Guest Post from Lyn
My husband and I since we have been married (4+ years) have been living on a lower-than-average income. He works with teens in a group home. It is a very challenging job but he enjoys it very much. I am at home and live with chronic illness. We live only on my husband’s income.
My job is being "keeper of my home" and a helper to my husband. With the limited energy I have, I cook, care for my home and try to be as frugal as possible to the best of my ability. There are days I am successful and days that I am not. The amazing thing has been that I have been able to remain home on one lower-income salary. God continues to look out for us.
Several years back we wanted to simply get out of debt. At first, we started to chip away at medical bills–bills we had due to a terrible health insurance plan at the time. We progressed onto consumer debt and have fully paid one debt off and are hoping to pay off the rest in the very near future.
Last year we had to come up with money for a roof repair of $2,000, numerous car repairs, and have recently had to have a new toilet installed. The encouraging part though has been that we have paid off well over $10,000 the last 2 years in medical bills, debt, home repairs and car repairs, all while living on a very modest income.
We were still able to achieve this when last fall due to a downsizing of my husband’s work hours we lost $800-$900/month in pay. It was difficult but it also showed us how to scale back to our basic needs and to be thankful for all that we do have.
Our salary this year will be around $21-22K net. It is only from the Lord, really that we are able to do all of this. My husband has never made more than a mid-30K net income (this was one year with much overtime, often working 70-80 hours per week). Otherwise it’s always been in the $20K range or less.
We live in New England, where the winters are very cold and the cost of living is high. We own a small modular home and are responsible for all repairs, upkeep, taxes, and insurance.
Some practicals on how we achieve this:
::Putting all extra cash (holiday pay, income tax refunds, government rebate, extra from 3-pay check months twice per year) towards debt (*Tip, once you are out of debt, do the same to build savings.)
::Not going out just to spend (extra money is always put towards debt, bills or future expenses).
::Padding some of our bills ahead as we can (planning ahead really helps)
::Not going on vacations (for now). Our last vacation was our honeymoon.
::Giving up cable and reducing all categories of income (We cut everything when husband’s hours were reduced.)
::Utilizing coupons–I tend to use those that are for healthy foods and will use coupons for free or close-to-free items (thanks to moneysavingmom!). This really helps our budget. (One of the only non-necessity items we have kept is our internet because I feel it saves me so much more than what I pay for it.)
::Stay home most days/live with one car
::Eat out minimally and when we do it’s done inexpensively
::Make a game out of being frugal. This helps you to be creative with what you have, instead of focusing on what you don’t.
::Shop at home with what you already have and look for solutions to your needs instead of buying more.
::We each have a small stipend each pay day and can do with that amount what we please (the rest is budgeted). It really helps our mindset to have something to be able to spend if desired.
::Choosing to live in smaller and less expensive housing (reduced utilities, less to clean and maintain)
The best thing anyone can do if they live on a smaller income is to get out of debt. Do whatever you can to accomplish this as it will help you to better manage your money in this challenging economy.
Once we are out of debt we will have a little wiggle room. However, we will still need to be able to manage on a smaller income, and we shall.
There are times I am discouraged by this, but for the most part I am grateful to be where we are at and to have what we do. I find my efforts and abilities are best utilized in helping to maximize the income we do have. In this season of my life it is easier to try and spend less than to be concerned about earning more.
To be honest, it can be challenging to put more money into savings on a lower income. I continue to be positive and look for ways to cut back and spend less. The more creative and proactive I become, the less time I have to worry, feel defeated or feel sorry for myself. We are blessed and there are so many in this world that have much less than we do.
Lyn is a full-time homemaker who resides in lovely rustic New England. She enjoys frugal and simple living and strives for a balance of both while living with long-term chronic illness. Although living on a smaller income, she feels blessed with all the Lord provides, as many have so much less. She can be contacted at spendingsimply (at) yahoo (dot) com.