Hacks for Happy on One Income

When we got married, I knew that when I had kids I wanted to be at home with them. I had the clarity of having experience with both, being a child with a mother at home and being a teenager with a single mother working and I knew that I wanted to be at home, if at all possible, at least when my kids were home.

Gratefully, those children came along and with them the real life decisions of how to live on one income. It was an evolutionary quest.

At first, I babysat so that I could be with our first child at home until my husband finished a graduate degree and we moved into the working

world. Then for a stretch, we were paying off student loans, so we kept to our simple budget of spending mostly for necessities. This was about the time I started thrift shopping (way before it was considered en vogue) to help keep the burden of supplying food and clothing for our little ones, as light as possible. For a few dollars, I could find books and clothes and even home decor and it was pretty thrilling and has become a talent I have worked on and enjoy!

Later, as the kids started into school, we decided that we would offer them two options for extra activities. If they wanted to take piano lessons and a dance class, that was great. And if they wanted to try something else, they would need to choose between their new interest and the older ones. Some may think that they might have had more opportunities if we had put more money into lessons and interests, but what it seems to have done was give them opportunities to be kids. They learned from their teachers and lessons but they also had time to ride their bikes through the neighborhood! They had homework and practicing, but also fun times with friends and reading good books and playing ball. When I see kids today who are scheduled to death, it makes me sad to think they may be missing the only time in their lives when they will get to be young and free!

As it turns out, two of our three kids play the piano, one is a violinist, one played the saxophone, one danced on pointe, and one tried gymnastics. Even with the limit, that made for a lot of lessons and driving to and from! I’m so grateful for the ways that our kids took advantage of the chances for learning they each had.

When we went school shopping, to save money, we went to stores in a certain order: first to thrift shops, then to department stores and last to the mall! By the time we got to the most expensive items, we usually had gathered some good basics at much lower prices.

We also set up a system, or token economy, for funneling money through the kids! {James Jones, Let’s Fix The Kids} This idea changed the expectation of mom and dad buying what the kids needed or wanted, to the kids taking the money they had earned at home and making the choices themselves of how much they wanted to spend for clothing etc. It surely makes a difference how you think about money and how you use money when you have put forth effort to earn it. Our kids are very good with managing their finances, and I hope that this experience was part of what has made them successful in this arena. I also see them accustomed to working hard and caring for what they earn and have now and it is wonderful to see!

Being free of the need of a second income, in many cases, takes thinking outside the box and being willing to honestly look at needs versus wants, at focusing on your family and not on what the neighbors have or what they are doing and learning new skills to take care of the things you have or to create what you need. For instance, sewing has become a fun skill to have, though born of necessity, and I’ve spent many enjoyable hours making Christmas gifts, jackets, baby gifts, quilts (though I’m not much good at quilts!), prom dresses, etc.

It also requires unplugging from an “entitlement mindset” to finding contentment in the blessings you have, materially speaking but also in the richness of time spent with each other and the simplicity of doing less, owning less and caring for less.

Softening into the unspeakably precious opportunity to care for your own children is worth it. It can be a process and may take concerted mental re-centering, but the dividends are great. If your efforts at earning money are required for your family to stay afloat, may God bless you to find success and peace in that scenario too. Women amaze me with their resilience and strength!

Love to you and kudos for every courageous act you perform today! You are amazing!





6 thoughts on “Hacks for Happy on One Income

    1. They are good people these kids of mine, and I’m proud to be their Mama!! You’ve got some great ones too my friend!🤗

  1. I love this!!! Those are great tips for making the one income stretch further. I might also add that when we have tried to be obedient and had faith to do God’s will, He has given back far more than we have given up. Keep sharing!!! Xoxo

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