Home frugal living/saving money Living on One Income (Or Wishing You Could)

Living on One Income (Or Wishing You Could)

by Kelly Crawford

I’ve received quite a few emails lately asking “how do we save money?” or “is it possible to live on one income?”.

We’ve been living on one income for a long time and it’s been very meager.  Though we are now virtually debt free (we do have a small loan with my parents we are paying off), it is still necessary for us to spend very carefully and be constantly looking for ways to save.

First, let me encourage those who are in a really tight place, that place where you don’t know how the power bill is going to be paid. We’ve been there several times, and we always made it through. The good news about finances is that things are always changing, things can get better very quickly and what seems hopeless today can be much brighter tomorrow.

Unusual advice

And then, I would encourage you to do something a lot of people may not think about when they are focused on an income that doesn’t seem like enough. First, clean out and organize your home. I heard this one time from a financial guru and it seemed silly, but there’s merit to the idea that clutter prevents us from thinking clearly and becoming motivated to “find” the money we need.

Then, in that cleaning out, consider selling some things on Ebay or Craigslist. If I’ve learned anything in our years of struggling, scrounging and learning how to live more frugally, it is the mysterious reality of small, consistent savings. We tend to want to find big chunks of money while disregarding the power of a penny saved. It works in making money and saving it; a little here and there will add up quickly.

Ebay inspiration

I’m not a regular seller on Ebay but I’ve done my part and it’s always great to know that, in a pinch, there is money to be made there. And since the world is the marketplace, economic hardship here doesn’t affect someone across the globe.

My most recent sell was this week. I was shopping at Aldi and noticed my FAVORITE truffles had dropped from $2.49 to $.49. I was giddy. And then I thought of selling them. And what do you know–I listed an auction for two boxes (took me about 5 minutes), and they sold for $10.50. (If you think that’s mean and unfair, remember that you pay that kind of mark-up every time you go to Wal-Mart.)

My husband spotted some Yellow Box flip flops at the thrift store and called to see if I could sell them. He paid $3 and I sold them for $22.

My VERY first Ebay sell was before we even owned a digital camera. I listed a Shakespeare book I had found at a yard sale for $.50 and it sold for $25.

With some attention, many people make a good living doing this kind of thing. Perhaps a short stint on Ebay could get you the extra money you need to get ahead.

If not Ebay, Amazon is a great place to sell and make a nice part-time income.


Obviously, there is much more involved in learning to live on one income, especially a small one. More than I can cover in one post. (Consider browsing through the “frugal living” category on the sidebar.) But another secret I’ve learned is how much frugality has to become a mindset before it seeps into a lifestyle. Try to view your circumstance as a challenge instead of deprivation. It then becomes easier to find ways to save, cut, and budget, as you understand that as part of your job.

Dave Ramsey’s simple yet profound advice to those in debt (which is usually what causes financial strain) is to “go crazy” and live radically so you can throw every dollar you have at your debt. He’s told stories of some so determined to get out of debt that they literally ate rice and beans most days for a long time. I suppose the degree of radical you’re willing to implement is proportionate to your readiness to be financially free. (Read our getting out of debt story on Dave Ramsey’s site.)

Here are a few more ideas, remembering that small savings over several areas add up:

  • Start a skin product business (like I did when we were at our rock bottom).
  • If you garden, consider planting extra and selling it.
  • Drink only water at home.
  • Unplug any seldom-used appliances.
  • Call your phone company to see if you’re paying the lowest possible rates.
  • Compare your auto/life/home insurance with other companies to make sure you have the lowest rates.
  • Combine errands to save gas.
  • If you have a dinner date, share an entree (don’t you always leave stuffed anyway?)
  • Advertise child care in your home.
  • If you’re a writer, consider starting a blog business (another business born out of our financial adversity).
  • Collect the toilet paper from your rolled yard and use it. (I did this once and now it’s too funny not to mention, LOL! You gotta be thinking all the time!)

