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If you’re a family living on a single income, life can be quite stressful. It gets even more gruesome when you add children into the mix.
Although we can’t promise that you’re stress will completely melt away using the 21 tips below, we at least hope some of these methods will make your life a little bit more stress-free.
With that said, let’s get started. Here’s a list of 22 tips for single income families to help make your financial life that much easier.
1. Bring in Extra Income With Online Surveys ($300+/Month)
Online surveys are a great way to bring in an extra income for those currently struggling. Back when I was only making around $50 per week, survey sites helped put me at ease knowing that I could bring in an extra $200 – $300 per month.
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine which survey sites are legitimate or scam, so that’s why we’ve put a short list of some of our favorites:
- Survey Junkie (excellent surveys with great payout)
- Vindale Research ($2 sign-up bonus)
- Swagbucks ($5 sign-up bonus)
- Pinecone Research (flat $3 per survey)
- Ipsos i-Say (great payout with chances to win prize drawings)
Want to try even more survey sites? Check out our list of the 25+ best online survey sites that could help you earn $600 or more per month.
2. Use Shopping Apps To Get Cash Back On Groceries
Even when you’re shopping cheaper, you can save additional money by using coupons of money saving apps. Clipping coupons is one of the oldest, tried, and true ways of saving money while still getting the items you need.
If you’re more tech-savvy, you know that you can still get the same great savings with money saving apps. These apps work similar to coupons, however, there is not clipping or cutting required.
Ibotta, one of the most popular cash back grocery shopping apps, is a great way to receive cash back on your purchases without having to deal with clipping coupons. Earn cash taking pictures of receipts from your smartphone.
You even get a $10 bonus after you scan your first receipt.
Here’s a list of a few other shopping apps we highly recommend:
3. Earn Free Cash Back With Drop
Drop is a free mobile app that gives you cash back when you link your credit or debit card and use it at specific retailers. When you sign-up, you even get a $1 bonus after you link your first card.
Drop works by allowing you to pick 5 retailers that you specifically shop at. Each time you use your linked credit or debit card at one of these retailers, you earn a certain amount of points.
These points can be exchanged for free gift cards to popular retailers of your choosing. The best part? Once you link the card and choose your most-visited stores, the only thing you have to do is cash out – it’s that simple.
4. Track Your Spending Habits
Now that you have done everything you can to eliminate unneeded bills, lowered any bills, and changed your spending habits, it’s time to track those new spending habits.
Tracking your spending habits allows you to see exactly where your money is going so that you can continuously optimize your spending.
Trim is an app that helps analyze your credit card spending and meticulously tells you where you can cut costs. This includes cutting down subscriptions, breaking down where you could spend less and also helping you meticulously plan out a budget.
5. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
With sites like Raise and Cardpool, you can find gift cards from anywhere between 2% and 20% off their retail value. For example, the other day I bought a $100 P.F. Chang’s gift card for around $83 – that’s a 17% discount!
These sites work by buying unwanted gift cards at a discount from people who don’t want them or have no use for them, and then mark them up to make a small profit.
We highly recommend only buying electronic gift cards since they come within 24 hours. Physical gift cards can take up to a week or sometimes even more to arrive in the mail.
6. With Set Aside Money For Mini Vacations/Fun Days Using Acorns
Going to one income does not have to be stressful, with adequate planning and a little bit of sacrifice, you can easily make the transition. To keep you in good spirits, we highly suggest setting aside money, even if it’s a small amount weekly, for a mini vacation or for “fun days”.
Fun days can consist of anything like trips to the movies, a day at a local pool, or any other activity you feel like splurging on. Breaking out of the normal day-to-day workload and managing money is always good and much need for families to spend some quality time together.
Using an app like Acorns, you can easily set aside money little by little to build up a fun day stash. Acorns allows you to setup small amounts of money to be deposited into your account and automatically invests them into various investments.
You can withdraw the money at anytime. Not only that, you get a $5 bonus just for signing-up as a new member.
7. Use An App Like PocketGuard To Set A Budget
To make sure that you stay on track with your spending habits, you and your spouse will need to set a budget. Setting a budget involves laying out all of your bills and expenses to decide how much money you will be spending a month.
By setting a monthly spending limit, you can easily see where your money will be going ahead of time. Luckily, you can download an app like PocketGuard to help you keep your personal budget in line.
PocketGuard is a smartphone app that allows you to track your spending, create a budget, and lower your bills. This app takes out all of the hard work of manually tracking all of your expenses and give you a quick and easy snapshot of your spending habits.
8. Pay Off Debts Sooner With Debt Payoff Planner
Debt, the word that makes any person cringe, is more manageable than most people like to think. To get it knocked out as quickly as possible, you’re going to need a plan.
To make things easy, you can download an app called Debt Payoff Planner on the IOS or Android market that will make this process much easier.
Debt Payoff Planner is an app that allows you to pick your debt payoff method between the two most popular styles – Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche.
