that doesn’t stop us, because I’m not going back to work.
Early on in our marriage, my husband and I decided that it would make the most sense for me to stay at home with our children. We quickly learned (and are STILL learning) that there were many sacrifices to be made when living off of one income.
It took us by surprise at first; we were seeing our friends going out nightly, or going on exotic vacations and wondering why we couldn’t do that too. Well, it’s because both people in those relationships worked and they didn’t have any children yet! It took us a long time to realize that was why we, too, couldn’t go to Cancun twice this year or why going out to dinner every night just wasn’t feasible.
Related post: How to Live on One Low Income
Why don’t I just go back to work?
There are many reasons that my going back to work just isn’t going to happen, but here are the top 2:
- It would actually cost us money if I went to get a job outside of the house! We would need to pay for daycare for 2 children, and school for our oldest. Those expenses alone would eat up any money that I would bring home!
- It would also be almost impossible for my husband and me to have time together. He works second shift and it’s hard enough to get quality time to ourselves. But if I worked, I’d be in bed when he gets home, and gone when he wakes up. This is not the way that marriage should be, and thinking about the logistics of it is stressing me out!
Once we committed to the single-income life, we were really able to feel like we could “have it all” and still put money into savings! We could spend time together as a couple, spend time together as a family, and still bring in a very comfortable income!
*Update: 12/01/2017: Even though I now make a full-time income from my blog, I still get to work from home, make my hours, and we still only live off of my husband’s income. Mine goes into savings and to paying off the house early.*
*Update #2: 7/01/2022: My blog now makes enough that we’re back to being on JUST the blog’s income, my husband stays at home with our now-4 children. We STILL use these tips to live on 1 income even with the crazy inflation and impending recession.*
Related post: How We Lived Well on $17,000 as a Family of Four
How our family of 6 makes it living on one income
In the world we live in, whenever I read a post about living on one income, it’s usually in a 2-income household or one without kids. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
However… this is a post for the families looking to make it on one income. Being a single income family isn’t easy — not gonna lie. However! Single income families can still have an amazing life without getting into serious financial troubles or debt.
As one family one income is all that we have as income. We’ve lived on 1 income for more than 10 total years now, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m an expert at living on one income. So, promise, these things work. This is a lifestyle that sometimes takes work to master and find what works best for you.
Again… I promise!!! THIS. IS. WORTH. IT.
We realized that we were going to need to sacrifice.
Fancy dinners? Not for us. Exotic vacations and long weekend trips? Nuh uh. But we could have all of the freezer pizzas and Netflix binges that we wanted without worrying about blowing the budget!
If you’re anything like my husband and me, it costs around $100 anytime we go out between dinner and a babysitter. Even just once a week, that’s $400 a month! That’s all of the utility bills right there!
As a one income house living without using credit cards, we were going to need to sacrifice when it came to comparison with our peers.
The first step is acceptance. Accept that the choice to live on one income comes with a price sometimes, but it also comes with so many rewards! One parent is always there with the kids. No need to worry about missing the big moments in your child’s life or feeling like you’re too exhausted from a long work day to have quality time with your family.
Related post: 6 Steps to Drastically Reduce Your Grocery Budget
Keep that spending under control
We’ve learned that in order to thrive on just one income, living with a strict budget is absolutely necessary. After lots of trial and error, we realized that the best system to keep the spending under control was to make my husband have his own bank account and to have a bank account specifically for fun.
For our family, getting my husband’s spending in check way key. My husband works in a steel plant and they have vending machines in their break room. That’s just the devil to someone who is working late and just wants a bag of chips!
“It’s just $1. That’s nothing!” Until it all adds up living on one income, along with the other things bought while at work (coffee, lunch, energy drinks) and suddenly, you’re looking at close to half of our grocery budget on convenient snack food!
Once he realized how much he was spending because he thought “it was nothing,” I finally started to stay on top of our budget! From there, keeping his spending under control is key as a single income family. In your world, it might be different: you might be the spender in your relationship! Whatever the case may be, getting control of spending while still budgeting for fun is the way to make it on one income!
Related post: 11 Expenses to Stop Spending Money On
I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never been a weekly mani/ pedi girl. Or that I didn’t use to get my hair dyed monthly. Or that my husband had never spent $50 a month on getting his hair buzzed at a barber. But those things were the first to go when we started committing to living on one income!
The less monthly bills, the better! You can cut your husband’s hair so easily! And did you know that going to a local beauty school costs around $40 +/- for a full head of highlights? The best thing to do though is to eliminate the unnecessary spending altogether! With only one income, it’s more important to make sure that the bills all get paid in full than it is to make sure that you got a pedicure.
