June 15

Part Three–How to Survive on One Paycheck–1950’s style!

Part Three–How to Survive on One Paycheck–1950’s style! When you choose to be the stay-at-home spouse, saving money and figuring out how to keep the family living within its means becomes part of your new job.  Rather than working outside of the home to earn more, you are working inside of the home to save more.   In the long-term taking the step to stay home can actually increase the quality of living for all members of your family.


In part 1 and part 2 of this series we talked about the practical steps to preparing to live on one income and how to get your mind right.  Today we begin what will be a series of posts–one every few weeks– showing different ways to cut spending and save money.

There are literally thousands of ways to save a dollar.   Most are ignored because it’s “just a dollar.”  But when you condition yourself to do many of these things, you can reduce your annual spending by thousands–sometimes by many thousands–of dollars.

There are really just a few core ways to save money.

1.  Do without a product or service
2.  Use less of a product or service
3.  Extend the life of a product or service
4.  Find a less expensive replacement for a product or service

Every form of savings begins with these concepts.  As you go throughout your day working with products and services, ask yourself these questions.  Could I do without this item or service?  Could I use it less or use less of it and still have satisfactory results?   Is there some way I can extend its life or usefulness?    Is there a cheaper alternative?     Then share your ideas on our page!  We’ll take the best ones and include them in our monthly “Dollar Savers Blog.”

Here are 20 ideas to get you started:

1.  Disposable Razors.  One of the new trending services is the Dollar Shave Club.  Not only can you save money on razors, but you get free razors for referring friends.   Check it out.  You can save even more money by googling to see if there is a current discount code before you sign up!

2.  Baby Formula. This one always peeves me.  Did you know that generic baby formula, by law, has to meet the same standards as name brand formula.  In fact, many are exactly the same formula as the expensive brands without the fancy label.   Experts agree that you can safely and sanely save a small fortune by making the switch!

3.  Cell Phone Service.   There are many, many options available to save money on your cell phone.   Rather than jump right into the big named carriers, check out lesser known services like Republic Wireless, Consumer Celluar, and Metro PCS, or Go Smart Mobile.  Many of these plans start as low as $5 a month!

4.  Ditch the 2nd Vehicle.  Yes you can live with just one family vehicle.  You have been conditioned to “keep up with the Joneses.”  You have been conditioned to think that you must have a second vehicle by commercial ads.  You have been brain-washed.  Sell your second car and use the money to pay down debt or invest in building your emergency fund.  Then get continued savings on reduced insurance costs, fuel costs, repair costs, registration costs, maintenance costs, and car payments (if applicable.)   Your savings will actually extend further because you will also find yourself going back to good, old-fashioned home entertainment for the kids, like playing under the garden hose rather than trekking to the local beach (saving you from using fuel, buying concessions, etc.)

Life will immediately become simpler and I promise that you will adjust to planning for the occasional “drive your spouse to work” so you can have the vehicle for the once per quarter (or year) doctor visit, or other rare daytime vehicle need.  An added benefit, you will walk more–keeping yourself and your kids fit.

5.  Quilters take note!  Years ago when I was preparing to wed, my mother told me it was time to make my marriage quilt.  We planned out all the colors, pieces and design and then it was time to buy the materials.  HOLY COW I was shocked at how expensive fabric, thread, and a batting (the filler between the fabric layers) was.    I have never since paid full price for any of those items.    If you are preparing to quilt, ask your friends if they have an old, stained, faded, factory-made quilt that they are looking to dispose of.   Use it for your batting.  They are simple to re-cover.  Use a sheet for the backing (purchased on sale or at a discount store, of course!)  And save clothes that in a bag in the attic or basement.   You can usually cut pieces out of them that are big enough for your quilting needs!

6.  Coffee.   This is one of those examples on how to save money by combining methods–use less/extend the life.   If you make more than one pot of coffee in the morning, try this.   Don’t throw the grinds away after the first pot.   Simply add 1/2 the usual amount of grinds on top of the once-used grinds and continue as normal for a full pot.  There’s enough flavor remaining in those first batch to replace half the grinds in the 2nd batch.

