How to live on one income

Have you ever wondered how to live on one income? Have you ever wondered if YOU can afford to live on one income? Many of you may not realize that about 1.5 years ago, we decided to do this very thing – we went from being a two income family to living on one primary income. It was a scary decision, but it was one of the best decisions we ever made. Now that 2010 is here, I want to challenge all of you to consider this possibility for YOUR family. We used to never think it was possible to live on one income, but we have been living on one income now for awhile and are happier and better off financially than ever.

How can you afford to live one on salary?

Even in today’s world, I am convinced that most families can afford to live on one salary. Now I realize that not everyone can, but I truly believe that most families can make this a reality. First, take a hard look at where your income is going. Take a notebook and write down every single expense you have. When you buy something, write it in the notebook. After a month or two, analyze your spending. Where is your money going? You may be surprised at how quickly the “little expenses” add up – $2 for a cup of coffee here, $3 for a hamburger, there… and so on. Once you know where your money is going, you can start figuring out where to cut back on expenses and how to eliminate unnecessary spending. Use this information to create a basic monthly budget.

frugal living

Explore income opportunities from home

Look at ways you may be able to make a small income at home. This may be as simple as selling extra things on Ebay or doing paid online surveys. Obviously you will not get rich from this, but even an extra $50 – $100 a month from such ventures may give you the extra padding you need to live on a single income. It may sound crazy, but believe me, we are speaking from personal experience here – The paid online survey companies give us a nice padding each month, and I encourage you to look into paid surveys if you haven’t started doing them already!

Do a trial period of living on one income

For several months, live off of one salary only. Put all the money from your second salary into savings. Pretend that you don’t even have a second salary. After the trial period is up, look at your results. Talk about how you did as a family. Is this something you could continue doing? Did you even miss the second salary? You may be surprised at what you find!

Living on one salary may require sacrifices and self-discipline

Yes, there may be sacrifices and self-discipline required to live on one salary. And let’s face it, sacrifice and self-discipline are NOT encouraged by our society these days. But I can personally tell you that all the sacrifices required ARE worth it. I am staying at home raising our two boys right now, and not paying someone else to raise our children. I will NEVER regret the time I have gotten to spend with them and the memories I will have watching them grow up.

Plus, we have less expenses now than before (no daycare, less gasoline, less work clothes, cheaper car insurance, less eating out) and more time to save money, find bargains, and use coupons! And the best part, I get to share all of the freebies and deals I find with all of YOU! 🙂

Living on one income may not be for everyone – it may not be for your family. I am not trying to judge those families living on one income, nor trying to judge those families living on more than one income. Everyone knows what is best for their family and must make their own choices. But if you have considered quitting your job to stay at home with the kids or dreamed about it for awhile, then let 2010 be the year to seriously consider this option for your family.

See our own blog posts when we struggled with this very decision in 2008. You may find some of the comments from readers inspirational in your own decision making.

ASK THE READERS: Are any of you living on one primary income? How did you make the decision to be a one income family? OR – Are any of you wishing you could become a one income family? If so, what is holding you back?

Are you new to our site? Sign up for our free email digest and let us show YOU how to save money, get freebies, and live on one income!

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3 money saving websites

We LOVE saving money! And fortunately there are tons of great websites that help you do just that! One of our readers and fellow bloggers recently shared with us some of her favorite money saving websites. Two of these sites were new to me, and I’m glad to know about them. Hopefully they will help you all save some money too!

Jen blogs at Simple Savings Blog. She says, “My goal with this blog is to give back to others that are looking to save a few dollars whether it is to stay home with their kids, survive the tough economy or save for a rainy day. I want to simplify the couponing and deal shopping process for people like me that didn’t understand it initially.”

Jen says, “I am techy geek. I love finding new technology that will make my life easier and it is even better when that technology saves me money. Here are a few of my favorites:

Twitter Coupon Bot

I am fairly new to Twitter but I am already addicted and even more so now that I found out my new found addiction can save me money. DealTaker.com has created a Twitter Coupon Bot that will send you all the coupons that are valid at the store you are requesting. Here’s how it works with Target as an example:

1. Send a Tweet to @CouponBot Target (replace Target with the store of your choice)

2. DealTaker.com will then send you @ replies with any valid coupons for Target. The @ replies will show up on your main page.