I’ll try to post more on this topic as I understand what a hindrance it can be to those desiring to be home. It may come down to a need to relocate, if the desire is strong enough, and if living expenses are preventing the cut in income. But be assured, honoring the Lord, even when the numbers don’t add up on paper, will always evoke His blessing. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

There is so much more to add to this discussion! I’m sure other would be blessed by your input.

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Shannon Hazleton January 9, 2013 - 11:23 pm

I think ‘clean out and organize your home’ is the best advice! In fact, that’s where we are right now, and I know the clutter and ‘stuff’ that has built up around here is making my thinking so dusty I can’t even organize my thoughts, much less focus on revamping and tweaking the budget. Enjoying your blog!

Charity January 10, 2013 - 7:33 am

I love when you write on this subject. It is always so encouraging and gets my mind going 😉 Money has been on the tight side for us our entire marriage, yet we’ve never had to adjust to one income since I haven’t worked outside the home since we married 8years ago. It seems at the tightest point there are always things I can do to save a little more to help stretch my husband’s paycheck. And I suppose I’m weird, but I enjoy the challenge. There are things I’ve done off and on throughout our marriage at those super tight times and when my husband lost his job and was unemployed for over 18months, but then when things loosen up a bit I get l lazy about it. Over the last year I committed myself to doing those things always to help the most I could, and although it may be a bit more work for some things I have truly enjoyed it! So here’s my list, as a stay at home mommy of 4littles, soon to be 5, of things that I kinda only thought I should bother with when things were the tightest…
1. Cloth diaper – I promise it isn’t as bad as it sounds, and believe it or not I couldn’t imagine not doing it now. I love it!
2. Handmade gifts – So fun, and the options are endless!
3. Hanging laundry out to dry – Yep! Even in the winter months. I had to get a bit creative when the weather cooled down and wasn’t conducive to outdoor line drying. I use the shower rod, towels rod, and curtain rods for most things. Small items I hang around the edges of clothes baskets. There are racks and and such you can purchase, but I didn’t want to spend money to try to save money, so I just made do, and it has worked nicely.
4. Swagbucks – I use swagbucks for my search engine other than the more popular ones. (If you aren’t familiar with it, check it out.) Then I redeem Amazon.com gift cards. I have purchased all my prenatal vitamins and pregnancy teas this way, a few Christmas gifts, a birthday gift for our daughter’s upcoming birthday (something she’s been asking for that I couldn’t make myself), and now I’m saving my gift cards to purchase some homebirth supplies. And I always go through Kelly’s link on the sidebar 🙂
5. Beans – Everyone in my family likes them and we always ate them pretty regularly, but I’ve made it a point to use to use them much more. A simple online search will yield you lots of new recipe ideas for them.
6. Picnics – Instead of stopping to pick up a meal when we’re running errands (we do most running around as a family since we have one car) we have been packing the picnic basket and stopping for a picnic. We’ve loved this!
7. Reusable nursing pads – I had some I used while breastfeeding our third baby when my husband was unemployed but the quality of them wasn’t the best and so I only used them because I didn’t have another choice. I decided this pregnancy to make my own, so I will be using them after this baby is born. (I ran them under water and they are much, much more obsorbant those those cheap store-bought ones I had and SO much softer and more comfy. I really think they are going to work well.)
8. Vinegar and baking soda – You can clean practically everything with it! And it’s cool because it’s free from icky chemicals. Green as they say, right 😉
9. No napkins/paper towels – We just use old kitchen towels or a worn out bath towel split up for cleaning cloths and in the kitchen we use real napkins and kitchen towels. I would add no paper plates, but I am planning on using some after the baby is born. I wash ALOT of dishes and I think it will be a big help to me to have paper plates on hand after the birth. We have no family or anyone around that brings meals and such after a birth and I have very little help since my husband has to return to work shortly after, so I figure it’ll be worth a few dollars to have a few less dishes to wash. I may not give in, but I think I’ll be glad if I do. 😉

I’m sure there are other things to add, but aside from our other normals of one car, no cell phones (my husband has one provided by his job that wouldn’t be a problem to use if there was an emergency), no tv service, little to no eating out, drink water, cook from scratch, etc, the above mentioned things are things that have made a difference for us over the last year or so. Maybe it will help someone. Happy saving 🙂

Charity January 10, 2013 - 9:19 am

So I read your post and leave my comment and I’m feeling quite proud of myself. Kinda thinking to myself … Hey, I do all these things to stretch my husband’s hard earned paycheck, PLUS I take care of my four small children, PLUS I’m pregnant! Hey, I’m a pretty good wife! … Patting myself on the back the whole time.

