ThriftyFun News February 18, 2005 - Living On One Income

ThriftyFun News
Living On One Income

Volume Seven, Number 8 February 18, 2005


We recently received requests from people who are looking for advice about living on one income. In response to that we are publishing two recent requests that have a lot of useful responses that I think will be useful to people trying to live on one income or generally trying to live more frugally. Towards the bottom of the newsletter we have links to some budgeting articles from our archive. The first step to living within your means is knowing where you stand and creating a sensible budget.


If would like to share any advice about living on one income (in a one or two person or parent household) or general tips to help people live within in their means, feel free to submit them on the contest form.

If there is a topic you would like to see addressed in a future TF News, please recommend it.

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This newsletter contains:

  • Being Frugal and Single on Low Income
  • Adding Up the Savings From a Frugal Life
  • Living on One Income
  • Single Income Living
  • Creating a Budget
  • Are You Afraid Of A Budget
  • How To Stick To Your Budget
  • Budgeting: The Basics and Beyond
  • Yes, You Can Budget!

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Being Frugal and Single on Low Income

I would like to see information about being frugal and single at the same time. I have a part-time job and live alone. I have to grocery shop at a food bank. I need easy and frugal recipes for 1. How to make ends meet better and how to stretch the dollar. All the frugal sites address people living on 2 full time salaries.



You don't say what type of work you do, but here is a suggestion: get a job (either in addition to, or instead of your present job) at a place that sells food -- whether a fancy sit-down restaurant, or a fast-food burger joint. Virtually every eating establishment gives their employees the fringe benefit of eating either free or at a discount, before or after their work shift. Especially since you have nobody else to feed, this might make a huge difference to your budget!

By Becki in Indiana

I had a similar situation when I was living on $800 a month.

I rented a room in a house for $300 including utilities, spent about $50 a week on food, and my old car, plus gas, maintenance, and insurance cost about $160 a month. That left $140 a month for things like the phone bill, a $30 a month gym membership (I had really bad back problems and needed to strengthen my lower back), a post office box, and varies sundries (stamps, etc.)


My best advice is to avoid trying to make very little money pay for lots of things, but to reduce the number of things you need to pay for. I don't know your medical or other personal needs, but there are well-woman clinics that are free (if you're female) for your annual exams.

You could also:

* Not have a phone or internet and use a laptop at a wireless internet cafe.

* Have a weekly potluck with your friends. Most people will leave behind the leftovers which can provide free food for another day or two.

* Rent a room in a house instead of your own place as it's usually less expensive. Or rent out a two-bedroom apartment and rent the master bed/bath for more than half the total rent. That would lower the cost in my area to about $250 a month for you.

* Get a low-income bus pass and take public transport to work (where I live that pass costs about $15 a month I think)

* If you have a significant little chunk regularly, pay for something really nice for yourself, like I had the gym membership out of need but I LOVED the steam room and really treated myself with a good steam everytime I went.


* Barter where you can. In Alaska, I worked 5 hours a week in the local laundromat in exchange for doing laundry for free and weekly showers for me and my kids. (most of us did not have running water)

* If you have a place for a homemade reflective solar cooker, you can bake cornbread, cook rice, etc. for an initial investment of an old box and some foil, a couple of oven cooking bags and thrift store black pot.

* If you pay for water, don't flush everytime you go...also dishwashers use more water (9-16 gallons) and electricity than washing your dishes in hot soapy water once a day. I often turn off my hot water heater at night and turn it back on in the morning. Unplug TVs and other "instant-on" appliances when not in use. It will save a few pennies. Never turn on lights when daylight will do. Set your computer to sleep when not in use. Better yet, get rid of it and use the one at the library!


* If you have a good sized vehicle, offer to clean garages for a low rate and offer to haul away the stuff they don't want. You can sell some stuff at a yard sale and donate the rest.

By Rabbithorns

I cook things like a pot of vegetable soup, pot of stew, a ham, things that make enough servings to last most of the week. It may seem you are spending a lot on that one item to prepare, but in the long run, you do save. As for a ham, then when I have cut off most of the ham, I then cut up what is left, put it in a big pot with the ham bone (for flavor), add cabbage, corn, and butterbeans, and you have made another meal that will last a while. I think this is the secret to spending little on meals and still be nourished properly. I don't know your age, but working full time may be an option...or doing like so many, use some of that time when not working to scour yard sales to find things to resell. Don't use your gas and your money renting a table for a day or two. Instead, put your things on ebay and you will make some more income. Another thing is bartering. Do you have something that you do well, something that others might like to have, like sewing, painting, making things that you might barter to a local grocer. You may even find one that will give you a few hours work in exchange for food rather than pay. The less you use your car for doing these things, the more money you have for food. The very best to you.

