Our One Income Experience

by Tina Shake

My husband and I have been on one income for 20 years. We are in our upper thirties with 3 children, only two are at home now. Our daughter is 14 and our some is 11 and there is always something coming up that we need money for. Our income is only in the mid 20's so we have to be careful. Living on one income doesn't mean that you have to really go without, it only means that you have to change your lifestyles. One big lifestyle change would be to NOT have charge cards! NO no no none at all. What we have done is to get an overdraft protection on our checking account for $500.00. That should take care of any emergencies that pop up. If some emergency happens that you need to dip into this, go ahead and deduct this from your checkbook register. (It will show a minus amount) This will remind you that this MUST be paid off. Painful but necessary, this must be a no- break rule, even if it amounts to 25.00 a month, that overdraft must be paid off to keep your emergency money. We also made sure that we received one of the new debit cards. Ours is a Mastercard, looks like a charge card, in fact no one can tell the difference. The difference IS that there is no interest and it comes directly out of your checking. Each time you use it you subtract it from your checkbook register. For those of you that insist on having a charge card, you should only charge what you can pay off in one month to avoid interest. You do this by subtracting each charge from your checkbook as you go. If you do not have the money in there then you should not charge it. I know that you will say, "Why have a charge card then?" The only advantage that I can see is the charge cards that have some sort of rebate program where you can receive a certain percentage in goods or services for every dollar that you charge.

Use coupons and get involved with networking with other people that do the same thing. Then you can buy in bulk and save, save, save! I save about $350.00 to $400.00 a month and I only spend $200.00. I shop at double coupon stores and center my list around loss- leader sales and coupons. When you buy say 10 boxes of Betty Crocker specialty potatoes at the price of 79 cents but have 55 cent coupons doubled to 1.10, that is the smart way to shop. I put them in the freezer and can cross that off my list for sometime to come. Rebating is another plus with all of this bulk items that you can buy.

Clothing children can be a big expense. Once you start doing it in advance you can save hundreds. Every year as all of you know there are clearances everywhere getting ready for the next seasons clothing. Many times I have seen the basic necessities down to 50 cents and 1.00. Buy in larger sizes and put back. Do not buy fad type clothes at these sales. That could become wasteful, especially with a teenager. Stock up on underwear, classic style color T-shirts, etc.

Teach your children the value of a dollar. I have my teen do some kind of work in the summer that she can make money on. Work is a very important lesson for children. Life just doesn't hand you things when you grow up, you have to learn how to work hard and to budget that money. My teenager will be detasseling corn this summer and will work very hard for about 1 to 2 months. I estimate that she should make anywhere from $300 -$500 dollars.

Out of that she is allowed to have $20.00 a week to spend. The rest will go in a savings for the fall. Out of the savings she will be required to buy her school books. This is an eye opener. She will learn what it takes for mom and dad to get her started every year. That should be around $60.00. The rest she may spend on school supplies (bet she doesn't pick out that $25.00 backpack!) and clothing. She will be allowed to pick out anything that she wants for school clothing. (keep in mind that I have the basics already set back for her from last year) Not only does she get the satisfaction of dressing in her "Cool" fashions, she will be learning from the experience.

The 11 year old will not have to go through this yet. However when he wants a big ticket item, he is required to save 1/2 of the cost by putting birthday money or whatever in his own savings. He soon figures out if that big ticket item is worth it or not.

I hope this helps some of you that are thinking of going to a one income family. Not only will the stress level be down but you will be helping our nation by instilling values and monetary budgeting in our future adults.

(Tina sent us this thumbnail biography.)

My husband is a manager for a small car repair business. I have three children, 20, 14, and 11. I have a associate degree in Executive Secretarial but have not worked in 14 years. We are lower middle income and live like upper middle income. We own a two story colonial home that was said to be part of the underground railroad. We have remodeled the inside totally on our own. The outside is being resided, windows, etc. and that is due to using the equity that we had built in our house. Payments will be cheaper and our house has tripled its value in 11 years.

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