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Overcoming the Challenge of Surviving on One Income

Sometimes families that are surviving on one income are not doing so by choice. People always seem to think that when others are in certain situations, it was done by choice. Some single income households come about because the sole breadwinner is in a financial position to support the entire family quite comfortably. But some one income households are formed because of  the unavailability, illness or death of one of the breadwinners.

The challenge of surviving on one income requires a fair amount of mettle and resilience, especially if the situation is not ideal. And if the situation has been thrust on you without warning, the initial shock of what you are facing could shake you to the core. Deciding how you will fulfill your family’s basic financial needs – food, shelter and clothing – should be at the top of your “to survive” list and inform any action plan you create.

Surviving on One Income

To survive on one income, your aim is to ensure that all of your expenses are covered by the one income coming in each month. If you cannot do this, then your ability to provide the basic needs for your family will be compromised. As a result, there needs to be a strong effort to make sure that you take care of your core financial needs first and anything else after.

Put Your Needs First

Families who are adjusting from a dual income family to a single income family, must create a clear picture of what their needs are. As mentioned, food, shelter and clothing should be at the top of the list. But other non-financial needs such as love, support and motivation should also be considered. During this time, family members will have to forego some of the tangible lifestyle comforts and non-essential wants until the family can get back on its feet.

Create a Budget

One of the best things that you can do is to create a budget that will guide your money. If you’ve never budgeted before in your life, now is the time to start. You can get started with my simple budget worksheet, that I have saved in the library. Make a note of how much you’re earning each month, what your expenses are and how much they are, and how much (if any) you can put towards savings. For this budget to be a success, you have to be disciplined and stay true to your needs – food, shelter and clothing.

Reduce Your Grocery Bill

Food bills can be ridiculously huge, especially when there are growing children in the household. Your aim is to cut your grocery bill by cutting out unnecessary food items (such as snacks and instant meals), using coupons and buying sale goods or buying generic brands instead of the popular brands. If you can set a food budget, that you can stick to, then you may be able to save money on food. If your health requires a special diet, do not compromise this for the sake of saving a dollar.

Secure Your Shelter

Having a home is often taken for granted until the threat of losing it suddenly becomes real. If you are renting and it’s difficult to maintain the rent on a single income, you may have to consider moving to a cheaper place. Take note, that whilst moving may be an option, there are financial and emotional costs attached to this. If you are a home owner paying a mortgage, you should have a chat with your lender to see if there is anyway to make your mortgage more manageable. Unfortunately, some families who fall on hard times, end up separating and living with relatives; living in their car or become homeless.

Reduce Your Overall Spending

Although reducing your grocery bill was covered separately, there are lots of other ways that you can reduce your overall spending. I have always believed that every dollar counts and you should adopt this mindset too. Simple acts can save you money, especially now that you are surviving on one income. You can get rid of your cable, reduce your cell phone plan; air dry your laundry; turn off lights in empty rooms; take your lunch to work; and look for family activities that are low cost or no cost.

Surviving on one income requires a mindset and a lifestyle change, especially if you did not choose the situation. You have to rise above the depressing thoughts and find a reason that will motivate you to keep going. If you feel that your financial issues are too much for you to bear alone, please ask for help and do not suffer in silence.