Then, I open the fridge to make breakfast and there’s this awful smell. The ground beef we bought over the weekend? Umm, yeah, I should’ve cooked it up and I haven’t, and it doesn’t take but a second and I’m a puddle of tears and the package of bad meat is in the trash, and if I could reach my leg around this giant pregnant belly of mine I’d kick myself in the hind-end! That meat was meant for 2 meals for my family and instead of making up those meatballs like I had planned earlier this week I sat on the couch and said I’d do it later because my back was bothering me. Well, I suppose pride comes before a fall, right. Guess this was just what I needed, although I think a kick in the seat is still in order. *sigh*

Word Warrior January 10, 2013 - 10:20 am

Oh no!! I hate when that happens. To us frugal gals, that’s a huge loss. Don’t sweat it…you’ll make it up 😉 And you had great tips–sounds like our house.

6 arrows January 11, 2013 - 12:55 am

Good thoughts, Charity…although diapers and nursing pads are probably a thing of the past at our house 😉 I do miss those days, though.

This post of Kelly’s reminded me that I should follow up with you, Charity, on a reply you made to one of my comments last month. You graciously told me you would pray for our family, as my husband was facing possible job loss. I am happy to report that he did not lose his job after all! Praise the Lord, and thank you for praying!

My husband has been reassigned, and in a week or two will probably have all overtime hours cut. Finances will be more of a challenge then, but not an insurmountable problem. In fact, the cut in hours will definitely be a relief to him initially because, believe it or not, the last few weeks he has worked excessively long hours because of the company transition. In the 2-week pay period that ended last Friday, he got 151 1/2 hours!! Lots of wear and tear (especially since he had to go to 3rd shift for that after working 2nd shift for 14 years). But the bigger paychecks right now are a blessing; we will now have extra money to put away for the lean times.

The Lord ALWAYS provides! Thank you so much for praying, Charity…the prayers of the righteous availeth much.

Charity January 11, 2013 - 2:01 pm

You are so right. The Lord does always provide. Sometimes not quite in the way we may want or see best, like extra work to make the money needed rather than our trees growing the dollars bills, but HIS way is perfect and there are always blessings to be gleaned in walking with Him. I’ll continue to pray for your family. You comments here are always encouraging to me. *Hugs*

6 arrows January 11, 2013 - 2:35 pm

Thanks for the continued prayers, Charity. That means a lot to me. I will pray for your family, too — how exciting that your fifth blessing will be here soon! I had my fastest and easiest labor with my fifth — it was like he was riding the luge, he came down so fast!

Prayers for you for a safe delivery. Thanks for your comment. I always enjoy reading what you have to say, too. Hugs and blessings 🙂

Charity January 11, 2013 - 5:16 pm

Oh, that made me laugh! 🙂 I’ve been blessed with quick labors (6hrs, little under 1 1/2hrs, 3hrs, and 3hrs) and I’ve had all natural (no pain meds) births in hospital settings thus far. This will be our first homebirth, so I am a bit nervous/excited all at the same time. I’m just hoping that this baby isn’t bigger than my last (10lbs. 6oz. mini man) because I’ve consistently measured ahead and I tell you, I’m the size of a barge! My babies sizes have gotten progressively larger ( 7lbs. 10oz. , 7lbs. 14oz. , 8lbs. 13oz. , then 10lbs. 6oz. two girls, two boys in that order) so within minutes of my last delivery my husband commented that our next should be 2lbs larger going by the increments of weight increase. In a room full of women that probably wasn’t the best thing to say at the moment. 🙂

