Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ways to live on one income- Part I

Here's a list my girlfriend (a fellow stay-at-home wifer) and I developed. It's pretty extensive, but not exhaustive. I've talked to many women about staying at home and there's a common thread between the comments I receive: "In today's world, you just can't make it on one income. I HAVE to work." Many of these women long to stay home and raise up their families, but feel trapped. Hopefully, this list will help you women out there that are contemplating staying home but don't know how or where to begin.

Let me preface this list with a description of the stay-at-home wife and/or mom. I can sum it all up in one word: SACRIFICIAL. It's not easy, but it's worth it. Hope this list helps.

-pray for wisdom and diligence to use your resources wisely
-tithe to your church; help others as much as possible (what goes around comes around)
-live in a home that is modest and that fits your needs; that may mean selling the house you're currently in; since most houses increase in value over time, use that extra money to pay off the original mortgage and make a sweet down-payment on a smaller home
-sell the "toys" (extra cars, the boat, three-wheeler, lake cottage, RV, etc.); these items require SO much money in maintenance/storage/gas
-pare down to one car if possible
-buy a good used car instead of a brand new one
-detailed menu planning & grocery shopping; buy only those things on the list
-shop as much as possible at Aldi or a comparible store; I kid you not, I've seen Kraft, Schenkles (sp?) and Dean semi-trucks pull up in Aldi's loading dock; for another example, check out Aldi's Kyder ketchup... above the bar code it says "Red Gold"; you're buying name brand stuff there with an Aldi label slapped on the packaging
-only buy meat on sale or meat marked down because it has to sell that day; contact your local butcher or cow/pig farmer and see where you could purchase an 1/8, 1/4, or 1/2 a cow or pig in different cuts
-no more eating out; eat at home as much as possible; if you don't know how to cook, Betty Crocker has a "Cooking Basics" cookbook that's awesome!
-don't accrue more debt; if you can't pay cash, maybe you shouldn't buy it
-be a "sale shark"; look at grocery ads, watch for coupons, scope out the clearance racks; shop at garage sales and Goodwill; you can buy name brand stuff for 1/2 or less; for me it's a game... what's the most or the best I can buy with "X" amount of dollars
-when at the store, ask yourself "do I NEED this item or is it WANT?"; if it's a "want", put it back on the shelf
-never make a purchase on impulse; talk to huband/wife first; think if there's another way to satisfy the need for the item; buy only after careful consideration and time
-don't go to the store hungry
-cut out all the "extras"- movie rentals/purchases, cell phones, cable TV, prepared food from supermarket, expensive coffee, cigarettes, overly expensive meats, alcohol, pop, junk food, excess trips in the car, excess schedule-fillers (kids' sports, for instance, are costly for all the fees, uniforms, tickets, and driving that are required), tanning beds, movies, plays, musicals, etc.; make it a treat; if you don't do it often, you'll enjoy it more when you get the opportunity
-start a budget- record all receipts each month; you'd be amazed at how much we spend on non-essentials
-stop buying stuff name brand (esp. medicines); Wal-Mart, Meijer, Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens brands are usually just as good
-declutter; less is more; give your unwanted/unneeded stuff to others who will benefit from it; also, fewer possessions means less time, money, and energy caring for them
-donate to the Salvation Army; get a tax write-off
-live below your means; just because you make "x" income doesn't mean you need to live at "x" standard
-if breastfeeding, consider using cloth breast pads
-combine errands; only go out once per week for errands and shopping (save on gas)
-stay home; no temptation to spend when not in stores
-use library instead of buying books; or look for bargains on Ebay, Overstock, or Amazon
-if in town, walk/ride bike to destinations rather than drive
-for projects and repairs, learn to do them yourself (the library and internet are good resources)
-learn to mend and make minor alterations to clothing; no joke... a girlfriend of mine spent $8 on a button and $12 for a zipper!
-learn to sew your own decorating implements- pillows, curtains, tablecloths
-use cloth napkins and hankerchiefs rather than the paper counterparts
-use real dishes rather than paper plates
-for outdoor flowers, use plants that spread on their own like irises, lillies, hostas- and split those out rather than buying plants
-bake multiple items at one time
-use a clothesline rather than a dryer
-keep house heat a little cool if using gas or electric heat, then dress warmly
-save up to buy high-quality items (furniture, shoes, house paint, appliances, etc.) as cheaply-made items wear out quickly (note: high quality does NOT always mean most expensive); do research before making a substantial purchase to know which brands and materials are best
-stop using credit cards unless you pay off the balance each month; interest rates and fees add up very quickly
-pay bills on time; late fees add up
-keep careful track of checking account so you don't have overdraft fees
-entertaining can be less expensive if you have a dessert party instead of a full meal
-keep possessions in good working order; it's expensive to replace things
-buy wholesale note cards or make your own from inexpensive card stock
-use leftover food creatively (rice pudding, bread pudding, soup, quiche)
-use natural cleaners rather than chemical (vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol)
-use cloth cleaning rags rather than paper towel
-use cloth diapers- in general, use the real counterpart to anything disposable; it's cheaper
-stretch laundry detergent with baking soda
-don't feel obligated to give a store-ful of gifts to every acquaintence at Christmas; you could cut out gifts all together or cut them down to one per child and focus more on Jesus, family, and fellowship during Christmastime
-set a dollar limit for gifts then shop clearance aisles; buy necessary gifts ahead of time as they go on clearnace at the end of each season
-buy next years clothes at the end of summer and winter during clearance sales; this is especially true during pregnancy- if you know you'll be needing fall/winter maternity, purchase clothes on clearance in the spring/summer; check out Old Navy and Gap maternity on-line and scope out their clearance racks
-use an artificial tree at Christmas
-don't renew magazine subscriptions if your local library has those same magazines; just check them out there
-wait for new movies to come out on video THEN rent them
-one good butcher knife and cutting board can take the place of make different expensive gadgets and appliances
-grow your own flowers to cut and bring inside rather than buying them
-make dates with your spouse over coffee and dessert rather than filets and merlot
-take care of teeth
-learn basic first aid and simple home remedies for common ailments (I'm NOT advocating to stay away from doctors all together, but there are many things that can be treated at home just as, or more, effectively than at the doctor's office)
-women: learn how your body and cycle works; read book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler as this knowledge can save lots of money on birth control methods, fertility/infertility drugs, doctor visits, pregnancy tests, etc.
-for healthy, low-risk women, give birth at home with a midwife rather than at the hospital
-eat healthy meals full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- it's much less expensive to keep your body reasonably healthy than to eat badly and cause health problems (a great expense in itself)
-drink mostly water; if you have a sweet tooth satisfy it with 100% fruit juice instead of pop (but remember to brush teeth)
-work hard at whatever you do- keeps your body healthier than if you were lazy

