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Like many Americans, my family is a two-earning household. When we found ourselves with 2 car payments, credit card debt, student loans, mortgage and a baby on the way. We were financially living from paycheck to paycheck. We had little savings, barely an emergency fund and no college fund for our baby girl. We decided to make lifestyle changes and implement saving strategies to save money. The lifestyle and saving strategies helped us save 20K in one year!
How did we do it? We lived off of one income and saved the other person’s salary. You’re probably thinking it’s not possible. But it can be done with lifestyle changes and basic saving strategies.
To begin saving, it’s a mindset. Everyone has to be on board and I mean everyone! Your immediate, extended family and friends. The hardest person to get on board will be you and your spouse. When I approached my other half with ideas of changing our lifestyle and savings strategy, he called me Hitler. At the time, we did not have separate checking accounts and he is the main breadwinner. He was a hard sell but he eventually came around. I’ll talk more about how I persuaded my husband to make changes later in this post.
- 1 Lifestyle Changes
- 2 Below are some Saving Strategies we implemented to help live on one income.
- 2.1 1. Eating out Once a Week
- 2.2 2. Leftover Potluck Nights with Friends or Family
- 2.3 3. Birthdays and Holidays Ask for Movie, Restaurant or Other Entertainment Gift Cards
- 2.4 4. Energy Efficiency
- 2.5 5. Group Birthday Parties Together
- 2.6 Convincing Family and Friends
- 2.7 Teaching Family
- 2.8 Increase Your Savings and Cut Your Debt
To have an understanding of what changes you need to make in your lifestyle to save money, you must first look at your spending habits. Spending habits include entertainment, groceries, utilities, and hobbies. Once you have a keen idea of what your spending habits are you can make changes to save.
1. Cut the Cable
My family switched cable companies many times to find the lowest rate. We were paying anywhere from $60 – $120 dollars (depending on the carrier) a month on cable. When I finally spoke to my husband to cut out cable altogether, I had to come up with an alternative. This is where your extended family comes into play.
My household had access to Amazon Prime, which we streamed movies and shows for free. My brother had a subscription to Netflix. We simply shared our logins to give us both access to Prime and Netflix. We also streamed food blogging shows and cartoons on Youtube for free and my family never missed cable again. Savings of $120 a month.
2. No Contract Cell Phone /Pay As You Go
My husband and I are big cell phone people. It seems we are always surfing on our phones. But we were paying a WHAZOO on money a month on cell phone use. We’ve been under contract with top carriers and at one point was paying $120 a month on our cell phone plan and we didn’t even have unlimited data. We decided to cut the contract and do a pay as you go with AT&T for $90 a month and unlimited internet. Savings of $30 month
Tip: My brother recently left AT&T contract for Virgin Mobile $1 for 6 months plan with unlimited data and then $50 afterwards. I’m planning on switching to this when my husband leaves for deployment to Afghanistan.
3. Shop at Aldi – Cut out Costco
This by far is the hardest change I had to make. I love Costco just like any other person but its sooo very easy to walk in and walk out with a receipt between $200 – $300 dollars. Ouch!!!
I had to cut shopping at Costco for only gas and make the switch to Aldi.
When I first shopped at Aldi, I was one of the idiots who didn’t have a quarter and didn’t bring a shopping bag. But now I’m prepared and so happy with the amount of savings on my grocery bill a month. It’s literally cut in half! Savings of $250 a month.
Tip at Aldi: Wednesdays are when new online shopping ads are posted.
4. Co-Op Vacations
Another way to change your lifestyle is to co-op vacation (once a year) with others. For example, for summer vacation we loved going to the beach. So, we would get together with others and all go in on renting a house. We cut vacations down to once a year and if we had an itch to get out of town, we would simply visit family. The kids seemed to not mind because we visited cousins or grandparents. This summer we went RV’ing with my folks. It only cost me $279. I paid for the 5 day RV resort stay and they took care of gas and food. This saved us at least $1500. The other option would have been to rent a beach house which would be 6x the amount I spent.
5. Goodwill and Consignment Shops Rock
Another way I implemented the lifestyle savings change is to shop for clothes at Goodwill or children consignment shops. When I needed maternity clothes, I would scope out the nicer areas of town’s Goodwill stores to catch some cute maternity outfits. I’m only going to wear them for a couple of months anyway and didn’t want to spend tons of money. I would rather spend the money on what the baby needed. I fell in love with Goodwill and found shoes for work and clothes for the kids. I also recommend Once Upon a Child consignment shop for kids clothes and shoes.
