6 Tips for Living On A One Income Family Budget

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Ever since my wife arrived in the US, we have always lived on a one income family budget. She used to work back in the Philippines but we decided that I should be the one working while she stayed home to take care of our budding family.

It was just the two of us back then. Nevertheless, we decided that it was the best route for us to go through.

Living on a one income family budget is not for the faint of heart. It was hard because we used to make our own money when we were single but our situations dramatically changed when we decided that she stayed home.

Fast forward by 4 years, we are still living on a one income family budget even when my wife and I are working now and even when my blogging makes us over $20,000 monthly (spending only 5 hours a month on blogging). See post here.

Over the past couple of years, we paid off our debt, have saved quite a bit of money, have taken vacations, among others even when I am the only one working.

We live comfortably and we are able to satisfy our needs and some wants. We don’t struggle now. So, how are we able to do it?

We are able to live comfortably on a one income family budget because we watch what comes in and out of our pockets. Has it been easy doing it?

The answer is no but we’ve learned and have gotten used to living with what we have and don’t have. Can we afford to take vacations and other leisure activities? The answer is yes.

The best part of raising a family on one income is that we are able to live off well and stay away from debt. Yes, we are debt free even when we are living off one income.

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Tips For Living On A One Income Family Budget

For those who want to know how we are able to make it, save money, and have fun even when we live on a one income family budget, here are my tips for living on one income. I call this ” how to go from two incomes to one income ” budget.

Here are my tips for living on one income or frugal living on one income.


1. Go back to the basics.

When we first decided to live on a one income family budget, we looked into our spending habits and asked ourselves what we truly needed and what we wanted.

This may sound boring to you but until you learn and differentiate a need from a want, you may always end up spending more than what you need to.

Of course, at first, differentiating a need from a want was not easy. But as time went by, we learned from practicality perspective and experience what we needed and what we wanted. As time went by, we saw what our needs truly were.

We learned that stretching our money meant refining our attitude or approach about money.

Read: Best Personal Financial Planning Tips I've Ever Received


2. Know how to proceed.

Living cheap for good starts with making the right decisions. It's easier said than done, right? Absolutely.

If it were so easy, then, those who want to live cheap could easily do that. In reality, living cheap is difficult but perfectly doable. You just need to know the ins and outs of it.

I know you'll agree with me when I say that sometimes we only need another set of eyes to help us know what we do wrong so we can make better decisions. That also applies to living cheap.

There are two ways to get the help you need for FREE. First, ask from people close to you especially those who live cheaply. They’ll be the best people to give you tips from experience. Second, use products that provide unbiased tips, which are on actual data.

My family uses Spentapp and we love it. It automatically analyzes our expenses, identify where we make mistakes, and recommends financial decisions, which we always use to make positive changes.

It is FREE, user-friendly, and gets the job done with us doing so little with the app. For those who do things in private or just need unbiased set of eyes, Spentapp is your best companion.

Best of all, it gives us money for simply spending money. It gives us up to 45% cash back on many things

If our yearly (non) food bill is $5,000 and the cash back is 10%, we get roughly $500 back. That's savings there. Who's going to give you $500 that easy?

With the help of my brother who is genius at saving hacks and the Spentapp, we made great decisions that ultimately helped us pay off our $40K debt and saved $70K all in 2.5 years.  Spentapp dramatically helped us reduce our grocery bill to $150 for a family of 3 and live off well under $31,000/year. Click here for the story.

Spentapp is such as a game changer we wish we knew a long time ago. We get the advice we need and make money, too. It's a double win for us. It could be for you as well. 

Click here to get Spentapp for FREE and start saving and making money on just about everything.

spentapp spentapp spentapp


3. Learn how to sacrifice.

Living as a one income family almost always means that you should sacrifice some important things in your life.

Yes, if you want to do a “frugal living on one income”, you need to learn how to sacrifice.

That’s exactly what we did. Initially, we sacrificed a few things to make sure that the budget we set for ourselves remained executable.

We avoided going out to eat. Instead, we cooked everything at home.

We decided to cut down our monthly phone bills and went for the basic phone plans. As much as we love seeing our family in North Carolina, we cut back on visiting them.

Instead of visiting them twice every month, we visited them once every month. It was hard not seeing family often but we had to sacrifice in the beginning until we got a good handle of our finances.

Sacrifice doesn’t mean sacrifice for forever. For us, sacrifice means sacrificing for around two years. We survived that phase and now, we are in a better position financially and emotionally.

While we still sacrifice a few things, the sacrifices we have now are remotely incomparable to those in the past.

Read: 25 Survey Sites To Add $600/Mo or More 


one income family budget


4. Look at the expenses.

One of the best ways to live on one income is to trim your expenses to the bare minimum or to the lowest level you can. Easier than done, right? Oh yeah, it is.

Here's a solution: Just start trimming down your expenses a little at a time. Start from those expenses where you can easily make a cut like groceries, gas, and entertainment expenses.

If you want to cut more with less stress and effect on your overall lifestyle, I highly recommend you consider Trim. It's user-friendly and it's FREE.

It analyzes your accounts and searches for ways to save you money on everyday expenses like groceries and utilities, negotiates your cable and internet bills, finds you better car insurance, and more.

