Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.
We used to be a two income family before we decided to homeschool our children. Both my husband and I were public school teachers. So we knew that we would literally be cutting our household income by 50%. The hardest part of deciding to homeschool was being able to afford it. We had to budget for a family of four living with an income of $50,000~ish. So we gave ourselves one year to prepare for it. Here are 15 things you must do to live on one income comfortably.
1. Credit Score
The first thing you should know is your credit score. This should always be your main concern, regardless of your circumstance or stage in life. Having excellent credit gives you options that can help with living on one income. You can get your free credit score with Credit Sesame.
2. Pay Off Debt
Make paying off debt your priority. If you have credit cards with interest, then you need to apply for zero interest credit cards, then transfer the balances. Do not throw away your money on interest! Then start paying as much as you can every month, until they are all paid off. Make sure to put the date that the zero interest ends in your phone calendar AND your paper planner. Also put it one month before it expires, so that you give yourself a month to find a new zero interest credit card to transfer any remaining balances.
3. Cell Phone Service
Lower your cell phone service provider. Start with your current provider and see if you can negotiate to a cheaper plan. You may need to cut down on minutes or data. You may need to change to a different provider. The goal is to lower your monthly expenses.
4. Utility Bills
Negotiate all of your utility bills that you have, including your phone lines, internet, electric provider, gas provider, alarm system, etc. See if you can lower your monthly payment. You may need to change provider or cancel the service. We cancelled our house phone since we never used it. We only use our cell phones.
Cancel your cable and get a digital antenna. Cable can be very expensive. And while you may enjoy watching certain shows, this is a sacrifice that you may need to make.
Cancel subscriptions that you don't really use or that you can find free alternatives. Instead of paying a monthly membership to the gym, go to the park instead. Other subscriptions to cancel include Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and Hulu. The monthly expenses can add up quickly. My suggestion is to choose one. We kept Amazon Prime (click on link to get a 30-day free trial) because we also order online, watch movies and tv shows, listen to the music and read books from there. So it serves in multiple ways.
7. Student Loans
If you are still paying on student loans, then you may be able to refinance them. Credible.com is a good option for refinancing. Ask to see if you can defer the payment as well, once you change to a one income family.
8. Sell Your Things
Sell all of your unused or unwanted items. Declutter your home from all the unused toys and clothing that your kids have outgrown. Then use the extra money you earn from selling these items and apply them towards your debt or put them in your savings account.
9. Use Coupons
Learn to use coupons for groceries and other things. You don't have to be an extreme couponer to save money. Let's say you have a grocery budget of $200 and you saved $10 with coupons. Apply those $10 towards an additional payment to one of your credit cards. If you have zero credit card debt, then apply that extra $10 towards your savings. Don't just spend it on something. You already have it budgeted to spend $200 for groceries, so any leftover amount, no matter how small, needs to be applied towards debt or savings.
10. Use Only One Car
Try to get by with one car. Maybe the stay-at-home parent can drive the other to work? Maybe the working parent could use public transit or carpool? These are alternatives instead of paying for a second car note, plus gas and expenses on two vehicles.
11. Stop Eating Out
Eating out at restaurants can add up quickly. We were shocked when we calculated how much we had spent the year before on restaurants. Cooking at home can save you a lot of money. This includes Starbucks! This was a hard thing for us to do because we enjoy eating and we love getting coffee from Starbucks. So now we only do it for special occasions or for a reward.
12. Meal Plan
Plan your meals ahead of time, two weeks worth. Then buy your two weeks worth of groceries per trip. Buy food in bulk and plan your meals based on what is on sale. For example, if the chuck roast is on sale, then find a recipe using that meat. Cook a week's worth of meals in advance and freeze your weekly dinners. This way they are already ready to warm up in the oven. This not only saves you money, but it frees up your time to do other things. Some days you will be incredibly busy that you won't have time to cook dinner. Instead of having to go out to eat at a restaurant, you can just heat up the meal you already have prepared.
13. Eat Before Grocery Shopping
Never go to the grocery store when you are hungry! You will end up buying more than you intended. After you make your meal plan, look in your pantry and refrigerator to see what ingredients you already have. Then make your shopping list. And only buy what you have on the list! If your grocery store has the pick up service, then order your groceries online and just go pick them up. Even with the minimal service charge, you will still save money and TIME!
14. Buy Store Brand
You can save a lot of money buying store brand items. By law the store brands have to meet quality standards before they are allowed to be on the market. So they are equally as good. Sometimes they are the exact same product, just different packaging.
15. Enjoy Free Entertainment
Instead of spending a lot of money going out, try finding free alternatives. There are a lot of free options for entertainment. You can go to parks or beaches. Check for free museum admission days. Check for free zoo days. Check for free outdoor concerts or plays.
As you can see, it will take planning. You will need to know how much money you will have coming in and how much expenses going out. You will need to embrace the frugal living. But it can be done!
Author: Debbie Garza
I am a Jesus loving wife, homeschool mom of 2 boys, love to travel, and I'm always looking for ways to earn extra income and work from home. We strive to live a Joy and Valor life, all for the glory of God. With this website, I will share our journey, things that we've learned along the way, and anything that may be useful to empower you to be the best version of yourself.