Budgeting

How We Live on One Small Income

How We Live on One Small Income from My Homemaking Diary

When my husband and I first decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom, we knew that we would need to live on a tight budget in order to make it work. Back in our two-salary days, we would go to the movies whenever we pleased, eat at restaurants several times a week, and buy whatever caught our eye at the store. Those days are now long gone, but you know what? I don’t miss them a bit! When my daughter was born, I felt like we truly became a family. Fancy dinners and vacations were fun, but I wouldn’t trade the joy of raising my daughter for all the money in the world! With that in mind, I thought I’d share our current budget to show others that it truly is possible to live–happily–on one small income.

Here’s a look at our current budget…

  • Rent $950
  • Groceries $300
  • Utilities $215
  • Health Insurance $155
  • Gas $110
  • Shopping $100
  • Mobile Phone $85
  • Internet $80
  • Hair $40
  • Church $35

Total = $2,070

One of the first things you may be wondering is where our car, credit card, and student loan payments are. The answer is–we don’t have any! We follow the Dave Ramsey approach to personal finance, which means that we don’t lease cars and are basically allergic to debt. If you currently have debt, I highly recommend following Dave’s advice to get out of debt and stay out of debt (and no, this isn’t a sponsored post!). For the other items in our budget, here is a little more detail…

Rent

Our rent is, by far, the largest item in our budget. We currently live in a modest two-bedroom apartment, but because we live in an area where the cost of living is high, our rent is simply enormous (or at least it feels that way to me).

Groceries

Our grocery budget is currently $75/week for a family of three (two adults and one toddler). This budget was fairly easy to stick to when it was just my husband and I, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s become impossible now that our daughter is getting older. We always go way over budget in this category.

Utilities

We pay about $160 for gas/electric (we use a budget plan to keep the bill steady all year) and $55 for water. I try to conserve energy where I can by turning lights off, opening windows instead of turning on the air conditioner, etc., but these bills pretty much are what they are based on the size of our home.

Health Insurance

My husband has health insurance through his job, but they don’t cover spouses or dependents. Luckily, because our income is so low, I was able to purchase a very affordable plan through the government healthcare exchange. I know there are some people who don’t like “Obamacare” for political reasons, but it has been a blessing to our family.

Gas

My husband’s job is about a 10-minute drive from our home and both of our families live in the area, so we don’t use tons of gas. We also don’t take weekend trips or vacations anymore, which saves on gas as well!

Shopping

This is another item in our budget that is tough to stick to–especially with a toddler–but not impossible. I save money is this category by shopping at Dollar Tree, only going shopping once a week (to eliminate impulse purchases), and always having a list and sticking to it!

Mobile Phone

My husband and I both have older phones and haven’t upgraded in years, so we only have to pay for voice and data (no device payments or insurance fees).

Internet

We don’t have cable television in our home, which keeps our cable/internet bill low. Our $85/month budget includes basic high-speed internet, Hulu, and Netflix.

Hair

My husband gets his hair cut regularly, which costs us about $40/month. I save money by having my mom cut my hair for free!

Church

I know a lot of people feel strongly about tithing and give 10% of their income to their church, but we don’t do that currently. When we first joined our church together after getting married, our pastor specifically told us to only give $2-$5 per week (because he knew my husband’s income). We like to go over that amount by participating in church functions and donating small amounts to our church’s various missions/drives, but our current budget for this is very small. I plan to make up for this in the future by giving very generously when we are able to do so!

Irregular Expenses

Another item that isn’t accounted for in our monthly budget are irregular expenses, which includes things like birthday gifts, car insurance (paid annually), and dentist visits (twice a year). We pay for these items using money that we save from our tax refund each year. Because there are three of us living on one small income, we receive a fairly large refund. We put this money into our savings account, and then withdraw the money throughout the year as needed.

And that’s our current budget! It feels a little strange to put these numbers out there for the whole world to see, but I really want to encourage others to see that it truly is possible to live happily on less. We don’t always stay within these numbers, of course (and luckily we have savings and my husband is usually able to pick up extra hours at work to help), but this is what we strive for. Our frugal lifestyle might not be for everyone, but for us (in this season of life, at least) it works!

8 thoughts on “How We Live on One Small Income

    1. I agree, it is amazing how God always provides! It’s also good to know we’re not the only ones with older phones and no cable 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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    1. Yes, it’s getting to be fairly impossible for us as well! My saving grace the last couple weeks has been a major pregnancy craving for eggs. I’ve been eating egg & cheese sandwiches at least once or twice a day every day, and this week our grocery store had eggs on sale for just $0.69 a dozen! Hopefully this will keep up and my cravings won’t switch to filet mignon and lobster any time soon 😉

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  1. Hi Michelle,
    I was blessed to stumble onto your blog. Good for you living on less. I follow a blog called creative savv. Lili is amazing she feeds a family of 5 adults for around $200 a month. She makes her own bread and and yogurt and many other things and buys in bulk like 5o lbs of flour at a time at cash and carry.I just want to encourage you that you can feed a family for $75 dollars a week. Have a blessed week.
    Patti

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