Roughly 75 years ago it was normal for a family to live on one income. Mom stayed at home and took care of the kids and dad went off to work. Sounds so simple right? Well, I wasn’t part of that generation.
I grew up in a dual income household. There were only a few times in my life that I could ever remember us living on one income and it wasn’t intentional. And they weren’t exactly the best of times.
So when I decided 6 months ago that I was going to become a stay at home mom I didn’t have any real life experience to draw from. Good thing we have the internet. Granted the good people on the web would have you believe that you can magically become a single income household and pay off $10,000 all at the same time.
But wait aren’t you getting paid when I click on one of these lovely blue affiliate links or ads? So are you really living on a single income? Or what about this side hustle business that is so prevalent in our modern gig economy?
So maybe they should be telling us how to live on a reduced household income and not a single household income…single income sounds better…but I digress (FYI I just started blogging so I’m not getting paid for anything you click on around here. I just like to share information).
It is possible for a dual income household to become a single income household. It just takes a little effort and planning on you and your spouses part. I am going to share with you three things my husband and I did to ease our transition to living on one income.
Follow the Money Trail
Where does it all go? That’s the question I often found myself wondering every year we filed our taxes. Our annual income was roughly $91,000 before I decided to leave my job. Now our family of six would be forced to live on an annual income of $50,000.
It wasn’t until I sat down and tried to figure out where it was all going that I realized how much money we spent on the essentials and how much we wasted on unnecessary things. For example, we spent $1500 in childcare each month (all of our kids are under the age of 8) and is easily one of the biggest expenses for any family with kids.
In any case, you will want to track your expenses for at least 1-2 months.
Ways To Track Your Expenses
If you are extremely organized or maybe you just like the feel of paper in your hands and the smell of ink as you write down numbers and organize your receipts. You could track your expenses the old fashioned way using excel to create categories and formulas to keep tabs on your spending. If graphs are your thing you could create some awesome pie charts and data tables while you’re at it.
I’m just not that organized nor do I have the patience.
Fortunately for people like me, technology has made tracking your expenses easier than ever before! There are tons of apps out there, free and paid, that you can use to track your monthly expenses.
Before you waste your time wading through the sea of expense and budget tracking apps the first place you should check is your bank. Most major banks have online banking and may offer some form of free expense tracking. My husband’s bank, Bank of America, has a built-in expense tracker.
All he has to do is log in to his account online and it shows a breakdown of what he’s spent during the month. Everything is already broken down into general categories. Usually, they provide colorful pie charts to show you where your money has been going. It was in one of these lovely pie charts that I discovered that we were spending about $250 on fast food every month!
I discovered this app before we decided to live on one income. Back when I was starting to seriously look at creating a budget for our family. There is a free version and a paid version, EveryDollar Plus. The only drawback to this app, for me, was that I had to enter everything manually. With the paid version you can connect your bank account and it will import everything automatically.
Honeydue is created expressly for couples. You can add bank account information for both you and your spouse in this app. You can also choose what you and your spouse see. Not only can you link your bank accounts you can also link investment accounts and various accounts for bills.
You can even set it up to send your spouse reminders to pay specific bills. Talk about transparency! If your goal is to live on one income together trying to hide how much money you have or your spending habits from your spouse sort of defeats the purpose of this first step.
The only thing that I didn’t like about this app is how the categories are set up and there isn’t a way to edit or change them. It does provide pie charts with expandable sections for those of us that like that sort of thing. It’s also free. You can opt to “tip” them monthly for their services, but that’s totally up to you.
Finally, there is Mint. Mint is the app I use the most often. It is very similar to Honeydue. Like the other apps I’ve mentioned it is free to use. You can add bank accounts, investment accounts, bills, etc.
The spending categories are better in Mint and make more sense. You can see your spending in real time and at the end of the week, you get an update on what you’ve spent. Mint also provides you with a free credit score tracker which is always a plus.
I am sure there are plenty of other expense trackers out there, but these are the ones I have used. The only drawback that all of these apps have in common is that there is not a way to manually link your bank account if don’t bank with one of the major branches.
Once you’ve taken a good hard look at where all your money is going it’s time to move on to the dreaded B word…budgeting. Stay tuned for part 2 of The Smart Way to Transition to a One-Income Household.
If you have any other tips or know of any other useful expense tracking apps. Please share them in the comments section.
The Crafty Afro