6 Tips for Living On A One Income Family Budget

This ” 6 Tips For Living On A One Income Family Budget” is based on my personal experience about living on one income. Frugal living on one income is tough. While it may be hard for some families to live under this income, it is possible to live of it using these tips or tricks. This post contains affiliate links/ads. See disclosure policy

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 $9,000 monthly (spending only 15 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. Know how to proceed.

When my wife and I were paying off our debt and living frugally, one problem we had was we didn’t know what to cut, when to cut, and how to cut our expenses. I think that’s the main and biggest challenge people who want to improve their finances face.

I know you’ll agree with me when I say that sometimes we only need another set of eyes to help us figure out what we are doing wrong so we can make better decisions.

There are two ways to get the help you need for FREE. First, ask for it from people close to you. They’ll be direct in giving you the right advice.

Second, use products/services that provide recommendations based solely on actual data. My family has been using Spentapp and we love it. It is FREE, user-friendly, and it gets the job done.

It analyzes our expenses to see where we are making mistakes and provide recommendations based on data so we can make positive changes. We barely lift a finger and we always get valuable outputs.

For those who feel like doing things in private or just need more than one 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 (see my account’s image below).

For example, if our yearly food (and non-food) bill is $5,000 and the cash back is 10%, we get roughly $500 back. That’s savings there.

With the help of my brother who is genius at saving hacks and the Spentapp, we were able to make great decisions (many of the tips are found here) that ultimately helped us pay off our $40K debt and saved $70K all in 2.5 years. Click here for the full 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.

spent app

Note: For every qualified purchase, you get % of cash back. With Spentapp, you can earn up to 45% cash back. Plus, you get to organize  your expenses and let Spentapp do its magic and make financial decisions for you to consider. Click here to start using Spentapp


2. 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.

It is also best to start with a working budget.

In order household, we use the Budget Binder Printables to help us effectively budget and manage our money.

These printables has continuously helped our family get our budget in control and save a ton of money even on a single income. We paid off our $40K debt and, at the same time, saved at least $70K in 2.5 years with the help of these printables (click here for the full story).

It’s currently on sale for just $7.99, which is 65% off of its original price of $19.99. Plus, you get both the family budget calculator and loans calculator for FREE.

It contains single income budget template, savings goal template, bill tracker list, and others.

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


one income family budget


3. Look at the expenses.

We saw a lot of couples who made a ton of money but couldn’t save even a few hundred dollars because of their expenses. We decided to look into our expenses and see where we could cut or find alternatives for things we were using.

We looked into our expenses and found that we were spending more than what we should for groceries. So, we slashed our grocery expense.

We found that we were paying more for car insurance. So, we switched from a full coverage to a liability insurance. Thanks goodness we found a great rate from Auto Quotes DirectNow, we pay $191 per 6 months not $190 per month.

We knew we had high energy consumption. So, we decided to have an energy audit and learned ways to cut our energy expense.

Along the lines of looking at your expenses, make sure that you negotiate your bills with the creditors or vendors.

One of the things we decided to look closely was our energy consumption since this was one of the expenses that continued to fluctuate.

We were able to make payment arrangement with the vendor and it even lowered our bills by us participating in energy programs it had. Remember, it never hurts to ask. The worst thing you can get is a NO.

The actions I mentioned above along with others helped us save more than $5,000 in our yearly expenses.

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


4. 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


5. 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 Minutes.

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

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


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. 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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