17 Frugal Money Management Tips From Families Living On A Single Income
Spoiler alert: you might want to create a budget if you haven't already.
Managing your money can be tough enough, even when you're just trying to take care of yourself. So covering expenses and saving money are often easier said than done for families that rely on a single income.
So we recently asked single-income families from the BuzzFeed Community to share their best money management tips — and they certainly delivered! Here's what they had to say:
FYI, financial advice isn't one-size-fits-all. Always consider your personal circumstances before implementing any financial advice.
1. "Every payday, I pay whatever bills I have coming up within those two weeks. Half of the leftover money goes into savings, and the other half stays in my checking account. I also save all cash tips in envelopes, and once I fill up a box of envelopes, all that cash will be deposited into my savings."
2. "You can’t take your money with you. My husband and I save, and we can ALWAYS pay bills, but we spoil the absolute shit out of our kids (and each other when we can). We want to live while we live."
"We also always give presents early — like within a day or two of obtaining them, no matter how far away the event is. Life is just too short; let people know you’re thinking of them when you think of them, and enjoy what you can while you can (just hang within your means)."
3. "If it comes to, 'oh, I need another job,' stop and go talk to your boss. What you need is overtime hours, preferably on the same days you already work. Or ask to switch to longer shifts on fewer days. Overtime money is always more beneficial and results in an actual, tangible increase in net take-home pay."
4. "Boston’s library system has free tickets to a lot of museums, zoos, etc. Sign up for a library card and reserve them. Check to see if your city has a similar program."
5. "I invested in a food vacuum sealer, and it's a game changer. I only buy meat that's yellow tagged for quick sale, and I buy all I can. Then, I break it down, vac-seal it, and label and date it. Just the other day, I got a three-pound fillet of salmon for half off, and I was able to break it down into six individual fillets."
6. "Be okay with going without — without a trip, without name brand, without a night out, and without new clothes. Not forever, but sometimes. Make peace with it, and you’ll do better."
7. "Know yourself and what triggers your spending. I have been using grocery delivery and pickup for about two years now. Even with a tip and delivery fees, I am still spending about $100–$200 less per month than if I go into the stores."
8. "Join your supermarket club; buy certain items in bulk (sanitary products, toothpaste/toothbrushes, meat); join a warehouse club (if any are nearby); shop at Dollar Tree for cleaning products; 'share' streaming services; cut down on cell phone bills with a prepaid plan (if possible)."
"Write a REALISTIC monthly budget that includes everything you spend money on. Also, know that it takes time to get into a rhythm, so don’t beat yourself up!"
9. "We only own three credit cards: one for recurring bills/payments so the payments are always the same, a high rewards card for staples and regular purchases like groceries and gas, and one for big-ticket items like home improvements."
10. "Pay off your credit card every single month. Heck, pay it off every week. Use the credit card as you would your debit. Only spend the money you actually have. The difference is, with credit cards, you get points and can boost your credit."
11. "Choose sustainable swaps that are realistic for your family, as not all of them work for everyone. Menstrual cups, reusable storage bags, cloths instead of paper towels, cloth diapers while at home, and reusable makeup remover cloths are some of my favorites."
12. "Every spend gets rounded up. If I spend £38.60 on petrol, I put away £1.40 into savings. It all adds up eventually. I also budget everything at the beginning of the month so I know where I stand, allowing for slight fluctuations in price/round ups."
13. "Never buy clothing that's full price unless you need something on short notice. Stores run sales constantly, so there's a good chance there's another sale right around the corner."
14. "My husband works and I stay home with our kids. His income is between $50K–78K (depending on how frequently he works). We meal prep, take short showers, and buy food in value sizes so we can divvy them up and freeze them (if appropriate)."
"We also keep a cap on entertainment, meaning we don't usually get subscription services. They are often luxuries that rack up electricity bills (more TV time used). We usually get our movies from the interlibrary program of which our library takes part."
15. "Don’t go out to eat as often (we started getting really creative with meals since the start of COVID, and it’s helped us get more adventurous in cooking at home)."
16. "We meal-prep the house down to the BOOTS. Saturday morning was always meal-prep time for us: throwing stuff together and trying to find ways to make it exciting with what we had. We made it fun. 💙"
17. And, "I'm very type A so I love budgeting, and sticking with it is so satisfying to me! Just be realistic when budgeting. If you eat out a lot, have a hobby that costs money, or a coffee habit, etc., write that down. Don't kid yourself about it and then get to the end of the month and realize you overspent a lot because you weren't honest with yourself."
Now it's your turn! Head to the comments, and share your family's favorite strategies for saving money.
And if this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.