Hello friends! Today we’re hearing from a new friend of ours, Laura Bailey. She’s sharing her story and ten helpful budget tips for becoming a one income family. Read about how they did it and still have fun!
Making the transition from two incomes to one can be overwhelming. It was a gradual transition for us. I went from full-time to part-time, and then full-time stay at home mom. Even though I felt God calling me to be at home with my young girls, the decision to cut ties with corporate America didn’t come easily.
Will we be able to eat out?
Are date nights canceled?
What about new clothes?
Can we continue our committed charitable giving?
Do we have to stay at home this year for vacation?
These questions and many more consumed my thoughts and delayed our decision to become a one income family, even though we knew it was in God’s plan.
For most families—mine included—they are more than capable of surviving ( and often able to live comfortably) off one income. Especially for families with young children, childcare costs tend to negate one of the salaries in itself. Coupled with the amount of extra income that we spend on eating out, cleaning services, and other “conveniences” ( think meal kits or delivery fees), dropping a salary is not difficult.
However, I want to acknowledge that some families need two incomes to cover life necessities ( shelter, food, clothing). But, I think it is worth noting that what we deem as a “must-have” is often a luxury. We can move to a smaller house to decrease our mortgage, clip coupons, or shop sale items to lessen our food costs, and be mindful of paying full price or over-padding our closets.
For me, and I bet for most, the decision to drop an income is problematic because it requires us to be disciplined and, at times, self-sacrificing. We must put our finances in God’s hands, relinquishing our control and trusting Him because it’s all His in the first place (Psalm 24:1).
Over the past five years, I have learned a few tricks and tips to make the most of your single income. And, good news, you don’t have to cancel date night!
10 Tips for Becoming a One Income Family
1. Make a budget
List everything you currently spend money on each month. Divide the items into categories: Necessity, Nice to Have, Luxury. Be honest here; it will only hurt you if you don’t truly put each expenditure in its proper category. Make a budget off one income, “pay” your necessities, then move to your nice to have, and if you still have money left, decide where you want to spend your resources in the luxury category.
2. Plan ahead
The roof will need replacing, tires wear down, and appliances stop working. Ensure that you are putting aside extra money so when “life happens,” you are prepared.
3. Meal plan
The easiest way to save money on groceries is by meal planning—every meal. It prevents you from buying things you don’t need at the store and helps with food waste. Lump meals together by meats; that way, you can purchase bulk ( think, tacos, spaghetti, hamburgers). The freezer is your best friend. Stock up on meat that is on sale buy vegetables and fruit that are in season. Stay away from specialty grocery stores; they tend to inflate prices to cover for the shopping experience.
4. Eat out sparingly
I know this is the hard one for many, myself included. I love coming home to a clean kitchen, and when you are at home all day with the kids, eating out is a real treat. But, it adds up quickly! Try to keep dining out to 1-2 times a week. Look up restaurants in your area that have free kids meals with an adult purchase or weekly specials. Drinks are majorly marked up, so grab a water, and depending on how much your kids eat, it might be a better option to split an adult portion than buy two kids meals.
5. Buy clothes that you need, for today
I found that I was consistently overspending by stocking up on clothes for next year because “the sale was too good to pass up.” Stores will always have a sale, there will always be a clearance rack, and rewards programs are not going anywhere. By not buying in advance or over buying, you reduce your need for purchasing extra storage.
6. Look for gender-neutral toys
With our first child, we made the mistake of buying all pink baby items. There is a wide range of color choices that fit both little girls and boys. Create a gender-neutral nursery using grays and yellows. When making a large purchase ( think swingset or outdoor toys), stay clear from colors or themes that would not be good for all children. Please note, I am not implying that we do not celebrate the uniqueness of male and female. Clothes, smaller toys, and other accessories are a great personal touch for each child.
7. Buy used
There are numerous avenues to buy second hand, and often the items are brand new, still in the box! Facebook marketplace, re-sell groups, craigslist, and yard sales are great avenues to purchase baby items, tools, furniture, even clothes! Use your best judgment when it comes to cribs, car seats, or baby toys. And make sure the items work before you purchase!
8. Sitter swap
Date nights do not have to be a thing of the past. Paying a sitter, grabbing dinner, and a movie… it can quickly add up. Work with another family (maybe another one income family?) and exchange sitting services. One night you all watch the kids while the other couple goes out, and then the roles switch. Are you an artist or good with excel? Perhaps you make a mean chocolate cake? Barter your talents in exchange for a sitter.
9. Avoid window shopping
Maybe you can go to Target and just look, but I don’t have that kind of super-human willpower. If you don’t need anything ( go back to #1 on this list), avoid the temptation. Unsubscribe from e-mail lists; most online shopping outlets have sales around the holidays and seasonal shifts.
10. Choose entertainment wisely
Opening up many toys at Christmas and birthdays gives an immediate thrill but have little long term entertainment value. Instead, opt for yearly subscriptions to the zoo, museums, or special classes. Google state parks in your area, or check out local events; often, they are free to the public. Consider vacationing off-peak times, avoid price spikes by not scheduling during school breaks and major holidays.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to save money, but I have found they have helped ease our transition to being a one income family. My daily prayer is that God would convict me when placing more value on the created instead of Him, the creator (Romans 1:25). I earnestly seek wisdom in our finances and desire to steward our gifts from above—both financially and others—well.
I don’t regret leaving my job; by God’s grace, we haven’t wanted for anything we need. There isn’t a price tag I can attach to the opportunity to pour into my family daily. Yes, there are sacrifices, but they are well worth it, today and all the coming days.
Is your family a one income family, or maybe transitioning to having one stay at home parent? What tips would you add to this list?
This post was written by our guest author, Laura Bailey. Deeply burdened for Christian women who, like herself, juggle marriage, motherhood, careers, church, and community, Laura candidly shares her daily struggles and lessons learned to encourage them to live fully and abundantly in Christ. She and her husband live in Gaffney, South Carolina with their three young girls. Laura is a writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries, Encouragement for Today, and blogs at www.LauraRBailey.com. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram: @LauraBaileyWrites