Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Thrive and Survive on a Single Income.

  Living on a single income is not for everybody for a lot of reasons. Not everyone aspires to become one. I get it , to live in a single income and have a family is not easy.  I am here to encourage families that has this calling. ( I am not trying to convince nor question anybody's well thought decisions).
I became a stay at home wife and mom for the past 5 1/2 years and this decision is in cahoots 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 ( esp 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. Same with the 2 income families , it requires sacrifices. I gathered a few things of what our family did..realized and learned. I must mention that we both are lucky to have families who helped us when the going got tough.

** this post is not intended to point the debate between stay at home moms and working moms. All moms are working moms. All are great in what they do .

Embrace it.
 Priorities needed  to change. Embrace it.  Know what really matters. While our kids are not in school yet , Rob and I 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 family may not work for you. If one family is living extravagantly , and you just can't .. (it is normal to wish having "the same" for your family) , go visit your what matters list.. Realize that MONEY and MATERIAL things will not define us ( who we are) as a person and family.


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 pay day actually , we need to be on the same page with planning and budgeting. 

Set Goals
It can be a  long term goal ( saving for  emergency fund or pay 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.

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)

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.

Here's my cash system envelope in my wallet. Basically , you just tell your money where it should go . Once your done with the budgeting part, and you figured out which ones you can spend cash on ( because not all expenses can be paid with cash right? like automatic bill payment or home payment), fill up your envelopes with your allotted budget on each category. Remember that, once you put cash in your envelope , let's say for the category of FUN... Once its gone, its gone! No borrowing from the grocery fund.

My categories for my envelope are only four :

Non food ( Target - where I always buy our non food essentials)
Miscellaneous and Fun.

Only four because these are the four category that we feel ..we always misbehave.
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Be smart when you shop
Plan when you shop , it takes time but definitely worth it Wait until the grocery circular comes out in the mail, see what stores have the most items on sale.  Build  menu based on the good deals you see. This doesn't mean that you don't go 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 side tracked inside with all the tempting "good deals". I also use coupons.. There's a lot of websites that teaches good couponing tips. Set aside a little amount of money on your grocery budget for stocking up.We stocked up on whats 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.
Awesome couponing websites : The Krazy Coupon Lady and Southern Cali Saver


NOT A BIG FAN OF COUPONING , you can still save money! This is a great resource for cutting your grocery bill in half. It is loaded with tips.  Kimberly Stokes..feeds her family of six, with teens with a budget of $125 per week ...WITH REAL FOOD.

Save More - Clip Less: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half {without extreme couponing}

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 on good health.  I try to get our girls involved  in the kitchen too , instilling positive habits early is always good. They know we seldom eat out and it makes it  more special and fun experience when we do.  I buy and cook whats in season and on sale. I do batch cooking as well. I freeze kitchen staples like  broths , beans, some vegetables ,  herbs (on ice cube trays), berries, spinach and peppers.

Frugal and Healthy Meals

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 inspite 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 are 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.

Great list of frugal and free things to do with your kids to build strong relationship

This is one of my favorite quote. Spending time with our family creates a strong relationship.

 It is important to pay yourselves too . If  the budget is flexible for any pay period or particular week. We do spoil ourselves too once 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 ) or a trip to Bass Pro shop because it is your hubby's happy place :). 

Just remember it doesn't matter what you guys do..what matters is the time (quality time) you spend together.

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.
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 simplify. 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, redbox, hulu etc). Maybe you can just choose one instead of eliminating all of it..to start with.


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.

Image source : Becoming Minimalist

Check out these amazing books , resources that had helped me , inspired me and had helped many frugal and smart families as well.

Other Posts that you might like :

Ways to build your savings account quickly

5 Great Books to Read for your financial goals

---> this post contains affiliate links, I participate in amazon affiliate ..I get compensated when a purchase is made .See full disclosure HERE


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Judith! Thank you for stopping by..God bless..

  2. LOVE!!! We homeschool and living on one income as a family of 6 is a struggle sometimes. We wouldn't have it any other way though! You should look up Target free Tuesday's. I found out that we can go to the Children's museum free on the 2nd Tues. of each month.

    1. Hello there, thank you fro stopping by..I will definitely look up Target free Tuesdays, thanks for the tip. It is a struggle indeed but totally worth it.

  3. Love your post! Thanks so very much for linking up to my very first Link-Up Party! I will try to have one each week, so please visit again!
    God Bless,

    1. Hi Chris! You are welcome and thank you for stopping by..I will definitely come back next week.

      Hope you have a blessed day!,

  4. Hello Khit ! I appreciate this blog post. Living on one income is not for everyone but to those who do, our hats are off to them because it is very special to be able to do that. Thanks for linking up at Working Christian Mommy today. God bless you.

  5. This is great information! I'm glad I stopped by from the Creative K Kids link up. We are also living on one and a part income (I work very part-time, one or two nights a week, and a few baby sitting jobs for a little extra cash between paychecks). You are absolutely right it is doable. But we have to learn to be grateful for what we have and live within our means! Our vehicles are old and beat down but running. We can't afford new cars because we can't afford car payments. It is ok. The thing that matters most to our kids is that we take care of them and spend quality time with them. A walk to the park is great! Everything else will happen as the Lord provides.

    1. Hi Maria, I am grateful that you stopped by. We are a one car family too! It is not easy but hey..we will get there. For now, we have a different priority. Having all the luxuries or even what some people might think is a necessity is not what life is all about. Thank you for stopping by!

  6. I love this! I think budgeting is absolutely the most important piece to living on one income. The dollars will slip through your fingers if not accounted for. :)

  7. I have to work on this. We just went down to one income. I NEVER have cash though so that wouldn't work. Have credit cards is just easier. I don't have to worry about carrying around cash. Just be smart about it, if you don't have the money to pay it off right away, don't spend it!

  8. These are really good tips :) I'm slowly working on the Dave Ramsey thing, but I do a lot of my shopping (grocery and household) online to save time and money. I'm still trying to figure out how to make that work with the cash only rule :)

  9. Living on a solitary wage is not for everyone for a differences of reasons and not everybody tries to end up one. I am here to energize families that has this calling. I turned into a stay at home spouse and mother for as far back as 5 1/2 years and this choice is in accordance with the introduction of our girl. http://www.mordocrosswords.com/2016/09/single-beat-symbol-often.html


Thank you for stopping by and know that all of your comments are appreciated !