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Why we choose to live on one income (and how you can too)

Are you making the switch to live on one income? Maybe you are a stay at home parent, or one spouse is still in college there are many reasons why it might be a necessity. Living off one income does not have to just be for those who find it essential it can also be a great way to get intense with your savings plans. Today we will share with you our tips for living on a single income and why we choose to live on a single income.

Why we live of one income?
When I started work we figured that my starting salary was enough to cover our essentials plus our budgeted luxuries.
With our goal to get intense with our savings for our future home we knew that we needed to be setting aside as much as possible each month into savings. But it can be so easy to see lots of money in the checking account and spend, especially if we thought in terms of our joint salaries our surplus was quite a bit.
To get us out of this mentality we live as if my income is our only income, this is what we live off, this is what we budget from and any excess goes into savings (just like any normal budgeting situation). We then assign all of Chris income into the various savings pots we invest into which currently includes our Help to Buy ISAs, stocks and shares ISA and my Self Invested Pension Plan.

Whilst Chris is still studying being able to live off my income only means that there is less stress on him to work during busy periods when exams occur. It also means that the variability in his hours and any overtime he picks up during holiday is just bonus savings and not something we have to rely on.

However, being able to live solely of one income is no easy feat for us. Im in my first graduate job and Chris is working during his degree, so we are not super high earners. We also live in one of the most expensive cities in the UK so there are number of things we do to ensure that this is an achievable situation.

How you can live on one income too

1. Reduce essential expenses
There are somethings you just can't avoid to pay for rent, food, utilities. But you do have some control. We live in the less affluent area of Brighton to make our money go further and are considering a move further along the coast next year in order to reduce the cost of rent. Keeping your usage of electric, gas and water low helps reduce the cost of utilities. Whilst meal planning and cooking frugally helps keep the food bill down.

2. Ensure income covers essential expenses as a minimum.
Having assessed and reduced your essential expenses you now have a clear picture of the minimum amount you need coming in each month from the income you are going to live off. You may at this point find that the income is just not enough.
There are two ways to change a budget, spend less or earn more and you may find that you have to do more. Consider asking for a raise, could you take on more hours, maybe now is the time to change jobs, could you do some training at work to become more qualified? Look at the different ways you could increase your income.

3. Reduce unnecessary expenses
Bynreviewing all your monthly payments to see if there are any subscriptions your could drop. subscriptions can easily slip through the next but being ruthless with them and really think about what you want to keep. All the time remembering that these are wants boy needs so they are the area in budget to cut. Some big costs include TV (discover how you can watch for free).

4. Comparison shop
Looking to see if you have you got any monthly subscriptions or annual purchases that you could switch or move down to a less expensive package. Whilst this can be more challenging to do for essentials (I.e rent) this is easier for non essentials it can make a huge difference and you army really having to cut back.
Don't forget to look at the details of packages you pay for are you using all the elements, could you cut down if so see if you could drop down to a less expensive package. If you are not sure how much you are using, for example on a phone plan don't be afraid to call up your current provider and get a breakdown of your current usage, arm yourself with this information when making comparisons between packages offered.

6. Keep a constant track of your finances
Being intentional with how you spend your money comes from knowing how it is being spent. We are currently loving using tiller spreadsheets to track our finances and have the daily email alerts set up to really keep any eye on our spending.  The spreadsheets link automatically to your bank and track all transactions. From there you can categorise the transactions, making you conscious of your spending habits. At the end of the month we like to print out the spreadsheet and review how it compares to our budget goals.

7. Live debt free
If we were not debt free living off one income would be so much harder if not impossible as we would need to be putting all our income towards becoming debt free. Being debt free is the key foundation to be able to successful in living on a single or low income. But if you are in debt don't stress you too can become debt free and gain control of your finances. To start on your journey check out our 5 steps to becoming debt free.

Do you live on a single income? How do you make it work for your family?


  1. We'd love to be able to live on one income, and this is the plan for the future. Right now, we're paying off debt so it's just not feasible for us. Hopefully it'll only be another couple of years before we're there though!

  2. The nice thing about learning to live on one income is that it makes it possible for you to choose to do so at any time--like if you have kids, or lose a job. Good work.

  3. We definitely do not live on one salary, although that's our long-term goal. If you ignore our debt payoff, we can cover all of our expenses on one salary. But if you include our debt payoff, we put a lot of our money towards that. I can't wait to be debt-free, at which point, a significant portion of our income will go towards savings, and we will be living off just one of our salaries :)

  4. Living debt free is something that needs to be drilled into kids heads from the start. The massive life advantage you have by not having debt hanging over your head and eating up massive portions of your paycheck isn't even fully describable.