Linda January 11, 2013 - 6:02 pm

Charity, I’m on baby #7 and my midwife delivers a lot of large babies. She said that some research has found that moms who eliminate their dessert foods in the last month have babies who are, on average, 2 pounds less than when they eat whatever they want. No strict carb cutting, just the extras. I thought that was interesting, and not so hard to implement… saves some $$ too. 🙂

Charity January 11, 2013 - 7:14 pm

I’ve read similar things. I’m pretty careful with what I eat in general just because the better I eat, the better I feel…regardless of pregnancy. Sweets are a treat in our house, like at birthdays and holidays and are all homemade. We buy no packaged foods either, so I think I eliminate a good many of the extras already. I think it boils down to genetics though. My husband was 9lbs. 14 oz. at birth and is not a small fella. He comes from a family with lots of big boned tall men and on my side of the family the shortest man is 6ft 3in. I have a cousin that is nicknamed Runt because he is only 6ft. 5in and both his brothers are 6ft. 9in. 😉

6 arrows January 11, 2013 - 6:43 pm

Those are some fast labors, Charity! It’s probably a good thing you’re planning a home birth 😉 Someone I know who wasn’t planning one delivered her second child on her kitchen floor 37 minutes after her labor started!

BTW, if it’s any consolation, my fourth child was my biggest (9 lbs. 7 oz.), then the last two were smaller, even though I had been generally on an increasing trend where birth weights were concerned. 🙂

Charity January 11, 2013 - 7:21 pm

Oh my goodness! My fear has always been that I’d deliver alone. Isn’t so good to know that God is in control though? Baby’s size, place of birth, length of labor…all in His hands. 🙂

PS. Kelly, sorry. I haven’t been trying to take over your blog or anything. It is so wonderful to come here though, and be encouraged and admonished not only by your posts but by many of the commenters. I’ve always imagined that’s what it would feel like to have a church family.

6 arrows January 11, 2013 - 7:47 pm

To Kelly: What Charity said above at 7:21 pm in her PS 😉

Sorry to take this thread in a different direction…I started it with my comment about my 5th labor…can’t seem to ever stop talking about it! Thanks for providing a place for us women to converse, whether on-topic or not 🙂

Charity: I’ve enjoyed the conversation…have a great weekend!

Word Warrior January 11, 2013 - 7:53 pm

Big smiles to both of you…chat away!

Charity January 11, 2013 - 8:13 pm

Thanks Kelly. One of these days I’m going to meet you in person and just hug you! 🙂

6 arrows January 11, 2013 - 8:22 pm

Maybe we’ll all meet each other on the same day and we can do a group hug 🙂

Charity January 11, 2013 - 8:49 pm

Sounds good 🙂

Word Warrior January 11, 2013 - 3:14 pm

Thank you, Charity! And these are great tips.

Darcy January 10, 2013 - 9:27 am

I’m feeling really down right now about this topic and could really use some encouragement. We’ve been a one income family for 9 years and while things have been tight at some points, it’s never been as bad as it is right now.

We are now a two income family because my husband has taken a second job. I’ve been cleaning out the house and selling items for the past two months. We’ve cut pretty much everything we can as far as phone, insurance, etc. At the beginning of this month, we were still $35 short of our monthly budget (and that is cutting our food budget as lower than it should be) and then the tax increase hit and we will be another $56 short. We haven’t been on a date in three months because of money.

With homeschooling our 9 children and cooking everything from scratch and trying to sell things, I don’t have time to work my blog at all and even if I did, it doesn’t bring in any income.

Any other ideas? I’ll definitely be watching for some!

Laura January 10, 2013 - 12:14 pm

What about the childcare idea? If you watched just 1 child after school, until there parents got off work, and charged $25/week that would be almost double the money you need. Just ask that the parent also provide the after-school snacks their child will need (juice boxes, crackers, chips, etc..). All you would have to do is get them started on their homework and provide a place for them to play. If you take just 2-3 kids would even save money.

