How to Survive and Thrive on a Single Income

Eliminate Debt

Living on a single income is not for everybody for a diversity of reasons and not everyone aspires to become one. I am here to encourage families that have this calling. I became a stay at home wife and mom for the past 5 1/2 years and this decision is in line with the birth of our daughter. Hubby and I both decided on this. For the past 5 1/2 years, we have lived on one modest income. It is possible. Living on a single income can be hard when everything is not planned out carefully (especially with kids).

We took a lot of willful steps in our finances and decisions. Along the way we made several mistakes, we had some bumps and rough roads but we took it as a learning process. We climbed it and conquered it. Just like with the 2 income families, it requires sacrifices. I gathered a few things about what our family did.. I realized and learned. I must mention that we both are lucky to have families who helped us when the going got tough.

1. Embrace it. We had to embrace that our priorities needed to change. We knew what really matters. While our kids are not in school yet, Husband and I had made this choice, for me to be a stay at home momma. It is for our family, for our kids. I wanted to be home for them. I knew things are not gonna be easy but we both embraced the change. Acceptance also helps.. what works for other families may not work for you. If one family is living extravagantly, and you just can’t.. (it is normal to wish to have “the same” for your family), go visit what matters list… Realize that MONEY and MATERIAL things will not define us ( who we are) as a person and family.

2. Communicate. Needs and wants must be separated, communicating is essential for this because what matters for you may just be superficial for your partner. ( or kids) We treat all income as “shared,” not “yours” or “mine.” Hubby and I talked, about our expenses, our budget..our income. Every payday actually, we need to be on the same page with planning and budgeting.

3. Set Goals. It can be a long term goal ( saving for emergency fund or pay a debt) or short term ( saving up to buy essentials for the house), Set your goals. Write it in your family information center or family planner. Make a checklist. There is something good in seeing what you had accomplished.

4. Budgeting. This is very important. There are a lot of Budget Online tools that you can use. We used Microsoft Excel as well. We have formulated our “own way “. I was a novice on this few years ago..crunching numbers is not my strongest suit. We sat down..listed all of our bills, car payments, etc.. ALL EXPENSES. We both decided which expenses we can live without and which lifestyle can work for us. (ie: how often should we eat out, dates or do we really need all of these magazine subscriptions)

5. Use Cash. Stop using your credit cards. It is just a recipe for disaster. Having credit cards is not a status symbol. It doesn’t make you richer just because you have a huge debt. It makes you a ” not so smart spender “. Use an envelope system for cash. I’m sure you have read about Dave Ramsey. I’ve read his book, he’s a genius. Just like what he said it is not something new.. our grandmothers, mothers..have used this technique. CASH.

6. Be smart when you shop. Plan when you shop, it takes time but definitely worth it. Wait until the grocery circular is out and see what stores have the most items on sale. Build our menu based on the good deals you see. This doesn’t mean that you can not opt for healthy foods. You can eat healthy on a budget. SHOP WITH A LIST AND WITH A BUDGET. Make a week’s worth of menu and make sure you follow the list ( of course!) Get in the store..get what you need and get out.

It is easy to be sidetracked inside with all the tempting “good deals”. I also use coupons.. There’s a lot of websites that teach good couponing tips. Set aside a little amount of money on your grocery budget for stocking up. Stock up on what’s on sale. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer, just stock up on what your family usually consumes. A penny saved is a penny earned.

7. Use your kitchen and eat healthy. Settle on how many times you can eat out in a week or in a month. Nothing is more budget-friendly than home cooking. While it is a little challenging to cook healthy on a budget, it can be done. Be mindful of what you serve, it is much better to invest in good health. Try to get the whole family to involve in the kitchen too, instilling positive healthy habits is always good. We seldom eat out and it makes it more special and fun experience when we do. Buy and cook what’s in season and on sale. Do batch cooking as well. Freeze kitchen staples like broths, beans, some vegetables, herbs (on ice cube trays), berries, spinach, and peppers.

8. You can have fun in a less expensive way ( free too!). Our weekends are always being looked forward to. There are a lot of frugal and sometimes free ways to enjoy your time with your family. Search for free entrances to museums. We love going to farmers market, parks, go for a scenic drive..or even just a simple walk in a neighborhood. Just a stroll in the park gives us time to slow down and talk in spite of busy weekdays. I also subscribed to National Macaroni Kid. Events are delivered right into your inbox every Thursday or Friday. Some events are free and some cost is just very minimal. Sometimes, national parks have free entrance days. Shopping for things you actually do not need is not your only outlet for fun. Buying toys for our kids is not the only way to make them happy. It can be challenging, as parents we always struggle with guilt.

9. Pay yourselves too. If the budget is flexible for any pay period or a particular week. Do spoil yourself one in a while. It is important so you don’t feel deprived, whatever floats your boat. It can be a dine out kinda day ( who doesn’t love a break from cooking and cleaning the dishes. Just remember it doesn’t matter what you guys do..what matters is the time (quality time) you spend together.

10. Blessing. Know that there is a multitude of benefits in staying at home with young children ( they are the motivation of our decision after all ) stability, consistency, relationship, and experience to name a few.

11. Less is more. Living simple can give you a happy life. Contented life. Living simple can vary from one person to another. I would encourage you to write down things in your life that you can simply. Is it the over-scheduling? How does over scheduling affect your family? If you put too much on your schedule that you end up eating out a lot, ask your self if there can be ways to schedule down. Do you really need to have all the extra subscriptions to entertain your family (Netflix, Red box, Hulu etc). Maybe you can just choose one instead of eliminating all of it..to start with.

12. BE FAITHFUL AND PRAY. Whatever your reason is for deciding on being a single income family, know that it is a part of greater plan from God. It is difficult but it will pass. As for me, our daughters will not be little for long, they will be school, they will grow up. It was difficult at first but is it worth it? DEFINITELY! Our kids are always worth it.

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