Although really one in the same as Lifestyle Changes, Saving Strategies should be implemented along with Lifestyle Changes to maximize living on one income in a two-income household to ultimately reach your family’s saving goals.
Before I move on to Saving Strategies, I wanted to share with you these FREE Lifestyle Changes and Saving Strategies Worksheets to help you brainstorm ways you can save. It will also help’s in persuading your other half in making lifestyle changes. He or she may also help brainstorm ways too!
Increase Your Savings and Cut Your Debt
Below are some Saving Strategies we implemented to help live on one income.
1. Eating out Once a Week
This was a huge, huge saving strategy that helped us save lots of money and it was HARD. After working all week and coming home and cooking, my motto was eat out on the weekends to treat MOM and enjoy life. But we cut back to eating out once a week. That meant, I had to plan and really organize meals. I researched what sales Aldi had and used it to build a weekly menu. We also made it a treat to pick out the restaurant we ate at. It really became a luxury to eat out.
2. Leftover Potluck Nights with Friends or Family
As a treat to get out of the house and feel like we went out to dinner or entertainment, we implemented Leftover Friday Night Potluck with family or friends. Each Friday night, a Leftover Potluck was planned at our home, friend or family member’s house. This let us Moms have a night off where we didn’t have to cook, we socialized with friends and family and it was also a form of entertainment. You will be surprised at how much leftover food everyone can bring together and how delicious it is. Savings for a family of 4 to eat out around $60.
3. Birthdays and Holidays Ask for Movie, Restaurant or Other Entertainment Gift Cards
This is the way your extended family can help in your savings goals. My husband and I were in sync on asking for AMC, SBUX gift cards or our favorite restaurant gift cards for Birthdays or Holidays. One year for Christmas, we racked up over $150 dollars in AMC gift cards.
4. Energy Efficiency
According to Energy.gov an average American household attributes 5% of its budget to lighting our homes. To help cut your energy bill, switch to energy efficient light bulbs such as CFL’s or LED bulds. A typical CFL can pay for itself in energy savings in less than 9 months and continue to save you money each month. LEDs use 25%–30% of the energy and last 8 to 25 times longer. My family bought bulk LED’s at our local Costco. The next best bet would be to purchase bulk on Amazon. Click here to see various LED bulk bulbs on Amazon and compare prices. Annual savings on my utility bill is around $350.
5. Group Birthday Parties Together
I come from a family of three kids so three separate birthday parties is costly for my family. My sister and I would always have a combined birthday party; even though we were born a month apart. My birthday is June 3rd and hers is May 12th. Sometimes my parents would host a party in July! We didn’t care because we didn’t know any better.
I combine birthday parties for my kids. My son is born on October 12th and my daughter is November 7th. We hosted a combined Halloween themed birthday party for my sons 1st birthday and my daughters 6th birthday. On their actual birthday, I bake a special cake, get them some balloons from the Dollar Tree and a small gift. We talk about their big birthday party and they are excited and happy. It has saved us hundreds of dollars to combine parties. More than $300 dollars in savings!!!
Convincing Family and Friends
As I mentioned earlier in this post, my husband was a hard sell on Lifestyle Changes. He was more game with Saving Strategies and even took the lead on buying LED bulbs and changing them out in the house. You may be pleasantly surprised what ideas or savings initiatives your partner may include.
I was able to convince my husband to implement lifestyle changes and saving strategies because of our daughter. Children copy many things from watching and learning from their parents. We copy our parent’s parenting styles, mannerisms, and reactions. Why wouldn’t they copy our lifestyle ways and spending habits? Children are very perceptive. If you implement Lifestyle Changes and Savings Strategies, they will pick up on the lingo. Before you know it they are scanning for deals and contributing ways to save.
My husband saw the big picture and got on board. In changing our lifestyle and saving strategies, we paid off one car note and saved hundreds on paying it off early due to interest.
I hope this article helps your family as it has helped mine. I would love to hear about lifestyle changes your family has implemented and how much you’ve saved!
Increase Your Savings and Cut Your Debt