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
- Fresh veggies
- Peanut butter
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!
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.
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.
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.
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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