Modern society seems to ignore Betty Homemaker, and push for dual income families. More, new, upgrade, and latest model have bombarded me from the moment I stepped into Sea Tac Airport from Japan. The thing is, all of the advertisements don’t affect me.
I used to not have clothing options, grocery options, or even a decent radio (sorry AFN but yea…). Now I can shop at the Target or go shoe shopping. A midnight run to Walmart and Sirius radio are now readily available.
The difference is that living on one income with a budget totally changed my perspective of wants vs. needs. I am able to pass on shiny and fancy, or cute and stylish. If I don’t need it and it isn’t on the budget, I keep moving. If I want it then I save my allowance!
Living on one income is easy when…
- You don’t have constant advertisements bombarding you to buy things: When you watch AFN, a Sonic commercial might pop up at midnight, and suddenly your mouth is watering for a cheesy bacon burger. The same goes for all of the Macy’s One Day sale (that seem to happen all the time) or even the new car models.There are so many things that I didn’t know existed, since I have lived without TV or radio for the majority of the past 3 years. Living on one income is all about living within your means. Sometimes, that means used or live without it. Sometimes you have to avoid places if you don’t have willpower. Try a media detox for a week (no TV or radio, magazines, or internet shopping) and see how easy it is to not spend money.
- You don’t have a lot of debt: If you are like most Americans, you spend more when you make more and if there is something you really like, but it is a little more than you can afford, you put it on credit. It is hard to live on one income and have to pay hundreds a month to credit cards. Work on paying off your debts and eventually, you will be able to have extra spending money at the end of the month!
- When you are adept at budgeting: Knowing how much money you have and where you spend it is extremely important. If you need help coming up with a budget, you need to check how you spend. The first time I looked at my bank statement and sorted all my purchases into categories, I was shocked at how much we spent eating out and at the BX. Knowing where you money goes is important, and then listing where you need it to go is even more important. Visit your PSC and see when they offer budgeting classes if you need additional help, or take a financial class! I’m a huge advocate for Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. The more you know the better and even visiting the library for audiobooks or books about finances will help too!
- Someone in the house starts to cook: You will save so much money, when you eat more at home. It can be a pain to cook, and you might not feel like it some nights, but cutting the eating out bill in half will leave you with extra money at the end of the month. The best way to switch to the cooking lifestyle is to menu plan. Did you know that there are websites that come up with a menu plan and shopping list for you? Or sit down with your spouse and come up with a plan of what you will eat that week. Then create a shopping list with every ingredient. So many meals can be ruined with the wrong or lack of ingredients. Make sure you have everything you need to cook for the full week. Not running to the store every other day helps you save gas too!
Living on one income is easy when you have all of your bills paid and change to spare! It may take a few months to adjust spending, but once you have your budget down, it is super easy!
(editor’s note: Kristina and her family have recently moved back to the States after a tour in Okinawa, Japan)