Not Just Surviving, But Thriving – Living On A Single Income

Not Just Surviving, But Thriving – Living On A Single Income

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Being able to raise a family on a single income requires sacrifices. As adults we all make sacrifices in many parts of our lives. We make them for family, for work, for our community. Some come easy and some take a little more effort.

What is a sacrifice? Google’s defines a sacrifice as “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.” So although making sacrifices tends to get a bad rap , they really allow things to work out for the best.

And that is especially true for my family in our journey as a single income family. We, yes Big L and I, have chosen to sacrifice my full-time job (and our extra income) so our children have their momma home with them. That idea has since snowballed and now I am not only a stay at home momma, but also a homeschooling momma.

But I don’t feel that it is really fair to call what we did a sacrifice because it has proven to be incredibly enjoyable and beneficial to us all. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been stressful or that it’s been easy… the struggle is real my friends.

Surviving On A Single Income In A Dual Income Society

There was a time that it was assumed that moms stayed home and managed the home and dads went to work. It was ingrained in our society… from the cost of our houses to the amount of material things we enjoyed. But as our desire for more and more material things out-shined the balance in our bank account , we needed to bring in more money. So kids were shipped to daycares and moms re-entered the workforce. Family life was put on the back burner and we began placing quantity (of things) above quality (time with family).

In today’s world, it’s so easy to get caught up trying to keep up with the Joneses. Moms and dads both work super hard to bring in as much as possible… money in the bank account, name brand clothes, the newest cars, etc. What if we all take a step back and take the focus off of the things and put it back on our families?

And that’s exactly what we did. I stepped out of the workforce and stepped up to the plate to run my house on a single income. We sacrificed some things to make it work, but what we gained was worth so much more.

So how do we do it?? Let me explain…

We gave up... quit, threw in the towel! We gave up just about all of the non-necessities. No more Friday night take-out, no boredom busting Wal-Mart runs, no more direct sale parties (sorry Facebook host friends!). We even gave up the old way we watched TV (see my post on How I Saved $1,000 By Ditching Traditional TV).

In fact, we have been so successful at cutting our spending that when someone brings up cutting out the non-essentials, I can only wonder if that two ply toilet paper I splurge on is really worth the extra 20 cents a roll.

We sold our second vehicle. Two cars mean extra car insurance, gas money, and maintenance costs. So we made the decision to get rid of our old mini van and keep our truck (it is newer and more practical year round in PA).

This one took getting used to on my part. We live in a small mountain town, with nothing in walking distance except for a small corner store, a teeny tiny park, and the Lehigh River. But we make the best of what we have (hello, beautiful mother nature!) and once a week I plan our big outing to the next town over after Big L’s done with work. It makes simple things like going to the “big” park and the library that much more exciting for the kids (and momma too!).

I took on our finances as my full time job – one of my many full time jobs in our home. Big L and I joke that I am his secretary. Perfect example: Big L started a new job and had paperwork to fill out for payroll, so he tells them “I’m going to take them home to my secretary and she’ll fill ’em out.” We all got a chuckle out of that one. But I really do my best to keep all of our financial information organized. And more importantly, all of our bills paid.

I do my best to honor my husband and his hard work (50+ hour work weeks) by making his paycheck stretch as far as possible. So I am always looking for ways to save money and live frugally. Sadly I’m not an extreme couponer, although I secretly long to be. I’ve tried to start a few times, but have never followed through. So until I quit being a quitter, you can check out some simple ways to save money on my post 15 {Easy} Ways to Save Money… Without Cutting Coupons.

Even though I am at home all day, I still look for ways to help keep our bank account in the black. I ‘m a strong believer in teaching our girls an employable skill that they can use in the home. Such as cosmetology, music (teaching lesson), graphic design skills, culinary skills, etc. I have 15 years of commercial baking experience, so I put that to use and bake special order cakes and desserts. I also babysit when our friend’s usual sitter is unavailable. Whatever new venture I take on I just keep in mind that it has to be something that I can do with kids-in-tow and without necessarily having to leave the house.

We stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses! There are so many ways that we compare ourselves to our peers and neighbors. What we wear, what we drive, what vacations we take, our home decorations, and the list goes on…

For me I need to keep a tight limit on my social media time. I can get deep in the comparison game as I scroll through my newsfeed. For Big L it means resisting the urge to buy the latest and greatest upgrade possible for our truck (okay, put me on this one too!). For my kids this means extremely limited commercial exposure and not joining every extracurricular out there. Basically we limit our outside influences, and keep our focus on our family. The more you let the shiny things permeate your thinking, the harder it is to reign in your attention to the things that really bring happiness and financial stability.

And seriously, keep in mind that you don’t know what the Joneses finances look like. Maybe they are living high on the hog racking up credit card debt to buy the latest and greatest, or maybe their bank account is just better fed than yours. Whatever the case may be, you need to simply do your best to be content with what you are able to provide your family.

Let me be real… there are times that my hubby feel the pull of the green eyed monster. We will see something really cool and we look at each other and say “what do they do that they can afford that?!” Then we kinda laugh, realizing that we don’t want to sacrifice our home life for all the shiny things. But we really do our best to be content with what we have. After all, we are teaching our kids that God doesn’t want us having idols and doesn’t want to covet our neighbors… so we want to be good examples of that for them.

I embraced my crafty side! I’ve always dabbled in crafting. Crocheting, sewing, painting, and of course the ultimate crafting… baking! When I was younger, crafting was just a way to spend my down time. Now I try to make it as productive as possible.

Crafting has also been a huge money saver… especially for those times when I get an itch to redecorate a room. Instead of running out to buy new decorations or knick knacks, I will rummage through my stockpile of craft supplies (also known as my hoard) in the basement and see what I can make. I save any and all fabric (towels, old clothes, fabric remnants), yarn, metal cans, and cereal boxes. Since my decorating style is a less-is-more kinda thing, a simple wall decoration switcheroo, new homemade seasonal decoration, or a simple rearranging of the furniture will suffice my need for change.

Another benefit of crafting is that as you look around your home there will be a story to almost everything around you.

Crafting is also great entertainment for the kiddos! Check out my post Frugal Craft Supplies For Kids!

So pick a craft, any craft… pick all the crafts! Just don’t let your Pinterest boards anywhere near your bank account. Try to be as thrifty as possible with your supplies and only work on one craft at a time. I like to make a craft to-do list… but then again I make a list for just about everything!

That Covers The Surviving, Now For The Thriving

Let me tell you the most important things we have gained from our sacrifices.

A strong family bond. We spend our free time together and we wouldn’t have it any other way! The kids and I look forward to daddy coming home from work. And Big L enjoys being tackled by them the second he puts the truck in park. We also keep dinner old school by sitting at the table together every night. Followed by some cuddle time together in the living room while unwinding from our busy days together.

We have learned that we don’t need to be doing anything to have enjoyable family time together. We are perfectly happy just being together.

A glass half-full mentality. We have become more upbeat and positive in just about everything we do. And when it comes to our finances, our mantra has become “we’ll make it work”. If an unexpected expense comes up know we have to find a way to make it work. We don’t freak out or start fighting about it, we simply take action and get it done. Whether it means digging through unused things to sell online or working extra hours. We simply do what it takes and we’re happy that we are able to weather the storms together.

Reduced stress levels. Shocking, but true. Living with a smaller balance in our bank account has actually taken away our financial stress. It’s simple… we know our limits and have very little room to be able to act on our temptation/impulse.

It also helps that we are both open with where we stand financially. In our marriage we have no separate accounts or money stashes. Being transparent with each other and yet knowing that we both fully trust the other is vital to our success. Life if full of enough things to stress about, our bank account shouldn’t be one of them.


So that’s how we manage life on a single income… what works for your family? If you are new to the single income lifestyle, what questions do you have? Comment below!

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