How We Improved Our Finances While Living on One Income
I apologize for the lack of updates. October was a very difficult month for us. To be honest, I was going back and forth about whether or not to share this because finances are such a personal subject but I finally decided to go ahead.
So, I haven’t shared this with many people because I’ve been trying to guard my husband’s feelings but, now that we’re almost out on the other side, I think I can share this without upsetting him. Last month, my husband lost his job. I won’t really go into the details of *that* (maybe in another post, one day) but, long story short… after 13 years of unwavering service, my husband’s district manager just let him go, along with all of his co-managers, without any justifiable cause. Because of Alabama’s ridiculous unemployment laws, we didn’t have that as a fall back option. Since then, he has found another job but, shockingly, during his unemployment we actually improved our financial situation.
There’s Always a Way…
Here’s the thing: so far, we are actually better off without his paycheck. He was so unhappy at his job that it had a negative impact on our entire family. After so many year, he was treated badly and severely underpaid. His district manager was one of the worst people/managers I’ve ever encountered. However, aside from all that, we are actually doing better financially while living on just one income. *WAIT* What?? REALLY! Let me explain.
When it first happened, I went into panic mode. I mean, Chase’s birthday is coming up in a matter of days and then CHRISTMAS. I freaked out…. But then my resourceful-mommy mode kicked into overdrive. We sat down with our budget and had a real come to Jesus and it turns out, I make enough money to cover our bills. It’s a littleembarrassingg to say but, we were spending my husband’s entire check as “extra” fun money. Obviously, we weren’t being serious about our finances. Every month we’d save a little off the top and spend the rest. We had a lot of disposable income but somehow, we were still living paycheck to paycheck because of our spending habits. Yes, we have our savings cushion, but it wasn’t as big as I would have liked. Somehow, every month I’d run the reports on my budget tracker app and be shocked to see that we had made NEGATIVE progress on our finance goals. UGH. But how?
Come to Jesus
I used to have panic attacks every time my husband called from work because I was afraid he was going to tell me he had been fired. Once it finally happened and the initial shock wore off… it was a HUGE relief. He HATED that job. As much as I know it hurt him, it was a valuable, eye-opening experience for us as a family. It turns out… all that extra stuff we were spending our money on each month… guess what, we didn’t actually need it!
Can you believe that? LOL. Just like most American families with disposable income, we were spending way too much on things that we didn’t really need. So, we looked at our finances and cut several places in our budget. My birthday trip to Atlanta was the first to get chopped. Our big, overblown Christmas shopping list was cut down to size, the baby’s birthday bash was scaled down, my shopping budget went down to nothing, weekly date night was out, our grocery budget was cut in half and my husband stopped going to Wal-Mart for odds and ends every other day. Bingo! Now we can live on just my income.
Being Honest with Ourselves
Of all this, the only one that really hurt was having to scale back on the baby’s 1st birthday party. I was pretty upset about that. Lo and behold, our family and my co-workers chipped in to help make sure the baby had the birthday party I had imagined for him! For the entire month of October, we scrimped and saved and I actually sold pretty much anything that wasn’t nailed down or absolutely loved. I felt guilty even thinking about spending as little as $1.25 for a diet soda from the vending machine at work. Before, there had been times that I spent more $10/day at work getting lunch. I thought we were pretty frugal, until I really began to examine our finances.
I paid as many of our bills as far in advance as I could manage. We got caught up on the bills that somehow got past me every month. Like our water bill for example…. for some reason, because it is a fairly insignificant amount, I would continually put it off. They won’t even send you a reminder until it’s over $100 anyway, so I’d end up going three months without remembering to pay it. Then, it would have multiplied with the $10 fees they would add every month that I’d forget about it. OOPS. Sadly, I’d do the same with our internet and electric bills. We had the money, but I just couldn’t remember to pay them before the penalty date. We were paying a total of about $35/month in fees that were entirely unnecessary! EW!!
It was amazing how empowered I felt by making these changes in our finances. Of course, it wasn’t easy but once I got started, I became determined to make it work. There were times I wanted to give up and just pull money out of savings for something that I wanted but I didn’t give in. It was hard to tell my co-workers that, no, I couldn’t go out for lunch but I did it. The best moment of all came on 1 Nov, almost a month to the day after we started this journey. I ran my monthly reports with my budget tracker and would you guess what? We had made POSITIVE PROGRESS ON OUR SAVINGS GOALS!!!! Granted, it was only +$37 but STILL! My husband lost his job, I didn’t pull a penny from our savings account and instead somehow managed to save $37 more than what I had at the beginning of the month! WOW! I was so proud of that +$37!
Keeping Up The Pace
My goal, once my husband’s paycheck start coming in from his new job, is to continue living on JUST my income so that we can continue to improves our financse by using his income strictly for savings. I know we can do it. We have realized that we don’t need all the extra things that we had convinced ourselves we needed. Even though I want it, I don’t need a luxury birthday stay in a five-star hotel, nor do we need to spend a ridiculous amount on Christmas. Neither weekly dinner dates nor carry-out lunches are a necessity. As long as we have our health, our bills are paid, and we have food in the fridge, we are blessed. I am so proud of us for buckling down but to be honest, I know we are BOTH so ready for Allen to go back to work.
As always, thanks for reading. I hope you have a beautiful and blessed day!