Thursday, February 21, 2013

Learning to Live on Half our Income

This year, Todd and I are attempting to live on half of our income.  We both make roughly the same amount of income each year, and we had been putting 40% of our combined income toward our savings goals for a couple of months in 2012 with no real pinch in our finances.

Since January 4th, the first paycheck that we received, I have been surprised at how tight the extra 10% feels on our budget.  We are nearly two months into this project of living on half our income and let me tell you, I commend those who live on one income!  Our expenses are extremely low yet we have been feeling the pressure to stay within our goal of living off of 50% of our income this year and next.

I am learning some very valuable lessons while going through this with Todd.

His Spending Habits vs. My Spending Habits
I have known that I am the natural saver in our home; however, I didn’t realize by how much.  If I had control of all the finances, I think we would be doing just fine living on half of our income; however, I would have a very unhappy husband.  J  So really, is it worth it? 

Every Friday when Todd gets paid, we have to set our priorities.  What has to be paid this week and what can wait*?  Do we have any money left over to go out or to buy items in bulk?  I am having a really awful day: maybe we should just go to Subway for dinner so I don’t have to cook.  Is it worth it? (The answer is no, by the way.  I had to suck it up and make dinner because I didn’t want us to have to scrape by for the rest of the week just because I was having a bad day.)

*Please know that we are not behind on any of our bills.   The few recurring expenses that we have are usually paid before the statement is even cut.    

Plan Ahead
There are some expenses coming up just around the corner we have to start saving for.  One of them is the 2 weeks off Todd gets (unpaid) during the plant shutdown each July.  Usually, the employees get sent home from work early several times throughout the month due to lack of work even before the plant shuts down for those two weeks.  If we neglect to plan ahead for this, it could be debilitating to our finances in July and may even make us lose momentum.

Communication is Key
We now keep a very low account balance in our checking account because half of our income is immediately transferred over to pay down the principal of our mortgage.  Because of this, there is not much wiggle room in our budget.  I have to keep Todd up to date at all times so that he knows when he can and cannot take a trip to WalMart or pick up the tab for lunch with his parents. 

The Emergency Fund Gives Me Peace of Mind
For me, the Emergency Fund is my security blanket that even allows us to take on this project of paying off our mortgage in 2 years and living on half of our income. Without it, I’m not sure I would be brave enough to take on such a task. 

We Can Get Through Anything Together
Though this new budget of ours has put a little pressure on our marriage, we know we are working toward a common goal.  If we can accomplish this task of living on half our income, we know that if something where to happen with one of our incomes or if we start a family, we can make it.

We are learning very valuable lessons by taking on this project and I am enjoying it every step of the way thus far.  If you are a one-income household, what advice could you share with us?

DISCLAIMER: I feel it is worth mentioning:  I realize how fortunate we are to be able to bring in two incomes and have the opportunity to attempt to live on one income.  This is a learning experience for us so that one day, we can live off of one income, whether that is his or mine. 


  1. I think you're probably going through an adjustment period right now. It's hard to slash spending!

    We live on one income (and quite honestly, feel like we're thriving even though we're not rolling in the money!) I think the secret for us is just staying within the money budget. Example- We budget $50 a month for eating out, this gives us money to spend doing something 'fun' so we don't feel like we're doing without but once the money is gone gone, it's gone. We by no means have living on one income perfected but I think it gets easier the longer you do it!

    1. Rachel, you are probably right about this being an adjustment period. Though we have always been frugal, this has been a stretch for us; however, I think it is a great learning experience.