Darcy January 10, 2013 - 2:14 pm

I’ve thrown around the idea of childcare a few times, but it always gets ruled out. Especially when I found out that our school district won’t drop off children at a non-relative’s house unless it is a licensed daycare. I don’t want to go through the hassle and cost to be licensed for just $25 a week. Also, with 9 of my own children and another on the way, I don’t think adding more children would be beneficial in the stress category!

natasha January 10, 2013 - 10:23 am

I’m going to install a shower rod above my washer and dryer so I can hang dry clothes. My mom does this and her electric bill is always under 35$ ( pretty low since we live up north and energy prices are higher here).

I also invested in some blackout curtains, nice ones, that block out the sun’s heat. It helped us not run the air conditioner constantly. My husband works in a refinery where the temperature is always a lot higher inside the plant, so air conditioning is not something he likes to skimp on.

Kim M January 12, 2013 - 11:47 am

I love the shower rod idea, Natasha. I can’t hang laundry outside b/c that is where our dog is for now (in the fenced in area), so this is a great tip for me.

Rebekah January 10, 2013 - 10:32 am

We have always been a one income family. We have always been tight. Now with us going on 7 children I struggle with this a lot. When I was selling everything we could, making everything I could from scratch, not using paper goods ect….I got seriously burnt out. There isn’t just enough time in the day! I ended up not having enough time for the children. It is very hard for me to find the balance in all of this. I ended up giving bags of stuff away just to de-clutter. I am thinking of trying to sell some more stuff, but am wondering if it is really worth the time. But on the other hand we do need all the extra money we can get right now. Where is the balance?

Brandi January 10, 2013 - 10:41 am

I agree and struggle to find the balance.

Blessedalways January 10, 2013 - 10:37 am

Great post.

I do think that it’s difficult to compare your situation to others. Did you mention that you had been living in your parents home (until the tornado)? And your father provided a job to your husband?

Unfortunately, not everyone has that kind of parental support. You are very lucky though!

Word Warrior January 10, 2013 - 5:55 pm

No, I think you’re confused. We had been RENTING a home from my parents, paying $800 a month plus commission from the wedding business to cover land/insurance costs.

My husband was employed by my father (how is this different from being employed by anyone else?) at $17/hour. Now he is self-employed.

Blessedalways January 10, 2013 - 10:38 am

Sorry, I meant to say, “Didn’t you mention that. . .” The way I wrote it in the first post sound quite accusatory, and I didn’t meant that at all.

Decluttering, with kids | Owlhaven January 10, 2013 - 1:00 pm

[…] Decluttering can even help you get out of debt […]

laura January 10, 2013 - 1:27 pm

I have always stayed home and we have always made it on once income. We too, however, are at the line of income/outgo, and that is a hard place to be…When my hubby has lots of overtime, we do pretty well, but when it’s month after month of pretty much only base pay, it gets tiring. The thing I find the most difficult is homeschool supplies. We use a canned curriculum right now, because of having littles and no real time to put into planning…it’s a good curriculum, but often calls for items I don’t keep on hand…no biggy if it happens once, but if you have three activities in one week that all require $2-3 each…it adds up…or the weeks when things like the toilet seat breaks, five or six light bulbs blow out around the house, or I discover I have run out of laundry or dishsoap…it’s such a hard balance to do all the money saving things, teach/care for kiddos, be a good wife, earn money on the side and so on…
A little tip for all the wives who hang their laundry? Hang em outside by using neoprene gloves–it’s the stuff that wet-suits are made from and will keep your fingers from getting wet and cold…OR go to your local dollar store and buy a $3 pack of clothesline and 6 or 8 heavy wall hooks…in the most convenient place in your house, string up the clothesline with the hooks anchored into the wall studs. I have this set up in my laundry room and can fit 2 loads on it, as well as a drying rack for socks, underwear and the like…
Also, find a good recipe for Falafels! They are yummy little chic pea balls fried crisp. This summer, if we don’t sell our house, we may be using neighbor’s yards to expand our gardening capabilities, which would help the budget if we could grow enough quantity…
Another suggestion would be this: if you have a college nearby, posting an add looking for a college age student to board with you for a lower rate, if they will give some help to the household…I have thought of this, as we have all 4 kids in one room and an extra bedroom…even if it was like $100/month…still might help–just for a short time, even…so many things to think about! Also, what method do you all use for following the budget? I am still pen/paper/check writing method…I’ve revamped it a bit to hopefully use less time, but I know that was killing me for awhile!(needing 3-4 hours to sit down, pay bills, balance the checkbook etc). The part that is the hardest is not getting bitter when there is no end in sight…and you feel like your whole lives will be this round of skimping, pinching, and doing without…and for all the readers on here, another site I recently found is http://www.ourmothersdaughters.blogspot.com…lots of neat info from a lady whose kids are pretty well grown, and has had lots of experience trying lots of things!