Related post: 8 Ways to Stop Spending Money You Don’t Have
Crank out those side hustles
The best thing that I ever did for my one income family was start making extra money at home through side hustles. I’m sad to say that I only started doing side hustles in the past year, but I’m making more than enough money to cover my groceries for our family of 5, and now I pay some of the bills as well!
Here are my favorites:
- Start a blog for $2.95/month!
- How to Become a Virtual Assistant and Make a Full-Time Income Doing It!
- Make $40,000 per Year From Home as a Bookkeeper
- How to Start Selling on Amazon FBA and Make a Full-Time Income
- Make Money Taking Surveys
- Secret shopping from home with Bestmark
- Reviewing websites with Usertesting
- Getting cashback for things I buy with Rakuten (formerly Ebates) (If you’ve wondered how does Ebates work, you can find that here!)
- Watching Youtube videos for Swagbucks
- 5 Side Hustles That Pay For My Groceries (and More!)
- 30+ Real Ways to Earn Money From Home
- Make a Full-Time Income From Home Proofreading
Shop for better places to shop
You don’t have to be limited to just the “regular” stores! When every penny counts living on one income, don’t you want to stretch your budget to the limit?
Did you now that there are other places to get groceries than just buying them at retail from the grocery store? I used to shop at the big brand stores and our regular shopping trips were $125 for three people at the time, and our cart was less than half full primarily of packaged goods and processed foods.
One day I went to our local discount grocer; a grocery store of damaged boxes, dinged cans, close to expiring foods, and lots of produce. I got almost the exact same things I would’ve gotten at our normal grocery store and I spent $35 instead of $125! Ever since then, we haven’t gone food shopping at a big brand store and have saved thousands!
100% of the clothes in our house were bought at thrift shops, yard sales, or were hand-me-downs. Why? Because I can get so much for so little! Especially when it comes to my three sons and their clothes. Why should I spend $20 on a baby pair of jeans that will be worn for 3 months and then have holes in the knees? I’d rather spend $1 on the same pair of jeans and not worry about getting holes in the knees!
Related post: 10 Crazy Money Saving Amazon Hacks
Try some weird ways to save money
If in your world, it’s considered weird to be a one-income family, embrace being weird! There are lots of ways that both save you money and are considered “being a hippie.” I’d much rather be called a “hippie” than a “cheapskate!”
Things like cloth diapering and making your own laundry detergent are considered “weird,” but they can also save you thousands of dollars each year! I’m ok being weird for a few extra thousand dollars each month!
Related post: 10 Weird Ways to Save Money
BUT! Here’s something to remember…
Some ways to save are just NOT worth the time and energy
This is something that I wish I knew about being a single income family is that not all ideas about “saving money” are good ideas. Remember: your time is valuable! And if it takes you 8 hours to make DIY gel clothes detergent and also ruins one of your best pots and then you have to go out and buy a new pot, PLUS having just wasted your time PLUS the ingredients… all just to save a few bucks… it’s not worth it.
(And yes… that DID actually happen for me… don’t make the same mistakes! But this is the best laundry detergent recipe that takes legit 5 minutes to throw together. Still use it, still love it!
Cut out all other unnecessary expenses
When you sit down to make your budget (yes, you need to do it! You’ll be glad you did!), sit down with your 3 most recent bank statements and write down all of the things that you don’t need to spend money on. Everything. Each time you see a purchase on your statement, decide if it was necessary or unnecessary.
If it was unnecessary, cut it out next month or fit it into your “fun” money account. If it was necessary, make sure to put it into the necessary budget and plan for it.
Saving money doesn’t need to suck the life out of you! It’s not impossible to have an amazing life while still living on a budget. If you need some ideas on where to start, check out these expenses that could save you $700 if you cut them out!
Related post: The Easiest Way to Cut Your Laundry Bill in Half
More money saving resources:
- How to Make Saving Money Easy
- Stop Paying Your Gym and Get Fit for Free
- 5 Ways to Save Money Going Out With Friends
- 5 Lifestyle Changes to Really Save Money
- The 3 Rules to Paying Off Debt Fast
- 10 Things to Do with Unwanted Gifts
- Best Money Saving Apps You Need
- How to Save Money When You Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck
- Money Saving Tips That Helped Us Save $21,972 Every Year!
- 7 Ways to Still Date Your Spouse When Money is Tight
- 10 Crazy Money Saving Amazon Hacks
- Money Saving Hacks from an Extreme Cheapskate
- Money Saving Websites That Thrifty People Love
- How to Talk With Your Husband About Money
- The Trick to Keep Grocery Spending Under Control
- The Best Ways to Save Money in Summer
- How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt Fast
- What To Do When You’ve Racked Up More Debt
- Top 10 Things I Did to Pay Off Debt in 2 Years
What do you do to thrive on one income?