Whew! That's a long list, I know... but maybe it can spur you onto frugal-ness and give you the opportunity to stay home. If you ladies have more ideas on how you live on one income, I'd LOVE to hear about it!


Cyndi said...

Ok, I know I work, but we do try to live frugally. How about buy in bulk (Squirrel Creek anyone?) and bake/cook from scratch as much as possible. Baking bread is much less expensive than buying it - same for "rice a roni" type things, and pizza - and generally healthier too.

Michelle McCallum said...

That's a great list, Mel. Some things that I do that you can add to the Christmas/Holiday section on the list are:
1) Making homemade gifts or using online photo programs to make photo gifts (I make calendars for my immediate family members and they ended up being only $2.50 each).
2) Start Christmas shopping immediately after Christmas, paying attention to sales and clearance items. Then store in a box, but make sure you have a list of what you have and who you bought for
3) Share holiday meals with people around you who do not have family nearby and ask them to contribute something to the meal
4) Pay attention to supermarkets that offer a free Turkey around Thanksgiving (you usually have to buy $100 worth of groceries to earn one)
5) If your family lives far away (and has the means) ask them to travel to you rather than you travel to them

There are a few for the holiday season. Hope they help out.

serina said...

Great list. I can always add to lists like these, but I'll limit my thoughts to a few:

1.) Eating well--avoiding pesticides, chemicals, hormones, antibiotic-treated animals, etc.--saves money on doctor bills in the long run. We live on a missionary's budget and *still* buy organic and locally as much as possible--our food budget is higher than some because we have a very small entertainment and clothing budget.
2.) Do seek out a local pastured/grass-fed animal farmer and buy a quarter (some will even do an eighth) and ask for all the bones (not just soup bones) so you can make stock. I make the meat last a long time by making rich stock, which nourishes my family on non-meat flesh days.
3.) Learn to knit, or craft, and make gifts. This year, I'm working on gifts for all of our extended family.
4.) Accept hand-me-downs. I love old clothes.
5.) Be generous.

Anonymous said...

I have also seen the Tyson truck at Aldi bringing in boxes of the bags of boneless skinless chicken breasts. We eat these a lot :)

Anonymous said...

I have also seen the Tyson truck at Aldi bringing in boxes of the bags of boneless skinless chicken breasts. We eat these a lot :)