6 Practical Tips for Living Well on One Income

Three potted succulents on a table.


This post was originally posted in September 2014 and has been updated for your convenience.

6 Practical Tips for Living Well one One Income

Some may choose to live on one income because they want to stay at home with their kids or beef up their savings account, but due to current circumstances, many families are being forced to live on one income and may not know where to turn.

I hope these practical tips for living on less will help you and your family take steps towards making ends meet and getting through these hard times. If you have any other tips to add, please do so in the comment section below.


To make living on one income work, the whole family has to understand why it’s important to live on less. Why is living on one income a priority for your family?

Keep these reasons in the front of your mind and understand that it’s more important than the things you may be giving up to make ends meet. Frugal living is a mental game, so coming up with your why is important for the long haul because it can help you when it seems hard.

Make Sacrifices

Let’s face it, to live on one income you’re probably going to have to make some sacrifices. Decide with your spouse which non essentials you’re willing to give up (cable, Netflix, magazine subscriptions, gym membership, eating out, etc) and cancel them. I bet you won’t even miss most of these things, especially if they weren’t a high priority for you in the first place.


Evaluate how much house/car you really need and cut where you can. Did you know that the average American home has doubled in size since the 1950s, yet families are smaller? If our ancestors survived with less space, then we can too. Plus, smaller house = lower payment = more money in your pocket.

The same goes for vehicles. Does your family need more than one? If so, can you sell one of your current vehicles and use the money to pay cash for an older one? As long as your car gets you safely from point A to point B then what else matters?

Be Smarter than the Joneses

Did you know that the average American is $90,000 in debt?!? Chances are the people who you envy that have nice houses, cars, etc. are stressed out because of the debt load they’re carrying.

Don’t be like them. Be grateful for what you have. If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep then you are richer than 75% of the world.

Focus on the blessings that you have instead of what you wish you had or things that you think would make you happy.

Commit to No More Debt

Seriously. Like yesterday. Cut up your credit cards and make it a priority to pay off your debt. Imagine how good it will feel when you don’t owe anyone anything.

If you need help in this area I would recommend reading Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and following his baby steps. You can also visit DaveRamsey.com for more resources.

Cook from Scratch & Eat Simply

When you read books like, Little House on the Prairie, what types of food was Ma usually cooking? Potatoes. Soups. Homemade Breads. They ate simply because they didn’t have a choice. Things like out of season produce and candy were luxuries to be enjoyed on occasion.

If you can learn to cook from scratch and simplify your menu plan (think spaghetti, chicken noodle soup, beans and rice) then you will save tons of money. Unless you find an awesome deal on convenience food, you can normally make it yourself for way less.

Additional Resources for Eating on a Budget:

30 Frugal Meal Ideas (for when you’re broke)
40 Groceries to Stop Buying and Start Making to Save Money
15 Cheap Pantry Meals with 4 Ingredients or Less
How to Feed Your Family on a Tight Budget

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Living on one income is possible for a lot of people if you're committed and focused. Check out these tips to help make your stay at home mom dreams come true!

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  1. Just discovered your blog from Pinterest! Love this article as we are venturing into the one income territory. I made the choice to take a leave from teaching and stay home next year. My youngest starts middle school next year and I want to be more available to her. Can't wait to check out more of your blog!
  2. Thank you for these tips. I think the big one is think smarter than the Joneses. One thing we did was we got rid of one of our cars and a lot of our family didn't understand it but now our insurance bill, gas, and car repairs are all manageable now.
  3. LOVE this post! Thank you for all your inspiration. I enjoy your blog and it has so many good tips and ideas as well as Christian inspiration. Iโ€™m a sahm of two boys one with special needs. Iโ€™m venturing into homeschooling Any ideas and tips for starting? Mine are kindergarten and 3rd. Also do u have any favorite stores for clothes shopping etc on a budget? I really enjoy ur blog and thank you for the simplicity it brings. I hope u and ur family are well and safe during these times ๐Ÿ˜Š
    1. Hi Nicole, I'm so glad that you are enjoying the website and that is is helpful for you. We use My Father's World, Easy Peasy and Language Lessons for a Living Education for homeschool. You really just have to find a program that fits for your family and just go with it one day at a time. :) My favorite place to buy children's clothes is Once Upon a Child which is a consignment store. They are a chain so they may have one in your area. I also buy from Carter and Children's Place in January and July when they do extra off clearance sales. I try to buy ahead for the next season the year before. Hope this helps!
      1. Thank you so much for your help! I love your blog U have so many great tips. Iโ€™m a sahm with lil boys Iโ€™m looking forward to homeschooling and will look into programs. Thank you for tips for kids clothes. Hope u and your family are well. Have a blessed weekend ๐Ÿ˜Š
      2. Thank you for all the good advice I will look into places for kids clothes. I forgot to ask any places for mom clothes that you shop on a budget?
        1. If you have the time, thrift stores are a great place to start, but you have to dig some. I also like Clothes Mentor (it's a consignment shop for moms) if you have one in your area. Walmart and Ross are also good places. I don't shop for clothes much. :)
          1. Hi thank you so much for the homeschooling tips and shopping tips (I donโ€™t shop much either) but sticking to a budget Excited for homeschooling hope u and ur family are well. Thanks again for all the great tips they are very helpful
  4. Going to downsize my one bedroom apartment. From a three bedroom house two bath full basement. Got to get rid of it need help. I'm glad I found this link.

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