Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Living on One Income, Part Six

You must be made of pretty tough stuff if you're still with me by now.  Which is a very good thing, because being resilient, and being open to admitting you need to make some changes, are key traits in keeping your marriage afloat while being a one income family.  It is super easy to get discouraged and then start playing the blame game, which usually disintegrates to spouses who don't appreciate what the other does to keep the family humming along with one parent at home full time.

There are tons and tons of little things that can be tweaked to save some money.  Those are, by and large, my department at this little place here.  DH doesn't want to be bothered with pennies, he wants to concentrate on the items that save benjies.  It's hard to have benjies, though, if you are tossing pennies out the window left and right.  A ten-cent per pound savings on ten pounds of burger (what the local meat market offers if I buy a 10 pound bag) adds up when you go through about 100 pounds of hamburger in a year for a family.  If I make my own hamburger buns for roughly 50 cents per package instead of buying the cheapy ones that turn to mush for $1.50 on sale, there's some more savings.  If I never buy tomatoes to put on our hamburgers, but instead only have tomato slices with our burgers during the months that we have fresh tomatoes from our garden, I save even more money.  If I make my own hamburger dills out of the cucumbers, garlic, and dill I grow, there's a few more pennies.

I think you can see where I'm going with this.  By saving in little ways all through the year, before the year is up I've saved almost $100 just by changing how I acquire the components of our hamburger dinners.

Do you need to get a soft drink out of the cooler, and a candy bar off the shelf every time you go to the gas station to fill up your car? Rather than spending $1.29 for the soda and 80 cents for the candy bar each week times 52 weeks in a year, by waiting until you get home to have a drink and a snack you have saved yourself $108.68!  What could you better spend that on?  Maybe one month's worth of electricity?  Or a few month's worth of car insurance on a paid off older vehicle you have PLPD insurance coverage on?  Or a week's worth of groceries for the family?

The point I'm trying to make is to look at every thing, not just the big ones that you have trouble covering, when you are searching for ways to cut your family's expenditures.  Be the person that sees a penny on the ground and picks it up, instead of the one who walks on by because "it's just a penny; you can't buy anything with that".

A few years ago, I did a whole series of posts on different areas to save money.  Look up my Frugal February posts if you want to read about some of the little ways to trim your budget.

One more parting thought, though.  This one is really important, especially if you are a young couple just starting out.  One of the spouses must have a degree or a certification that enables them to get a good full time job with benefits.  To try to raise a family on the sorts of careers you get with just a high school diploma and then have one spouse not work, well, honestly, I don't think you will have much at all.  You will be struggling to keep the basics: food, shelter, clothing, utilities (utilities being heat and electricity, not cable tv and smart phones).  Make the sacrifice, and the commitment, of time and money (if you need to take out a student loan) and struggle now to get through college or learn those skilled trades, so that the rest of your life won't be so difficult.  DH and I decided decades ago that we would much rather work our behinds off in our twenties and thirties to set ourselves up where we are now in our forties, than to be in our seventies and eighties and still slaving away to keep a roof over our heads and the lights on.  This is what we have preached to our children also.  Work hard when you are young, so you don't have to work so hard when you are old (not to mention how much more difficult work is when you are old).

I wish you the best of luck in your frugal endeavors.  May you reach your goal of being a family who lives happily on one income, where the kids know two parents who love each other and work together as a team, good home cooking, simple joys, a good work ethic, and spend most of their childhood hours with a parent rather than a paid caregiver.

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