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How to Budget: Survive and Save on One Income

How to Budget: Survive and Save on One Income

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Work Changes Lead to Life Changes

Last year brought about many changes for us. Travis and I decided that he would leave his job that was negatively impacting our family life/work balance and start Winey Parent in an effort to generate an income from home. This is an exciting time in our lives, but also a stressful one because essentially, we are surviving off only my teacher’s income. And what you hear about teachers being underpaid is certainly true. Now, at first the plan was for Travis to generate income after a month or two, or head back into the workforce for a real paycheck. But something almost magical happened. We have actually been able to INCREASE our savings, while living on one paycheck!

Now, this doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be nice to have a solid second stream of income (ummm…feel free to click on our affiliate links to shop anytime!), but for now we are able to continue working to make Winey Parent a success. I also have to mention that we have a lot of support from family and wouldn’t be saving as much without their grocery and babysitting contributions. My mom will pick up things at BJs or Costco she knows we use, so that helps our budget immensely.

Budget and Savings

So, here is how we are saving money and cutting expenses to make Travis’ dream of writing from home and our dream of making Winey Parent a success a reality.
  • Overall Budget. Look at all of your expenses. List all of them, either on paper or an Excel spreadsheet, and then find ways to cut down on that budget. As you can tell, our method is quite simple. Now, if you head over to Pinterest, there are tons of posts that will tell you how to create a budget and offer free tools. So, feel free to use those.

  • Food Budget. Looking at our budget, FOOD was the biggest area of our budget where we could save. So, we’ve cut that food budget down considerably. We haven’t ordered take out in months and we meal plan our dinners. Lunches get packed, usually a PBJ for the kids with fruit and a snack. For me, I pack whatever low-point protein (for Weight Watchers) is in the fridge or leftovers. We also do all of our food shopping at Aldi, because I love how inexpensive things are there! I look at their weekly savings flyer and try to use ingredients that I already have on hand or are on sale. For more on how we cut our food budget, check out our food budget and meal planning posts.

  • Automated Savings. As a teacher, I do not receive a paycheck over the summer months, so it is imperative that my savings are built up enough to cover the essential bills like mortgage, gas and electric, internet, etc. In the past, I put money in savings whenever I had a little extra left over. Well, guess how often that was? That’s right, hardly ever! So, I decided that I would automatically transfer money each week. You can do every other week depending on when you get paid, but I am really EXCITED to save. Now, I am doing it weekly despite only getting paid bi-weekly.
And you know what I have discovered by automatically moving money over? I don’t miss it. Of course, it is still readily accessible if I have an unexpected bill pop up, but I try to not touch it. I also make sure that each year the family tax return goes straight to savings and doesn’t get touched. I would love to say that we do something fun with our tax return, but in all honesty, we just use it to make ends meet over the summer. BUT that means that if I don’t want to work a summer job, I don’t have to. That also saves us on childcare.

Other Forms of Income

Find other streams of income. This one is a bit trickier if you have no desire to pick up a second job. I gotta tell you, when I get home from work (teaching 4-year olds), I am absolutely spent. Most nights I go to bed around 8:30/9:00. I would be useless at a second job. But, in my free time I can do online surveys or earn money back on things that I have to buy anyway.
  • Swagbucks. I can earn points towards gift cards for things we will actually use (hello Amazon!). Whenever I have a few moments, I head over to Swagbucks and do a survey or two. Not the most amazing and fun thing ever, but easy enough to do a few minutes a day while unwinding from work. Some people are able to bring in a steady stream of income from this, but I am not that dedicated. Any little bit I can bring in in my spare time is good enough for me right now. Use my referral code and get 300 SB (swagbucks points) just for signing up.

  • Getupside App. I signed up for this app for our gas expenses. You need gas to get back and forth from work, the grocery store, free or cheap outings that we take with the kids, so why not make money back on that gas. Here is a referral link if you want to give it a try. All you have to do is download the app, use my code, and you will save $0.15 on your first fill up. I have only used it twice, and so far, we have $6 for getting gas that we would have already gotten! Use this link or enter my promo code 84592 to get an extra 15¢/gal cash back on gas on your first fill-up.

  • Ebates. You are probably going to do some online shopping at some point, so you might as well earn some cash back while doing it. Use my code and get $10 just for signing up!

  • Honey App. And while you are shopping online, install this app to find coupon codes and promotions to save you more money. You can shop through your Swagbucks account to earn more points towards those gift cards! None of these apps cost you a thing, but they will provide some rewards.

  • Babysit or employ another skill you have. I know I said I don’t want a second job, but if I am not working at school, think snow days and summer break, I can easily watch my friend’s kids for a little extra cash. Teaching is one of those jobs that allows me to be home when my kids are home. I know I am lucky in that respect and that most other parents have to scramble on snow days or sign up their kids for summer camp. I’m already watching my own kids, what’s a few more?!

Spending Less

I’m not saying it’s easy to spend less, but even trying to figure out how can be productive. During this budgeting challenge, it’s so much more satisfying to find ways to save money.

  • No-Spend Challenge. Okay, so I haven’t officially done this one yet, but I want to do this! We are really careful with what we spend our money on already, so in some respects, we already have no-spend days. My next goal is a no-spend MONTH! Of course, we will still need to spend money on our necessities like mortgage, gas and electric, and food. But, the food spending will be limited to perishables like milk and fresh produce. The rest of the food we will consume will come from our pantry and freezer.The no-spend challenge means that we will ONLY buy what we absolutely need to survive for one month. No splurging on coffee out (you KNOW you shouldn’t be spending your money on those fancy coffees all the time, right?), not dining out, and dare I say it, no trips to the wine store!!! Honey better stock up on Franzia before we embark on the no-spend challenge! Just kidding, that would defeat the purpose. You DO want to make sure you have enough in your pantry and on your shelves that you won’t need to spend money on toilet paper or cleaning supplies, but DO NOT stock up on so much that you are over spending leading up to the no-spend challenge. The idea of the no-spend challenge is to get by with what you have and not buy until you are absolutely out of a necessity.
  • Negotiate those bills! We long ago cut the cable bill, but our internet bill just kept growing and growing. Internet is a necessity in our house because we are building this blogging business and since we have no cable, we stream shows through Amazon Prime and other available apps on our Fire TV. But, I do not need to spend as much as the cable company was trying to get out of me. I had tried calling several times to negotiate with our internet provider and was met with rude and combative agents. I was about to give up and sign up with a competitor, but my sister-in-law suggested calling and asking for the cancellation department. And you know what? I got a lower rate! So, I’m saving around $11 a month on our internet. Not huge, but every bit helps!

Then feeling empowered by my internet savings, I called our homeowners and auto insurance. Unfortunately, the only way to save on our homeowners (I already have a lot of discounts in place) was to increase our deductible, which I didn’t want to do. BUT, I did find us some savings on our car insurance. And then, the guy told me about a program they offer where they track your driving for 90 days and you automatically save 10% on your auto and after the 90 days your savings will either drop to 5% (if you are a wretched driver – we’re not) or increase to 30%. Sweet! Sign me up! So, with those 2 phone calls to the internet provider and insurance, we saved money and we’re able to increase our savings! It all took under an hour too.

Reduce, Reduce, Reduce

Reducing your footprint can definitely lead to spending less money.
  • Adjust your thermostat and hot water heater. This small difference, even one degree, can save you money. If you are cold, put on a sweater or get a blanket! Of course, don’t be a martyr, turn on the heat if necessary, but if you can tolerate it a little cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer, then do it!

  • Reduce the disposables. We have completely stopped buying paper napkins and I don’t miss them at all! The kids think we are fancy, like at a restaurant, and we are saving money. We also have drastically cut back on our paper towel usage. Use cloth dish rags and hand towels instead. We also never use paper plates or plastic cups. Before we moved, we had the world’s smallest dishwasher, that also wasn’t very good at cleaning the dishes, so we did use a lot of paper plates. Not having to budget for those is a small thing that can add up. Plus, it is better for the environment!

    If we host a party, we might use paper plates and napkins, depending on how many people are coming over. The rest of the time, we’re able to use the tableware that we already have. We’ve also discovered reusable bed pads for night-time training the kids. We were washing sheets soooo much before we found these pads. Now when those accidents happen, we take off the pee pad, replace it with another, and throw the used one in the washer. Best. Investment. Ever! Much less water is needed to wash the pad than all of the sheets.

  • Yard Sale. Get rid of the unwanted or unnecessary clutter in your home and make some money off it! We need to go through our basement and purge stuff again. Our last yard sale turned a nice profit! You can also sell items on your neighborhood yard sale site or Craigslist. Plus, it was nice to have the room to move again in the garage. We are ready to declutter again (shocker!), so we’ll have a yard sale again this spring.

Follow for More Money Saving Tips

For more money saving tips, follow us on Pinterest! I am constantly looking for new ways to save money and pinning ideas to share. Did I miss a great way to save? Share your savings tips and tricks with us in the comments!

How to Save Money on Food

If you're looking for ways to cut back on spending, look no further than your meal budget. There are plenty of ways to buckle down on your food budget. Check out how we were successful at cutting costs.

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