We know first-hand that living on one income while homeschooling can be a challenge. But where there is a will there is a way! Here are our 10 tried-and-true tips for making it happen:
1. Stick to your budget.
We have operated on a budget since nearly the beginning. It started before we had children when I decided to go back to college. We went from two nice incomes down to one. We ate a lot of leftovers! The budget kept us from panicking. We knew that if we kept to the budget we would have enough money to make it.
Don’t have a budget? Then you know where to start! Our favorite tool in this area (since the early 1990s) is Quicken. (I realize there are other options — but hey, this is the one that has worked extremely well for us!)
It helps to determine all of your expenses…every last one. Then decide how much you can cut from each category and still be reasonably comfortable. Once you have your budget in place, it is essential to follow up on an at least monthly basis. If you have overspent in one month, you’ll need to take the time to figure out how to recover those dollars by underspending in another month or transferring dollars over from another category.
2. Set goals.
What do you want to accomplish? Add a room onto the house? Purchase a new-for-you automobile? Buy a replacement appliance?
Set that goal. And then save for it. Working toward goals helps us stay focused — and on budget.
3. Cut obvious expenses.
Sometimes this involves tough choices. We’ve been there. In the end each family will have to decide for themselves which expenses are negotiable and which ones are not.
4. Watch the grocery budget.
In our family, the was one of the biggest expenses. Fortunately, it is also one where we have more discretion. While there are many ways to prepare meals on the cheap, in our case it was also important to make sure those meals were healthy!
5. Pay off the credit card every month.
The convenience of credit cards has almost made them a must. However, it goes without saying, it is a convenience — not a payment plan!
I came up with several items that I could easily do without. Fortunately, my no-longer-need-this items became someone else’s treasure via eBay!
7. Check for ways to decrease your electric bill.
This was another way in which we were really able to save — zoned heating and cooling, blackout shades for sunny-side windows, and avoiding peak demand charges.
8. Buy items with gift cards.
The cash envelope system simply didn’t work for us. But some genius came up with the idea of purchasing gift cards each month for the amount you have budgeted. When the card is tapped out, you have spent the max amount for the month.
You can also see about purchasing your gift cards to get extra rewards, such as fuel points or cash back.
9. Include fun things in your budget.
Yes, you are very likely to spend every cent in this category, so keep it small. But you won’t believe how appreciated those “fun things” will end up being!
10. Check your “need” list when it comes to gifts.
If friends or relatives ask what your family might like for birthday and Christmas gifts, check your list of items most needed. You can also include school tools and books!
You’ll notice working at home is not on our list. While only you and your family can decide if that extra income is worth it, there are ways to live comfortably on one income.
20 Easy Ways to Save Money Around the Home
Now that you have addressed the biggies, here are a few more simple ideas!
6 Ways to Cut Homeschooling Expenses
Here are 6 ways to cut homeschooling expenses without sacrificing a quality education.