How to Save Money and Get by on One Income

Nowadays a lot of families have a hard time making it on two incomes and as a stay at home mom we needed to find ways to make it on just one. Instead of trying to figure out ways to bring in more money we are learning how to save money on every day expenses to stretch our family budget.

Although I come from a large family with a very frugal mom I have not always been frugal by nature. My husband and I have had our share of credit card debt as well as overspending on trivial things such as eating out a lot. These days the credit card debt is almost paid off and although we do enjoy an occasional meal out we have cut back. Day to day we try and watch our spending while still splurging occasionally on the things our family enjoys.

Here are just a few ways we have cut our expenses. Our solutions may not work for everyone but they have put us on the right path to debt free living.

When our furnace needed replacing we decided to go with a soapstone wood stove. Not only is it beautiful but it really does a nice job heating our home. Some people think we are crazy because we don’t have a backup source of heat but it suits us fine. We are lucky that we can get all of our wood for free from a family member who lives in the country. We have been heating this way over five years now and my husband never complains about chopping wood, In fact it really helps him stay in shape. We are also unaffected by the rising cost of heating bills each year.

We invested in a freezer. If you have room in your home you can probably find a decent freezer for under $200.00. We purchased a small chest freezer at our local Sam’s Club and it is paying for itself rather quickly. I purchase big packs of meat and repackage into smaller portions to freeze. I also look for sales on meat, frozen vegetables and other items and stock up.

We have just one vehicle which is paid for. It is inconvenient at times but when I think back to how it was when I was a child this was the norm for many families. This also works for us since I don’t work outside the home but with our preschooler getting older we will be getting a second vehicle eventually. However, for now we are happy to go without a car payment.

We gave up the extra channels on television which brought our cable bill down from $50 per month to just $12.00 per month. This has been a sacrifice but we still get our basic channels to watch our favorite prime time shows as well as PBS for our son. Occasionally we rent a movie but for the most part we borrow movies for free at library. The selection at the library is usually limited but you can usually find some great children’s movies (and lets face it, a four year old really doesn’t care that “Toy Story” was released a decade ago since it is new to him).

We opened an online savings account for emergencies. I believe it is easier to learn how to save money when your savings account is at a different bank than your checking account. By keeping them separate you are less tempted to dip into it (something we did often). We chose Ing Direct because it offers very competitive interest rates. It only takes a few minutes to set up and is tied to our checking account so it is easy enough to move money but not so easy that you are tempted to constantly dip into it. There are no fees or minimums and you have the option of setting up direct deposit.

I will be honest, it is sometimes hard to find extra money to put away but we do have a small amount direct deposited each week into savings and now it has just become part of our weekly budget. Our current account is for emergencies and we plan to start another one soon to start saving for other things we will need down the road (such as a down payment for a reliable but slightly used car). Learning how to save money (and earning interest) for unexpected expenses sure beats having to borrow money or use credit cards!

These are just a few things we have done to cut expenses but they have made a tremendous impact on our budget. Living on one income can be done. Be creative, figure out how to save money on every day expenses and you will be able to hold on to more of your paycheck each week!

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