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 lived on a meager income for a long time, and 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.