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I remember being a little girl and dreaming of one day becoming a mom. The gift of raising children, getting them to school every day, and seeing them learn, as well as making their meals, is something I always dreamed about. Becoming an adult and experiencing firsthand precisely what goes into running a household was like a slap by reality because…it is expensive! It didn’t take long for me to understand why both of my parents went to work because living on a single income is a struggle between two people, but adding a baby to the mix is even more of a challenge!
My husband and I have managed to do it, though. Mainly because we had no other choice because my paycheck would have gone straight to childcare. Living on one income is stressful sometimes, and it takes some practice and adjustment to get into a groove, but it is do-able!
I have been lucky enough to be able to stay home with our daughter since day one of her life, and while some days are harder than others, we make it by.
I am going to share some of the best things I have learned when it comes to minimizing and managing your monthly expenses while living on one income! Some things you may already be doing, but these are the tips I have followed to be able to have my household not only survive but thrive on one income.
Re-evaluate monthly subscriptions and memberships
While streaming services are convenient for a variety of reasons, it may not be necessary to keep the ones that aren’t being used frequently. I have let a subscription run on for about three months before shutting it down, while it was only $11 a month, that was $33 that could have filled up my gas tank!
Another is memberships I no longer hold is a gym membership because 1) I think gyms are kind of icky, and 2) I find it more convenient to work out at home.
If you are an avid gym attendee, then, by all means, keep it! But if a gym membership were something you signed up for telling yourself you would use it, but still haven’t, maybe it’s time to pocket that cash.
Store ads and coupons are the best!
I’ll be the first to admit that clipping coupons are a tedious task. They pay off when you see that total subtraction on your grocery receipt!
The trick with coupons is stocking up on items you use continuously, making it to where you won’t have to purchase them for a while. The stock can get overwhelming, though, so make sure you have somewhere to keep it all!
Pro tip: Newspapers are where the coupons are!
There is nothing wrong with store brand items
I swear! It is the same stuff just in a generically labeled container! Walmart’s store brand even says, “compare to…” on the front!
I must have shaved hundreds of dollars since switching to store brands when I can. I only buy name brand stuff when I have a coupon for it.
Paying attention to both your budget and cash flow is crucial!
Creating a budget is only step one of surviving on one income, paying attention to the flow of your cash is step two! They go hand in hand with each other, and they work together at your advantage.
While budgeting is setting up the plan of where your money is going to go, tracking your cash flow focuses on where it ends up going. Of course, monthly bills are expected, but ordering out and leisure purchases add up fast!
Avoid impulse purchases like the plague!
Another one I find myself getting lax about sometimes, but I manage to get back on track eventually!
When you stumble across something you like, give yourself a 48-hour grace period to think about the purchase. Would it benefit the entire house? Do you already own something of a similar function? Is it a necessity? Are you sure you will love it?
Just taking the time to think before hitting buy helps you avoid what my mom calls “buyer’s remorse.” Also known as- regretting the purchase of something.
If you find yourself making it through day to day life, maybe it is a purchase that can wait until your birthday or the holidays. If you even still want it then!
Discounts with insurance companies
Secret: I currently pay $95 a month for two cars with full coverage and a $125,000 renter’s policy all in one. State Farm insures us, and the discounts we have are 1) safe drivers, 2) multi-policy 3) over 25 years old (my husband). All of these added together took a HUGE chunk out of our bill.
If you aren’t already receiving discounts from your insurance company, it certainly won’t hurt to ask about them!
Meal planning and strict shopping
I used to be so good about this one but have honestly fallen off the wagon.
Taking time to plan out every meal for your list and making your grocery list tailored to that plan helps you avoid stray purchases. Going into a store with a general idea of what you need is the first step to overspending!
Bonus tip: NEVER GO GROCERY SHOPPING ON AN EMPTY STOMACH!
Minimize your maintenance
Self-care is crucial, and we have to do what is necessary to practice our self-care. While getting a Mani/Pedi every week is great, the expense adds up fast! You could be pocketing that cash for something else by learning how to do it yourself.
The same goes for luxury cosmetics, the labels are pretty, and the product is excellent, but I can’t help but sweat over a $60 foundation. I try to reserve my luxury items for special occasions (but use them before they expire!). Just for everyday use, though, there isn’t anything wrong with drugstore cosmetics.
Take care of yourself and keep yourself happy, but small sacrifices to thrive on a budget won’t be the end of the world, promise!
DIY what you can
It is like killing two birds with one stone kind of thing. By taking on DIY projects, you are cutting out the costs of labor to make things you are also giving yourself a small (or big) project to keep yourself creative while being the stay-at-home half of your relationship.
While babies and kids are a handful on their own, I find a sort of therapy in keeping my creativity flowing all the time.
The easiest things to make and save money on are making your household cleaners. When I bought store brand products, I spent an easy $50 for the bare necessities. Now, I spend maybe $15 for everything I need to make my own. Plus, your home will be free from all those chemicals!
You can read more about DIY cleaners here!
Warning: this next tip may shock you!
Have you considered a pre-paid phone plan instead of a contract?
It might sound nuts, but hear me out! While contracts do have their benefits, so does being on a pre-paid plan. My husband and I are both on pre-paid plans, and our phone bills are $80 a month TOGETHER. We have unlimited talk and text, and he has unlimited data (I don’t because I am around wi-fi).
The initial purchase of the phones themselves was the most expensive, after that a consistent $80, no more no less. Having a pre-paid plan ensures that there aren’t any fluctuations in billing that you aren’t expecting, so it can be predicted every single month. I have been called crazy for this one, but I still encourage you to give it some thought!
Using any of the above tips is a sure-fire way to save some extra cash a month, and combining them is like a recipe of stress-free, singular income living! I hope that the tips I have provided both reassure you that one income is possible and how to make the most out of it!
Guest Contributor by Erin Munyan
Hi! My name is Erin and I am the primary owner of coffeeb4chaos.com! I am a stay at home mom to our one-year-old daughter and wife to a wonderful husband! I love to write about family, marriage, finances, beauty, fitness, and housekeeping! Writing has been a lifelong hobby of mine, and only recently did I start sharing with the world!
Thank you all for your support!