Robin January 10, 2013 - 3:28 pm

Very good advice! We’ve also lived on one income for 22 years now with 9 children currently. It can be a constant battle, esp now that I have one in college.

Carolina January 10, 2013 - 3:56 pm

Kelly, you have forgotten one of the most important rules for not wasting money: do not let food rote in your refri or even freezer! 🙁
I hate it when it happens because that means I was not a good steward of our resources. That reminds me that I may have to do some archeology work in our freezer…

Katy January 10, 2013 - 3:59 pm

Very good advice. We have moved out of the city and into the country, but many of the things we do here we were able to do there. I hung my clothes out whenever possible. Rarely is it not possible. I hang things inside, above my washer (with door open), when it’s freezing cold (yes, I froze my clothes once in my 20’s when I tried it outside). The water drips right into the washer. If you do an extra spin the clothes are very dry compared to one spin.

We cloth diaper which saves a ton of money. And no, it’s not icky. =)

We eat at home. This saves more money than I ever could have imagined. When we used to have restaurants convenient we ate out a lot. I added that up once and it was scary how much money we wasted.

We do without. Yep, we don’t need the newest of everything, we don’t need a lot. We have a lot. We are blessed. We have everything we need and a few things we want, so waiting for other things is no biggie. We waited 2 years for a sofa. I don’t mean a new one. I mean we were sitting on the floor for 2 years. But, we paid cash and now own living room furniture with no debt. It’s basic, but it’s new (warranty) and ours.

We buy used a lot.

We never turn down hand-me-downs. My circle of friends all pass around clothing. It’s great. I just got 7 pairs of jeans from my pastor’s wife. They aren’t pretty, but they have no holes and are in great shape which means my sons have play clothes that I don’t care if they get icky. That’s huge out here. They get dirty just mentioning the word outside.

I am decluttering and am going to sell things that are extra for us. Why not? We don’t need it, let it work to help our family.

I never thought of buying cheap and selling at a marked up price. Very wise. I will check that out when I am out and about and those types of things pop up.

I know there are families that need two incomes. We live in a fallen world where things aren’t how they should be. I feel terribly for those families, having to make such hard decisions. But if more of us would prioritize our lives appropriately (people before things) and would see the importance of parents being with their kids, raising them full time, many, many more families could have the Mom in the home full time. It might take a while to work her back home, but it usually can be done.

laura January 10, 2013 - 4:45 pm

Too often, when I hear about families where the mom “can’t” stay home, in order to meet their financial obligations, it usually just because she doesn’t want to…she doesn’t want the inconvenience of one car, cloth diapers, being home day after day…I think more than anything else, being the homemaker exposes your heart…it exposes sinfulness, selfishness, materialism etc…and it’s easier to hide and hold onto the sin nature when you are busy busy busy, and always moving and doing…when you are faced with grunt work every day, precious babies in diapers that have you either in throes of love and cuddles or the despair of potty training agony, it really shows who you are working for and what your priorities are, and what is the source of your contentment. Often the expense of working a career or full-time job is so much that you barely make any money to take home! Staying home is hard, don’t get me wrong, but the headache of schedules, family time, church etc is just not worth it to me…And I was thinking the other day…if my kids were away at school all day, that would be about 8 hours of them NOT being hugged, kissed, or cuddled by ME every day, 5 days a week…for most of the year…I wonder if kids at school would simply benefit by being home and being LOVED at HOME… when I think how many times a day I hug and kiss my school aged children I cringe to think what they would miss away from home…

Charity January 10, 2013 - 7:07 pm

I’m in complete agreement with you! Did you know that K-12th grade students spend over 14,000 seat hours in school? And that’s only seat hours. Think of the extra curricular activities. Yikes. Freaks me out SO bad to think that the majority of American children are under the government’s influence for that grand amount of time. Scary.

