Whether your family is living on one income by choice or because of unforeseen circumstances, you can live frugally on that one income and make it a successful adventure.
Job loss today is a real thing. There is a crisis going on, and unemployment is on the rise. Finding a way to embrace frugal living will benefit you until you can get back on your feet.
Excellent tips on being a stay-at-home mom flood Pinterest, but when your heart is there, but you can’t find a way financially to come home, these best ways to live frugally on one income will help you do just that. You can find a way to stay at home with your kids.
Consider These Financial Goals Before Living On One Income
Of course, if your job just laid you off, these will not apply unless you have already done them. As your Financial Coach, I recommend making sure these are in place right now.
Have an Emergency Fund.
Three to six months of expenses is best, but I would suggest that you start stockpiling as much money as you can if you know you are coming home. Go on a complete spending freeze and save all the money you can come up with to an emergency fund until you get to that 3-6 month expense amount.
The starter emergency fund for someone trying to get out of debt is $1,000. However, if there is any inkling or expectation of a life change, pull together a big pile of money as fast as possible.
Government stimulus checks and other special funding for unemployment are coming for some relief.
Money comes out of our main checking account every payday, and I don’t pay too much attention to it. Soon enough, you could have an emergency fund, a home improvement fund, or anything that you have decided you want to save. An online savings account is my favorite and an easy way to save money automatically.
Create A Budget.
At first, this is a challenge, and nobody is perfect, but a reasonable attempt is better than no effort. You will get better as you continue to use your budget and allow for tweaks. But, don’t stop using budgeting tools.
You might think you don’t need the app or the budget printables, so you stop using them, but you will soon find out that it goes down the tubes fast. Raise your hand if you know what I am saying here!
Understand Health Insurance.
Decide which plan is best for you. Do your research and understand that anything medical is not cheap. From glasses to significant surgery, know what your insurance covers and how much needs to be paid out of pocket.
Make sure that money is set aside in an emergency or special medical fund. So many people find themselves buried in medical debt.
Pay Off Debt.
Pay off as much debt as you possibly can. There is a release of a burden when debt is minimal. I never imagined what a drain on my emotional well-being debt was. There is an absolute calm that you live with when you pay off all debt. Work together on this and get super excited about where you could be if you didn’t owe anyone anything.
This ebook and planner have many ways to tackle being debt-free (including my own).
Remember, money is still needed when that one income earner decides it’s time to retire. Keep putting money away for retirement, even if it’s 1%. Don’t stop. Utilize the income earner’s 401K if offered. Otherwise, educate yourself in IRAs and growth stock mutual funds.
Frugal Living Tips When Money Has Decreased
Cook Frugal Meals. It is possible to cook cheap and healthy meals. You might not have the money to shop 100% organic in this season of life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do the best you can to give your family nutritious and tasty meals on a budget.
Stay On Top Of Expenses. Expenses include the cost of cable/internet, car insurance, homeowners insurance, electricity, and cell phones. Make phone calls and negotiate the prices on these things at least once per year. Different cell phone providers or cutting cable altogether would be more extreme, but it’s an option. Shop around for economic alternatives when necessary.
Make Your Cleaners. There are a bazillion ideas on the internet for homemade non-toxic cleaners that you can make with items you might already have in your house. Here are mine – including wood polish and leather cleaner. Stop buying all of those cleaners that you don’t need.
Heating And Cooling. Pay attention to the comfort of your home. Could you turn down the furnace two degrees and put on socks and a sweater? Could you be alright with the air conditioners set for 75 days? Or even 78? How far could you push it?
Electricity. Unplug things that are not in use. Turn off the lights during the day. Switch to LED light bulbs. Phantom power is a real thing, and you are paying for and not using all those appliances, electronics, and chargers. According to How Stuff Works, phantom power can account for as much as 10% of household electricity. Here’s an article about saving on Utility Bills
DIY. Really. Do it yourself. Car oil needs to be changed. Sew the shirt. Mow the lawn. The kitchen sink has a drip. Save money and do it all yourself. We live in an age where knowledge is at our fingertips. We can learn to do just about anything with the help of Youtube.
Embrace a Thrifty Lifestyle
Grocery Shopping. Grocery shopping can be a huge budget buster for me. If I don’t meal plan and shop carefully, sticking to my list, I can fall into the food trap of grabbing things I didn’t plan. I have a great eBook about reducing grocery spending, including meal plans and recipes.
Also, sometimes the convenience of shopping at a higher-end store like Hannaford, where I can order my groceries online and pick them up (or DELIVER!), sounds impressive, but there is a price for that.
I can spend $75 to $100 more than just going to Aldi, renting a cart, walking through the aisles, bagging my groceries, and bringing them to my car. Yes, it’s going to be more work. But as my husband says, we have more time than money!
Stay Out Of Target. I am so guilty of this. I plan on one trip to Target per month. I have a printable of the things I usually buy there and a budget of $80 per month. Staying out of the stores might be my most important financial tip for homemakers.
When I go, I get a coffee and take my time. I browse through everything and get what I need. I may need other items that month, like a new rug or fresh bath towels in front of the door. But those items are budgeted. There are no spontaneous splurges. Make the sacrifices when you’re living on one income.
And I try hard only to go in once a month.
Use Apps. Let’s go back to Target. Use their app to save some money potentially. There are other great apps like Fetch and Ibotta. I use both. Also, stores like Dollar General, Family Dollar, CVS, and Walgreens make it so easy to get coupons and deals in their stores.
