Becoming a single-income family can be a tough transition. To make the most out of this lifestyle, plan on sticking to a budget and taking some steps to cut back on expenses.
Many families are choosing to opt out of the two paycheck hustle and bustle to focus on increasing the quality of their lives and the lives of their children. More and more couples are biting the bullet and finding creative ways to be happy with only one income. These families are finding that there are many ways to comfortably and affordably live with less income by simplifying life and cutting out the unnecessary expenditures that two-income families sometimes take for granted.
Single-income families always think mortgage only.
• To join the ranks of single-income families, plan on paying cash for your next vehicle. In order to do this, shop the used car lots. Not only can you get a safe, comfortable, more affordable car but you will also save money by not paying new car insurance rates.
• Pay off credit cards starting with the one with the smallest balance. Commit to not putting anything on your credit card that cannot be paid off at the end of the month. By paying off credit cards and aiming toward being debt-free, you will have more money to start a savings plan, which is crucial for single-income households.
A budget that you can live with is essential for families with one income.
• Take one month to write down every cent that goes out. This will help to make it more evident where you can feasibly cut back.
• Budgeting time is important as well. Plan necessary trips to the grocery store, post office, and bank around going to get the kids from school and soccer practice. You would be surprised how much money is spent unnecessarily on unwarranted trips here and there. Planning your outings is an easy way to save money on gas.
• Plan entertainment wisely. Look for free local events like fairs, festivals and other community events. Libraries are a great resource for free movies that can be checked out, and most theatres offer afternoon matinees at a discounted rate. For eating out, shop the local newspaper for restaurants that allow kids to eat free or clip coupons for buy-one-get-one-free meals.
See where you can cut back on basic utilities.
• Plan on doing most of the oven cooking one day a week to reduce electricity use, as well as repeatedly heating up the house. Many casseroles can be cooked ahead of time and then frozen.
• Setting your central heat and air up one or two degrees in the summer and down in the winter can save up to a whopping $10 per degree per month. That’s a lot of savings over a year. Use more energy-efficient fans or small space heaters to make up the difference.
• Reconsider your cable plan. Do you really need all of those channels or can you get by on a lesser plan?
• Shop around for mobile and home phone service plans. With so much competition among phone companies, there are always money-saving specials to be taken advantage of. Alternatively, if you find you cannot cut down or cut out your cell phone, consider doing without a home phone. This alone could save as much as $600 a year.
Single-income households make use of time spent at home. Presumably, one parent will be at home much of the time caring for children and making use of that time is of paramount importance. Here are some ways to capitalize on time spent at home.
• Spend time clipping coupons
• Grow a vegetable garden
• Make meals from scratch
Making the adjustment from two incomes to one can be a difficult transition and, no doubt, there is a sacrifice to be made, but many families are finding that the rewards far outweigh the cost. Families that choose to make it with only one income are more involved in their children’s activities and spend more quality time with each other. All it takes is some fore-knowledge of what to expect and a commitment to being a little more frugal.