7 Tips to Live on One Income as a Family
Have you heard of the term “DINK”? It’s an acronym for dual-income, no kids. Generally, DINKs live large. The opposite of DINKS are those with kids who live on one income.
Why do people and couples decide to live on one income? Perhaps you decided to stay home and take care of the kids. Maybe you have been laid off and are figuring out what to do next. Or, maybe your partner is working while you go to school.
Whatever the case, if you are one of the 27% of U.S. families trying to make it on one income, you can make it work – and make it work well!
Read on to discover 7 tips for living easily on one income.
1. Live Within Your Means
The fastest way to get yourself in trouble financially is to live beyond your means.
Living within your means is simply knowing how much money you are bringing in and making a point not to spend more than this amount.
If you are making $2,000 a month, your apartment shouldn’t be $1,500 a month. You won’t be able to cover other essentials in your life. Instead, you will find yourself going into debt as you struggle to cover these costs.
It feels good to learn how to live within your means because you will feel a sense of freedom.
You will be able to say “yes” and “no” quicker. You won’t feel stressed about finances. And, you will be proud of the purchases you do make, knowing you can afford them because you have the cash on hand.
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2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Just because DINKS have double incomes, it doesn’t mean they are happier. Don’t compare yourself to them. Their situation is different from yours.
People who spend their lives (and money) trying to keep up with others find themselves in a neverending loop of constantly trying to get more, do more, and be more. If you get caught in this cycle, get off because it is neverending.
Embrace your single household income. Take pride in your financial choices. Find joy by making the most of your situation.
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3. Declutter and Learn to Live with Less
One way to live easily on one income is to declutter. On the surface, it might sound contradictory.
With one income, you may be tempted to hold on to things because you don’t have money to splurge on new items.
However, decluttering is eye-opening. It is incredibly freeing to have less.
When you compare the difference between a cluttered home and an uncluttered home, you feel like you can breathe easier. As a result, you will find yourself not wanting to fill your house again with stuff you don’t need.
As you declutter, you discover the joy of living with less. Make note of how much money you “wasted” on the items you get rid of and make a promise to never do it again.
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4. Embrace DIY
We live in a time when you can pay anyone to do anything for you.
But just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. For example, while you can pay someone to wash your car, wash it yourself.
The same thing goes for shopping. While you can buy new items, you can save a significant amount of money if you embrace DIY. For instance, learn how to sew and mend clothes.
Learn to garden so you can grow your own food.
Take up a DIY hobby that enables you to make gifts for friends and family rather than buying expensive presents.
Embracing a DIY mindset not only helps you save money, but it also allows you to develop new skills and feel a sense of accomplishment. Just do it.
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5. Start Meal Prepping
Food spending accounts for 12% of the average US household monthly budget. “When considering all food costs, including groceries, dining out, and takeout, Americans spend an average of $610 per month — or $7,317 yearly” [source].
Dining out and ordering take-out are significantly more expensive than eating at home, but we often choose this option because we think it is easy and convenient.
Having a home-cooked meal is easier, more convenient, and less expensive when you meal prep.
You will save money when you buy food from the grocery store and prepare your meals. You won’t burn gas driving to the restaurant; you won’t have to pay for someone else to cook your meal, and you won’t have to leave a tip.
Spend one evening each week making a list of meals and the ingredients required to cook these meals. Make sure you have containers to store your meals. Pick up the food and other ingredients you need.
When you have everything, spend a Sunday afternoon cooking everything, portioning it out, and then putting your homemade meals in the fridge and freezer.
When you meal prep, it eliminates the temptation to eat out or order delivery. This will save you money and make it easier to live on one income.
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6. Make a Budget and Stick to It
The key to success in living on a single income? Make a budget.
With one income you have less wiggle room financially, so stick to the budget and prioritize your spending. Budgeting will help with financial stability and debt management.
Sit down with your partner and create a list of all your expenses (rent, food, utilities, subscriptions, etc.). Take the income and subtract these expenses. The remaining amount should go toward an emergency fund, a savings account, or paying down debt.
If you allocate $300 for groceries each month, don’t overspend. You can make it even easier by downloading a budgeting app that tracks spending and alerts you when you are close to going over budget.
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7. Find Low-Cost or Free Entertainment
When you follow these tips, you might not spend as extravagantly as those DINKs, but you can still have plenty of fun on one income.
Fun doesn’t have to cost a thing! Instead of paying to go to an amusement park, go on a hike on some nature trails or take a walk in the park. Have a picnic at a scenic spot.
Or instead of going to the movies, go to a free concert outdoors or grab a free DVD from the library. Have a game night with friends. Call your local chamber or commerce or visitors bureau and see what fun and free activities are scheduled.
Remember, you don’t have to have double incomes to be happy. The choices you make with the income you have will go a long way to bringing personal fulfillment and financial freedom.
Ready to revolutionize your budget? Explore “Unusual Ways to Drastically Cut Household Expenses” and discover the best home money-saving tips.