We are a single-income family. I have a degree in education and taught in public school for the first 2 years of our marriage, until our son was born and I went on maternity leave for a year. After that, we’ve been single-income. I have never regretted the decision to quit my job. It has always been my dream to one day be a stay-at-home wife and mommy and to home-school our children. So in the first two years of our marriage, while I worked full-time in a professional career, my husband and I both had the goal that I would stay home when our first child would be born.
With that in mind, we prepared for being a single-income family by living as much as we could like a single-income family while we were dual-income. That means that we tried to live off of my husband’s income. My income went into paying off our school debt, and when that was paid off, it went into savings. That way, when the time would come to make the big financial change, it wouldn’t seem as much of a shock to go from two incomes to one.
Now that I have the “career of my dreams”, here are some tips that I’ve found helpful to save money in little ways here and there:
Buy used The Duggar family, from TLC’s show, 19 Kids and Counting have a financial motto that says “buy used, save the difference”. We save a lot of money buying things used. Most of our furniture is used, as well as most of our clothes (except for shoes which I usually buy new, and here is a blog post on that). My husband is in the music industry and he found an amazing deal for our used piano. Most of Mr. Monkey’s toys and books have been gifts or bought used as well.
Rental Income When we looked to buy our first home, my husband specifically wanted to find a house that has a separate basement suite included, with a separate entrance. This way, we have an extra rental income that helps pay off our mortgage. It’s nice having a rental income because it’s one of those incomes where you don’t really have to “work” for it. Financially, it is really helpful. The downside is that it’s sometimes hard to find good tenants that we trust enough to have in our basement, and also this way we have less space as we can’t use most of our basement for storage or extra room.
Homemade laundry soap. There are lots of tutorials online to make your own laundry soap. I’ve made a few different kinds, and haven’t had to buy laundry detergent in a long time. The ingredients for most laundry soap recipes are usually: borax, washing soda and some kind of soap (Fels Naptha, or a castille soap or even Blue Dawn). Currently, I’ve been using the Duggars’ recipe for laundry soap made from a bar of Fel Naptha soap. This soap is only sold in the States. When I was visiting my parents in southern Ontario, I went for a fun road trip with my mom to Michigan. I got a few bars of that soap there, they are only $1 each, and compbined with borax and washing soda, I think my batch of laundry soap cost around $3 or less. I started using it in September and am about halfway through it. Since I’ve been making my own laundry soap I feel like I just can’t buy the stuff from the store anymore. It’s so much cheaper to make your own. And it works just fine.
Haircuts at home. My dear husband has wonderful curly hair. I once suggested to him that he should let me try to cut it. And he did! (Even with me having no experience in this department…he must really trust me…). We liked the results, so since then I’ve been cutting his hair. We also cut our son’s hair. This saves us some money from going to the barber regularly. I rarely get my haircut, but when I do I like to get layers so I go get it done professionally. I’m wondering if maybe there are tutorials online on how to cut layers and then my husband could try it.
Budgeting I’m not very good at numbers and things like that, so my husband comes up with our family budget and reviews it with me and we both decide if it sounds reasonable. In our budget, we have an amount designated for groceries, fuel, household things, utilities, and other necessary categories. We also each have an amount of money every month that we can spend on whatever we personally like. I found this to be very helpful. Before we started this, I always wasn’t sure if I should buy something that I wanted and sometimes wondered if I spent too much. With our personal spending budget, I now know how much I can spend and I can enjoy it. This also helps me not to feel “financially tight” because we can still buy little extras. My husband usually spends his money on books. I usually spend it on crafty things. Mr. Monkey has his budget too, which I’m in control of, and it’s used for extra things for him like books, toys, or craft supplies.
Eating at home This comes with being a stay-at-home mom. I see it as part of my “job” to make nutritious and delicious meals for our family that we enjoy. When we were both working full-time, we ate out more often because we would be so tired and rushed getting home from work. Now we rarely eat out. It saves us money and it’s also healthier.
Buying in bulk One of my new favourite stores is Costco. Although you have to pay for a yearly membership, I find that prices there are a lot cheaper than the regular grocery store because you buy in much bigger packages.
Entertainment We don’t have cable. Actually we don’t even have a TV. Or Netflix. Sometimes we buy good-quality appropriate movies. Our date nights are usually my husband and I at home curled up on our couch with a hot drink and talking our hearts out to each other. Just like when we were betrothed.
Free Fun Since I’m home all day with Mr. Monkey, sometimes we can get into a bit of a rut. Mr. Monkey doesn’t have any siblings he can play with – yet. So instead of spending money on expensive toys (that he may or may not play with), or taking him to programs that you have to pay for, I’ve found some free alternatives. Of course, we spend most of our time at home, and I find that Mr. Monkey is more content and entertained when I involve him and myself together. So sometimes I play with him with his toys. Or make crafts with him. Or I involve him in my chores. I’ve also been happy to discover that the community centre close to our home offers free play events for parents with little ones. Our favourite is the Monday morning jungle gym. It’s basically a gymnasium full of ride-on toys, push toys, tunnels and balls. Mr. Monkey has so much fun there, and it’s great for him to burn off his energy in the wintertime when we can’t always go outside to play. And then there’s the library. Our local library is a 10 minute walk away. Not only are there books but you can also ask for “story bags” that are themed bags of stories and toys or puzzles that go together in a theme.
Cloth diapers We’ve saved some money by using cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.
Cloth tissues Instead of paper tissues. Also relying more on towels and dishcloths instead of paper-towels.
So, those are some ways where we try to save money and be good stewards of our resources. There are areas where we can’t be too frugal. Food for example is one of those areas for our family. We really try to eat healthy. Processed packaged food is generally cheaper than whole food, but that is an area where we don’t want to compromise, so we choose healthier food even though it’s more expensive.
What are some ways that you save money?