How To Raise a Family on One Income

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How to raise a family on one icome

Yesterday I told you why I love homemaking. Today we will learn how we make it on a single income. Before the hubby and I got married I expressed to him my desire to stay home with our children. He agreed that it would be the best thing for our family. I have spent a lot of time learning how to raise a family on one income. Since we didn’t come into marriage with a lot of money and my husband hasn’t had the highest paying jobs, we have had to make sacrifices in order for me to stay home. These are the things that have worked for us. They may not work for everyone. You may have more money to play with than I do. Nevertheless, I hope you can get some ideas on how to raise a family on one income.

Stay Out of Debt

Staying out of debt is number one on my list because it is the most crucial aspect to living on one income. Debt sucks your money, so keep it low. Some debts are really hard to avoid, but I do stress avoiding consumer debt, especially credit cards. If you have to use credit cards to purchase your wants, you shouldn’t buy them at all. I know, can be easier said than done. 

Build an Emergency Savings

So, you know to avoid going into debt just for the things you want, but how do you stay out of debt if you have an emergency? Build your savings. Ideally, you should allow room in your budget for savings every month. A good emergency savings will include AT LEAST 3 months of your expenses. If you can save 6-12 months of expenses just for emergencies, that is even better.

If you are the partner who is planning to stay home, but you are working right now, start stashing your pay checks. See if you can live on just one income right now and save all the money you can.

Another way to build savings is to sell unused items from your home. You can do consignments, sell on Facebook, Craigslist, or even eBay.

You can also look into making money on the side with the skills you have. Can you make handmade items and sell them? Are you a writer? Are you raising chickens for eggs and can sell the extras? Be creative! You may not be able to have a full-blown business with a full-time income while you are a homemaker, but you may be able to make some extra money to contribute to your savings.

Avoid Car Payments

Car payments suck. They suck money right out of your account. I hate having a car payment. We bought an older Honda Odyssey and paid cash for it. No, it’s not perfect. It needs a little work and the ride isn’t as smooth as a newer vehicle.

I’ll still take the paid-for vehicle over shelling out hundreds every month to drive something “nicer.” When you do buy an older vehicle, you want to make sure you aren’t getting ripped off. If you can, have a mechanic check it over before purchasing. Also, look for vehicles with a proven record of lasting. Honda in particular is known for lasting a long time.

If you can’t afford to buy a car with cash, try living with one vehicle. We did this for a time. It was hard, but it we made it work.

Save Money on Food Expenses

Are you in a really tight spot? My $75 one week menu plan may help you out! Lots of people shop sales and you can find several helpful apps to help you save money on groceries. 

For about two years, we did once a month grocery shopping. I even wrote a mini book on how I did my once a month grocery shopping, and how it helped us save money.

Learn how to plan frugal meals.

From now until May 1st, you can get an incredible resource, The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, that will help you learn how to save money! The How To Be Frugal eCourse alone is worth $99! And you can get the entire bundle (106 resources) including all of these awesome eBooks and eCourses for only $29.97!

Spend Your Free Time Learning How To Save Money

I have put a lot of time and effort into learning how to save money. I have learned how to cook from scratch and how to lower my grocery bill. I don’t coupon because it honestly takes up way too much time and we buy mostly whole foods anyway. I avoid processed, junky foods.

When we plan a vacation, I spend time researching how to get the most for our money. When we go out for a date, I look into ways to get the price down. We use gift cards given to us, or Groupons.

Clothing is one area that can take a lot of your money. For my kids, I like to order online from my favorite stores and shop clearance. I always make sure I Google for discount codes before I check out. I also shop our local consignment sales for quality kids’ clothing.

For myself, I will also shop clearance items online or go to thrift stores. I have found some really cute stuff at thrift stores for myself. We shop sales and clearance for Hubby’s clothing and shoes, too.

If things are really tight, you can cut back on the wants. We spend a lot on satellite TV that could easily go if needed. We could cut off our home phone and just stick with the cells. There’s always ways to trim the budget, which brings me to my last tip.

Make a Budget and Stick with It

You and your husband need to sit down together and make a budget and stick to it. Make the budget realistic. Use cash for groceries and any “extra” spending you do until you are comfortable with your budget. A budget is key to success. It’ll keep you out of debt!

Our 2016 One Icome Budget

Want to see what a real one income budget looks like? I did an entire post on our 2016 one income budget. 

How do you manage to raise a family on a single income?

How to raise a family on one income

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  1. Thanks for posting! This is very encouraging. I too have had this desire, and feel like it would be the best fit even though I’m not a mom yet. It’s so counter-cultural! But thanks for encouraging those with the desire to that it is possible.


  2. Thank you for sharing these great tips! My husband and I lived on one income while I was working and he was in school. We are now both working but I will be leaving work in 2 weeks to stay at home with our 5 month old son! It’s definitely worth it, but I’m trying to learn all I can about money-saving tips and meal planning 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Amy! There are so many resources on the Internet to help you save money! I’m thinking about doing a series on meal planning. I’ll have to get better about it when my husband comes home from deployment, which is very soon, thankfully!

  3. Good for you! You are starting out smart, which makes the long haul so much easier.
    I’ve been a stay-at-home mom almost 30 years now and I wouldn’t trade for anything.
    The emergency fund was the hardest thing for me. Any extra money in the bank and I got itching to go shopping. There were so many things I ‘thought’ we needed.
    My wise husband taught me often the best thing to do is to wait. When I want to make a purchase, I wait – a day, a week, maybe a month. Then I know if I can live without it and if we really need it. If it’s gone when I go to buy it, well, then, maybe didn’t need it after all. If it’s still there and we choose to buy it – great!
    Stopping by from women living well – have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Your husband has very good advice, hsmominmo! I always try to wait on purchases and I usually change my mind! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Great post! We are also on a single income and are in a crash course, it seems, on making it work!! One thing I came across too is that making things from scratch (household items included!) IS definitely WAY cheaper…not to mention healthier!!

  5. I love your passion for being a SAHM! How do you afford health insurance? That’s our one thing that keeps me from being able to do the same!

    1. Hi Stacy! I remember when my husband and I were first married we were looking at individual health insurance and I was shocked to see that coverage for both of us was almost as much as our mortgage! Since my husband is a reservist for the Army, we pay a very low premium for health insurance. When he is deployed, we don’t have to pay for it at all! I wish I had an easy answer because I know that not everyone can do what we do! We have been looking at other options in the event that he gets out of the military, and what we have found has not been very appealing!

  6. I love your post. I get this question asked a lot from me, my family as well lives off one income thats not very steady but we still have great meals, spend lots of time together and live in a small house… we almost live by the same motto.. “Frugal is fun”

  7. I enjoyed reading this post. Avoiding debt is really critical in such a situation. I always buy stuff cash-down. So, I’m saved the worries of paying back debt. This provides peace of mind. Also, I have learned to delay gratification. Like HSMOMINMO mentioned, I always wait when I want to make a purchase. Most often than not, I change my mind about the purchase. And, this saves me money. Delayed gratification is very important in a home relying on one income.

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