7.  Dryer Sheets/ Softener.  You can get the same results that you get from dryer sheets or softener by simply applying one to two tablespoons of softener on a washcloth and throwing it in your dryer with the freshly-washed clothes.  Reuse that washcloth for a few loads then switch for a new one.   OR, if you love your dryer sheets, cut them in half.   They work just as well!

8.  Shoes, luggage, purses, and broken zippers.  Find and use your local cobbler.  They can repair and make old shoes look shiny new.  They can fix and clean luggage and leather purses.  They can even repair broken zippers on your boots, purses, backpacks, and bags.   Often times this alone can save 90% of the cost of replacing with new.

9.  Fuel for your Vehicle.  Download any of the smartphone apps that can tell you instantly where the cheapest gas is in your area.  (You can also look these up on line.)

10. Groceries.  Always, Always check the damaged goods rack first.   Any time a box is accidentally slashed with a box razor, that perfectly good merchandise is often available for less than half AND you can still use a coupon.  I’ve gotten lots of free merchandise this way.

11. Bank fees.  Many banks charge fees for checking, ATM use, check-cashing, and more.   Switch to a credit union or co-op. Many of these institutions have no fees and even pay you a small amount for using your ATM card!   Additionally, credit Unions are usually networked together so that you can use any credit union ATM machine without paying a fee.

12.  Clothes Drying.  Electricity charges are skyrocketing.  Electric dryers use an enormous amount of power.   Get back to basics with the old-fashioned clothes line.   You can install one outside and install one in your walk-up attic for rainy days.  (It’s usually hot up there so clothes dry quickly.)

13. Popcorn.   Don’t buy microwave bags of popcorn.   Buy the jugs of kernels.   Cover the bottom of a large glass bowl with a single layer of popcorn then cover with a plate.  Microwave until pops are 2-3 seconds apart.   You can make about 75 cups of popcorn for the same price as 6 cups of bagged popcorn, and there’s no preservatives, fats, or oils added.

14.  Bar Soap.  When your bar of soap gets too small to use comfortably, open a new bar.   Use both and while still wet and lathery, stick them together.  When they dry they will stick together. Never throw away those soap bits again!

15.  Anything in a tube.  When you think it’s empty, cut off the end of the tube.  There is often another 5-10 (or more!) uses in there.   Seal with a clip between uses until completely empty.

16.  New Car.  Try not to ever wait until your old car dies and you are desperate to buy a new one.  You need time to shop around.   Then never ever buy a car brand new.  Ever.  Both frugal and wealthy people agree that you should buy cars that are about two years old.  This is your best value age.   You can also look into buying Repos and you can contact car rental companies and ask if they are looking to sell any of their vehicles.  (They replace them every year or two and sell them for low, low prices!)

17.  Liquid Dish Soap.  When the bottle is approximately half empty, remove cover and fill with VERY COLD water.   It will immediately gel into the original consistency.  You now have a full bottle of dish soap.

18.  Active Dry Yeast.  When making breads or other recipes that call for Active Dry Yeast, do not buy those small 3-serving packs of yeast.   For about $2- $5 you can buy two POUNDS of active dry yeast at any Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club.  Store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.

19.  Baby Wipes.  Make your own by cutting a roll of paper towels in half and then removing the cardboard core.   Put 2 1/4 cups water, 2 Tablespoons baby shampoo, and 1 Tablespoon of baby oil in the old, empty baby wipe container and mix well.  Put paper towels in and allow them to completely soak up the liquid.   Keep covered between uses.

20.  Cleaning Products:  We often blindly use enormous amounts of cleaning products.  Try using much less in your next bucket.  Pour half what you usually do in the dishwasher.   Cut the amount you use in the washing machine in half.   You will find that your cleaning does not suffer in the least.

Watch for our Dollar Savers Blog every few weeks for more tips and tricks!   Don’t miss a single post by liking us here:  www.facebook.com/ModernDay50sHousewife

And don’t forget to send your ideas over as well!

Go to Part 4 now—15 Ways to Earn Money from Home



June 13

Part 2–How to Survive on One Paycheck–1950’s Style

Ready to take the next step to being a stay-at-home mom or spouse living on one income? Here is Part 2–How to Survive on One Paycheck–1950’s Style

Or maybe you already have gone from two incomes to one due to layoff or illness?  Either way, the idea of living on one paycheck can be daunting.  For the purposes of this article I am going to assume that the decision has already been made, one way or another, that this is going to be the case, and you just need to know What now?  If you’ve read Part One, we’re ready to move on.

