One of the biggest challenges we faced in the early days of our marriage was learning how to live comfortably on one income. I have always had a career that provided a steady, reliable income whereas my husband is more creative and his income is based on contracts and sales. Since his income is erratic we decided to put his income into savings and investments while trying to manage our household budget off of mine. It was a huge financial transition for us but we worked hard to learn how to budget well so we can live comfortably on one income. It isn’t always easy but it can definitely be done.
It also puts us in a strong financial position because we know that what we sacrifice now protects our future. We may not travel or go out as frequently as we’d like and impulse purchases are definitely a thing of the past but our approach to budgeting and money provides us with a security we know we need. It’s hard to resist the temptation to dip into savings for an impulsive weekend away or for those cute new boots I have my eye on but we have future goals that are important to us so we persist.
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The most important thing is to live below your means and resist temptation.
A lot of financial advice says to “live within your means” but we’ve found that what really works for us is living below our means. Yes, it means we live slower and simpler than other people but that’s ok with us. I stopped following food blogs that used exotic ingredients or ingredients I didn’t use regularly so it didn’t tempt me to go outside of my budget and spend money on things that weren’t essential. That same mindset applied to international travel bloggers, technology bloggers, and fashion bloggers. If they weren’t sharing content that was regularly within my financial goals I stopped tempting myself by clicking the little unsubscribe button.
I did the same thing to email newsletter and sales alerts. I unsubscribed from most emails and used unroll.me to roll up the remaining emails I subscribe to into one daily message. That way I’m not tempted all day long by irrelevant messages and I’m able to open it when I have time to thoroughly evaluate the content. On Facebook, I went through the pages and companies I’d “liked” and identified as interests then removed about 95% of them. Facebook and Facebook users use your likes and interests to identify you for mass media advertising. By removing those items from your profile you see fewer ads which fuel fewer impulse purchases.
Then, be smart with apps, coupons, and sale alerts.
I wrote here about the top money-saving apps you need to have installed. You can save a lot of money with them due to discount codes, digital coupons, and rebates. One of my favorite money-savings apps is iBotta because I regularly earn between $25 – $35 per week as cash back with transfers to my PayPal account. #win
The problem is if you aren’t smart about how you use apps, coupons, and sale alerts it’s easy to blow your budget and end up over-spending due to impulse purchases. In fact, a lot of retailers bank on that. Never review the apps while you’re in the store. Instead, take the time to create your shopping list before you go to the store then review your coupons and apps for matches or competitor matches. Never buy something just because it’s on sale or you have a coupon. If it’s not on your list, you don’t buy it. Period.
You should also invest the time in developing new skills.
Can you reuse or repurpose rather than throwing away or buying new? If so, do it! I have a tutorial here on how easy it is to repurpose candle jars into all sorts of things. Invest time into learning new skills and you can save a ton of money each year. There are tutorials all over the internet that can help you knit your own blankets, hem your own pants, sew your own basics, etc. I used to spend $20 a pair to have my pants hemmed because I’m short. It took me 2 days to learn how to do it myself!
Start an herb garden and learn how to properly dry your own herbs; grow your own vegetables to save big at the grocery store (grow them in pots if you have a small space; this book is a fabulous resource!); meal prep on Sunday; freeze items that are close to expiring so you prolong their shelf life; and get creative about reusing leftovers so you actually eat them rather than throwing them away.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of everything you can do to live comfortably on one income but it’s a start. As you get adjusted to it you’ll also learn to really evaluate the difference between needs and wants and you’ll become more selective about where you spend your hard-earned dollars.
Do you have any other money-saving tips? Tweet me at @ashleyfromhp and don’t forget to pin this to your finance boards!