I've heard over and over that a family cannot live on one income because the cost of living is so high. The cost of living is high, but I can say from experience, that it is possible. No, my husband didn't make a lot. His income was low enough to allow us government assistance - but we didn't take it. Why? We didn't need it!
We had a family of 4. No, the kids didn't have the latest and greatest video games, etc. They got them after they were out for a while and the price came down or they got them for Christmas/birthday from someone. They never felt like they were missing out, but ended up appreciating what they received more than their friends. They learned to work for what they wanted and saved up for things, too. This made them realize that all the time that it took to save, was not always worth the item they ended up purchasing.
The family was well dressed and well fed. I shopped at yard sales and thrift stores as well end of season clearances. It's amazing to me that we could get brand new clothes for almost nothing. Many times we got clothing with tags still on them for 25 cents or less and my winter coat cost $2 and still had the tags on it! The only thing we didn't buy used were undies, swim suits and shoes.
As for food, I didn't do the menu plan that everyone talks about. Instead, I'd scan the grocery flyers for excellent sales and then stock up on those items. I'd search the store for markdowns and buy them if they were a good price. By doing this every week, we had a nice little stock on our pantry shelves and I cooked from what I had there. There are times I'd use coupons as well. Our store would double and even sometimes triple them, but I found coupons are usually for prepared and junk food that really wasn't a savings, even after the coupon. I cooked a lot from scratch and made my own "groceries", ie: mixes and convenience foods. I also canned, froze and dehydrated foods as well.
No, we didn't have the newest things, but we never really seemed to miss them. We always had enough - actually more than enough to keep everyone satisfied. Even on my husband's income, we still managed to put away more than 6 months of his salary in case of emergency. By the time the kids were in college, we had no debt and we were debt free quite a while before that! My husband lost his job, and didn't find anything for more than 6 months. When he did, we had to relocate and the money that was tucked away was the down payment on our new home. We ended up moving in one of the highest priced places in the state, but it was where the job was. When we sold our home, we got 10% of what this home cost - and this one wasn't nearly as expensive as those around the area. We got a "good deal" on this one!
Living on one income is not easy. It takes time and effort and it helps to have an attitude that you are satisfied with what you have. Yes, you will still see things you want, but impulse buying is not something one can or should do. Many people have buyer's remorse after an impulse purchase. Remember the clothing with tags we've bought at yard sales or thrift stores?
After moving here, I did work for awhile. We NEEDED a second car and extra car insurance, maintenance since my hours didn't match with my husband. I had to buy special clothes and shoes for work and with the job I had, they didn't last long. My shoes wore out in 3 months! I was buying 4 pair a year! I'd get home exhausted and not feel like cooking, so we were eating prepared and take out. Our health declined, we gained weight and were sick more. I got injured at work and continued to re-injure myself, so when home, I wasn't doing much. My hours didn't allow for much time off, and I couldn't take off during normal vacation times, so we really couldn't do anything. My husband hardly ever saw me and neither of us was really happy. After all was said and done, my extra income wasn't really helping since much of it was going towards the extras that I had to have while working. The job was being more of a hindrance than anything!
I left work and we are again living on one income. We are back to eating better and all around living better. My injury finally healed after a year (just like the doctor said!) and I am back to normal. No, I did not take workman's comp or disability although I was highly urged to. I saw no reason when I'm not planning on returning to work.
We sold the car and we are back down to one. I didn't need it any longer. There was a small adjustment period since I couldn't just hop in and go, but now,
I really don't miss it.
I'm back to cooking from scratch, canning, freezing, dehydrating and just enjoying life. I'm always learning new skills and honestly, I don't feel like I'm missing out at all. There is nothing I want or need - I have it all!