Recently Paul and I have both received comments on how we live on one income. Some positive some negative and some I think are just wondering how it is done. So to those who think I lead the glamorous life of one of those Real Housewives types, keep dreaming.
1. This is a choice we made to give our daughter the attention we feel she needs right now in her early years. Both of us feel very passionately that she should not be in day care at this time for a variety of reasons. It didn't start like this when I got pregnant I was job hunting.
2. We couldn't do it with out our amazing landlord/ my mother. She is a bit more forgiving when rent is late than say someone with a signed contract.
3. Do it yourself. When you live on a tight budget you do a lot of things yourself. From painting, to fixing cars, to cooking, to well just about everything. I can't tell you the last time we paid for a service.
4. Coupons, Sales and planning ahead for expenses. I shop at places most often if they offer good sales or amazing coupons. Micheal's for example offers regularly 50% off one item. This is a very sizable savings. I know when birthdays are coming and usually you have some notice on special events. Those things are worked into the budget early on.
5. I cannot give lavish gifts. Actually usually they were on sale with a coupon or free shipping. I often times want to include a note in the card that is usually from an 8 pack of plain cards I personalize myself because I can get 8 cards for a dollar, I am not cheap really I am just broke.
6. We are broke most of the time and our savings suffers.
7. Things like dinners out and movies are a rarity.
8. You learn humility.
9. Presentation is everything. An inexpensive gift that is well packaged goes a long way.
10. Events with short notice can throw our budget into a tail spin.
11. I plan ahead for everything.
12. When it's payday before any money is spent we buy all baby needs for the next two weeks from food to diapers and wipes. Then we purchase food for the house. Then we negotiate what is left.
13. Any traveling usually involves a car and a tent or the floor of a friends house.
14. Garage sales and second hand shops are our friends.
15. It fosters creativity in more ways than I can list.
16. We have learned the difference between need and want. There is so much crap out there that you and your kid do not need. Since we think about every purchase we make smarter choices. We end up with less stuff we don't need. Also we don't buy status symbols. You won't find designer bags, new cars or fancy jewelery in this house.
17. We value experiences over things.
18. We have really learned how much we don't need.
19. There is so much to do for free in the world. All it takes is a little creativity and research.
20. When we are able to have two incomes again I think that we will keep many of our single income habits as they have become a way of life.
21. I have memorized the marketing schemes of many stores. I know when something I love will be on clearance. I know stores that don't keep the things I like around and if I want them to buy them early. I also have been known to drive to multiple locations to find clearance items.
22. You would be amazed at how long a wardrobe can last with out new additions to it.
23. We can never throw money at a situation to make it go away. Interpret that how you wish.
24. We have to budget in gas money for dinner with friends. We often times feel bad because we cannot host our friends for dinner as much as they host us. This goes for lunch out with my mentors as well. I can rarely return the favor. I think sometimes it makes people mad or think poorly of us but it isn't that we don't have good intentions.
I keep thinking of more as the day goes on...
25. Store brand everything.
26. NO WASTING. Not food, not a scrap of wrapping paper.
27. Re-purposing things. You can be amazed at what you can make out of things you already have.
Sometimes it sucks a lot but it is worth it in the end. There is no time for a pity party, there is life to be lived. You want more on how it works, just ask. I will share.
I almost forgot something really essential to all this. We make "charity" a priority. It keeps us grounded and humble. I don't like the word charity. We see it as God's work be it our time or some donations for the food bank or for our friends in Africa. I guess our God centered world view helps in all this too. We do not value what society values and it helps.