My last day of teaching was two weeks before I delivered Hadley (November 2013), and we’ve been a one-income family ever since. In some ways the transition was much easier than expected, and in other ways we struggled with our new limitations.
6 Things We Did When We Transitioned from Two Incomes to One
I know that being a stay-at-home parent isn’t for everyone, but if the idea of transitioning to becoming a one-income family is something you’ve been dabbling with, I wrote this post with you in mind. 🙂 I hope you find our outlook and actions relatable and realistic.
Some families prepare to transition to one income for years, but not us! Nope! Unfortunately we weren’t that smart. 😉 We didn’t make the firm decision for me to resign from teaching until I was about seven months pregnant, so we only had a couple of months to prepare. We crunched some numbers and knew that we could pay our bills on Jamie’s salary, so the only preparations we made before loosing my salary was to save as much as we could in the few months we had left.
We wondered if living on one income would be a harder lifestyle to adjust to than expected, so we tried to create a safety net that we could fall back on for the months that we spent more than we could afford. Thank goodness, because there were several months we needed it.
Simplified Our Accounts
We each had a couple random credit cards open here and there at various places, so one of the first things we did was cancel extra accounts. We decided to stick with our one joint checking account and one credit card account that we share (and pay off every single month). Keeping track of just these two accounts made analyzing the incoming and outgoing money much simpler while also keeping our communication open and purchases transparent.
For some reason I vividly remember stressing out after sitting down one afternoon to pay the bills when Hadley was around three months old and realizing that we had spent more money than we had that month and had to dip into our savings big time to cover our purchases.
We went through our bank and credit card statements and realized that we hadn’t purchased anything big that month; almost all of our extra purchases were $5-$25 each spent here and there on random things that we absolutely could have lived without and not missed. I was guilty of getting two pedicures and several new tops (that I viewed as justified simply because they were inexpensive), and Jamie was guilty of a few too many trips to Smoothie King. We had also picked up take-out at least once a week each week that month when we surely had plenty of food at home.
We were used to this type of harmless lifestyle when I was working, but these were the types of things we quickly realized we had to give up if we wanted a parent at home.
We always knew we’d have to give up the big purchases after loosing my income, but it was so eye-opening to see that our money never really went to big purchases to begin with. It was the small purchases that were adding up and hurting us.
We never made a decision to cut out dining out; Hadley made it for us because as an infant she was very fussy and we didn’t enjoy eating out with her in tow. The only times we usually ate out for dinner was when we were invited to a social function a few times a month. After a year of this we were shocked to realize how much money we were saving by meal-planning and eating what we already had at home. Added bonus: We both found ourselves in much better shape.
Meal Planning & Budgeting
We don’t keep a strict grocery budget, but I do usually make a list each week of meals and try very hard to stick to purchasing exactly what’s on the list. We also started keeping track of how much we spent monthly on beer and wine. It’s so easy to run to the liquor store before a BBQ and swipe your card for $30 without thinking twice about it. We’ve tried to be a bit more mindful about these types of expenses and incorporating them into an overall monthly grocery budget.
Letting Go of Wants
This one was easy for Jamie but super hard for me. For years I was so used to purchasing whatever I saw and wanted, but now I have to really research and ask myself if I’m finding the best deal or if I can live without it a bit longer. I actually have a running list of “wants vs. needs” on my laptop for Hadley, Jamie, Sadie, and me that I refer to to keep track of clothing, home improvement ideas, etc. that we’ve talked about spending money on.
Having it all organized in one place has helped me prioritize where any extra money should go and what we can justify purchasing. Monitoring my spending on wants has also taught me a harsh lesson on how fleeting the satisfaction is of buying things you want versus the things you need.
The More You Make…
Maybe the idea of “The more you make, the more you spend” isn’t quite accurate for everyone, but it is so (so so so so) applicable for Jamie and me. We always have these big, financially smart ideas for what we’re going to do with extra money when we see it rolling around, but often we end up enjoying the flexibility more than we should and not being quite as careful with our purchases as we hoped. It’s been so eye-opening to see how easily we swipe our cards when given a bit of flexibility.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this!
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to two little girls (ages 5 and 2) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo