10 Tips for Living on One Income

Posted By digging roots on Aug 29, 2018 in Canning, Gardening, Herbal Medicine, Less Waste | 8 comments


Ever since our oldest was born, we have lived on one income. Both Trent and I feel it works best to have me stay home with the kids while they are young, and we have prioritized making sure our life is affordable with Trent’s income. I’ve loved the time I’ve had with the kids, and living on one income has been totally do-able.

The amazing thing is that we really do feel rich! We eat delicious food, have clothes, are building a beautiful debt-free tiny house, we love each other, and we even have enough money to buy a few “fun” extras.

I want to share some tips for making end meet on one income. These are all things we practice on a regular basis and have found to really make a difference in our budget.


Cook whole plant foods from scratch

People often say that healthy food is super spendy, and it is if you’re buying pre-made food, such as bread, crackers, sausage, drinks, and stuff like that. But if you’re willing to buy whole foods and cook from scratch, healthy food is the cheapest food you can buy! I find whole foods to be super affordable for the bulk you get. My family eats a LOT of food, but we still manage to keep our grocery budget around $500 because I mostly buy whole foods. Here’s a list of foods I often buy:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Fresh veggies
  • Bananas
  • Peanut butter
  • Almonds

These are all affordable, nutrient-dense foods that are also delicious!



Grow a garden 

We eat like Veggie Kings in the summer and usually enough to can or freeze for winter. It’s really nice to have some home-grown food to eat in the winter and it eases our wintertime veggie budget. We usually spend about $20 on our garden and we get way more than $20 out of it!


Forage food

We pick blackberries from our yard and freeze them (free!) and forage apples from a nearby orchard’s windfalls (free!) and that really helps in the wintertime. This year so far I have dehydrated a huge bag of apples and picked 7 gallon bags of blackberries! It only costs some time and elbow grease.



Make broth

Broth is basically made from what would have been garbage: meat bones and veggie scraps. It transforms into a super nutritious liquid which makes amazing soup or rice! Everyone knows that soup helps stretch your budget, and when you make your own broth, you can make a soup dinner for just a few dollars!



Buy thrift store clothes

Thrifting makes sense on so many levels. It is easier on your budget, helps reduce waste, and it helps not contribute to the toxic problem of the clothing industry. I have also been very blessed to have been given most of my kids’ clothes, and I am very thankful for it! 


Make herbal medicine

You can make a few simple medicines that are cheap, easy, and healthy that also save a you a little money! I make wound salve with lavender and plantain from my yard that takes place of Neosporin in our household. I make tea blends with bulk herbs, which saves us a load of money. I also make a few simple tinctures that boost our health for very little money.



No monthly subscriptions

We don’t keep a monthly subscription such as magazines, Netflix, Amazon prime, Hello Fresh. I feel like these type of things get forgotten easily, but meanwhile, your card keeps getting billed! If I do a free trial of a subscription, I always write on the calendar when I should cancel it so I don’t lose track of time.

Go camping

I realize this isn’t for everyone, but camping can be a really wonderful way of taking a fun, memorable vacation and keeping your expenses low. We took a super fun vacation this summer boondocking for free on BLM land all over Oregon. It was a 5-day vacation and we only spent about $300, gas and food included! It was a vacation we’ll never forget.


Sunset in Christmas Valley, OR


Call utilities for discounts

I have successfully lowered my phone and internet bills by calling and asking for a lower rate. Sometimes they have a promotion or sometimes they seem to scrape a discount out of nowhere. It has surprised me every time how willing they are to lower my monthly rate. 


Check Craigslist first

Before we buy any large purchase, we often check Craigslist first. Sometimes we find what we’re looking for, and sometimes we realize it’s just more cost effective to buy it new. But it’s always nice to make a informed decision and give ourselves the chance to find a bargain and save a few hundred dollars!



Share your money saving tips in the comments; I’d love to hear them!


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  1. I know it’ll be trickier to do in a tiny house with limited space, but one of my money-saving tricks is to buy gifts – Christmas and other – all-year-round when I can get them for a bargain. I then squirrel them away (sometimes making a list beforehand to keep track) and pull them out when the time comes and wrap them. I find that the temptation to spend big bucks right before a holiday or birthday becomes too great and having it already thoughtfully purchased saves me from myself. Also having little kid gifts on hand for unexpected birthday parties keeps me from overspending or buying junk last minute. And then I wrap gifts in painters paper that I have in a big roll and tie it up with fun yarn. I’ve been using the same roll and skeins for years! You can also get paper gift bags in bulk online for pennies a piece and decorate them yourself.

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    • I love those ideas, thank you!

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  2. Great tips! I want to know more about your homemade Neosporin. Do you grow the plantain too?

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    • Thank you! Plantain grows like a weed in our yard, so I don’t have to work very hard to grow it thankfully! I’ll do a blog post in the future about how to make some easy herbal medicines, thanks for the idea!

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  3. I love your blog! So this is something we have done a lot of over the years but I know it isn’t for everyone. If we know we have some bigger purchases coming up, which we have saved up the money for, we sign up for a credit card with a great bonus plan. Bonuses like free hotel stays or airline tickets. We have been on several super luxurious vacations for just the cost of food!!!

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    • That is a really good idea. Thank you!

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  4. You only spent $20 on your garden??!! Ok that’s it, we did our garden wrong.

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    • I loved your garden Andrea. 😉

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