Often when I tell people that I am a stay at home mom they usually think that my husband makes really good money! I hear stuff like, “I wish I could stay home with my kids. We just couldn’t afford it!” This always makes me so sad.
I know everybody’s situation is uniquely different. But, I wanted to share how we manage to live on one income, yes, even an income that is actually considered below federal “poverty level”!
- Never have a car payment.
We sold our two vehicles (one we were still making payments on) and downsized to one paid-for vehicle in order to shed a $200 per month bill. Having one less car also reduced our auto insurance. Yes, having only one vehicle was an inconvenience, but we were able to take that saved money and apply it toward other debt to work our way toward financial freedom more quickly. And it wasn’t long before we were quite used to coordinating our plans around who got the car.
- Minimize Insurance
There is a lot of “frill” in most insurance (as I shared about here). Speak to your agent about what you can do to reduce your bill. Now that we have worked our way to owning two vehicles again (both paid for) we carry full coverage on our “family” vehicle, and just the bare minimum on hubby’s truck. If something were to happen to his truck, we’d still have the van as a backup.
We switched my insurance to an HSA (Health Savings Account) with a High Deductible Insurance plan. I hardly ever go to the doctor, it’s been several years since I have been sick enough to need one. So, it saves us money. It’s a good option for generally healthy people with no medical conditions.
If I do go to the doc I pay out of pocket (like $100), but it’s usually at a discounted rate. The Savings Account is for you to put the money that you are saving from switching to the higher deductible plan into a safe place for when you do need to go to the doc or whatever. Then you’ll have the money to cover your out of pocket expenses when you need it.
If something terrible were to happen, and I ended up in the hospital, the insurance would pay 100% of the bills after my deductible was met. It’s good to have whatever your deductible amount is in savings, just in case you ever need to use it.
We didn’t switch my husband to this plan because the insurance through his work was actually cheaper. Adding me to his employers insurance plan was more expensive than me buying it individually.
- Set a grocery budget. A realistic one. And stick to it.
- Only use cash when shopping.
- Don’t shop hungry!!!
- Tell the kids “NO” and mean it when they beg for something not on your list. When my kids ask, “Can we get this?”, I counter with, “Did you bring your money?” If they didn’t, then that’s the end of the discussion.
- Make a weekly menu, then shop for the necessary ingredients.
- Shop with a list… and stick to it!
- Check out your store’s sales online and try to plan your menu around it. If chicken is on sale for .99 cents/pound, you should have a lot of chicken on your list!
- COUPONS!!! Keep up with Crystal over at Money Saving Mom. I also frequent Southern Savers, A Full Cup (you don’t have to join to see the deals), and Coupon Mom.
Don’t go buying a Sunday paper just for the coupons, there are other ways to get your hands on them. Ask people who you know gets the Sunday paper if you can have the coupons, ask your local recycling facility if they mind if you gather the discarded coupons out of the papers, put an ad on Craigslist asking for any unwanted coupons (I’ve had luck with this), and our local library has a coupon center where coupons are free for the taking. Gather as many as you can get your hands on!
- Plan frugal menus, and make as much as you can from scratch. Ditch the convenience foods! Unless you can get a box of cereal for a dollar or less, don’t waste your money. It doesn’t take that long to fry an egg for breakfast!
Treat your thermostat like a crockpot… Set It And Forget It! We set our heat to come on at 68*, and our A/C to turn on at 79*.
If your power bills are outrageous, consider having an energy audit done. If you are lower income there are Weatherization Assistance programs out there which will provide you with a free energy audit and will also fix any problem areas in your home. (We were tempted to have this done, as we totally qualify, but when we thought about taking government handouts we were too convicted to accept. We each have our own convictions, just know the program is out there if you NEED it.)
We do have both, though we could easily go without if we needed. We do not pay for the long distance plan on our telephones, so whenever I call family out of our area my conversation usually begins with, “Hey! Can you call me back?” I know they have free long distance, and they are happy to save me my dime a minute!
We chose the lesser of the high speed internet plans, which is still good enough for us. I’d rather have no internet than dial up!
Our cell phones are prepaid. Mine is only used for emergencies. I don’t even know my own number, nor do I give it out. It’s just nice to have piece of mind that if I break down on the side of the road I will be able to call for help.
Nobody needs cable or satellite. We’ve actually enjoyed not having it!
I wrote a whole post on money saving tips for eating out. You can still do it, even on a tight budget!
“Previously owned” is a nice way to think of second hand stuff. We hardly ever buy brand new clothes. And if we do, it’s only because I got a killer deal. (Like a couple of days ago, I got myself a shirt and Jada a shirt for a total of under $4 at Kohls. That’s better than Goodwill!) Remember, just because you can’t spend a lot of money doesn’t mean you have to look poor! There are great deals out there, just try to buy a season ahead so that you don’t find yourself needing something last minute.
When our kids ask for something we tell them we’ll put it on their Birthday list. It is a very special thing if we surprise them with a little toy for no particular reason. Every now and then, if we find a good deal on something, we will get it for them. But we very seldom buy anything when they ask for it, and we never buy anything over a few dollars unless it’s as a gift. And believe me, they are lacking nothing!!
So, those are just a few ways that we save money around here. I think that everybody is able to do most of the things I’ve mentioned above.
I am so blessed to be able to stay home with my kids. Every sacrifice that we make is a thousand times worth it!!
Do you have a money saving tip to share? I’d love to know how you are scrimping and saving in your home, or how you survive on one income!