Living off of one income is no easy task. Especially when unexpected expenses pop up when you’re on a tight budget. Sticking to a budget is key when you only have one source of income coming in. When we first decided to live off just my husbands income, we honestly had no idea what to expect. We literally just jumped in full speed ahead after having our daughter, and we’ve made it work ever since. By no means have we been living royally. We have cut costs, switched phone providers, set a budget, and we plan our meals for 2 weeks out. Yes, there are still times we have gone over budget and just had to suck it up but I’ve learned some really great things over the last 2 years of living off of one income.
Create a Budget:
This may seem like a no brainer, but creating a budget can be daunting and really difficult. Expenses add up extremely quick when you only have one paycheck hitting your bank account.
Write down all of your monthly expenses. Keep track of when bills are due, how much they are, and which paycheck you plan to pay them with.
The Budget Mom is a saving grace for creating a budget that works for YOUR family. You can order her budget binder that has everything you could possibly need for your month ahead.
Go to her page HERE
If your’re looking for a more budget friendly option, we have used this budget planner for YEARS. I highly recommend it for anyone starting out with a budget. It has your entire month budget and pages within that month that list out your daily expenses as well so you can keep yourself responsible.
Make a Weekly Meal Plan:
I plan out our meals for 2 weeks. So each paycheck, I create a calendar that has what were eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We stick to a pretty regular meal list because feeding a toddler and a husband who eats enough to feed a small army is the most simple way I’ve found to keep them both happy.
Planning meals that you can eat leftovers with is so important, especially with our family. I use our instant pot ALL THE TIME. If you don’t own one, you need one in your life because it’s a game changer. So quick and so easy to prep bulk meals that will feed your family.
Budget out how much you are going to spend for those 2 weeks. I am constantly going through the paper that comes in our mail to check deals at our favorite grocery stores. Sometimes, I go to 3 different stores so I can ensure I am getting the best price for an item. I can feed our family, eating organic and healthy meals for under $200 every two weeks.
Use Cash Back Apps:
Cash Back Apps… I can’t recommend them enough. I am a cash back connoisseur and I have earned so much money back just by simply grocery shopping. No, that’s not fake. It’s real and it’s truly helped us so many times when we need it.
THIS APP IS AMAZING. I have earned over $200.00 back, just by uploading our grocery receipt. How it works is when you purchase a product that you can earn cash back on, you earn a small amount on that product back after you purchase it from the store. They have so many stores you can earn cash back on and tons of well known brands listed within each store section. Before you go to the store, check Ibotta for their current deals they’re offering. You have butter on your grocery list and they just so happen to have the brand of butter you always purchase. You simply add the offer to your store of choice, scan your receipt, and boom… cash back just like that. You’re already buying that brand of butter, why not earn cash back for it?
They do require you a minimum of $20.00 to withdrawal your earnings, but if your committed to saving money, saving your receipts to upload is so easy and it adds up so fast. You can withdrawal via PayPal, or use your earning for gift cards for a ton of major retailers.
Download Ibotta for yourself here to start earning today!
Right now they’re offering $20.00 back in welcome bonuses. WHAT!
This app is so simple and EASY. There’s no uploading receipts or checking for deals on certain products. You simply link your card (don’t worry, they never store your banking information on their website because they use the same high security banking service as Mint, Acorn, etc.) and pick your two power offers. They have all lead merchants/retailers ranging from Target, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods. When you make purchases at your selected stores, it let’s drop know you used your card. Each retailer has a bonus amount you earn in points for the amount of money spent.
They do take a few days to weeks (depending on your offer your redeeming) to add your points to your account, but once you reach your points goal, you can redeem them with gift cards to major retailers. So you earn money back for the money you spend, why wouldn’t you use it?
Download the app here and earn $5.00 in welcome bonus points into your account.
An app that allows you to earn points from walking into your favorite stores, scanning products, and making purchases. This app is so easy and doesn’t require you to link your card (which you have the option to that can earn you extra points, but not required to do so.) This app does your points in gift cards as well! So easy and who doesn’t love a gift card? Just be sure when redeeming your points, that you OPEN the app before entering the store. You will need to have access to the app at all times when you want to scan or redeem your walk in points,
Download it here and earn 250 kicks for your first walk in or scan!
Buy used items:
You would be surprised how amazing used items can be, at a FRACTION of the price. We buy so many furniture items from our thrift store as well as decor, and even kids items that are in great shape. Clothing is such a steal from thrift stores, but it does take time and digging to find great items. Don’t buy new! Think of this to as a way to reduce your footprint on this earth! Reduce, reuse, recycle!
Find Free Activities to do:
The local library can offer so many fun things for your kids to do, for FREE. Are you stuck in the house with the kids all day? Utilize your local mall that probably has an awesome and FREE play place.
Use free days the Museums, Zoos and Business’ offer. However, prepare for these days to be higher in traffic.
Go to the park. A free activity the entire family will enjoy.
Cut your bills… or better, REMOVE THEM.
We are a family that doesn’t operate on cable. We haven’t had cable TV in probably over 5 years. We stream everything through Amazon Video (we are prime members and it’s an offered perk you get) and we recently subscribed to Disney+ which is only $6.99 a month. Paying for cable when you can stream 90% of shows and movies your family enjoys can really reduce your monthly budget.
Switch phone companies (if you can). We recently just did this, and we’re never looking back. It’s going to save us an average of $800 a year. That’s INSANE.
If you are going to eat out one night, FIND COUPONS. You would be amazed at how many restaurants offer them. Join their rewards and receive special deals and free meals on your families birthdays. Many restaurants also offer kids eat free nights. Do your research in your area to find the best deals.
You’ve got this…
By no means is this a way to tell you living off one income is easy. IT’S NOT. We still struggle with it some months and I promise I’ll update you all when I find the answer to all our finances. It’s a work in progress and you will have to put in serious work and time into managing it. Staying home with your kids is such a big deal, and if you’re willing to make sacrifices and use little tips and tricks to keep your family afloat, it is SO WORTH IT.
I hope you found any of these tricks helpful! If you use any of these, please let me know. Also, share with me how your family lives off one budget and what you use to help!