3. DealTaker.com will send you a minimum of 10 coupon codes that are the most current offers.

This is a quick and easy way to make sure that you are finding the best deals out there for your stores!

RetailMeNot.com

I love RetailMeNot.com! Using this website has saved me so much money. When you are shopping online, simply check at RetailMeNot.com before you make your purchase for any discount codes for a percentage off or for free shipping. Users will input codes they find online and other users will comment when the codes work for them. It is a win-win situation for everyone! To make my life easier I downloaded the RetailMeNot.com toolbar and it automatically notifies me of any coupons when I am shopping online.

FillAnyPDF.com

FillAnyPDF.com is an amazing tool that will save you a lot of time and hey time is money right? We all come across PDF’s that we wish we could type in the information instead of having to write it out. With FillAnyPDF.com you can edit your PDF’s and even better you can do it for free! All you have to do is login to FillAnyPDF.com, upload your document and click the type button at the top. You then click on the area you want to type on and a text box appears and you type your information. The text box can be moved to fit the area and the text size can be adjusted as well. When you are finished click save and FillAnyPDF.com will give you the option of emailing the form, downloading it or printing it. It is that easy! I have used this for rebate forms, doctor’s forms and my business forms. I love this tool!

What technology tools are saving you time and money?

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16 Frugal Christmas Gifts: Give the gift of savings

As per readers requests, here is a roundup of a bunch of good money saving gifts.  What makes a better gift than one that saves money? This is a collection of very useful frugal items that would make great “pay it forward” Christmas presents… give the gift of frugality.

Frugal Laundry Drying Racks: I built a large indoor rack for drying our laundry, but these are cheap, simple and easy ways to get started… perfect for apartments!

Compact Air Dry Rack with 79 feet of room to hang stuff: $49

Compact Collapsable Stainless Air Dry Rack, great for apartments, on sale for $29

Chrome Collapsable 11 rung air dry rack, another apartment favorite, $25

Economy Accordion Drying Rack In Wood/Vinyl, 11 rung, on sale $15

16 rung/30 feet, over the tub air dry rack, $22

Sweet collapsable tripod air dry rack with tons of line space, Only $31

Frugal Must Reads: (The tightwadd gazette is like a bible for frugal living and Dave Ramsey is right up there with it in terms of usefulness and importance).

The Tightwad Gazette 1, 959 pages of penny pinching tips, on sale for $5

The Tightwad Gazette 2: 293 pages of more penny pinching tips, $4

The Tightwad Gazette 3: 272 pages of even more penny pinching tips, $5

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover: The book that set us in the right direction, Only $5

Lastly, Here is a useful stocking stuffer:

Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap, Great for Home Made Detergent, ON SALE FOR each $1

Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor, Find Your Electricial Phantoms and Save on Utilities, On Sale for $20

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Frugal storage solutions

Frugal storage solutions: With the holiday season officially here, I’m sure we will all be accumulating more “stuff” (especially clothes and toys!) again this year. And the real challenge is how to organize it all after the holidays are over, without spending a ton of money. One of our readers, MaryAnne, recently sent us her ideas on how to be frugal while organizing! Here are some of her great ideas for you:

Hi! I’m MaryAnne, the crafting-addicted mother of three from mama smiles! I spend my days creating fun with my three young children (nearly 4, nearly 2, and 3 months old). My blog is a mix of crafting, activities for young children, sewing, parenting, and frugal living, and I’d love for you to drop by and say hi!

I appreciate a well-organized home, but most commercial storage options are expensive. Here are a couple of low-to-no-cost solutions I’ve come up with that use items most people already have in their homes:

  • Shoe boxes to create compartments in drawers. This works especially well for children’s small clothing, as well as socks and underwear. Since they are hidden away in drawers, it doesn’t really matter what the boxes look like. Of course, you can decorate them if you want – it’s a good way to keep the kids busy on a rainy day.
  • Frugal storage solutionsTake and toss food containers to store toys and other small items. The food-grade plastic makes it especially safe for storing children’s toys, and the clear sides make it easy to see what is inside. The lids fit snugly, and they usually stack nicely if you pick one brand and stick with it.