Even when our phone contract is still in effect, Trim cut our Verizon phone bill by $20/mo. That's $240/year. 

Last month alone, Trim users saved over $1,000,000. Here are some savings from other people who use Trim all the time:

  • Asad saved $228 a year in just 1 minute when Trim cancelled Boingo Wireless and Graze
  • Sophie saved $15 per month on her Comcast bill
  • Matt saved $22 in the first week of using Trim

What’s more interesting is that if you experience outages (e.g. your internet didn’t work for a couple of hours), Trim believes you deserve a credit and it will work with the providers to get you just that.

If we could save money in the way we didn't think we could, so can you. Between Spentapp, Qapital, and Trim, you can save boatloads of money and live the frugal life you've always wanted.

Click here to start using Trim and let it start slashing your expenses for good.

Read: How We Live Off Well On Under $31,000/Year



5. Learn to live frugal.

One of the best things you can do is to start living frugally (i.e. live below your means).

While it may not be easy to execute it, at first, continued practice and perseverance will help you achieve such lifestyle.

My wife and I chose to live frugally when we were in the process of eliminating my debt. Just because you live frugally doesn’t mean you are depriving yourself. That is not the case, and it shouldn’t be.

When we started living frugally, we found alternatives to our needs. Instead of buying branded consumables, we turned to store brands. We used coupons so much that we ended up getting a lot of products for free.

When we wanted to eat out, we turned to cooking at home. These are just examples of what we did.

There are major and minor changes you can do to live frugally and comfortably, at the same time. Try to checkout these frugal living books to get more ideas on how to live frugally:

Read: 20 Productive Ways To Use Your Free Time


6. Learn to be happy. 

I have to tell you that one of things that we changed in our lives back then was how we viewed happiness. Well, I shouldn’t totally say that.

What we learned though was to be and remain happy with what we had and didn’t have.

It goes to say that, in general, we need to be contented with what we have.

I tell you, it is much easier to say that you are contented than act and feel like it. But when you are squeezing your budget, stretching your dollars, and needing to save money, being contented is a key to being happy or vice-versa.

Just remember, life’s hardships will go away. It’s better to sacrifice now and be happy later than the other way around. Well, that’s just how my thought and feeling processes are.

Read: How I Made Over $30,000 In A Year From Blogging


one income family budget


7. Be creative.

When you have one income coming into to the table, the best thing you can do is be creative. That’s exactly what we did.

We find treasures in what other people call trash. Not that we dumpster dive… no not that kind.

Just an example, instead of throwing my worn out shirts, I used them as rags. When my furniture was all banged up and did not look good anymore, I re-finished and repainted it.

When my baby was growing, we decided to go for cloth diapers than go with disposable diapers.

The truth is, there is value in what others call trash. If you have things that you intend to throw, look at Pinterest or other websites for ideas. You’ll never know what other projects you can do with those unwanted stuff.

As part of being creative, you can always find ways to earn additional money. Whether you choose to stay home and make money or get another job to earn additional income, there are ways you can adopt to put more money on your table and bank account. See How You Can Set Up a WordPress Blog in 15 Minutes6 Tips for Living On A One Income Family Budget 1.

Here are some ways you can earn money without living the comfort of your home:

  • Ipsos I-Say ($620/mo. The survey site people are raving about and that keeps on giving)
  • MySurvey (Earn 2,000 points as a sign-up bonus; It has paid $32M+ since 2014)
  • MyPoints (Desktop l Mobile) (Earn up to $50/survey; $5 Bonus after first 5 surveys)
  • Vindale Research (Earn $2 bonus for signing up; I’ve earned more than $1,100 so far)
  • Swagbucks (Earn $10 sign up bonus instantly)
  • Survey Club  (Potentially earn at least $50 per survey)

Read more at 25+ Survey Sites That Will Add $600/Month or More



8. Never be like the Joneses.

One of the best things my father taught me when I was a little kid was to stop being someone else. I have learned over the years that a lot of people will try to flaunt their wealth or buy things to prove that they have money.

Well, some people just like to flaunt so others may or will think that they are rich even when they are not.

My family learned not to follow the trends or what people had. We went on our own ways and did what we had to do for our own family. While everyone I knew had an iPhone, I had the basic phone.

While some of my friends had BMWs, I had my Ford Fusion.

Does that mean that my family wasn’t happy? Of course, the answer is no. Happiness is long term and pleasure is short term. For example, you buy the ice cream you like and eat it.

Would you call your experience more on the side of happiness or pleasure? For me, that ice cream consumption resulted to pleasure not happiness.

One lesson to be learned here is to stay within your means and don’t act like you have the money in the world. People can see pass through you when you are pretending to be someone you are not.

If you are ever going from one income to two, never go for the Joneses' lifestyle. If you can, you can still continue living on one income and saving the other. You'll find you'll be saving fast this way.

Read: How I Paid $40K Of Debt and Saved $70K in 2.5 Years

Final thoughts:

Sure, there is such thing as a one income family stress when you live under one income especially when you want to know how to live on one income with a baby (yes, it's tough). Having said that, it is possible to live with it and have a bountiful and happier life. That's what we do and what's what we have.

What other tips for living on a one income family budget do you have? Are you currently living under a roof with a single income coming in?.

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