Word Warrior January 10, 2013 - 5:57 pm

I’m reading your comments, slowly, but I have been hit today with the stomach virus and hope I can answer some of them in the next day or two.

Melissa Smith January 10, 2013 - 6:14 pm

I’m sorry to hear you’re sick, Kelly! Praying that you’ll be well soon–and that it doesn’t go through the family. :/

6 arrows January 10, 2013 - 6:22 pm

Praying for your and Baby’s protection, Kelly, and for your whole family. Take it easy, sister.
Love, Carol

Katy January 11, 2013 - 8:22 am

Oh no! It is really going around. Take care of yourself while you are sick.

Melissa Smith January 10, 2013 - 8:22 pm

Has anybody mentioned leftovers? One thing that helps to stretch our grocery budget is our weekly CORN Night–Clean Out the Refrigerator Night. This week’s CORN menu was 2 servings of spaghetti casserole, 4 hamburgers, 1 pancake, some chicken meat, some blackeye peas, a little rice, some salad, some shredded cheese and a little tomato soup. It was just enough to feed our family of 7 (CORN Night helpers serve their plates first!) without having to cook anything new. As our children have gotten older, we’ve started eating more at meals and then eating more leftovers for lunches, but there are almost always leftovers to be found on CORN Night. Sometimes, I have to cook a little something new to supplement. I buy Hebrew National weiners when they’re on sale and keep them in the freezer for just such a time. 🙂

Natalie January 10, 2013 - 10:14 pm

I can attest to the fact that God will look after you if you trust in Him! My husband and I have 5 children and have been living on one(small) income for almost 10 years. It never fails that when things seem really grim God steps in to take care of us. Sometimes it comes in the form of money(an unexpected gift or refund). I remember one time I was very stressed out how I was going to find the money for school uniforms when out of the blue my niece showed up at our door with a bag full of school shirts she had outgrown. You would be amazed how many times the hand-me-downs we receive are EXACTLY what we need. Some would say this is purely coincidence but I believe it is God taking care of our needs!

6 arrows January 11, 2013 - 12:59 am

Good post, Kelly, and very timely 😉

Laura Z January 11, 2013 - 8:29 am

We have a large family, with my husband self employed, budgets and planning can be very difficult. My #1 advice is Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all things be added unti you. Without the Lord’s direction on what you can do to cut costs, life can become all about frugality and saving money. How often do we, as believers, give our last two pennies because God told us to be generous. I’m not talking about a rule of tithing but living generously and being a blessing to others. How often do we brag about a good deal we got at a garage sale where we talked the person down on an item that was worth much more than they had tagged it. As we live for Christ and loving others, the Lord WILL bless us abundantly. That’s not prosperity gospel, just simple reap what you sow, Bible example.
Ideas that the Lord has given our family over the years. Cut down on shampoo . Apple cider vinegar and baking soda work fabulous. and much cheaper. Clean with ACV and baking soda. Get rid of fancy and toxic cleaners. They are expensive! Cut out processed food. Eating a whole food diet is much cheaper and better for your whole family. AND learn what you should spend more on. Cheaper is not always better, especially when it comes our family’s healtth.
Have a blessed adventurous day!

Rachel January 11, 2013 - 3:11 pm

My entire married life has been lived financially uncertain. My husband is self-employed (common theme on this thread:) and budgeting can be very difficult when you don’t know from month to month how much you are going to make. It caused many stressed days and late paid bills. We received some advice from a business planner at church recently. Prayerfully decide what monthly income is needed for your family to survive, decide to pay yourself from you business account that much each month. Then let God bring you the business needed to keep your business account in the black, to be able to do just that. I now know exactly how much will be in our personal account each month, much easier to budget, less stressful and amazing how smoother everything goes when you have a plan. On months that we make more than our budgeted amount, we leave it in the business account for the months when we make less. This may seem like common sense to most of you. Working for yourself can be feast or famine. This has given us a way to live in the middle without the major swings. I can also clearly see how God is providing when before I was always in a tense turmoil over everything. Even though we have made approx. the same amount of money for the past 5 years, this past year we have been able to afford so much more just by being more organized.

