Surviving on one income is going to take some planning. Perhaps you need a parent home due to a child that has health issues. Perhaps you just plain feel the need to be home with your children. Perhaps one of you has a job loss. Whatever the case, start planning ahead of time to manage financially.
Redesigning a budget
After making out a budget, go over it carefully. Prioritize the bills. It will be important to keep a roof over your head, so put your rent or mortgage at the top of the list. Next, decide which bills to pay first. For example, electric and/or gas, then telephone service and then perhaps cable or satellite service.
This seems self explanatory, but sell what you don’t need. Consider a yard sale, garage sale, sell it to a friend or family member that has long wanted it. Consider eBay or Craigslist for some of the larger ticket items. Put up a sign on a bulletin boards around town. Whatever it is, if you don’t use it, sell it. It might as well be making you some money as opposed to just sitting there and gathering dust.
Managing food costs
Growing a portion of your own food will go far to saving you money on groceries. Learning to garden is a valuable and having more than one garden pays dividends. What does not get eaten can be frozen, dried or canned for the winter months. This saves a considerable amount on a monthly grocery bill. When seeking packaging for storage, think creatively, try thrift shops and compare bulk packaging prices before purchasing individual mason jars.
Be creative with leftovers. Save all of the leftover meat from the week and at the end of the week sort it into chicken or beef and make pot pies, soups and stews or stir fry’s. Its easy once you get the hang of it. Take up gardening and either can, dry or freeze your excess produce for the winter months.
Eliminate one car and walk around town or use a bicycle whenever possible. Consider the health benefits of walking too. Less visits to the doctor also mean more savings. In addition, the money saved on gas, auto insurance and car maintenance can be saved or invested for additional financial benefit.
Work, fundraising and cost management
Take in something part time from home. Perhaps you don’t mind ironing and your friend has stacks of it and no time to do it. Offer to help for a small fee. Child care and lawn services or house cleaning are other part time options that you could consider taking in.
Tutor: Perhaps you have some great skills in math or writing and you can tutor local students for a small fee. Call the schools and see how you can arrange that or put up a flyer in town.
Borrow videos from the library instead of renting them.
Fees: Negotiate with creditors and avoid fees. If you call them immediately and let them know you are out of a job, sometimes they can put payments on hold (freezing your card of course) and set up lower payment plans.
Electricity: Make it a family effort by creating a game out of saving electricity. Some months that is easy and others it is harder. To illustrate, catch each other not turning out lights, and for over using things like blow dryers and such. Also remind family members that even if an item isn’t being used (the coffee pot, microwave, cell phone charger etc.) that it is still sucking electricity. Perhaps an incentive can be worked in to the game to make it more fun or worthwhile.
If you have an electric hot water heater, turn it down a few degrees and take shorter showers. Run the dishwasher only when full. Use a cold water wash for most of the laundry and dry clothes outside on a clothes line.
Barter: Learn the timeless art of bartering. Consider bartering with friends, family and for professional services such as veterinary care or home repairs. Perhaps you are great at landscaping and your dog needs some care. Offer a trade. This of course works best in small towns where most everyone knows everyone.
With time, patience and persistence you can successfully live on one income. One parent can also work from home online with part-time writing, doing surveys or other such endeavors. Keep a sense of humor and remember that this too shall pass.