Balancing the budget
Credit: Morguefile photo by cohdra

Bucking the Two-Income Tide

Our family lives on one full-time income, and we've done so for a number of years. At times, I'll admit, this isn't easy. In recent years, I've supplemented my husband's salary with freelance writing. But what I make is still probably only a fraction of what I'd earn if I held a regular job, outside the house.

The benefits, though, far outweigh the drawbacks. I'm convinced the path we've chosen is the best one for our family. I want to share how we've been able to do this, so anyone else considering this knows it's possible.

Society, right now, operates on the premise that every household has two full-time wage earners. That's why you need to cut a few corners if you still wish to maintain a middle-class lifestyle.

For us, the sacrifices have been worth it. I believe it greatly benefits the entire family when one parent is home with the children. For married couples, I'm firmly convinced this also reduces the stress level in the entire house.

So here are some relatively painless ways to survive, and not struggle, on one income.


Choose Your Neighborhood Wisely

If you can plan ahead, don't buy a home in an area that requires two full-time incomes to make the mortgage payments. That way, especially if you have children, one parent has the option of dropping out of the workforce. Even if you love your job, and you don't foresee yourself as a stay-at-home mother or father, circumstances can change.

That's because it's difficult to imagine how much you love your newborn until you hold him or her in your arms. At that point, it may become psychologically excruciating to put your child in daycare. If you have some wiggle room in your budget, you may not need to.

By staying home, you'll save money on day care expenses. One of the many hidden costs of working is child care. Other incidentals that add up include transportation, wear and tear on your car, gifts for coworkers and restaurant meals. If you decide to leave your job, business clothes will no longer be needed either.

It might actually cost you more than you think to work when your children are still to young to attend school.



Get to Know Your Used Car Dealer

My husband and I have had to sacrifice in the vehicle department. Otherwise, we'd both need full-time jobs to pay for this luxury. We haven't driven brand new cars in a long time. Although we'd love to own a nice new SUV, this isn't something we can afford on one salary. So we've found a used car dealership that hasn't yet sold us a clunker.

Driving a used car also keeps the car insurance bill down. Once we drive it a couple of years, and it's only worth a couple thousand dollars, we typically cancel the collision, saving us hundreds of dollars a year. It's a little risk in doing this, but it's not a huge one. We typically drive these cars until they stop running.

A Used Car Saves Money
Credit: Morguefile photo by xenia

Not Buying Junk Food

Even on one income, we're able to eat mostly organic food. Because genetically modified foods have been linked to cancer, this is a risk we don't want to take. So, unless a product is not available in an organic version, nearly everything I purchase has the USDA certified organic seal on the package.

There is also an aesthetic difference we appreciate. Free-range, grass-fed meat tastes much better than commercially processed meat, and the fruit and vegetables we buy are not laced with chemical toxins.

I've heard many people say that they can't afford organic food, but pound for pound, a lot of unhealthy processed food is much more expensive. Salad dressings laden with chemicals can be easily be replaced with homemade salad dressing made from all natural and organic ingredients.

There are also ways to reduce your organic food bill that only require a little additional work. One is buying snacks and produce at discount stores, such as Big Lots, Ocean State Job Lot and Aldi. In recent years, these chains have begun to stock a lot more organic offerings. Stopping in at outlets once a week saves hundreds of dollars in grocery bills over the course of a year.


We Have Everything We Want

Although it might look to some people as if we are doing without, we don't feel deprived. There is a a difference between wants and needs. All of our needs are abundantly covered.