First, take a deep breath.   Yes it’s scary, but it’s really not as bad as you think.  People all around the world find themselves making this transition every day, and they survive and often thrive!   Obviously, if you aren’t thrust into being a one-income family due to job loss, illness, or injury, it’s easier because you can plan for the transition.   So let’s talk about that first.


1. When possible, plan for the transition to one income.  Ideally you will have time to plan ahead and if so, there are things you can and should do before leaving your job.  First, talk to you financial planner and tax professional.  Tell them your goals and ask them the best way possible to make the transition.  Second, start living on one income immediately and use the second income in whatever way your financial planner suggests.  That may be to pay off debt.  It may be to invest and build up an emergency fund.  It may be some other option.  Only you and your planner will know that answer.  Make a plan and stick to it.


The remainder of this list applies to all families who are making the transition, be it planned or otherwise.

2. Know your “Why”.  You have to not only know why you are making this change, you have to believe to the level of conviction in the reasons why you are making this change.  It is those reasons that you are going to think about when you are having a tough moment.  Your Why will get you through.   Some common reasons are:

1.  You want to raise your own children (or be there to help with grandchildren).   There is much debate about whether putting children into daycare at a young age is harmful or beneficial, but you don’t want to take any chances.  You want to be the one to witness all of your children’s “firsts” and you want to be the one imprinting strong life values into their little brains.

2.  You want and need to be home to care for a sick or aging parent or relative.   Their quality of life is paramount, and you want to wait as long as possible before you have to place your loved one into an institutional setting.

3.  You or your spouse has suffered illness or injury and you must make this change.   On the list of life’s most stressful events, this is up there with death of a spouse.

4.  You or your spouse are starting your own business, and it will take time to turn a profit.

5.   You and your spouse have decided to live traditional gender roles, or you’ve decided to reduce your impact on the environment, or any other values-associated reason.

Whatever your reason, you must frame it in your mind in such a way that the importance of it is greater than your desire to run from the challenges of living on one income.

3. Learn to live without comparing yourself to the Joneses.   You will need to learn how to be content with less.  You will need to learn not to compare your home, clothing, cars, vacations, meals, and anything else to anyone else’s.   But don’t worry.   You will soon discover that less really is more.   When you remove the stress and chaos of trying to keep up with the Joneses in the first place, you may discover that you find joy standing in its place.

4. Understand that you aren’t really losing an entire income.   You never really had that full income in the first place.   Who had it?   Travel costs (bus, car, fuel, tolls), daycare costs and “guilt gift” costs (those toys and treats you buy because you feel bad that you aren’t there all the time), career-related wardrobe and dry cleaning, the daily coffee on the way to work, purchased take-out lunches, the afternoon vending machine pick me up, outside gym costs, higher grocery-related costs (because you don’t have time to cook from scratch), convenience take out dinner costs (because you’re too tired to cook), parking fees, higher insurance (due to mileage to work), health-related costs (due to exposure to more illnesses), landscaping company fees (because you never had time to do it yourself), the dog groomers, and so on.   All of this and we haven’t even discussed the fact that a second income may even be taxed at a higher tax bracket than you realize.

When it comes down to it, there are a number of different statistics but just the expenses related to having any job can account for up to 30% of your income, not including daycare and all of the other extra convenience expenses you accrue along the way.  Add those in and you are likely spending upwards of 50% of your income just to maintain your job–before the additional tax exposure due to a second income.

The savings associated with one spouse staying home doesn’t stop at these either.   Often the expenses related to the remaining working spouse reduce because there is someone home to make that morning coffee, prepare and pack their lunch, clean and iron their clothes rather than send them out for dry cleaning each time.   Even simple things like eliminating late fees because someone had the time to pay attention can add up.

As you can see, the impact on your family is not going to be as dramatic as you expect.   Plus there are ways to save money that we haven’t even begun to discuss.

Now don’t miss Part 3–Money Saving Ideas   or Part 4—15 Ways to Earn Money from Home

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