I’ve gotten pretty good at learning to live on one income. I’ve been doing it for years now and although I don’t have everything together all the time, I’ve managed to work through quite a few situations and come out the other side. I’ve worked my way though college, moved from living with a roommate to living on my own, moved across the country, and purchased my first home. All on one income!
There are some tips I’ve learned to do along the way from watching others or learning from my own mistakes and I want to share them with you, because it’s important that when we learn we share that knowledge to help others!
WRITE DOWN THE THINGS IN YOUR LIFE THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY
Let’s start at the beginning and the “WHY”. Write down moments and experiences that are relaxing or bring you joy. Knowing this will help you focus on what matters to you. If you know what in your life brings you greater happiness then you can keep better track of times when you're spending money on things that you know don't enhance your life in any way.
For example, in my life what makes me happy is when I experience things. When I go to a museum, or a play, or a farmers market. I realized, in my life, even when I'm exhausted from work, if I go out of my house and take myself somewhere it brings me energy. When I see my close friends and family, it brings joy and energy. I say that to say this, I realized when I'm spending 60-70 a month on cable that I'm not watching it isn't bringing me joy and I'm waisting my money. I could instead either save that money or spending 30 of it at the farmers market and save the other 30. And if I spend the 30 on local produce I'm being environmentally responsible, it makes me happy because I went to the farmers market, and now I can cook at home and save money that I would have spent going out to eat. That circle makes me happy just thinking about it!!
WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE I APPLIED FOR MANY SCHOLARSHIPS EVEN WHEN I FELT I WOULDN’T GET THEM
I love my parents and they have instilled a lot in me when it comes to saving. I firmly believe there are savers and there are spenders. I am a saver who likes to spend, but is very picky on what she spends money on. I worked/scholarshiped (is that a word, we'll go with yes) my way through college. I never had a 4.0 but there are still scholarships you can find. College is the one time in life where businesses are very willing to give you their money if you're wiling to look for it. What other time in life are people willing to give you thousands of dollars to learn? Very few!
Also, don't get the meal plan. It's a waist of your money and it's not healthy food. I know it's hard to cook, but you can do it. One way my friends and myself got around it, was to have a dinner together every Thursday. That way we always knew that at least one day a week we were going to have a home cooked meal. If you have to microwave meal it sometimes thats ok! Also, cereal is your friend!
FURTHER READING: 10 THINGS I WISH I KNEW IN COLLEGE
DON’T GET SUCKED INTO CHASING THE TAG
By that I mean this. The name that is on the tag of your clothing only means what you let it mean. In fact, it only means something because the collective group of people decided it means something. Go after quality over the logo. A quality piece of clothing right now may cost what two of your other popular brand shirts may but it will last you longer and you will be happier with it. Don't go crazy with the spending but realize that a tag doesn't always mean something is better or worse quality.
If shopping is something that makes you happy, then be smart about it. Don't shop in the front of the store, check the sales racks. Find the thrift stores in your area that have the good quality items and check there. I have found burberry at goodwill, just saying.
REPLACE AN ITEM OF CLOTHING OR BEAUTY PRODUCT, BUT DON’T ADD WHAT YOU DON’T NEED BECAUSE THE MARKETING IS GOOD ON THAT PRODUCT
Walk around with it. Impulse buying is what the stores want you to do, but not what your bank account wants you do to. When you pick things up, walk around with them. Think, where in my house is this pot holder going to go? Do I need another candle? If you, like me, love candles that is a hard one. The last time I moved I realized I had an entire box just of candles, why am I buying more! Clearly I have enough that I can burn for now. When I get down to two then I'll think about buying more.
Enjoy what you have. Something that Emily Gilmore said in the revival was that she was getting rid of items that didn't bring her joy. That's so smart!! If you walk around your apartment or house and think "ehh"…those things should go. Don't go throwing away your couch because you think it's ehh, but enjoy what you have. We don't need much to survive. you don't need another purse, you just don't. But you do need your house to be a safe and comfortable zone that brings you joy and energy. Love the pieces you have or trade them for ones you will love.
THINK FARTHER OUT WHEN PLANNING
I would love to go to Europe this summer, but I need to start planing that now. The closer you get to something the higher the prices tend to be. If you check online now for flights you can play with dates and find the dates that work for you and are the most cost effective. If you are strict on your dates and plan only weeks ahead, your prices are bound to be higher because you have fewer options.
USE THE REWARDS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!
Learn what give you incentives. I love coffee!! I have a starbucks rewards card because I know I will earn enough points with or without the card to reap the benefits. Don't get a rewards card and spend more just because of the card, but learn how the card can work for you. I also have a credit card that I earn points on. I'm going to pay bills and purchase gas each month anyway, why not earn rewards for doing so? I will say a caviot to that is, I know I won't overspend because I have a credit card. If you know yourself and know you will spend more just because you can, don't get the card!
I DO SEEMINLY STUPID SMALL THINGS THAT MAKE MONEY
I sell my used clothes to a consignment shop, or I use SWAGBUCKS to search for things on the internet instead of google. I use the Ibotta app when I’m shopping to make sure I’m getting the 75 cents back on bread. Those very small acts are one of the reasons I was able to buy my place. I know that sounds funny but it’s very very true. When I was looking to purchase I had to obviously put a down payment on my place. The down payment ended up being about a hundred dollars more than I was anticipating and I was pretty much out of all of my resources at that point.
And then I remembered that I had those accounts with money just sitting in them. I emptied those accounts and came up with the money to purchase my home all on my own! We’ll, I mean the bank purchased the place, but my loan was solely from the bank and not from any loved ones! That was reason enough for me to keep going with those small money saving or making apps.
Every time I come back from a trip I look around my apartment and think about all the things I don't need. You just spent however many days living out of your suitcase and now you have all of this stuff again. Its a wonderful way to realize how little you need. Honestly, even the idea of this post is a blessing. To have the opportunity to downside and not be always thinking about how you're going to pay for your next meal or find a new pair of shoes is a wonderful blessing. Donate to places that help others. It feels good, but also you really are helping people who need those plates much more than your cabinet does.
The only way to save money is to either make more or spend less. So if you love painting, see if you can maybe sell a few of your pieces on etsy to earn some extra fun money. There are ways, even in the most fugal of lives, to save or make more. Think outside of the norm and find those ways in your life.
You can do it!! What ways have you learned to save money or make more?