Take Advantages Of Coupons. I know many who use coupons to save money when living on one income. I am not a fan of coupons, but if you have time and love a good game, check out my blog post about couponing.
Buying Clothes. Growing is complete for most of us in this house. Some of us might be shrinking. Clothing is something we all need, and when you have littles, you will need it more often.
Facebook Marketplace is a GREAT way to get children’s clothes. They don’t wear them that long to be in great shape most of the time. And at a fraction of the cost of brand new, its a win!
I visited my mom last week, and she has a store called Savers. It’s like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. For $25, I got two shirts, a coat, a glass water pitcher, and a book. All clothes were name brand and on shirt still had the tags on it -priced more than what I paid for it.
Compare Prices. Comparing prices works for grocery stores and online shopping. Sometimes Amazon can have it cheaper than Target. Sometimes Walmart will be more expensive than those fancier grocery stores. If you know how much you usually spend on American Cheese, you know a deal when you see one.
Shop With Intention. Know why you are at the store, be mindful, and get what you need. Shop with blinders.
Basic Money Saving Tips For Living on One Income
Think Ahead On Transportation. You know that you need to refill the gas tank, registrations come due, brakes wear out, and oil changes must happen.
You also understand that you will need to replace your car at a specific time. Not if, but when. Plan accordingly for all of these expenses. I have a sinking fund for transportation because it will be required.
Organization. Stay organized, whether this is an app, a binder, a planner, or sticky notes all over the refrigerator. It is easy to forget things when you have a lot going on.
It is vital to have a clear picture. Knowing when bills are due will save money on late fees. Knowing a birthday party is coming in two weeks will allow you to grab a gift bag at the Dollar Tree instead of Wallgreens.
Pay Attention. Specifically, pay attention to areas of overspending. Where are your weak spots? Are you lonely, so you take the littles to Target to interact with other adults? Find a MOPS Group.
Do you find refuge in online shopping on your phone when you get tired? Unsubscribe to those shopping emails and try Candy Crush or Tik Tok (not just for teens anymore).
Know your weaknesses and practice redirecting when you get the urge to spend. Pivoting is an excellent mindset and financial tip for homemakers.
Understand Want Vs. Need. I like to keep a notebook or list all the things I want on my phone. I can decide whether I enjoy it and then find the best price.
I did that with my coffee maker. I wanted this auto-drip coffee maker. I waited for MONTHS to find a good sale. It wasn’t a need because we had one that was just fine.
It was a Keurig, and it cost us a lot more than I wanted to spend in K Cups, but it worked. Had that one broken, it would have quickly turned into a need…more or less. So I waited.
Keep Your Health. Stay healthy. Brush your teeth to avoid cavities. Eat your veggies to protect that immune system. Drink your water, take your vitamins, and wash your hands. Avoid the cost of cold medicines and go to the Doctor as much as possible.
Avoid Restaurants And Take Out—plan and cook from scratch. Now, a disclaimer. If a frozen Stouffers Lasagna or a couple of frozen pizzas will save you from ordering delivery, then go for it! $15 is better than $40. But know that made from scratch pizza is so cheap!!! Here’s an article about staying out of restaurants.
Always Research Everything. From the cost of the cable to a new vacuum. Make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck. You can purchase even Birthday Cards cheaper at the Dollar Tree than at Target. Know this information.
Start Meal Planning. Meal planning will save money on groceries and take-out. If you know what you are having for meals each day, you are less likely to stand staring into the refrigerator every evening. I use reverse meal planning, which I explain in this article.
Use A Cash Only System. When you have to account for every penny, many are not great at doing this with a debit or credit card. Gong to a cash-only system will help keep the budget on track. Especially for the areas you may generally overspend in. I have a great article about DIY cash envelope wallets.
Benefits of Living on One Income
Spending less money. There are so many benefits of having one person in the home. You may find savings that happen. Depending on the salary and cost of living, earnings might be a lot less than you think. When ain’t into consideration gas, clothing, meals outside of the home, convenience foods, and other added work expenses, there may not be a lot of profit.
Being at home with children is a true benefit. You get to have more time with little ones that seem to grow so fast. Many parents feel called to stay home, and the tips above will surely help do just that.
Saving money and getting out of debt is a full-time job in itself. To be able to cook your find from scratch, find deals, and plan and manage money down to the penny is relatively time-consuming.
Managed responsibilities. Having one person manage the home while the other leaves to earn an income may take some of the dress off around the house. If one person takes on those responsibilities, it might be a blessing to your relationship.
Consider A Side Hustle
Side hustles will enable you to bring in some extra money for a short while or open up doors for a new business. I understand that this is an article about living frugally on one income. However, many times a side hustle will allow you the flexibility to still be home with children or apply and interview for other jobs.
If your financial goals are more significant than just the concept of saving money can give you, then it’s time to make some money. Try some of the suggestions on a side job in this article.
There are oodles of ways to do things in the information era. You can go to garage sales or get extreme deals online. Then resell them in an online shop or on Facebook. There are even babysitting or blogging opportunities. The possibilities are endless.
Final Thoughts on How to Live Frugally on One Income
Whether it was your choice or the world’s fate today to come home, there are tips to help you live a less expensive lifestyle and embrace frugality to make your financial, family, and personal goals happen. Planning is always vital, but jump in where you are and do your best if you don’t have time to do that.