By Rita

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Adding Up the Savings From a Frugal Life

Just out of curiosity, has anyone tallied up what money they actually save with their frugal efforts? (e.g., fluorescent bulbs, off-brand milk, popcorn instead of chips, air dry clothes, etc.) I hear about how some frugal behavior saves loads of money, but it's hard to see it when the savings is so small. I guess I'm looking for encouragement.



I don't merely "save" money by being frugal - I am able to survive under nearly impossible financial conditions. In the last year, my income has dropped by $15,000 / year, and my expenses (due to a new baby) have risen by over $7,000 / year. I don't qualify for public assistance, nor do I get child support (I'm a single mom). All the pennies I save add up and somehow, someway, I make ends meet every month. It's not easy (to give you an example: I have to feed myself and my 6 month old daughter on $15 / week) but at least I'm making it!

By Leann2

I save most of my money on groceries. I shop at a discount grocery store where all they sell is their own brands. I save about 60%. I have a family of 5, with a yearly income of $25,000 a year which isn't much but I manage to spend $50-$60 a week at this store where when I would shop at a Super Walmart I would spend $130.00 a week (give or take a few $) And also I don't buy new clothing, I buy used clothing in great condition or I might get involved in a clothing swap. But that is how I save money. Here is the website for the store I shop at to see if there is one in your area

By HopeRomine

I know just how you feel! I found this yesterday and intend to post where I can see it every day.


By Mildred Lane

I used to tally my coupon savings. One year I saved about $500 just from cutting and using coupons and that is just for a family of two!

By Tony K.

Here's what I found out. I was never frugal, in fact a spendthrift and never saved a cent until about 2 years ago. Have always made a good wage, too. Now I have $8000 in the bank, a bunch of U.S. Savings Bonds, and a nice IRA account started with a few thousand in that. My life is more peaceful, too. I'm just not buying all my lunches out, catalog shopping because the stuff is cute, buying clothes I don't wear or need, tons of makeup, treating friends all the time to drinks and dinner, stopped smoking and feel SO much better, don't overeat or waste food, when it came time to buy another vehicle it wasn't fancy and fast but is dependable, just stuff like that. It pays, it really does!

By Jayne

If the visual impact will help you to continue your frugality program, here's what I would suggest: get a jar, coffee can, whatever. If you save .12 by buying a generic instead of a name brand item, put that .12 in the jar. If you serve popsicles at home instead of giving the kids money for the Good Humor truck and that saved you $2, put the $2 in the jar. If you cancel a magazine subscription and read them at the library instead, and that saved you $10, put the $10 in the jar. Get the picture? Pick a specific amount of time -- a week, a month -- and don't look until that time is up. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised at how much is in the jar!

By Becki in Indiana

I save by budgeting according to our income. We are a family of four with two teens living on about $32K a year. We actually need about $36K a year and that gets met with tax refunds and such. I can tell you that I save by shopping for car insurance, not using credit cards for anything, and other things. How I determine how much we save is by seeing to it that we don't need to work more to pay for more stuff. Bottom line: I'm saving my family $10K to $18K a year by all of us agreeing to live simply - because that's how much I would make if I had a paying job. And the kids and husband want me at home where I want to be.

If you plan to spend only a certain amount, then you probably will. If you leave it to trying to count your pennies in the end you won't see much success, because you had no plan, for spending or savings.

Also being frugal isn't about being cheap. It's about choosing where you really want to spend and where you don't. We don't want to waste energy and spend too much on it so we are careful with electricity, water and gasoline. On the other hand, we like Apple computers so we spend more (midrange, really) for a good one.

We drive a used car but we keep it repaired and in good shape so the overall life cost is much less than a new or newer one. We buy or are given used furniture and clothes, but our shoes are new and fit us well. And an on-sale new denim slipcover set makes it all match! (still hundreds less than new furniture)

Frugality is about having a choice and not being an economic commodity. The news doesn't call us citizens anymore. We're called "consumers". How insulting is that!

By Rabbithorns

Well, in my family, with our budget, even if we save only a few dollars a month, that is STILL saving! :-) You will ALWAYS save more money buying store brand grocery items versus the "name brand", unless they happen to be having a phenomenal sale on the name brand item, or you are in an area that has triple or double coupon days. Where I am, that isn't offered.

