I wanted to share today something I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately- how we managed on mostly one income for over a year. Many of you know of my health struggles and how it came to the point where we decided that it would be best for the both of us if I quit my job in order to focus on healing. This lifestyle shift lasted a little longer than we initially predicted, and I want to share the basic principles of how we made it work.
I recognize that not everyone can (or desires to) live on one income, however, I believe that more people can probably make it happen than they recognize. It certainly may require a lifestyle shift, but for us the benefit of me not working during that time easily outweighed the sacrifices made.
So, here’s some basic ways we made one income work.
–We previously paid off my husband’s truck. This was a huge goal we met by funneling his commission money towards it. This freed us up a car payment, which made the monthly expenses list so much easier. I should also say that his truck was 13 years old but dependable, so we weren’t paying much toward repairs, either.
-We previously bought a house with a manageable monthly payment. In fact, our house payment is lower than our 2 bedroom duplex rent! We bought a house with the goal of not being “house poor” and unable to do anything because all of our money would be going into the house. We also bought it knowing that if one of us lost our job, the other could easily still make the payment.
–We cut out the extras. Cable, high cell phone bills, going out to eat often, excess shopping, etc. etc. We really pared down to the essentials. A friend wants to get together? Great. Make a desert and invite them over instead of going out. We need new clothes? Great. See what can be bought by thrifting before buying retail. Missing that morning latte? Great. Learn to whip up an even better concoction with that immersion blender you never use. It’s not about giving up as much as is it about adapting.
–When something broke or ran out, we didn’t replace it. During this time, my computer crashed and our tv broke. We have yet to replace them (we do just fine with my husband’s old laptop and our ipad for Netflix). We cut out so many household expenses – instead of napkins, we use cloth. Instead of paper towels and cleaning wipes, we use rags. Basic principle – when something ran out, we improvised instead of re buying it.
–We budgeted like crazy. Now, this is an area we could both still grow in, so I don’t want you to think we have a perfect system in place. But we organized and reorganized our expenses. We had a list of every monthly expense, when it was due, and every debt & when we could expect to pay it off. We started paying for essentials in cash. We didn’t use credit cards.
–We prayed through the tough times. I know what it’s like to do all the above and still watch your bank account drop so low you don’t know how you’ll pay the electric bill due in 2 days or buy groceries. Start praying. Start repeating His promises to yourself and declaring them (“I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread,” “look at the birds of the air…”). You have $20, or even $5? Great. That’s enough for groceries for a couple meals or gas to get you where you need to be. Start thinking day by day versus month by month.
Have you ever lived on one income or a limited income? What worked for you? Please share your strategies below!
[This is part one in a two part series. Check back next week for part 2 -lessons learned from living on one income.]