How We Budget On One Income

Good evening all!

After somewhat of an absence from blogging, I got the inspiration to write about our finances and how to survive on one income. This is such a relevant topic to my boyfriend and I now because we are becoming a one income family, so I can stay at home and be a mommy to our little guy when he joins us in November. Due to various circumstances, I ended up leaving my job a little less than a week ago, obviously much earlier than would be expected. Because of this, we are planning away on how to make it work with what my boyfriend brings home every month.

To be honest, I should have planned a lot earlier than I did. We knew this would be happening the minute we found out we were expecting. But, there has been so much going on. Explaining how busy we have been over the past few months would take a post, or two.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I have always wanted to live on one income. I’ve always been a fairly frugal person, and even when there were two sources of income coming in every month, I’ve always planned to make it work so we only actually needed one some day. My boyfriend always thought this was crazy, and since neither of us had a stable, decent paying job (we were teenagers, after all), this never happened. I figured that once we really figured things out financially, we would buy a home and all of our expenses could be covered by one income. Now that we entering the third trimester and Baby B is soon to be, this is becoming a reality.

I do want to point out that I am not a professional in any way, shape, or form. All of these tips are things that have helped us in the past with two incomes, and now that my boyfriend has started a better paying job, these methods are being put into play. We are attempting to make it just like any other family.

So, let’s get started…

Budget, and Budget Realistically.

Budgeting is a no brainer, but I’ve run into the issue of creating a fantasy budget that doesn’t work at all because it leaves no leeway for real life. You need to give yourself money for yourself. Yes, you’d like to pay your bills and put whatever is left over into savings. Sure, giving yourself $10 for entertainment per pay period sounds like a good idea from a financial standpoint. But, honestly, who can live off of $10 for a week or two? Obviously everyone has different circumstances, but personally, I need some more spending money. I’m not saying we eat out every night or spend spend spend on clothes (I said I was frugal, remember?), but everyone needs a date night, or the ability to grab a coffee on the way to work if they woke up late and didn’t have time to make it before leaving the house (ahem, boyfriend). Also, things come up that we need money for. For example, I recently found an awesome local maternity consignment shop and ended up spending $31 on a bunch of shirts that actually fit me. I was already struggling with buying maternity clothes (hello, ridiculous costs!) so having the ability to buy shirts that fit well at a fraction of the retail cost was absolutely essential for my mental health.

Decide Where Your Financial Priorities Lay.

Sure, it would have been easier to plan ahead and pay off all of your debt before becoming a single income household. Obviously, it would have been easiest to not rack up all that debt in the first place! But, if you’re like me, life happened, and you were a naïve teenager once. I started my adult life very young by moving out at 18, and ended up building credit card debt to make ends meet. Let’s not even mention the car my boyfriend and I bought that ended up getting into an accident three months later, and the other insurance company deeming the car totaled but not covering the entire cost of the loan, and obviously we needed another car to get to work, which left us with two full car payments every month :-/. Or, when we up and moved to a major city where everything was MUCH more expensive while we were still teenagers and earning barely livable wages. Needless to say, we both have some debt that needed to be focused on. Because of this, we put a decent chunk of our single-income towards paying down that debt. There is some that we put towards savings, which will hopefully be a larger amount one day soon, but we realize that paying down debt and improving our credit scores will lead to a mortgage approval in the near future!

Realize Why You Want To Become A One Income Household.

This may be a silly tip, but really, think about why you want to become a single income family. Are you expecting a baby, and want to be a stay at home parent? What are the realistic and long-term benefits from being home with your children? Or, do you want to be like my old self and just want to live on one income for the sake of being frugal and budgeting more efficiently? Maybe you’re looking these tips up out of sheer necessity. Whatever your reason, realizing why you’re taking this next step and controlling your finances is crucial to success. Personally, I have always wanted to be a stay at home mama for my little ones. After going to college for a bit, I learned about child development, what they need to grow, and just how unavailable high-quality childcare was. After putting all of this together, it would be more beneficial more me to stay home with my children for a variety of reasons. My boyfriend is on board with this, so we decided to make it work. Once you figure out that living off of one income is worth it, you can make it happen, too.

Become Self-Reliant In All Aspects Of Life.

I am a HUGE fan of making something from nothing and doing it with zero/less money. Honestly, I have thought about living off of the grid and have learned many ways to do things that people before all of the conveniences of modern life did. For example, I have made bread from scratch (mostly unsuccessfully, but I have tried!), enjoy DIY probiotics with kombucha and kefir, and have a fondness for creating “poor dinners” out of odds and ends (thank you, slow cooker!). The point is, look for ways to do things on the cheap. If you think you don’t have anything to make for dinner, look again! Rice can be a hearty supper when paired with sauces, cheeses, peppers, etc.. anything you can find. Beans and lentils are something I keep on hand regularly, for those busy nights when I need something to throw in the slow cooker. This prevents us from eating out when we get home late or are running all over and are too tired to cook. If you hate spending a ton on probiotics (like I do!) try stirring up some at home, with probiotic-rich drinks such as kombucha and kefir. These guys are a little bit on the end of the homemade, crunchy spectrum, but I’d recommend them as a cheaper alternative if you can stomach the process of making them.

And Finally, Don’t Just Fall Off The Grid!

This is meant more for those who are becoming stay at home parents, but it is worth mentioning. I know some stay at home parents that have practically lost their social lives, because they literally stay at home all day, every day. Don’t become that guy. There are tons of ways to stay social and be productive while not working. If you need to do things while your children are home, look into play groups, play dates, and parents/children organization. There are tons of meetups for parents with babies, or events at local centers that are free or very low cost. If you’re able to get out while your partner watches the babies, maybe on the weekends, consider volunteering. I, personally, volunteer at a local shelter and foster through another, since I used to work at an animal shelter in another city. Keeping these connections help you have a sense of a social life and helps prevent cabin fever.

And Lastly…

Don’t forget that living off of one income is possible! Even if you can’t do it immediately, it can happen eventually. Figuring out how it will all work is the hardest part, and living a new lifestyle will fall into place. The thought of living with less or cutting back on things can be daunting, but just think about the benefits to living on one income.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on living on one income..

Have you tried it in the past? Have you been successful?

Take care everyone!

-Halle

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