If you’re struggling to live on one income or you’re planning to start living on one income, you’re in the right place. In the midst of economic uncertainty, there are some big habits you can adopt this year that will allow you to live frugally on one income and not just survive but thrive!
How To Live Frugally on One Income
If you’re used to your lifestyle being supported by two incomes, it may feel impossible to cut down to one, or if you’re facing a job loss, life probably feels really scary and overwhelming right now.
My husband and I have dropped down to one income many times over the years as I was struggling to find a way to work from home and supplement his slightly above-average income so I could be home with our kids.
Regardless of your situation, I can tell you from experience that it can be done – you can live on one income, but it will likely require some lifestyle changes.
Here are seven frugal living habits that will help you adjust to living on one income.
Frugal Living Habits To Adopt This Year
1. Reduce Waste
Focusing on reducing overall household waste can make a big difference for your wallet and the planet.
Paper products and other consumables really add up both in price and in the landfill.
Try switching to reusable products that will reduce waste and reduce your household expenses.
The next culprit is food waste.
So many of us don’t even realize how much food we waste in our homes, and it’s literally like tossing your money right down the garbage disposal!
When we began our debt-free journey, this was one of the things I really dove into.
I assessed our food shopping and cooking habits and began doing research on how my family could waste less food.
And my efforts really paid off!
Between consistent meal planning and striving for zero-food waste we were able to cut our food budget in half from about $800+ each month down to about $400 per month for a family of four.
2. Review Your Subscriptions
Those sneaky subscriptions can easily go unnoticed, be sure you’re regularly reviewing and keeping tabs on all of your subscriptions.
You’ll want to be sure you’re keeping a close eye on your checking account and credit card statement, so you’ll notice if anything pops up consistently.
Review your “electronic” accounts such as iTunes, Google Play Store, Xbox, Playstation, etc.
Keep a list and add a reminder to review your list every quarter (or whatever time period feels good to you) to make sure you’re being intentional and actually using the thing you’re paying for over and over again.
If you don’t use it, why not cancel it?
If it’s something that’s important to you to keep, keep it – just be sure to adjust your budget, if necessary.
If you’re having trouble deciding, ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you feel about continuing to pay for this item?
- Does it bring you joy or add value to your life? Great! Keep paying for it.
- Does it bring up feelings of guilt or shame when you think about paying for it and not using it?
Like a gym membership that you don’t use anymore…do you feel bad about yourself for not committing to your fitness as you had planned? Ditch it!
We don’t need any more reasons to feel bad or guilty…cancel that membership yesterday and move on.
You can always sign back up in the future.
Another option is to have Rocket Money find all of your extra subscriptions and cancel them for you.
3. Review Your Bills
If you’re trying to work out how to live frugally on one income, this tip is one you’ll want to practice (at least) on a yearly basis.
Review all of your bills and contact your providers. Ask for reduced rates or if they have any discounts available.
This can be time-consuming, uncomfortable, and even downright annoying, but it can also be extremely effective and result in huge savings, so it’s likely worth the hassle!
Services such as cell phones, landlines (do these even exist anymore?!), internet, utilities, and insurances are usually great places to start, but the sky’s the limit.
Technically, you can probably do this with any company you pay on a regular basis and attempt to reduce your payment, renegotiate your contract, or even threaten to switch to another provider.
It’s unlikely you’ll be successful every single time, but it never hurts to ask, right?!
4. Purchase Second-Hand
Brand new items have huge markups, and it’s very possible to find great quality items second-hand!
If you don’t enjoy shopping at thrift stores, the internet has provided us with so many options when it comes to shopping for previously loved items.
Overall, purchasing second-hand items is better for the planet and your wallet.
Sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Mercari, and ThredUP are all online stores where people can sell gently used – and sometimes brand new – items such as clothing, electronics, and household items.
There are also a lot of companies that refurbish and certify used electronics. Some of them even come with warranties, which offer you the same buyer’s protection you get when purchasing from a retailer.
You’ll save a lot of money and keep items out of the landfill.
5. Use Credit Cards To Earn Points
Tread lightly here. Credit cards can be a touchy subject, but if you’re able to charge responsibly and pay off your entire balance in full every single month – that’s the key here – you can probably earn a substantial amount of credit card points.
You can cash in your points for free gift cards, travel perks, statement credits, or even transfer the cash value straight into your bank account.
But before you start using this tactic, be honest with yourself.
Are you in a position where you can use credit cards as a financial tool and not as a way to purchase things you really can’t afford?
If not, it’s in your best interest to opt out of using credit cards and switch to a cash system instead.
If you aren’t triggered by using credit cards, this is our favorite cash back credit card we use on all of our regular purchases. We’ve had it for years, have been really happy with it, and have earned thousands and thousands of points.
6. Create a Capsule Wardrobe
Creating a capsule wardrobe can help you greatly reduce your clothing expenses – not to mention reducing decision fatigue and the amount of laundry you do each week.
Start by picking your favorite pieces from your current wardrobe.
Try to choose items with complementary color pallets, and don’t forget to include your tried and true staple items.
This should give you a good idea if there are any additional pieces you’d like to purchase to complete the wardrobe.
Then go ahead and fill in the gaps.
When you curate a wardrobe where every piece fits you perfectly and goes together with one another, it feels easier to get dressed each day, and you’ll find yourself feeling better because you love the way all of your clothing feels and fits!
7. Move To Reduce Living Expenses
Yeah, this is a big one, I know, but hear me out.
When you live in an expensive area, your living costs are going to eat up a huge chunk of your income, so moving to a less expensive area can greatly reduce your cost of living.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to downsize – although that’s certainly an option too – depending on where you live, you can probably afford the same size home you currently live in for less.
For example, we could probably purchase a home of equal or slightly greater square footage and lot size for about $50,000 less in many parts of Texas, plus pay less in property taxes than we currently do.
Sure, it would require us to pick up and move across the country, but if you’re someone who doesn’t mind moving, you can greatly reduce your expenses by doing some research and finding a more affordable place to live.
All of these money-saving tips will help you live frugally on one income and be able to live life on your terms instead of being a slave to your expenses.
More From Cents + Purpose
Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.