Surviving on a single income after having a baby may seem impossible.
If you or your partner are pregnant right now or planning to have a baby and thinking “How the hell are we going to survive living on one wage when we are struggling to live on two?!” We did it, and I’ll tell you how.
Over three years ago when J man was happily baking away in my belly (I was already 12 weeks along when I found out I was pregnant), you would not have been able to convince hubby and I we could survive on a single income after having a baby AND continue to pay our double income bills.
Considering our mortgage, credit card and personal loan debts, utility bills, general everyday living expenses and our DINK lifestyle (Double Income No Kids), the very thought seemed impossible.
Three years later we did just that. I know, I’m such an asshole to brag about it.
We went on a month long babymoon to Darwin, then I stopped working at 36 weeks pregnant. I was able to stay home with J man for fifteen months before deciding to return to work, easing back into it on a part-time basis.
So how did we survive on a single income after having a baby with dual income bills continuing to invade our letter box every week?
These are the key changes we made to our lifestyle to make it happen*:
1. When we found out we were having a baby, we consolidated our bad debts into a single loan (Bad debts are not collectible, therefore worthless to a creditor. They’re things like credit cards, small personal loans and store cards).
If consolidating our debts was not an option, I would’ve paid off the highest interest rate or smallest debt first. Once the debt was cleared, I would’ve used the savings in addition to the required payment amount to pay the next highest interest or smallest debt first and so on.
By consolidating our debts this gave us a single manageable payment with a reasonable interest rate, instead of multiple payments across multiple due dates with various high interest rates.
We were able to pay down the consolidated debt faster by putting the extra money we saved each week back onto the loan. We managed to pay it off a few weeks before bubs was born. Doing this was an average saving of $300 p/m.
2. We recorded outgoing monies compared to incoming monies as accurately as possible to identify problem spending areas and areas of controllable outgoing amounts such as the weekly grocery shop. This made it easier to see a realistic overview of our finances and decide what steps needed to be taken for me to be a stay at home mum after having a baby.
3. I negotiated better deals on our mobile phones and home internet by bundling them together for a discount. I also worked the brand loyalty angle with the company for a further discount as we’d been with them for a few years. This was a saving of $28 p/m.
4. I negotiated better deals on the home insurance and our two car insurance plans by bundling them together with the same insurance provider for a discount, ensuring the policies still met our needs. We also receive a discount for paying on time. This was an average saving of $53 p/m.
5. I changed our health insurance provider to a company with a similar policy for less. This was a saving of $45 p/m.
6. For obvious health reasons (and great financial gain) we gave up smoking.
I gave up the day I found out we were having a baby and hubby gave up a month later. At an average of $20-$30 a packet, smoking really is a massive drain on anyone’s finances.If we were able to save the money we spent on cigarettes we would have close to $25,000 by now, wow! Happy to say it’s been three years and we still haven’t touched a cigarette and never will. This was an average saving of $650 p/m (That’s almost a fortnightly mortgage payment!)
7. A super easy yet effective one… we gave up purchasing take-away food and coffee. A saving of $130 p/m.
8. We never had them but I suggest cancelling pay TV / magazine subscriptions etc. These are unnecessary expenses you can live without. An average saving of $10-30+ p/m.
9. We started meal planning each week to reduce our grocery budget and reduce food waste. An average saving of $20 p/w.
10. We grow our own herbs and easy to maintain vegetables to reduce grocery costs. A saving of $5 p/w.
11. Turn off electronic devices and appliances at the switch (saves electricity not using standby power).
12. Turn off lights, TV’s and radio’s when you’re not in the room. There are still soooo many people that don’t do this!
13. Save money (and the environment) by reducing water use. Instead of using mains water on the garden, use collected water from buckets placed in the bottom of your shower or scooping water from the bath, diverting washing machine grey water into buckets or direct to the garden, and installing rainwater tanks. If possible, plumb any rainwater tanks to the toilet/s and washing machine. Depending on your water use and size of your household, this would be an average saving of $20-$100+ p/q.
14. Shop at op shops if you need to revamp your wardrobe, you’ll be surprised at the number of hidden gems you can find at less than half the cost of buying brand new, often great brand names too. Don’t believe me? Check out the ever stylish Beth at Almost Posh absolutely killing it in a few of her awesome op shop finds (and she’s incredibly witty too #loveher). An average saving of $10+ per item.
15. De-clutter your house every 6-12 months and have a garage sale. You can make great money selling things you no longer need or use. The feel and flow of your house will also improve as you gain control of the clutter and get organised. An average profit of $150-$300.
16. Use public transport, ride a bike or walk instead of using the car. An average saving of $20+ p/w.
17. Work overtime if the income earner can, every extra dollar helps.
It’s really important to keep track of your money on a daily basis and be honest with yourself about every dollar you spend, this includes the $2 you give to charity collectors at the local shopping centre.
With these changes we managed to save an average of $1800 per month! I won’t deny it was tight. There were no luxuries, there were fights, but we did it and survived, albeit a little less trendy and certainly a lot less social than we used to be.
If we can do it you can do it too.
Did you find my tips useful? Tell me about it!
* I am NOT a financial adviser. The information provided in this blog post is to the best of my knowledge based only on my own personal financial circumstances and understanding. The information provided in this blog post should not be used as financial advice for your own situation. If you require financial assistance you need to seek independent financial advice.