I have been very blessed to be a stay at home mom. Truthfully, it’s by the Grace of God that our family has been able to live on one income. Early in our marriage, my husband and I agreed that it was in our family’s best interest that if we were blessed with children, I would stay home and raise them. And so I have worked hard to learn how to budget and live frugally on one income.
Believe me, this wasn’t easy at first. But once I learned to change habits, it became much easier.
I know that there are many mother’s out there who have to work. I loved my career before I became a mama and there are times where I miss it. But this is what is best for our family.
And its worth our sacrifices.
Because I couldn’t imagine having to miss out on so much of their lives.
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How to Budget and Live Frugally on One Income
Another driving force behind learning how to budget and live frugally: I don’t want to ever be put into a position where we can’t afford the things our children truly need.
When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money and there were a lot of sacrifices made, There was even a point in my youth where my dad was laid off and times got really tough. My mother stayed home to raise us because it was important to my parents.
I learned many lessons in frugality during my childhood and although I didn’t understand all of the lessons at the time, it has set a great foundation for budgeting in my adulthood.
It has taught me to hate debt.
It has made me appreciate the things that truly matter in life.
And it has helped me to understand that God will always provide. This is why I’m a firm advocate for generous tithing at church. If we are generous with God, He will always take care of us. And so, its become a part of our budget planning.
How we make a budget work
First off, we make many sacrifices and live within our means. This works for us because we prefer a quiet, simple life. And part of this is to live as sort of minimalists.
All of this works because it creates a shift in mindset.
Once we were able to embrace the simple life, we realized how much money we were wasting. Changing our money spending habits has made it easier for our family to grow in size while still remaining on one income.
When we budget, we start off with what we are to tithe to our church. Then we factor in our monthly expenses and then we budget our food. The rest goes towards savings. And this is important, because we’ve seen our share of rainy days, and if we don’t have a savings, we could potentially end up in some hot water.
We don’t spend our money on things of little value or meaning. It comes down to wants versus true needs. And when we need to make purchases, we try to make the best decisions with our spending.
Sometimes this means paying a little more for a quality item instead of having to continuously purchase the same lower quality item over and over. Because in the end, it is actually saving us money to go with the more expensive (quality) item.
Planning our purchases in this way allows us to have everything we need to provide a great life for our children.
Our Family of 5 Lives on $100 a Week for Groceries
How do we make this work with our budget? First off, this doesn’t factor in what we grow of our own. Over the past few years, I have been working really hard towards self sufficiency. And part of this is learning how to grow our own food.
Since I have been either pregnant or raising very small children during most of the years on our homestead, my gardening efforts have struggled a little…to say the least.
But over time, I am working on increasing our garden plots as time and budget allow. As it grows, so will the food preservation which will also help save money.
We eat a whole foods diet, but don’t eat a ton of organic foods, yet. And this is mostly because of the lack of availability. You see, we live very rural, the closest town is at least 20 miles and a slightly bigger town is close to 40 minutes away. When I have the opportunity to drive to the big ole city, it’s at least 2 1/2 hours away.
The lack of organic and healthy foods near us is a huge factor for trying to grow and raise as much of our own food as we can. But it all takes time.
Some Ways to Budget and Live Frugally
When it comes to budgeting, learning how to live a frugal and simple life, a few small steps at a time can make a big impact to saving money.
And this income isn’t anything extravagant. My husband is a cattle rancher. While it is very noble work, agriculture just does not make a whole lot of money.
Here’s a few things we do to make this life work on one income:
#1 I cook from scratch and don’t buy processed foods. That means I use a lot of dried beans and bake our bread, and make things like pasta from scratch.
#2 We avoid eating out unless making a big journey, which isn’t very often. And even then, I pack up a bunch of healthy snacks and we try to avoid fast food. Plus, homemade food just tastes better!
#3 I stock up our pantry with what’s on sale when I grocery shop and plan our meals from what’s in the pantry. And I don’t run to the store if I’m missing an ingredient. I plan around what we have available in the pantry.
#4 We eat seasonal foods, leftovers, and avoid waste.
#5 A few times a week, I will bulk cook some of our meals. Half will go in the freezer for times when life is busy. This limits the need for picking up fast food and also saves me time.
#6 We don’t eat meat with every single meal and when we do, meat is not the main star of the meal.
#7 Whole chickens are also a huge money saver. I can usually get 2-3 meals out of one whole 7-8 lb chicken. Plus, bone broth!
#8 I make easy meals like freezer burritos, breakfast burritos, extra meatballs, etc in bulk and store them in the freezer for busy days.
#9 During the winter, we close up rooms that we aren’t using during the day and heat the house with our wood stove. This cuts down on energy and heating expenses.
These are just a few ways we stick to our budget.
We have recently changed our diet to healthy, all organic foods because of various health issues for our family. Because of this, we have increased our food budget and cut some other expenses to make up for it. This is an important change that we needed to make.
Check out my friend Victoria’s awesome post and information on how their family eats a healthy organic diet on a budget of under $200! Learn more here: Money Saving Worksheets