This app will show you how long it will take to pay of the debt with each style while also providing you with how much interest you will save on each technique.
9. Consider Moving Debts To One Credit Card With Lower Interest Rate Using Tally
If your debts are multiple credit cards, you could consider consolidating them down to one credit card. To achieve this, you need to figure out if you can move your credit card debt to another card and if it would make financial sense to do so.
This will allow you to pay one larger amount a month instead of multiple cards acquiring multiple interest rates.
A smartphone app called Tally allows you to do just this from the convenience of your smartphone. Simply add your cards to the app and Tally will analyze your debts to insure Tally is right for you.
If approved, Tally will provide you with a line of credit to consolidate your debts into one easy payment.
10. Consider Switching To One Car
One tip that may be harder to stomach than most is downsizing to just one car. This is a big money saver as you will no longer have to pay a car payment, insurance, gas, maintenance, and surprise repairs.
Even with a paid off car, you can still spend a lot in gas, repairs, and maintenance that you would not have if you were to get rid of it. Plus you can hopefully get some extra cash from selling your vehicle.
While this is not an option for everyone, it’s definitely something that you should look into. If this is not an option or you’re not sure of the idea, you can ease into it by driving one car less or only for emergencies. This will give you an idea of how much you really use both vehicles.
Bonus Tip – If you’re not wanting to give up you car just yet, you can let your car make you money in the meantime.There are many apps, including Turo, that allow you to rent out your vehicle for some extra cash.
11. Live Within Your Means
While this may seem like something you do already, it may be a great time to audit your lifestyle and see if there is any room for downsizing.
Now we are not talking about switching to a minimalist lifestyle or selling all of your furniture, just looking at what luxuries you currently have but can do without.
Our biggest tip is to look at what you do and use each day and decide what you can cut out or reduce. Examples may be the amount of times you eat out, not buying the latest phones, or any other non-essential purchases.
You might be surprised on what you find out about yourself and could even help others make better purchasing decisions.
12. Downsize Using LetGo
While it seems to be a trend globally on this list, we wanted to touch on the subject to take a closer look on how you can live more frugally when going to one income.
Downsizing really puts your spending habits and lifestyle into perspective and brings to light some inefficiencies your family might have had.
Common downsizing suggestions could include getting rid of clothes you no longer wear and selling them, reducing the amount of groceries you buy, and even moving to a more affordable home.
While these are not options for everyone, you can audit your surroundings and make the best judgement call on what you can downsize.
Using an app like LetGo, an online marketplace for used and new items, can be a huge help on getting rid of a lot of things you no longer use. LetGo allows you to simply post the item up for sale in minutes at no cost.
13. Become More Self Sufficient By Growing Your Own Food
One easy way to spend less is to become more self-sufficient. Becoming self-sufficient mean that you will rely less on utilities, store bought food, and other expenses you currently have.
We aren’t suggesting you go totally off the grid here, we just have a few suggestions on how you can start to spend less and be more sufficient.
One of our favorite suggestions in becoming more sufficient is by growing your own foods in a garden or flower pot. This will be limited to mostly homeowners as most rented apartments and duplexes will not allow gardening.
With a garden, you can start to grow your own vegetables, herbs, and fruits to not only spend less money on groceries, but to eat better as well (could help save money on doctor visits).
Bonus Tip – Learn to live more eco-friendly for extra savings. Collecting rainwater, utilizing solar energy, and using more natural lighting can help you save even more on utility bills.
14. Take Advantage Of Clearance Aisles & Bulk Savings
The most important tip on saving money is being more frugal. To be more frugal, you have to learn how to shop cheaper. This can be anything from buying in bulk, shopping clearance racks, buying no-brand items, and taking advantage of sales.
Don’t let your pride influence your purchasing decisions, many branded items are the same items you can get much cheaper, just rebranded with a raised price.
This is a tip that will need to be followed when shopping for anything that you may need and not just stop at clothes and food. By applying this principle to everyday purchases, you can really start to see the savings stack up.
15. Lower Your House/Rent Payment
When you lay out all of your bills and check for anything you can reduce, you may look over your house or rent payment thinking, “Well there is nothing I can do about that”. Although it may seem that way, there are a few options on lowering this bill, some easier than others.
For Homeowners – Look and see if you can have your home loan refinanced. Refinancing your home means that you will be negotiating a better interest rate for your house note.
You will be lowering the amount of interest you’re paying on your loan which translates to a lower monthly mortgage payment. This will take a little bit of leg work but the savings could be tremendous.
For Renters – Unfortunately there are not any sure fire ways to lower your current rent payment but there are still a few options to try. If you’re renting an apartment you could ask to move to a smaller apartment with a lower payment. If you’re renting from a private landlord, you may be able to negotiate a price deduction in return for repairs to the home that the landlord would normally have to fix themselves.
16. Cook At Home/Cheaper With BigOven
Probably the most common tip followed by families living on one income is cooking at home more and eating out less.
