Living on one income is difficult. Especially if you’ve designed your whole life around two incomes. My wife and I found out we were pregnant a week after we purchased our first home. However, we thought it would be extremely important for my wife to stay home with our daugther. So we had to drop down to one income. Here are a few guidelines we followed:
1. Make a budget! This is the best advice I can give you. Figure out how much money you spend on everything, from your mortgage/rent payment to your groceries. From your car insurance to your spending money. Everything you have. Then when you calculate how much money you’re making and how much money you’re spending, you will see how much you should save each month. From here on out, pay yourself first. Let’s say your budget shows $100 extra income over your budgeted expenses. Before you do anything, pay the $100 to your savings account. Then, if you’re short on money at the end of the month, take it out of your spending money that you’ve budgeted for.
2. Don’t overspend at the grocery store. A few tips here: Don’t grocery shop while you’re hungry. You’ll end up thinking everything looks good and buy more than you need. Always shop with a list. Without a list, the impulse buying increases and you spend more. Always buy sale items. Grocery store have so many sale items, I always try to do my entire shopping trip without buying anything that’s not on sale. Always buy based on price per ounce. Sometimes sale items are actually more expensive per ounce than another brand, or a store-brand. Buy the best VALUE. And buy bulk. Usually a bigger jar of peanut butter has a much lower price per ounce than the small jar. You’ll save money because each peanut butter sandwich will cost less.
3. Cut out the extras. A satellite dish is much cheaper than cable. Or you can cut the cable altogether and go with just your local channels. Do you have a home phone and a cell phone? Get rid of the home phone. Do you have dial up internet? Get high-speed. Instead of paying for the phone and the internet service (AOL, Netscape, etc), you can find a cheaper option with high-speed, and you’ll have a better internet experience.
4. Cut down on your utilities. During the winter, close the vents to the rooms you don’t go in and close the door. It will be a more efficient way to heat your home. Turn the lights off when you leave a room. Don’t fall asleep with the TV on. Don’t leave your computer on when you leave. These things will cut your utility bills down.
5. Work online when you’re bored. Whether you’re writing blogs/articles or doing surveys, you can make a few extra bucks each month through online work. While the money won’t fly in, you can earn a steady stream of income each month if you find the right websites.
My wife and I followed these five steps, and as a result, we not only got by, we also were able to increase our savings.