A Game-Changing Tip for Staying on Budget when You’re on One Income

Staying on Budget While Living on One Income

Inside: My best tip for cutting out spontaneous spending, staying on budget and SAVING while living on one income

How to stay on budget and grow your savings while living on one income

Living on one income is totally possible, even if that income isn’t above average. But doing it well does require a little wisdom and self-control.

This isn’t a post about tips for living on one income . For that, stay tuned over on the YouTube channel. This post is for anyone (like me) who has a hard time cutting extra spending to stay on budget and save up for bigger goals.

Staying On Budget while Living on One Income

I am by no means a financial advisor. But what I AM is a woman who’s been running a home on one income for several years. Sometimes well. Sometimes not so well.

Budget Planning -- Living on One Income

Unfortunately, I’ve had my fair share of experiences that taught me (the hard way) that I wasn’t quite as good at staying on budget as what I thought. Over the years I’ve had to face the cold, hard truth that I actually have a tendency to blow through money like nobody’s business when I’m not careful.

The Little Stuff

Some Chick-fil-a here.
A new outfit for the baby there.
Or how about a new stack of books to strategically stuff into our already-packed shelves?

The majority of the purchases that I make are small enough that I think, “meh, it won’t hurt. No bid deal!” But as you know, when you throw all those purchases that aren’t a “big deal” together, you’ve got a whole new monster on your hands.

Saving Money -- Staying on Budget

We once tallied up our spending from eating out. To our complete shock, in one week, we spent over $300. Yes, read it again. THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS. In one week. That could have gotten me a new dishwasher on sale. Ouch.

The Big Stuff

The other type of purchase (that I make less frequently) is the large but justifiable purchase. I tell myself:

That would make our homeschool better!
Or, that would really help me be a better blogger.
Or, I don’t normally splurge. Maybe it would be okay as long as I don’t do it again for a while.

And all of those things may be the case. But as any mom on a budget knows, you have to prioritize.

(That’s not the tip, by the way.)

Why We Keep Spending

We’ve all been told what to do. But there’s something about that immediate reward that makes splurging a little feel worth it in the short term. (But don’t worry. Later we’ll have a talk about how we “really need to get our spending on track” to make ourselves feel better and more responsible.) So even though we know what we need to do, that doesn’t always help in the moment.

Reward Ourselves -- Living on One Income

What do we do then? How do we counteract that little boost of happiness that we get when we spend?

The Scenario

Let’s say you find yourself wanting some coffee before you head home after your grocery run. You managed to make it out of the house alone, and a quick trip to the local coffee spot would be the cherry on top of a successful shopping trip.

BUT you know you’ve already been kind of loose with you’re spending recently. Sure, you have enough. But there are better things that money COULD be spent on if you’d buckle down.

Coffee at Home -- Staying on Budget, Living on One Income

Psst… DISCLOSURE: Some of the links below may be Amazon affiliate links. That just mean at No additional cost to you, Amazon gives me a small portion of the sale when you click a link and make a purchase.

Here’s what you do. Stop by somewhere peaceful where you can still get a few extra minutes of alone time. Then move the money you would have just spent on coffee from your checking to your savings account.

(And if you really want coffee, start making it at home. I really enjoy doing it with a French press. It feels fancy and sophisticated but costs way less than making a pit stop at my favorite coffee joint.)

Give Your Brain What It Wants

What did the above scenario do? It help you cut spending by rewarding your brain in ways that help your family’s financial goals instead of working against them. Let me explain.

It’s not enough to just resist unhealthy spending habits. You have to replace them with something better that gives you a sense of accomplishment.

And it’s not a false one. You’re truly accomplishing your goals, little by little. Every transfer gets you closer. The more positive choices you make, the more you save. The more you save, the easier it is to be in control of your finances.

A quick note::
Only transfer funds if you were truly willing to make the purchase. The reward isn’t really there if the temptation (or the available cash) wasn’t really there.

Dealing With Bank Stipulations

If your bank limits the amount of transfers you can do in one month, create a note in your phone to keep track of your weekly positive choices. Every time you resist the temptation to purchase something unnecessary, type what it was and the amount into your phone. At the end of each week, transfer the entire amount together. That way, you only have 4-5 transfers per month (which should make the cut for pretty much any bank).

This simple but effective way to handle impulse buys:

  • cuts back on spending
  • helps you save & work toward your financial vision for your family
  • strengthens self-control

What’s your best tip for staying on budget? Share it with others by commenting below!

Until next time,


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