How to Live Happily on a Single Income

It was a difficult choice for us as a family.  I gave up my overnight mediocre hospital job to be a full-time mom.  This was November of last year.  I had just found out I was pregnant again.  I went to school during the day and worked at night.  When I wasn’t doing either, I was sleeping.  I felt such a disconnect from my own daughter.  It was terrible.  We then decided to pull her out of her expensive daycare, so she can stay with me at home.  It’s the best decision we ever made.  But then at the same time, it meant that we would have to live on a single income.  It meant that we had to do some  serious budgeting.

It’s been almost 9 months now.  With two kids of our own, plus my beau’s eldest daughter, plus two adults, it’s a real challenge.  But we’ve definitely re-configured our lifestyle to whatever is appropriate for us.  Here are some ideas on how to make it and be happy with less money coming in.

1.  BUDGET.  We never have a set budget because there are always things coming up, and we don’t have a contingency account because…we just can’t afford it.  But a rough budget every month can detail out the priorities versus the non-priorities.  Light bill versus date night.  Obviously.

2.  GO FREE.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Yes, we know.  But the beach is free and so is the downtown music on Friday nights.  Our community also offers free movies at the amphitheater on certain nights.  Get to know what goes on around your community, and you might find some interesting events that don’t cost a penny. Better yet, organize an event at the local park.  Go fishing.

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(free movie screening outdoors. free!)

3.  DINE IN.  I can’t say how much dining in has saved us so much money.  We like to eat out.  We like to eat, in general.  When we didn’t have kids, my beau and I used to spend hundreds on just drinks alone.  Ridiculous!  But even fast food gets expensive.  Dining in has also allowed us to practice in the kitchen and really get to know the craft of cooking.  Watch some Chopped or Top Chef.  Be inspired.  It can be fun and just as delicious!  I made fresh pasta for the first time the other night, and I can proudly say that it was so delicious, I’ve sworn to never surrender to boxed pasta again!  Or at least for now.

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(homemade calzone. yumm.)

4.  SHOP WISELY.  There are so many suggestions out there on the web on how to shop or when to shop or how to use coupons.  I use coupons here and there.  And as much hassle as it is to shop at Walmart, some of their prices are better than other stores.  Not all the time though.  You can figure out what works for you.  Right now, we buy as we need.  That’s what works for us.  We don’t bulk up on groceries like we used to because we found that most things went bad from not being used.

5.  BE OPEN TO HELP.  My mom cooks us food all the time, and if you’ve ever tasted my mom’s cooking, you can agree with me never to say no.  The grandparents buy the kids clothes and diapers and formula here and there.  If we need babysitting, we call on family or friends to help out.  If you are surrounded by people who are willing to share their time and effort with you, you are lucky.  It may not always be about money, but every bit counts.

6.  CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK.  It’s true.  It really doesn’t matter how much you own.  Be happy with what you’ve got.  I’ve got my family and we are all healthy.  I’m happy with that.  Sure…I might get that new laptop I’ve been wanting…hopefully soon.  It’s just gotta be on the budget.  Ha!  And it’s just gotta pay for itself somehow.

7.  LIVE SIMPLY.  SIMPLY LIVE.  Simply said.  Simplicity is key.  It doesn’t equate to boring.  It means, go find happiness in other things besides “things.”  You figure it out.

Enjoy your day and  enjoy life!  Happy Friday folks!  I challenge you to do something free tonight! 🙂

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I'm a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom of two awesome toddlers. If we aren't out on an adventure, we spend most of our days tickling each other on the bedroom floor, making things explode in the kitchen, jumping on piles of laundry before and after washing, or just doing random little things that make life absolutely worth it.

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