Saturday, December 12, 2009

How To Survive As A Single Income Family.

This post is about how to adjust from having a double income, to living on a single income . The post discusses; savings, budgeting, and making choices. Making the transition may seem difficult in the beginning but, with careful planning and patience living on a single income can be achieved.

The current economic downturn has affected families in various ways. For most families where both partners work outside of the home or had a business, the loss of one of the sources of income if unplanned for can cause much stress and panic.

To alleviate stress, talk about the changes that need to be made as a family. No topic should be left out, everything from the mortgage, shopping, car payments, eating out and childcare fees (if any) should be discussed to enable you get a sense of direction on surviving on a single income.

Focus on the positives and consider how having someone at home can benefit the family. A few of the positives will include saving on commuting, work clothes, coffee and daycare fees.

Start a family budget and discipline yourself to stick to it. This may be difficult at first because, you are accustomed to having two incomes. But having a fixed amount of money for each expenditure placed in an envelope really does the trick however, once the money in the envelope is exhausted, you may not replenish it.

Write down everything you spend for a month. To do this effectively, carry a small notebook with you at all times or save your receipts and enter your purchase into your book at the end of your day. At the month’s end, analyse your spending to see what you can cut back on or completely do away with.

Surviving on a single income also means keeping debt to the minimum whenever possible. Call your credit card company and negotiate a lower rate. This is also the time to start paying cash or using your debit card. When the money is coming directly from your bank account, the urge to spend more is greatly minimised. Another trick is to have a secure credit card which is linked directly to your bank account.

Spend some time to cook healthy meals. The money spent on takeaways and quick fixes adds up eventually and leaves a dent on your family’s budget. Store leftovers in containers to be eaten later.

When shopping, visit the less expensive stores and find sales, use coupons. However, just because an item is on sale does not mean you should buy it. You still have to pay for it. Always have a shopping list.

Visit the local library to borrow books, movies and magazines.

If after the adjustments have been made and you still seem to be struggling, consider finding extra sources of income for the stay at home partner that can be done from home like; babysitting, having a garage sale, starting a direct sales business, to mention a few.

Finally, living on a single income seems difficult initially but, determine to make it work as a family and be willing to tweak things when necessary to suit your family’s needs.

Are you a single income family? Have you been a single income family? Or, you may be considering making the transition, please share with us your views.


  1. Hi Theody:
    You comments about making a budget are so true...I am not sure why that seems to be so hard for me! I think I hate the feeling of being locked in - but I am a single mom, sole financial provider, so it's really necessary. I've found leaving money in for a "treat" as a reward seems to help me too. And finally, I am using coupons, which I've never done before!

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  3. Thanks Swati, I appreciate your sharing your experience with us from the perspective of a single mom. The "treat" option seems a good way to go. A source of motivation.

  4. Thanks for this wonderful post, Theody. I stay home with my kids and it is definitely tighter financially, but it is totally worth it. I enjoy being able to be there to see every step of the way as my little ones navigate their first years in this world. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

  5. Thanks for a useful post. Have been on one income for 5 years now, after deciding to stay at home with the little 'un. Am already doing most of what you say, but the main thing that helps us is living in a village with very few shops so I am not tempted to buy so much. Also I try to avoid e-bay.


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