Use and toss toy storage

Other tips:

  • Go through belongings frequently and donate things you don’t need.
  • Look past marketing labels. In my experience, prices jump as soon as something is labeled as craft or toy storage. I use a computer hutch as my sewing machine cabinet, and shoe racks as toy bin shelves.
  • Cardboard boxes make great storage bins for items that don’t need a secure lid. You can even cover them to make them look pretty.

What are your favorite frugal storage solutions?

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Frugal Homemade Gift Idea: Etching Glass

Frugal Homemade Gift Idea: Etching Glass. We are dedicated to bringing you Free / Frugal Christmas Presents this holiday season, and I am excited to share a great guest post with you, describing an awesome homemade gift idea. Thanks to Kerrie Koupon Kueen – More than just coupons – for sharing this idea!

Kerrie says, I did this for four presents last year. They were a big hit and now I love making Christmas gifts. I etched some casserole dishes for my family. I bought a four pack of dishes for around $30 at Walmart. The cream, I bought (Armour Etch) at Hobby Lobby. It is $20, so make sure you bring a 40% coupon. You can get them in the paper or you can sign up for their weekly ad and get them sent to your email. [Money Savin’ Momma here – looks like you can also get a good deal on the Armour Etch at Amazon here.]

ArmourSo basically I got 4 gifts for $42 (that’s with the 40% Hobby Lobby coupon). And I have a lot left over for other gifts. My friend that told me about this says that she etches her name on all her casserole dishes so when she makes a meal for someone or brings a dish to a potluck, she knows she will get her dish back! This year I might monogram a vase for a gift.

Etched Glass

Here are the directions from the bottle:

1. Cover the glass or mirror with Contact brand vinyl. Next, trace your design through carbon paper onto the vinyl [or you can use stencils to trace in on]. Cut out the design with a hobby knife and peel off pieces of the vinyl to create a stencil. Where the vinyl is removed will become the etched design when you are finished.

2. Overlap the outside edges of the stencil with masking tape to protect he surrounding glass from the etching cream.

3. Apply a thick layer of Armour Etch Cream brushing up and down, then left and right to spread the cream over the entire stenciled area. Allow etching cream to remain on glass 5 minutes.

4. Wash off all traces of Armour Etch Cream with ordinary tap water. Remove the vinyl and thoroughly clean the glass using window cleaner.

Money Savin’ Momma here: If you have more questions about how to do this or want more information, be sure to contact Kerrie Koupon Kueen. Check out her great site for other deals too!
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Disney Rewards VISA: Earn a Free Disney Vacation

Disney Rewards VISA: Earn a Free Disney Vacation (or at least a cheap Disney vacation!)– We love to share how to get hot freebies and how to save money with our readers! Angela from Savvy Mom Finds recently shared with us how her family earned a CHEAP Disney vacation! It just may help you get a free or cheap Disney vacation too!

Free Disney vacationAngela says: Exactly a year ago, we took our first real family vacation — to Walt Disney World. We had traveled with the kids before, but it was always to visit family out of state; we had never gone somewhere just for ourselves as a family. We had been looking forward to our Disney vacation for quite some time — in fact, it was five years in the planning. The best part about our vacation? It was almost free.

When our son was born six years ago, we applied for a Disney Rewards VISA card. There are lots of rewards programs out there, but we settled on the Disney Card when we had children and realized that the Disney vacations were coming. With the Disney Rewards VISA, you earn 1% in Disney Dream Reward Dollars on every purchase made with your credit card. For every $100 you charge, you earn one (1) Disney Dream Reward Dollar, and one (1) Disney Dream Reward Dollar is worth $1 when you redeem it at Disney.

