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

Here in Part Three–How to live on one paycheck–1950’s style!, we are going to get into the beginnings of the nitty gritty.  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. (Update: These are coming in February 2018!)

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One of the biggest concepts you can internalize is this:  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.  That’s about the same as an average part time job.


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.”

“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.”  –

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!

“All generic formulas must meet the same strict safety, nutrition, and manufacturing guidelines as the priciest products on the market. So, no, they’re not less nutritious.”

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.

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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!

How to Live on One Paycheck
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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:

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

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