The idea of living on one income can be a scary thought for most couples. When you have two able-bodied people, it can be tough to see any positive side to not having two steady streams of income. Considering that 71% of all workers in the United States say they are in debt, it’s no surprise that one income families are seen less and less. More often than not, people are just working to support their bad spending habits. Even in two-income households, a whopping 78% of workers say they are still living paycheck to paycheck. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Having been a stay at home mom for over 10 years, there are some major benefits to living on one income that I would love to share with you. Particularly living on one income when you’re paying off debt.
*This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission but all recommendations are my own.
What it means to be living on one income
When you are living on one income it means there is a primary breadwinner whose income you completely live off of. Maybe that sounds obvious. What I mean is one income is enough to support your rent/mortgage, all of your bills, groceries, gas and spending money.
Living off one income is common in households where one parent chooses to stay home and raise the children and can be a very scary step to take if both parents had previously been working.
It might be a scary step, but it is a very doable thing. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for over a decade! Wow, I’m old. Fully depending on my husband to provide has dealt us a fair amount of stress, but it also forced us to make better financial decisions and grow closer in our marriage.
At first, we weren’t really great at living on one income. We were very much a part of the 78% of workers who were living paycheck to paycheck while simultaneously incurring more and more debt.
In the last 3 years we have gotten intentional about getting out of debt and staying out of it and surprisingly, living on one income has been highly beneficial during this process. Let me break down for you exactly how it has benefited us.
The best debt payoff strategy
First of all, in order to successfully pay off debt, you need a good debt payoff strategy. For us, this has been Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball. Check out all of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps here.
In just 6 months of paying off our debt with the Debt Snowball, we were able to knock out $6,000 of debt. Considering that we had been previously living paycheck to paycheck, finding an average of $1,000 per month to put toward debt is pretty impressive. After paying off those debts, we took a small break and then started back up this year.
Over the last 7 years we have paid off about $90,000 worth of debt and that has been living on one income! So, how did our one income lifestyle benefit us during this time?
Get help with debt
When you have serious debt, there are three options you have to help you tackle it before starting the debt snowball:
- Take out a loan: If you have multiple debts and/or are being charged high interest on your debt, look into taking out a larger loan, with lower interest to help you pay off your current debts. After paying off our $6,000, Tom and I chose to take out a loan, with a lower interest rate to help us pay it off in faster time! You can get pre-approved for free online. Here are some of the best places to get approved online:
- Dispute your debts: If you are struggling to get out of debt, the first thing you should consider is getting a free credit analysis. You can get some serious guidance and help when it comes to managing your current debts, and find out how much you could be saving on your monthly payments!
- Check your credit score:
Additional debt payoff posts:
- How to Stay Motivated When Your Debt Payoff Gets Hard
- How We Paid Off Over $1,200 of Debt in One Week: the Side Hustles That Helped Us Out
- Can I Afford to Get Out of Debt? How to Find That Extra Money to Get You Started
Why living on one income is helpful
Encourages you to work together on your budget
In order to be a successful stay at home mom, I have had to make sure I have been in constant communication with my husband about our finances. He, in turn, has had to understand how our budget needed to be used toward me and the children.
We weren’t always great at budgeting together. For years, we let miscommunication about money stand in our way of financial peace and I’m sure that’s where a lot of our debt accumulating came from. If you are living on one budget and especially if you are married, I can’t encourage you enough to have an open communication about every single dollar you spend. How to Discuss and Execute a Budget with Your Spouse
You should already live more frugal
When you know you have a limited income, it can either encourage you to just charge everything and dig deeper into debt, or force you to live a little bit more frugal of a lifestyle.
Get a solid budget down and stick to it, create sinking funds in order to help you save for big purchases, find ways to save money on groceries, and all around spend your money intentionally. Living on one income can be a great way to be forced into being more purposeful with your spending.
Helpful frugal posts:
- Double Your Savings Apps to Get the Most Money Back on Food, Clothes, and Vacations
- Best Grocery Rebate Apps and Tips to Save Big
- 15 Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Bills Without Trying
- 10 Steps to Stop Using Credit Cards and Finally Get Out of Debt
Forces you to think through decisions more
When you are living on a limited budget, sitting down and really thinking through each spending decision is the best strategy.
Rather than seeing your one income as a roadblock keeping you from better things, try to see it as a huge benefit that forces you to slow down and make better choices.
Potentially saving on daycare costs
If one of the main reasons why you live on one income is because one parent is staying home with children, you are potentially saving huge by avoiding daycare costs. The rising cost of daycare is probably the leading drive behind why so many families choose to have one parent at home in the first place.
Can reduce the cost of money spent on gas
Another benefit to staying home is less gas. This is great for the environment and your pocketbook!
Any additional money made can go toward debt
Here’s my favorite reason! When you are successfully living on and paying all of your bills with one income, any other money you make is fair game!
If you’re not in debt, this means you could build amazing savings (check out the best accounts to open) or plan for fantastic vacations.
When you are in debt, it means you have an opportunity to get out of it with less stress as long as you stick to your debt payoff game plan.
Other helpful posts for stay at home parents:
- Stop Running Errands and Get Time Back in Your Day
- 26 Ways to Get More Time Back in Your Day
- 26 Jobs You Can Do in Your Pajamas (Well, Almost)
- Surviving SAHM Status Mentally and Financially
- 7 Minimalist Mom Techniques. How to Be a Better Mom by Doing Less.
How to create a solid debt payoff plan
- Stick to your one income budget
- Come up with an additional $200 (or more) per month
- Apply all additional money toward debt
Check out the exact strategy of the Debt Snowball and take advantage of my FREE printout.
Where to find an additional $200 per month
If you have no clue where you could possibly find additional money in your budget, I highly recommend taking advantage of the Trim app. Trim looks at your spending habits and instantly finds ways where you could be saving money. As soon as I plugged in my information, Trim found me a discount for my monthly internet bill!
When you can’t find a way to reduce your spending or find extra money in your budget, then it might be time to look into additional ways to make money!
Ideas for earning extra debt payoff money
There are a ton of options to earn extra cash depending on how much time you have and how much money you need. As far as the flexibility to work from home and choosing your own hours, these are my top recommendations:
- Start a Blog – Starting a blog takes time and effort but can be a great creative outlet and an amazing income source. Within a year, I was making over twice what I made working part-time outside the home. See my 7 most FAQ about making money blogging.
- Sell on Amazon – Selling on Amazon is a great option for stay at home parents. One wife was able to help her husband quit his job when she started making over $100,000 per year! Get their free guide to get started!
- Rover – Get paid to dog sit or walk dogs through Rover! Read my Rover FAQs.
- Stella & Dot – Stella & Dot is a women’s clothing and accessory company that’s the main drive is to encourage female entrepreneurs to succeed. You can sell easily from home or through hosting parties.
- Uber – Uber has great flexibility when it comes to hours and you can get paid up to 3 times per day.
- UberEATS – Deliver food instead of people! See if UberEATS is available in your area.
- CrateJoy Subscription Boxes – Did you know you can start your own subscription box? Read all about how to start!
- Teach English from home – If you have a bachelor’s degree, you could be making great money teaching English online! Check out these top resources:
Stick to the plan
I have learned first hand just how tempting it can be to start spending when you are bringing in a second income (no matter how small.) Don’t give in to this temptation! Stay focused on your goals and keeping living on one income in order to get your debt paid off as fast as possible.
Imagine how freeing it will feel the day that you can claim total financial freedom. Stay focused on that feeling. You’ve got this!