Disney Rewards VisaFor five years, we used that card for nearly every purchase we made: groceries, gas, household items, baby stuff, utilities, doctor’s bills — everything went on that VISA. In return, we amassed enough Disney Rewards to pay for most of our vacation. I scoured the web for the best vacation deal possible (Mousesavers is a great start) and redeemed all of our rewards to pay for it. We opted for an all-inclusive package — seven days at a Disney resort, seven days of tickets, and a dining plan that included all of our meals. It was like a dream vacation for the kids, and we were so happy that we could give them a week of magic. We would not have taken such an extravagant vacation if it had not been for the rewards points. Our Disney Rewards covered about 80% of the total cost. We could have gone for completely free if we had opted for a value package, but we figured after five years of waiting for a vacation, we could afford a little splurge. And five years is the magic number for maximizing your Disney Rewards — they begin to expire after five years. When we hit the five-year mark, we cashed them in — we didn’t want to lose a single one.

Now, I understand that there are those who have problems with credit cards. If you don’t pay off your balance every single month, then the rewards cards just are not worth it. The interest charges will negate any rewards you accrue, and you aren’t being a savvy consumer. In the fifteen years we’ve been married, my husband and I have always been very diligent about paying off our credit cards and not carrying a balance, so they work for us. We’ve had several different kinds of rewards cards in the past, but now that we have kids, it’s the Disney Card for us. After taking one vacation on rewards points, we’re already saving up rewards for another Disney trip we’re planning a few years in the future.

There are more benefits to our Disney Card than just earning rewards:

  • We can redeem our rewards to pay for most anything Disney — not just a vacation, but merchandise, too. Rewards can be used at our local Disney Store or at the Disney Store online, but I prefer to save them all up for vacation.
  • As cardholders, we’re entitled to special Disney discounts and offers. For example, the vacation package we chose was a special deal offered to Disney Rewards VISA cardholders only. Also, right now, Disney cardholders can earn $30 in free gas from Texaco and Chevron when they pay for gas at the pump with their Disney VISA.
  • We receive special cardmember benefits in the Disney Parks (we got a free 5×7 family photo with Mickey and Minnie).
  • Cardholders always receive a 10% discount at the Disney Store with qualified purchases of $50 or more.

There’s NO ANNUAL FEE, and new cardmembers get a bonus of 25 FREE Disney Dream Reward Dollars after their first use of the card (that’s like 25 dollars — FREE). If you want to learn more, please check out the Disney Rewards VISA website for complete details.

Angela is the author of Savvy Mom Finds, where she shares her favorite tips, tricks and fabulous finds to help you save money.

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Free Fun for the Holidays: Tree Trimming Night

Free Fun for the Holidays: Tree Trimming Night. One of the challenges during the holidays is trying to save money, while still creating meaningful family traditions. Heather at Inexpensively recently shared with us a wonderfully creative, and inexpensive, way to do just that during the holiday season:

Free Fun for the Holidays
Heather says: Tree Trimming Night is a fairly recent, but sacred tradition in our home. It is the one night every December that we set aside for just our immediate family. The evening is not about the gifts. In fact, they often completely forget that they do get a present that night – a new ornament to add to the freshly trimmed tree.

Each year, we spend December doing the World Tour of Christmas – visiting one family group one night, another on a Sunday afternoon, even more family for the weekend. We have had as many as 7 Christmas celebrations in one season. Between the family celebrations, the school plays and the holiday parties, we were exhausted and never had an evening to spend alone as a family.

I found myself trying to work in family time with my girls by hitting Christmas at the Zoo or Children’s Museum, spending more than we wanted in a desperate attempt to create memories for my girls that didn’t involve presents or the chaos of a loud, boisterous family. It finally occurred to me that we were allowing the perfect opportunity to slip by year after year.

We have always decorated a Christmas tree, but it was usually thrown up one evening after dinner or attended to in the midst of a busy day of laundry, dishes and shopping. Now, we set aside one evening in early December for Tree Trimming Night. I fix an appetizer buffet so we can munch while we decorate, and the girls go to town placing their favorite ornaments on the family tree.

Our only expense is a 6-pack of Santa Coke bottles that I just couldn’t resist working into our new tradition. When the sodas are empty, the food is consumed and the tree is sparkling, I take the girls’ picture in front of their handiwork. I have even used the Tree Trimming Night photo for our holiday cards rather than expensive holiday portraits (keeping it frugal, yo).

The girls are already asking when this year’s Tree Trimming Night will be. I’ll have to pick a night that works into our schedule and add it to the calendar soon. We have a variety of annual traditions, but this is probably my favorite! My team and I will be sharing even more of our ideas for frugal fun around the holidays at Inexpensively as we countdown to Christmas.

Heather Sokol is the married mother of three beautiful, active girls who have created in her a Montessori Mom, Scout Mom, Allergy Mom and avid coupon clipper. She shares deals and advice for living life Inexpensively and reports progress on learning to be a grown up at Just Heather.

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How To Save $600+ per Year with Internet TV

We love to share lots of great ideas about how to save money. Angela from Savvy Mom Finds recently shared with us how her family saves over $600 a year! We hope her post below will inspire you to do the same!

How to save money with internet TVPhoto Credit: stock.xchng

Angela says: Even though we’re a thrifty family by nature, I’ve found that it’s always a good idea to regularly review our budget to see if there’s something else that can be trimmed. Situations change, expenses creep in, and if we don’t stay on top of things, our savings rate isn’t what it used to be. It happens to the best of us.

So this summer, we decided to take a long, hard look at our satellite television bill. Aside from the occasional dinner out, it was probably our most extravagant regular expense. It was hardly a budget-breaker, but we had to re-evaluate whether it was really worth the money. We don’t watch that much TV, probably about an hour a night after the kids go to bed, and it’s usually regular network television. So the $60-per-month satellite/TiVo programming we’d been buying had really become a waste of money.

The only reason we had satellite was for the kids’ channels and our beloved TiVo service. The kids already watch too much television — now they’re content with over-the-air programming: Dinosaur Train and The Electric Company on PBS or Dora and Diego in Spanish on our local Univision affiliate (reinforcement for the Spanish they’re learning in school!). As for the TiVo, our love affair was with the ability to record and watch our favorite shows at our leisure, but Internet TV has advanced so much, that for us, it’s a viable replacement for the TiVo.

We happened to have a computer at the house that would do the job, so there wasn’t a significant investment for us. But for about $400, you can buy a computer (no monitor) with the video requirements to send a quality, high-definition picture to the TV.

For our internet connection, DSL Lite just wouldn’t do. High-speed access is a necessity in order to get quality video without interruptions. A 3 Mbps connection costs about $40 per month. Since my husband is a techie, and to him, internet access ranks up there with necessities such as food and shelter, we were already making room for the upgraded connection in our budget. So, there was no additional expense for us.

We did have to buy a wireless mini-keyboard and mouse. There are lots of models available in every price range, but for my techie husband (he really doesn’t ask for much), we opted for a fancier model, the Logitech diNovo Mini, and tracked the online deals to score the best price ($120 at the time). It’s so small, it’s almost like a hand-held remote control for the computer.

Logitech DiNovo miniSo now that the equipment is hooked up, where do we find the shows? All the major networks offer programming online, and there are aggregator sites that consolidate some of the content. Unfortunately, not every show is available, and some networks offer more programming than others; but here are some of our favorites:

In order to watch Internet TV, we had to download special players, but it wasn’t a major inconvenience. We do miss the TiVo’s 30-second skip through commercials, but for a savings of $720 per year, I’ll suffer through the occasional advertisement. Of course, we could always upgrade the computer to record over-the-air programming like a DVR (and regain our ability to skip commercials), but we aren’t ready to shell out money for that yet.

Since we canceled the satellite service, we decided we could splurge for a Netflix subscription. For less than $10 a month, we can watch unlimited movies and TV shows on demand with the Netflix WATCH INSTANTLY feature. We can also check out one DVD at a time. It’s been nice to see the new releases on DVD — we hadn’t really rented a movie in years because we couldn’t justify the expense (almost $5 for one movie — no way!). Not to mention, we don’t go to the movies, either, because movie theaters, likewise, don’t fit our budget.

Bottom line: our annual savings by canceling the satellite and subscribing to Netflix is just over $600 a year. How much could you save if you canceled your pay TV service?

Want more information about ditching the dish and making the switch? Check out these two articles for more insight:

Angela is the author of Savvy Mom Finds, where she shares her favorite tips, tricks and fabulous finds to help you save money.

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