My wife hasn’t worked outside the home for eight years.
Still, I hear people talk about how it’s “impossible” or “practically impossible” to live on one income in America today.
To that my only intellectual reply is baloney.
What does it take to live on one income in 2013?
God’s blessing along with focused and Intentional living.
I’ve always believed that a penny saved is more valuable than a penny earned. Why? Because every penny you earn is subject to tax. In other words, if I can find a way to save or cut $100 out of my budget, that is financially more valuable than earning $100 more.
I’m not sure which of the following has allowed us to afford to live very, very comfortably on one income, but here are some things we do:
- Buy clothes second hand. There is one negative side affect of buying clothes second hand; the idea of paying $10 for any article of clothing sounds outrageous after you start shopping second hand. I’m guessing that my family isn’t the most fashionable crew around, but we’re OK with that as long as we’ve got the money we need for the things we truly value in life.
- Avoid debt at all cost or pay it off aggressively. I think it’s been about 14 months since we’ve had any form of debt. It’s been 11 years since we had a car payment. Our cars aren’t the fanciest vehicles on the market. They would have been cutting edge 10 years ago, but they’ve since lost their luster. Guess what? They function as they ought and get us from point A to B. To me, the idea of buying something that you don’t have money for is unfathomable. If you have debt, focus all your financial effort and resources there. Keeping up with interest is hard work.
- Keep giving as a part of your financial plan. We’ve been blessed to be able to give a portion of our income since we each started to earn a paycheck. Giving provides multiple advantages. Perhaps the biggest is that you learn to look outside of yourself. You learn that saying no to your own needs isn’t a bad thing, and it’s healthy both spiritually and financially.
- Cook food at home. Not all of you are as blessed as I am, but my wife is a true domestic diva. Her cooking is better than any restaurant, so we eat most of our meals at home. Despite the fact that we made far more than we spent, we still only allocate $65 per month for dining out for our family of five.
- Eat lunch at home or eat leftovers. We’ve been spoiled in that I’ve always been able to eat lunch at home. I know a lot of folks who will spend $5 – $8 (or more) every day for lunch. If you’ve got the financial resources to do it, good for you. Otherwise, you ought to be eating something your own hands hath provided from the kitchen.
- Make small and consistent investments. The other day when I was helping the kids invest, we looked at their college savings funds. Since the first day they were born, we’ve been putting $100 per month into mutual funds or index funds. Both my son, age 6, and daughter, 8, have more than twice the amount we’ve invested. A lot of that has to do with the 08/09 market downturn.
- Agree on a scoreboard. We all look at scoreboards. This is how we know if we’re winning or losing in life. Your scoreboard might be the size of your house or the age of your vehicles. Your scoreboard might be in comparison to your neighbor. Whatever you determine as winning in life will flow into how you spend your money. Our scoreboard is how much time we’re able to spend together, how much financial freedom we enjoy, and how much we’re able to give. What are your financial priorities? Align all your spending with those priorities.
- Hunt for deals. I actually consider this to be a hobby of mine. If I’m going to buy something, I’d like to get it for the lowest price possible (which is different than the lowest quality possible). If you’re not currently doing this, you can probably just devote an hour or two a week trying to track down money saving blogs and websites.
- Embrace simplicity. Allow your standard of living to be your standard of living. You don’t need to keep up with the Joneses or compete with anybody. Learn to be comfortable with what you’re comfortable with.
- Buy less house than you need. This was a hard one for us as we didn’t know exactly what that looked like. In the end, we were able to buy a house at the bottom of our range, and it suits us perfectly. We feel tremendously blessed to have the home we have, and we didn’t even need to break the bank to buy it. Don’t try and buy as much house as you can. Buy as little house as you can.
I hope you can use some of these tips. If your’e considering living off one income, I’m here to say it’s possible. It’s possible to do it and feel like you have more than you deserve. Every day I’m thankful to God for how much he’s blessed us. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Live focused and intentional lives, and don’t listen to people who say living off one income is impossible. It’s possible – with a lifestyle adjustment.