Word Warrior January 11, 2013 - 3:13 pm

This is a great strategy. Yes, it *seems* like common sense, but too often we just spend as long as it’s there then suddenly, “we’ve run out of money!”

Rachel January 11, 2013 - 3:21 pm

Oh, just recently we bought “new” living room furniture. We had had the same ugly couches since we moved into our house. We used couch covers that drove me crazy. They never do stay in place! Anyway we bought a gently used couch, oversized chair and ottoman off craigslist for $100 then spent another $100 to have them cleaned (hubby wasn’t crazy about lounging on someone else “stink”). People are always amazed when they hear we bought them off craigslist, they look store new. Deals can be found anywhere you just have to spend time looking. I checked craigslist daily for 6 months. But it was worth it!

Word Warrior January 11, 2013 - 4:01 pm

We just did this too–we only had one piece left from the storm–and I’m so happy with my “new” furniture!

Sue M. January 11, 2013 - 10:32 pm

WRT to cell phones…there are still some inexpensive places to get a basic phone with a limited # of minutes and no contract. But you won’t find them advertised by Verizon, Sprint, etc. One company is GreatCall (www.greatcall.com).

We are in the midst of clearing off our groaning bookshelves and seeing what Half-Price Books will take off our hands and leave our wallets more full than when we came in.

One thing that my husband laughs at me about is when I dump the remaining part of a bottle of hand lotion into another bottle.

And when I was growing up and money was short we used the comics from the newspaper for gift wrap. (This was back in the day where newspapers were strictly black & white in our area except for the comics.)

Word Warrior January 11, 2013 - 10:39 pm


Your lotion thing reminded me of an incident when I was a school teacher and at lunch my ketchup bottle was almost empty. So I turned it upside down to drain the last bit. My principal/boss looked at me and said he had never seen anyone do that?

What? I also scrape the last of my lipstick out with a bobby pin, or rinse the last of the ketchup bottle out with water and add to soups, I’ve cut the toothpaste tube…you get the point. Although I haven’t cut the toothpaste since the storm when we received about 80 tubes of it. True story.

Sue M. January 15, 2013 - 8:45 pm

Don’t know if this will gross you out about eating in casual dining restaurants, but our manager made us do this at closing time. We had to make each ketchup and mustard bottle full by dumping ketchup or mustard, respectively, into each bottle until it was full.

If I said any more, you might never want to eat in a casual dining restaurant again.

Rosann January 12, 2013 - 3:43 pm

I love this! You know when my husband was out of work I considered over and over again selling stuff on eBay but I was intimidated by it. It’s not a site I’ve ever spent much time hanging out at so I wasn’t sure I could figure it out. You’ve inspired me to look into it more. Thanks!

Word Warrior January 12, 2013 - 4:10 pm


Oh it’s a piece of cake–you can do it!

Gretchen January 13, 2013 - 9:16 am

Love this post! I was thinking of trying to sell stuff on ebay at some point. I didn’t know how hard it was but after reading this I think I may give it a shot at some point!

God's Sweet Provision, and Continuing the Count - Tall Pine Tales January 14, 2013 - 2:26 pm

[…] was reading over at Generation Cedar about living on one income, ways of making new income and ways of stretching what we have.  […]

Val April 24, 2015 - 11:31 am

Childcare has always been my fall-back the entire 20 years that I’ve been a mom. It got me through job losses, sicknesses, death of a spouse, etc. Childcare can teach you amazing lessons from the Lord, too. Patience and servanthood certainly do come to mind. And, as my now husband faces early onset dementia, childcare has become a business that supports our entire family comfortably. I’m not a “kid person,” so to speak. But, the Lord has helped me to learn to sow into these families unselfishly. And, the reward has been great. I highly recommend!


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