Tips For Living Comfortably On One Income

Monday, February 26, 2018
Sometimes making the decision to be a one-income family is yours, and other times it's made for you. When you make the decision for yourself, it can be a long and hard one as to what works for you and your family. When Emma was born, we knew I would stay home with her. I was a software consultant who traveled 2-3 weeks out of the month, and that kind of travel schedule wasn't conducive to having a newborn at home. It was always my intention to pursue my career at some point after starting a family. But once we did the math, we determined that in the short term, it was a better option to have one income after having children.

But living off one income doesn’t have to mean that you can’t enjoy things in life. It just means making certain changes and sacrifices and cutting some unnecessary costs. Start by recording all your expenses. Evaluate those that are the highest and determine ways you can save on those expenses. Here are some additional tips and tricks to help:

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When both my husband and I worked, we ate out most evenings. We were both exhausted after long days (and a long commute of 60+ minutes each way) to be bothered preparing dinner. But once I stopped working, the frequent meals out stopped. Although I never enjoyed cooking, I learned to like it enough to prepare a few decent meals each week and supplement them with take out. On the weekends, my husband would cook since it's something he enjoyed doing on his days off.

Of course when you cut back on eating out, you have to cook at home which means spending more at the grocery store. Luckily there are several ways you can save on weekly groceries. First of all, make sure you are planning your meals. When you go in with a list of the things that you need, you won’t be tempted to impulse buy. Taking the time to meal plan saves you both time and money. Secondly, shop the store’s own brand of foods rather than the more expensive brands. In most cases, the food will be comparable quality, but will be less expensive, and over a month, that saving adds up. Thirdly, clip coupons and check your store's weekly circular for additional savings.

If you have things like cable TV or are signed up to Netflix, Amazon video, and other monthly subscriptions, it can be a good idea to decide what you do or don’t need and use. Getting rid of cable or just having one monthly subscription can be a good way to save. Plus, you’ll find that you save time, and may have more time for yourself or a hobby.

Evaluate your monthly utility bills to determine if there are additional savings you can gain. Can you cut the thermostat back a few degrees at night or during the day when no one is home? How can you conserve water to reduce your water bill?

Credit cards, when used in the right way, can be a great addition to your wallet. And they can even help you to budget and manage your money if you use them well. Look for low APR credit cards and those that offer rewards and points such as airline miles or money off coupons, so that you can still enjoy some other things as a family, without it having to cost you any extra.

If you have a cell phone, do you really need a landline? If you have the internet at home, do you need a cell phone plan with so much data? And if you have a home phone included in your internet deal, do you need a cell phone with unlimited calling minutes? It can all add up, and you’re not likely to need it all. Also, many employers cover the full or partial costs of cell phones or landlines (if you telecommute). Speaking to your provider about your usage might help you to downgrade your plan to a cheaper one when possible.

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