For 30 of our 33 years together, my husband and I lived on one income. We were both in the Air Force, serving in the Philippines, when a trip to the doctor revealed that I didn't have the flu, but that I was pregnant.When we discovered that there was a baby coming, we decided that I would get out of the Air Force and stay at home with him. I remained on active duty until I was 8 1/2 months pregnant. During this time we practiced being on one income by putting all of my paycheck in savings and living on my husbands pay. Since we had military benefits that took care of medical bills and housing and groceries were cheap, the transition wasn't very hard.
We did have to cut back on our travels, entertainment, and photographic equipment acquisitions but it wasn't a hardship. We took advantage of the good weather and more comfortable night time temps. and walked a good deal in the evenings after work. We packed lunch rather than eat at the NCO club and spent time with friends at our house rather than going out. We hardly noticed that we were "cutting back". By the time our first son arrived, we had trimmed the fat out of our budget and had a nice sum saved for later.
My husband also spent his off duty time finishing his degree through the military program that paid 90% of his tuition as long as he was on active duty while he was going to school. Once he had his degree we decided that he would not re-enlist in the military, but that upon completion of his enlistment, we would return to the States and look for work in the civilian sector. We lived on our savings until he found work, so it was a good thing that we thought ahead and put the money in the bank while I was still in the military.
The next couple of years were much harder financially. We had gotten spoiled to the military life, the paid medical benefits, commissary, the on base restaurants and theater that were much cheaper to got to than the civilian counterparts, uniforms that were supplied instead of having to buy a work wardrobe...the list went on and on. We literally had ten dollars per payday to spare when all the bills were paid. Ten dollars doesn't go very far towards the unexpected car repair or other unforeseeable event, so we had to watch carefully where we left ourselves exposed to the "unforeseen". We used the bus instead of driving to avoid gas and car maintenance expenses, ate home cooked meals and wore more clothing rather than turning up the heat. I hand washed dishes and used the dishwasher as a drain board/storage area for clean dishes. We went to bed early, and slept under goose down comforters so we could turn the heat off at night to reduce power consumption even further, this had the added side benefit of a healthier, hardier constitution, we were rarely sick. We didn't own a T.V. or stereo, so in the evenings we would all snuggle down under the comforter and read aloud for hours or work on a puzzle or hand made projects. We kept our daily life simple and found lots of inexpensive ways of enjoying our free time. Life was sweet and we were happy.
Over the years we have kind of made an art of living on a shoe string. Much of what we practiced during thin financial times we continued to apply even when we had more income. We came to understand that we were happier when we kept our lives grounded by our frugal practices. I am not attempting to say that we didn't struggle sometimes with our limits, or that things didn't happen that tipped the balance of our lives to the negative, but for the most part we were living well and contentedly within the boundaries of one income.
In the present day, economically depressed time we live in, there is reason to consider how to simplify life and pare down expenses. Many households today are having to live on one income due loss of work, job shortages, or are struggling under the burden of debt, and the high cost of living. Learning to simplify life and to become more circumspect in spending practices, can help to reduce stress and bring more peace and contentment to daily life. If you are interested in learning more about how to live on less and still have a quality life, check out the side bar on the right side of the blog and click on the page titled Keep It Simple. It is a static page of thoughts, ideas and tips for frugal living. I will be adding to it as I go along, so I will give you a heads up in the blog postings when I add new things to it. Next time... my thought will turn towards the old Boy Scout credo, "Be Prepared".