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If you’ve just made the decision to quit your job so you can stay home with your kids and follow your passions, congratulations!! Seeing people make the jump is the thing that gets me more excited than anything! Now that you’ve made up your mind, you’re probably wondering how exactly to make it happen. When you’re used to living on two incomes, it can be hard and scary to make the switch to living on one income. But I firmly believe that it can be done. Here are nine expenses you can cut to make living on one income a possibility:
1. Going Out/Entertainment
My husband and I love going to the movies, and we used to do it all the time. Now that we moved back home and our closest theater is 30 minutes away (an hour for the good ones,) we hardly ever go anymore. I guess that’s why I was so surprised the last time we went out and two tickets cost over $30!!
That hurt, but we decided to go ahead and keep splurging since we were already out. That meant another $20 for popcorn, drinks, and candy. If you’re following along, that means one trip to the movies cost us over $50!
If you go out once a week and spend about the same amount, that’s $200 a month going towards entertainment. Find a cheaper alternative: at home movie rentals, board game nights, and going over to a friend’s house are three of our favorites, and they are all free or very cheap.
2. Eating Out
Ah, the beauty of going out to eat. I love restaurants and the thought of cutting back on dining out hurts! But this is a huge budget-buster that has to be addressed. Even getting fast food for two people easily costs $16-$20, and stepping it up to a sit-down restaurant can easily run in the $40+ range. Going out to eat once or twice a week can easily add another couple hundred in expenses every single month.
This one is a bit tougher to cut down on because it can be such a habit we’ve gotten ourselves into. And breaking habits is never easy. So think about what you love about going out to eat. Is it the taste of the food? The ease of not having to cook and clean up after? Then create some simple solutions to tackle those obstacles while cooking from home. If you hate cooking and cleaning up after, find some easy crockpot recipes and use the disposable crockpot liners you can just throw away when you’re done. By thinking outside the box, you can replace dining out with cooking at home, and save the restaurant trips for special times!
By now a lot of us have cut cable, but their are still plenty of families out there who love their cable network. And I don’t blame them! While my husband and I cut cable many years ago, I always liked having it and being able to simply turn the TV on and have something playing without having to think about what show to put on.
There are a few solutions here. The first thing I would try is to use an antenna. We bought a cheap antenna when we lived closer to the city and we easily picked up around ten channels that were actually pretty good! We were even able to watch FOX and NBC for free just with the antenna.
Sadly, when we moved to the country we could not pick up a single channel on that antenna. Now we just use Netflix or Hulu when we want to watch a show, but I still miss the ability to turn on the TV and watch something live. For this, I’m going to try out HuluLive or a similar program. I’ll update the post once I’ve seen how that goes!
4. Cell Phones
Cell phones have become a way of life now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But if you’re serious about saving money, there are some ways you can lower your cell phone bill.
The most extreme would be to get rid of your smart phone and go back to a “dumb phone.” You can still make calls and text off those things, you just won’t be able to browse the web and use apps. Before you totally write off this idea, consider the need for a smart phone once you become a stay-at-home mom (or general human.) Do you have a laptop or tablet you can use for internet and entertainment? Just something to think about!
If you want to keep your smart phone, that’s cool. There are tons of networks out there and they’ve really come a long way. You don’t have to stick with the big companies like Verizon or AT&T to get good service anymore! I’ve heard great things about Republic Wireless (service as low as $15 a month!) Cricket, TMobile, and Smart Talk. Take some time to compare coverage in your area and you could easily save $100 a month or more on your cell phone bill.
If you have a car payment, chances are that’s your biggest bill each month besides your rent/mortgage. I know it is for my family! When my husband and I were both on the last leg of our cars and commuting almost an hour each way to work every day, we both ended up getting new-to-us vehicles. So we have not one, but two car payments to make each month. Now that we’re expecting baby number one, we’re going to sell at least one of our vehicles so we can save some drastic money each month — I’m talking like $500.
If you’ve got a huge vehicle payment weighing you down, you need to trade it in for something less expensive and easier to manage. I know it’s not always easy to buy a car in cash, so even trading yours in for a car with a smaller payment each month will make a huge difference. Don’t get attached to your vehicle no matter how pretty it is! This is one area you can save huge in each month.
Another huge expense each month is your housing. In fact, this is probably your biggest expense each month. So why not try to cut this one down?
That’s not always easy, especially if you recently purchased a home and can’t get out from under it right away. Our first home we purchased we actually sold after only living in it for two years total though, so it can be done. Talk to a realtor and see what the housing market looks like right now and if it would be possible to sell your home and break even. That’s what happened for us so my hope is it can happen for you too!
If you’re not in a mortgage or long-term lease, this expense will be even easier for you to cut. See what options are out there to rent or buy (if you’re in the position to buy right now.) Don’t buy the maximum your lender says you’re approved for — it’s probably way too much. We recently bought a “starter home” that we absolutely love, and our mortgage payment is lower than rent would have been for anything else! We are saving hundreds of dollars a month on this one and it’s great.
We could all stand to save a little money on groceries, am I right? Even with it just being my husband and I to feed, I still feel like there are some weeks we spend way too much on groceries.
I’ve noticed on the weeks we’re intentional with our grocery shopping, we can easily save at least $25 or more than what we usually spend. That’s an easy way to shave another $100 off monthly expenses. We do this by planning meals ahead of time, shopping with a list, and putting back some things we picked up on a whim. I’ve noticed a lot of the things we buy are in the $5 range, so they don’t seem like much while we are shopping, but they really add up at checkout.
We also like to buy “supplies” we can make multiple meals out of, like big packs of chicken breast, boxes of pasta, rice, and dried beans I can throw in the crockpot and snack on all week long. We don’t always have the most exciting meals, but they are easy and get the job done!
You can automatically save a bunch of money on work clothes by leaving your job, but you can also save on other shopping too. I love good-quality resale shops for getting name brand clothes at a fraction of the retail price!
Maybe you’re lucky like me and you kind of hate shopping LOL. But if not, this is just one of those expenses that will take some time and self-discipline to cut down on. Find lesser expensive stores to shop at, reward yourself when you make it a week without shopping, etc. You can do this!
This one is kind of all encompassing, but cutting down on conveniences can save you a ton. This is everything from getting coffee at the coffee shop (make it at home) to getting your nails done (again, do them at home) and everything in between.
It’s also another way to save on food. Instead of buying frozen meals or getting takeout, make them yourself from scratch. Yes it will take longer and cost you more effort, but you’ll save a bunch of money simply by doing things yourself that you used to pay for!
The good news is, cutting back or cutting out these expenses won’t make your life any worse! In fact, you might be even more happy in your day-to-day life without all the excess weighing you down.
Start with these top nine ways to save money.
But don’t stop there! Pay attention as you go throughout your days and months and see your patterns of spending money. Lowering expenses is a hugely important step to quitting your job and staying at home. Make it your new part-time job to find ways to save money each month!
It can be important to bring home extra money each month too, but anyone can start cutting their expenses from day one, so start here. You got this!