A family of four could easily spend over $50 when dining out, and that’s not even including tip or alcohol. You could cook a meal under $10 for the same amount of people if you plan it right.
Cooking at home is not always cheaper, but with a little preparation and planning, you can be saving hundreds of dollars every month. Smartphone app, BigOven, can give you budget meal recipes on the go for easy meal planning.
By meal planning throughout the week, you can plan cheaper meals and shop for what you need not by what you may want at the time. This is a great way to combine cooking at home, cooking cheaper, and couponing to save a great deal of money. It’s all about planning.
Bonus Tip – If you’re struggling to find cheaper meals or do not know where to start, we have got your back with 50 frugal meal recipes to give you a start.
17. Learn To Barter Services With Trademade
A few of your expenses could probably be bartered for free or at least a discounted price. Bartering is basically trading and it could apply to clothes, services, and even food.
If you have a friend who wears the same size clothes as you, trade them some clothes that you don’t wear for clothes that they don’t wear, it’s a win-win.
Trademade, a smartphone app for bartering services and items, allows you to easily connect with other active barterers to trade your unused items or services. This allows you to save money, meet cool people, and help the environment all in one. The perfect trio for those living on one income.
One of the biggest bartering techniques for families is child care services. It’s no secret that daycare bills are expensive and sometimes more than your mortgage payment.
Being able to find someone you trust to watch your kid while you run errands in turn for you doing the same from them can save you much needed time and energy.
This can also be used to earn some additional income as well. You can charge family and friends for watching their kids while they take a date night or just need a few hours to themselves.
18. Adjust Your Tax Withholdings
The most overlooked tip on this list is adjusting your tax withholdings when you move to a single income family. The nice tax refund check is great every spring, but could you use that extra money right now?
If so, you can talk to your employer about adjusting your tax withholdings to be able to deduct less and receive more now.
This is a tip we highly suggest having a professional help with as you could owe money when you file your taxes. The last thing you want to do when living more frugal is to have to pay out a large amount every spring.
19. Get Rid Of Any Unnecessary Expenses With Truebill
Now that you have your list of bills and expenses laid out in front of you, it’s time to check out what you can start to eliminate, cut down, or review.
While most of your larger bills will take some work to drive the cost down, there are going to be a few that you’re able to cut out immediately without having to sacrifice too much.
To do this easily, you can use a smartphone app called Truebill. Truebill can help you manage your subscriptions, lower your monthly bills, and keep you in control of your finances.
This app will link with your bank account and find all of your recurring bills, memberships, and subscription service to allow you to easily see what you can get rid of.
20. Get A Game Plan Together
The first and most important step when you move from a dual-income to a single income is to create a game plan for you and your spouse. If the reason for moving to a single income is a job loss or injury, stress levels will already be high.
It’s important that you and your spouse discuss all of your options and create a game plan to make sure that you’re both aiming for the same goal.
While we will be reviewing many of the items you need to talk about in your game plan below, it’s vital to make sure that every concern is brought up at this time.
Communication levels must be very high between spouses as money spending will become a group effort as money is coming from one source. By working as a team, you can achieve your goals much faster and be a support system for each other every step of the way.
21. Use Mint To List Out & Track All Of Your Bills/Expenses
After getting a game plan together and discussing all of your initial thoughts, concerns, and suggestions, it’s time to start auditing your bills and expenses.
There is an easy to use app called Mint that’s great for keeping track of all of your bills and making sure you pay them on time.
After your bills have been lined out, you will want to examine any expenses that you spend money on every month. This will include groceries, gas, cable, video streaming services like Netflix & Hulu, radio subscriptions, and any other monthly service charges.
This step will give you a great look at how your money is being spent on a monthly basis and give you a great starting point on where you can start saving money instantly.
The most important part of this step is to be thorough. A good way to check what you’re being charged monthly is checking your bank statements for recurring charges. You may find some charges that you forgot about.
22. Review Phone Plans, Insurance, & Other Bills For Cheaper Options
While looking at your bills and expenses and cutting down some of the unneeded expenses, you may notice you’re paying a lot for the bills you cannot get rid of.
This can include your cell phone plans, auto insurance plans, and electricity bills.These are the bills that can’t necessarily be completely removed, however, there are options to reduce them by doing a little bit of research.
Start by making a list of these bills and the provider that you’re currently using. Next, you will either want to call the provider and ask for a more budget friendly plan, or research a competitor who is offering a better price for the same service.
You may find out that you have been overpaying all of this time and can get a lower bill instantly.
My biggest takeaway: In order to effectively save more money, you need to audit your spending and cut back on things you do not need. If you have the time, making a few extra bucks can certainly help as well.
Combine these two with money saving apps and you have a winning combo that will make life much easier!
There you have it, 21 tips to help your family make the transition to a single income. We hope that this guide can help you save money and spend money more wisely to help achieve a perfect balance