By Ann


Here's a site to help you calculate your current energy costs and how much you can save with improvements.

This also allows you to target which improvements will have the best cost/benefit to your situation. Over the course of 5 to 10 years, a lot of improvements can pay for themselves.

Gas Mileage has a nice resource for comparing vehicles and how much you can save on gas by using more fuel efficient cars.

When it comes to other gas saving strategies and savings is pretty easy to calculate. If you start a carpool with four people, you cut your gas consumption by as much as 75% (at least commuting costs). Every gallon of gas you can save is 2 dollars in your pocket.


In terms of paying for utilities, shopping for groceries, clothing, and other items having a budget is very important. That way you can track how much money you are saving. The budget provides proof that all these these things you are trying are in fact saving you money.

By Thrifty_Fun

The fluoro bulb and dryer cost savings can be found on power companies websites - if a dryer costs x number of $ per hour to run and you use your's for 5 hours per week that's how much you've saved if you line dry. On our group, (FrugalAussies), we have a couple of ladies who are brilliant at adding up their savings. Just start small - with the little things you've done - e.g. using a generic brand of breakfast cereal, and multiply by how many packs you use a week/month/year. Jot these down in a note book and watch them add up. Your own savings will be much more meaningful to you than someone elses. Also, one of our group set us a $1 a day challenge. If you save 10c, 20c, 30c, etc. by buying cheaper, or making do with something you already have rather than buying something, add up your savings and try to make at least $1 every day = $365+ a year with very little effort. The other motivational thing you can do is actually save that cash in a jar and watch it mount up - put it towards your credit card bill, your mortgage or use some of it to treat yourself.


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More Tips and Articles

Living on One Income

The best tip I can give about living on one income would probably be this one. When our daughters were small, we decided that it was important for me to be at home taking care of them every day, especially after we took the cost of child care into consideration. Any money I made would have gone to pay for someone to raise my children while I worked. That was quite a thought and we quickly rejected the idea of me working. I am happy to say that our children are grown and though we have had to do without some things, it was worth it to pinch pennies and do without some to have had the pleasure and blessings of raising my children and being with them every day. There's nothing worth more than your children!

By Robin

Post Feedback: Click HereSingle Income Living
By Gary Foreman

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I am a new mother with a 3 month old baby girl. I desperately want to be with her. I feel like she is with her caregiver more than with me. The dilemma I face is this: my husband's check is not enough to cover our mortgage and regular monthly bills. When I add up our bills we fall $400 short of making ends meet before groceries or any other expenses. I have thought about a home business but so far nothing seems good enough to cover the extra amount needed.

View Article: Click Here

Creating a Budget
By Bethanny Davis

Creating a budget is the first step to successful money management. How can you manage your money if you don't know how much you have or what you're spending it on?

View Article: Click Here

Are You Afraid Of A Budget
By Terry Rigg

There's that horrifying word. The one that makes so many peoplecringe at it's very utterance. It seems like they could make avery good spooky movie with the title "You Have To BUDGET!".

View Article: Click Here

How To Stick To Your Budget
By Terry Rigg

I've had a lot of people tell me that setting up their budget was simple but when it came to living by it payday after payday they admitted losing interest in a very short time.

View Article: Click Here

Budgeting: The Basics and Beyond

Budgeting is a word which usually gets negative reactions from people. But, a budget can help you use the money you have more effectively. A budget is a financial plan for spending; not a bookkeeping chore of keeping track of every penny.

View Article: Click Here

Yes, You Can Budget!
By Terry Rigg

There are several factors that contribute to budgets failing. The most common is that people just don't want to change the way they live and how they handle their money.

View Article: Click Here

Sewing Tips for Sewing Darts

Have trouble with darts? Here are step by step instructions with drawings.

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By Claudia Malak (Guest Post)
February 19, 20050 found this helpful

I have worked in nursing homes in the business offices for a few years. I have come home with dressers, night stands, tables, sheets for free. In both homes they will have furniture they are throwing out and will give to employees first and then to anyone who wants it. I have taken home twin bed sheets and bed spreads for free because the have stains on them and it is cheaper for them to buy new ones than to spend the money on bleach. Just bleach them up and they look perfect. I just came home with 2 dressers and 5 night stands for a donation of $5.00. Painted them and they look beautiful. If they can't give this stuff away it goes into a dumpster, and the facility has to pay for that. So it saves them money to give the stuff away. Just call the nursing homes in your area and talk to the maintenance department and laundry department and see if they will contact you went they have stuff.

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