Yesterday I shared that this is the first time in a decade that I have been monetarily unemployed. However, my husband and I have intentionally lived off of one income (his) for the almost 5 years we have been married. When we started our marriage, he was making a very modest income & sometimes I wondered if we would be able to pay our bills. Over the years, God has blessed us financially to where we now live more comfortable, but he still makes a modest amount. We knew that our goal was for me to eventually stay at home with our child/ren, so we planned for that by only using my income to pay off debt, put in savings, and use for emergencies. To do this, we made a lot of “sacrifices.” This included:
– We rarely ate out (we still rarely eat out).
– I used hand-me-downs to decorate our home.
– We got creative in the kitchen, using healthy, but frugal ingredients.
– No shopping “just for fun.”
– When we needed to replace an item, I would first check places like Craigslist for used items & bargains.
– Lots of making due with what we had.
– Cheap/free date nights.
– Lots of saying “no” even when it was difficult.
Here is what (by God’s grace) we have been able to do in the past 5 years by living off of just one income:
1. Pay off over $50,000 in student loans. God was very kind to allow me to scholarship through college and never have loans, but my incredible husband went through a grueling fast-track program at a specialized University that did not give or accept scholarships. Thankfully, he was able to stay (rent free) with a very sweet couple during his 13 months of college, so he only had to take out loans for the actual program plus a minor amount for living expenses, but we still ended up $50k in debt due to the expense of the program. In the long run, we felt this was a worthwhile decision because he obtained his degree in 13 months and was able to start working full-time while our other friends (and myself) still had almost 3 years of college to complete.
2. Save up for a large down payment on our home & a conventional loan. We had a goal of getting a conventional mortgage loan rather than an FHA loan primarily because the interest rates are usually much lower on conventional loans. However, to receive a conventional loan one of the requirements is at least a 20% down payment.
3. Buy a car with cash. We knew we didn’t want a car payment. We drove an old “clunker” vehicle for quite some time as we saved up, hunted for a good deal, and then bought a lovely little used car worth over $10,000 (determined by Kelly Blue Book) for $6,500 from a local cash only lot. What a blessing!
4. Save for unexpected expenses & emergencies. Overall, we have been blessed to be a very healthy family. However, our little boy did arrive almost 7 weeks before expected and spent a few weeks in the NICU. Then, in the last several months he developed some eczema and other symptoms that sent us for allergy testing. Recently, our refrigerator stopped working & we had to buy a new one fast. The transmission on our vehicle also started to blow out, so that was another $2,500 we needed. It is a blessing to have some financial cushion in order to pay off these unforeseen bills.
Has it been difficult? You bet! Has it been worth it? For sure!
Now that we truly are a one income family, things aren’t changing drastically for us. We already know how to live on one income. The only differences is that our savings/emergency fund amount is increasing much more slowly. Many do not choose to live this way (and some families truly cannot due to the size of their income), but I am thankful that we had the opportunity and that we took it. I believe it is paying off (no pun intended) in the long haul. Thank you, Lord, for such a blessing!