How we keep our expenses low to leave on one income


My husband and I work and recently we decided to live on one income and use the other income to pay off our debts. We are a family on 7 and living on one income required a lot of adjustments in our budget. Luckily we have been frugal for years and living on one income didn’t make us cut down on our expenses.

No daycare Expenses

We have 3 kids and don’t send them to daycare. I work during office hours, and my husband work night shift. Therefore, one of us is at home with the kids. My parents live with us as well.

I stopped buying toys.

We give kids money on birthdays and Christmas so that they learn to invest. They have their old toys to play with. When a toys is in clearance, my husband would buy sometimes and we would keep for Christmas. My kids have a lot of toys that it is hard for them to put them away at the end of the days. I have been trimming them down and sorting in totes.

I don’t buy new books.

We use the library. We bought a lot of books from the library when they do their sales. It costs $1 or less a book. I bought a lot of kids’ books there. I don’t buy books from the school newsletter. My kids don’t need that.

I don’t buy a lot of clothes for my kids.

I used to buy new clothes for them a lot. Now I am just making sure they use what they have to the fullest or hand it down. I don’t buy clothes at thrift store. I just think they don’t need much. The 2 school age kids have a tote each for their school clothes and a tote each for their home clothes. Each tote contains clothes for just one week. I hang in their closet their church clothes. There are less than 5 dresses for each one of them. All the rest of their good looking clothes are kept together in one 18 gal tote and everything else have been donated to the thrift store. Similarly, they have 3 pair of shoes each, one for school, one for church, and one to play outside which is the old school pair. They have sandal to wear inside and my husband bought them a year ago for $0.25 each pair. He bought a lot of them and bigger size too.

We don’t eat out often.

We eat out may be once a year. I decided to cut that as well. As I believed that I can buy what my family likes to eat at the restaurant in frozen form from the grocery store and fry at home like frozen French fry, chicken nuggets, mozzarella stick, and chicken tender. I don’t need them all at once but a combination of few would be enough and will save us money. For example, 2lbs of frozen French fry cost about $1.68 where we live and we all know that restaurant and fast food places would serve you much less for $1.00. They need to make profit.

We decrease our commuting expenses.

I have a car which I think is needed for my husband to commute to work and come home before I live and drive kids to school.  I on the other hand, walk to work. I takes me 30 minutes one way. It saves me some bus tickets. I could ride bus when the weather is not cooperating.

We save on phone

We don’t have home phone. Each adult has a cell phone. Only my husband has a smart phone. I don’t want to pay $30 data for each phone. So all the rest of us have old phone type. We cancelled insurance on our phones years ago and keep our old phones in case one breaks. Recently, Verizon told us that since one of us has the data we could use a smart phone and just disconnect the data on it and we won’t be charged data other than the one my husband pays. We have internet at home. We don’t need data on our phones.

I save on groceries by cooking from scratch.

I don’t buy pre cooked or pre cut items.

I don’t use coupons, but chop the sales every week. I buy a lot of my staples once a month and save some of my grocery money for sales. When there is a good sale for a grocery item that is used at home, I profit to stock up to the extent of my grocery budget. This week, 5 lbs. bag of potato is on sale for $0.88 each. I intend to buy 20 bags if I have enough left in my food budget. I am sure I can afford 10 bags. I have to check the envelop. I cooked 10 lbs. potato once or twice a week. Where I have more I would just cook more potato and take of the meal calendar the most expensive dish. Spending $1.76 (0.88+0.88) on a dinner for 7 people and add baked chicken which I bought on sale the week before at $0.49/lb is a dinner on the budget. When meat goes on sale, I stock up on it for our meat supply until it goes on sale again. I used to buy meat from farmer and pay the butcher to butcher it but it is expensive even though I use all the parts the butcher can give including bones for broth and organs for soup and stew. I save fat from cooking meat to bake biscuit or cornbread, to cook, and fry.

I save on household cleaning products

I make soaps that we use to shower, wash hands, wash dishes, and brush teeth.

I use vinegar, baking soda, borax, washing soda as cleaning products and washing machine detergent.

I save on cosmetic products

I buy extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil to make my soap. The remaining olive oil is used in fresh eating or cooking, and as a moisturizer for my kids and I.

I grow vegetable

Fresh vegetable is expensive at the grocery store. I like organic food buy could not afford it. Therefore, I grow my own. I planted a lot of fruit trees and a lot of vegetables. I save my own seeds and decrease how much to order every year. This year I save a lot of seeds from lettuce, tomato, cucumber, peas, green bean, potato onion, and potato and I won’t buy these seeds next year.

I include perennial vegetables in my garden so that I don’t have to plant annuals every year. French Sorrel is a success this year as it gave me a lot of greens in spring and now in fall for my salad, stew and soup. I encourage edible weeds in my garden like wild mustard, lambs quarter which I cook with.

We do a lot of DIY

We changed the floor in the living room kitchen and bathroom when we moved in and we painted inside. This year we painted our siding as it is rotting. We saved and paid a handyman to replace an outside door and add locks to another outside door.

I am building a working pantry

I am canning my garden excess, and meat I buy on sale at the grocery store. I don’t like the idea of having more than two chest freezers. I have a small and medium.

I have one fridge and don’t like the idea of having more than that either. I am reorganizing my basement by decluttering it in order to have space for my canned foods. You can read my post on that journey soon.

To decrease our budget, I tackle all our expenses in every angle possible to see where I can save more. What works for your family?

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