When we learned that we were expecting our second child, my husband and I agreed that I wasn’t going to return to work at the end of my maternity leave, so we sat down to see how we’d budget to live on one income.
We were shocked to realize that we were spending WAY too much money on things like designer clothes, food, and even our cell phone bill that we wouldn’t be able to afford. And it became crystal clear that we needed to learn how to live frugally on one income to make my dreams a reality.
I started researching ways we could reduce our spending and we worked our tails off. Not only did we learn how to adopt a more frugal lifestyle, but we also saved over $22,000 in a YEAR!
Once we cut down all those expenses, it was enough for me to be able to quit my job two weeks BEFORE my maternity leave ended! 🙌🏾
- 75 Frugal Ways to Save Money Every Month
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- How To Budget When You Live On One Income
18 Ways We Learned How To Live Frugally On One Income
1. We downsized our home.
We sold our condo and moved into a two-bedroom apartment. We went from spending over $1,000 in living expenses (rent and utilities) to just $725/month because we moved into an affordable apartment that provided free water and free heat.
The only downside was we had to do our laundry at my in-laws, but it was definitely worth the extra savings!
Amount saved: $4,080/yr (including rent and utilities)
2. We stopped eating fast food.
Not eating out on the weekends was hard for us because we’d be so busy, that I’d forget to cook. So we were spending about $60 every weekend on fast food alone.
Amount saved: $2880/yr
3. We brought our lunch to work.
My husband was spending about $5-$7 a day ordering cafeteria or fast food for lunch. So I started packing his lunch instead.
Amount saved: $1300/yr
4. We cooked more meals at home.
Learning how to weekly meal plan is what helped us to stop eating out. I incorporated more pasta and casserole dishes I found on Pinterest so we could have enough food for leftovers.
Amount saved: $2600/yr
5. We stopped buying bottled water.
Amount saved: $120/yr
6. We do our own manicures and haircuts at home.
My husband would go to the barbershop every two weeks for a $20 haircut, so I convinced him to let his mom cut his hair (she’s a licensed hairstylist) instead! Plus I stopped going to the salon, too.
Amount saved: $525/yr
7. We lowered our tv bill.
I have to admit, cutting the cable cord was extremely hard. It was one of the last few things we did. But once we finally got rid of our high cable bill, I ordered a digital antenna to get free local news channels, then we signed up to watch live tv with Sling TV instead to save money!
Amount saved: $960/yr
8. We switched to a low-cost phone plan.
I heard so many great things about MetroPCS that I decided to make the switch from Sprint (which was costing us almost $200 a month). Plus, we got to keep our iPhones, and I love that Metro PCS uses the T-Mobile Network, so we haven’t had any issues with our service!
Amount saved: $1104/yr
9. We buy kids clothes secondhand.
I stopped buying kids clothes from department stores and I shop at kids consignment and thrift stores instead. My favorite place to buy used kids stuff (clothes, toys, accessories, and shoes too!) is at Once Upon A Child – but in suburban neighborhoods, because they tend to have the best brands! This is also how I learned to get kids clothes for free!
Amount saved: $640/yr
10. We use digital coupons.
I started printing coupons at Coupons.com to save a little money on our favorite brands. We saved anywhere from $1-$5 extra a week.
Amount saved: $260/yr
Now, I primarily use digital coupons and cash back apps like Ibotta which reimburses you (in cash!) for the groceries that you buy every week when you upload a picture of your receipt!
11. We only buy generic and store brands.
We switched to Parent’s Choice (Walmart brand) diapers two months after I had my second son. We were buying Huggies and paying $25 for 140 diapers (Size 2).
But when we switched to Parent’s Choice, we got 228 diapers for $24 – and they hold up very well!
Amount saved: $192/yr
12. We became a one-car family.
Since our second car was sitting in the driveway, so we sold it to my sister and paid it off.
Amount saved: $4008/yr
13. We made our own baby food.
Buying pre-made baby food was costing us about $12-$13 each week. So I bought a food processor and learned how to make my own!
Amount saved: $312/yr
14. We buy things that matter in bulk.
We decided to get a Sam’s Club Membership so we could buy things like toilet paper, toothpaste, trash bags, and more in bulk.
Amount saved: $160/yr
15. We made our coffee at home.
Not going to work every day made it a lot easier to avoid the Starbucks drive-thru each morning. So I learned how to brew it at home!
Amount saved: $960/yr
16. We earned fuel rewards from groceries.
Instead of buying groceries from Walmart, we were shopping at Kroger to earn fuel points and save money on gas. For every $100 we spend on groceries, we get 10 cents off at the pump!
Amount saved: $520/yr
17. We stopped going to the movies (kind of).
Going to the movies would cost us about $25 (for two adults, 1 child, and an infant). So we started going to $5 Tuesdays instead, which only cost us about $10-$15 when we go once a month!
Amount saved: $120/yr
18. I exclusively breastfed for one year — formula is expensive!
Infant formula where I live is expensive – $15 per can. So I breastfed my son exclusively for the first year. If you can do this too, you’ll save a TON!!!
Amount saved: $1560/yr
Total Savings in a year: $22,183!!!
And that was just for our first year!
Sometimes I still have to pinch myself thinking about how all of these tips actually worked and helped us learn how to live frugally on one income.
I’m grateful because, now that we’re a family of six, I’ve had to be a lot more careful with our spending so that I could afford to remain at home with my kids five years later!
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