I have been a stay at home mom for all of my 3 kids and have really enjoyed the privilege of raising and training my own babies. Whether you work or stay home with your kiddos, this post can still help your family save money as I share how we live well on one income.
Our family has gone on vacations EVERY year since we have had children. We’ve taken a trip once a year just as a couple. We have been able to throw parties, go to many great restaurants, treat others, give to friends, family and our church. We own a house and 2 cars, and our kids have never lacked in any area. We have never been late on our mortgage, utilities or any bill. We even have money to put into savings every month. How??! #1 because of the grace of God and we have truly trusted Him with our finances since day one! #2 He has shown us ways to truly thrive on one income. #3 we obeyed Him when He told us that I should be home with the kids while they are little and we believe, He has blessed that sacrifice.
Let me first tell you, no one wants to hear how a family of 5 can survive on their husbands 6 figure salary!! That is not the majority of the world and, definitely not us. Most Americans make an average salary and, try to make that work and, for most it just doesn’t cut it. Especially, if they have children. My husband does have a college degree and a good job at a well-known bank but, we are still nowhere near that. I am not that “stay at home mom.”LOL
The amazing thing is that when I first decided to stay home with my children we made so little that we could have qualified for every form of assistance but, God still blessed it to be enough and that we were still able to do so much with it. So here are some of the tips that we use that allow us to live well on one income.
Live Well On One Budget
As a christian, we believe that God asks us to give back at least 10% of our income to the church and there are promises attached to that as well. This is such an example of faith in God to provide, especially when the bills are piling up and you need that extra money but, you still write the check to give to the church trusting that God will take care of your needs. Well, guess what? He has always been faithful to do it! It didn’t even always make sense on paper but, He would take care of all of our needs and even give us extra at the end of the month.
We have budgeted since day 1. There are so many resources online to help you budget your finances. We create a category for everything. We put savings in a category, eating out, toiletries, clothes, everything. We currently use Dave Ramsey’s every dollar budget. That means that every dollar goes into the budget so it is all designated to a certain place. There is no guessing work left, which lessens our chances of overspending. This helps get control over your money ( no matter how much of it you have) and, stop letting it control you. If you’re looking for a great, life changing read that will help you get your finances in order try:
I Cook A Lot
One thing I LOVE is food and to eat out, but I have always cooked a lot to save money. It’s very rare that I do not cook Monday-Friday. This actually helped me become a better cook because, I wanted really good food so I just had to learn to make it myself. Looking up a lot of recipes on blogs, pinterest and allrecipes helped me create a variety of meals for my family at a fraction of the cost. When times were really tight, I would look up ideas for super cheap meals and focus on making more of those. I always use coupons from www.coupons.com and grocery shop my weekly flyer or stick to buying store brands to help slash my bill in half. I share more about saving money on your grocery bill HERE
We dont’ throw away money on TV
Whenever I talk to friends who are struggling financially there seems to be the common factor that they have an expensive cable package. My husband loves sports as much as the next guy but, he loves his family being financially stable more. He finds ways to watch games, etc. on various websites or goes to a sports bar with friends. Everyone’s family and financial priorities are different. That is ok. We personally would rather go on vacations, have fun experiences and eat at great restaurants than sit on our couch watching cable every night. We realize we cannot do both on our income, so we have to pick one. We always have a very low cable (mostly local channels) package. It is cheaper for us to get internet with cable than without (it’s crazy how these cable companies con us) so, that is what we do. Once in a while over the years we will get Netflix as well, for only $8 a month.
In regards to movies, we usually wait for movies to come to Redbox. They constantly put out codes online to get a rental for FREE so we rarely pay for one. We do sometimes go to the movie theater for a treat for the family or if there is a movie coming out that we are just dying to see. Again, we usually rather use $50 to do something else than sit in a movie though. If that is your thing, and you love movies like i love food, that’s fine. Plan your sacrifices in other categories to be able to do that more often.
We eat out for cheap
This isn’t all the time but, most of our nights out as a family are with a coupon that I signed up for or a deal the restaurant is having. You can sign up for almost any restaurant chains e-mail list and receive coupons for discounts & free kids meals. Also, many restaurants offer kids eat FREE nights during the week to get more business. Some of my favorite chains for e -mail deals are : Chilis, Applebees, Outback, Friendly’s, Dairy Queen, Bonefish Grill, and Ruby Tuesdays. Dicky’s BBQ has a kids eat free day, Moe’s Southwest Grill has 99 cent tacos on Sundays, and our local, organic pizza shop has $6 extra-large pizzas on Mondays. There are many places that run promotions like this. It just takes a little research.
However, when we do our “date nights” we usually just pay full price. We are able to do that because, we save in these other areas so much. I really like farm-to-table food and to try new “non-chain” restaurants so we save those for our kid-free nights.
Have a Side Hustle
Since I became a stay at home mom I always looked for other ways to bring in income. There hasn’t been a year that I didn’t have a side job that helped create extra money to save and add to the budget. I have watched many different children (don’t take on more than one or two so that you can still pour into your own children), I was a Mary Kay consultant, I did Mystery Shopping for years, I got paid for doing surveys online and I was an assistant to a real estate agent. Currently, I am starting to monetize this blog, I am a referral agent with Remax, and I watch my niece and nephew a few days every week. Any income I bring in is just extra in the budget because, we only live on my husband’s income. This is a great way to pay off debt, pay for a vacation or build up your savings.
I have 3 boys, so hand me downs are a must. I only buy clothes on sale ( preferably end the of season) or with a coupon or a store deal. Everything goes on sale. Whether you want popular brands or you don’t care, you can get everything for a discount if you are patient. We are not planning on having any more babies, so we sell my youngest clothes to consignment stores for some extra cash as well. The older my boys get the least I can find to buy at these stores but, ages 6 and under are prime for consignment shops! The stuff almost looks brand new and is a steal.
I hope these tips can help you and your family do and save more despite what your income is. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone and, that many people have incomes so low that it truly does not take care of all of their needs but, if there is a way to cut..do it! These sacrifices are worth using your money on the experiences that really make life enjoyable for you!
For more on saving money, check out: “15 ways I cut our grocery budget in half.”