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10 Tips On How To Live Well Even With Only One Income

10 Tips On How To Live Well Even With Only One Income

In an age of so many dual-income families, is it really possible to live well on just one income?

Absolutely! Trust me, I know. We are a family of six, living on one income–a military income. After I enlisted in the military, we decided it would be best for my wife to stay home with the kids; that’s when we made the transition. Now we are happily a single-income family. I’m going to show you how we do it, and how you can too.

Why one income?

Families go to one income for all kinds of reasons. You may want one of you to stay home with the kids. You may have calculated the cost and realized it cost almost as much as one of your incomes in daycare and travel expenses for both of you to work. You may want to live a more minimalist lifestyle and focus less on earning more money. Or you may not be a single-income family by choice. One of you could have been laid off, but the good news is that you can live well on one income–it could have been a blessing in disguise.

No matter your reason, here’s how to make it work:

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1. Stick to the plan

Planning is everything. You can live on almost any income if you budget and make a plan for every dollar. And it can become fun to see how far you can stretch it. So what does this mean?

  • Set a budget. Yes, you need a budget. If you have one, stick to it. If you don’t have one, it starts simply by tracking your purchases for a month, then setting each category. See where you can cut back. If you’ve recently became a single-income household, you may notice that you’re spending much less.
  • Plan your meals. Meal planning is huge. You should know exactly what you’re going to buy when you walk into the grocery store, and you should know exactly what you’re going to make out of it. It’s surprising how much food we all have in our homes that we don’t eat because we don’t have a plan for it.
  • Plan your vacations. If you go on an annual vacation, you have an entire year to save for it. Figure out how much you’ll need ahead of time, and divide it by 12 months to get a monthly amount to save. Vacations don’t have to cost a lot; our family usually spends less than $500 on each vacation we take.

You’ve heard “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and this couldn’t be more true in your finances. You’ll be amazed at what you can afford if you plan. Joshua Becker says, when it comes to purchases, “ask when and why, not if”. Even on one income there doesn’t have to be trade-offs, but it is all about timing and planning.

2. Spend based on priorities

Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses? You shouldn’t be, because the Joneses are broke. Don’t make purchases to impress others, make purchases based on your priorities.

If you truly value family above materialism, do your purchases reflect that?

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This is an important question for all of us to ask occasionally. It’s easy to get caught up in the consumerist mindset of earning more and spending more to be happy, but that’s a lie. Rich people aren’t any happier than the rest of us. There’s nothing wrong with having more money, but make sure your spending is lining up with your priorities. Just spend an extra few seconds thinking about each purchase to decide if you really need it. You’ll be surprised how often you don’t.

3. Cut the cable

Speaking of priorities, where is TV on that list? We cut the cable over five years ago and haven’t looked back since. We spend more quality time together as a family. We spend more time reading, which has led to much financial success (finance books are my favorite). There are a thousand reasons to cut the cable, and I have yet to find one good reason to keep it. If you must watch TV, consider Netflix or keep some DVDs around.

4. Move…or don’t

If you’re new to the single-income life, you may be ready for a downsize. We usually don’t need as much house as we think we do; however, you’ll want to calculate the cost first.  Moving isn’t cheap, so it needs to be financially worth it to really make the leap. That being said, if you’re living above your means, consider moving into a more affordable house. It doesn’t have to be permanent.

5. Learn to barter

What are you good at? Landscaping? Cleaning? Home repairs? That’s as good as cash. Reach out to your friends and neighbors, and figure out where you can trade your services. Bartering is the ultimate win-win scenario. This works especially well for babysitting, whether you need a babysitter for a date night or for running errands–find someone to swap with. You both get free childcare, and you both get more done.

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6. Use your resources

There are resources in your city, you just have to find them. It could be a local food bank that is looking for volunteers, and, in exchange, you take some food home. Or you could be in a place where you just need to go to the food bank and get some food. There’s no shame in that; that’s what they’re for. From food banks to food co-ops to clipping coupons, know your resources and use them. The more resourceful you become, the more you will be able to live well on one income.

7. Dump your debt

If you’re new to the single-income lifestyle, you may be wondering how you can get debt-free on less money than you were making before. Dumping your debt doesn’t have to cost more money. That’s right, there are ways to make an impact without spending more. For starters, you can call and negotiate with your credit card companies to lower your interest rates and possibly even your balance.

If you’re serious about paying off your debt, and you don’t plan on going further into debt, consider a balance transfer to lower your interest rate. You must be serious about not incurring anymore debt or this just provides a way for you to go into more debt. But if you really are done with being in debt, a balance transfer can help. For example, if you can pay off your debt in 15 months, the Chase Slate offers 0% interest rate for balance transfers for the first 15 months, with no transfer fee. But you need to be sure you can pay it off in 15 months or the interest rate will go back up to the standard rate.

8. Prepare for emergencies

Emergency funds are a better option than a credit card when disaster strikes. Even if you can only save $50 each month, start putting something away in a savings or money-market account for unexpected expenses. Ideally you’ll want three to six months of living expenses, but $1,000 is a good starting place. Of course, $500 is better than nothing. The idea is to have some funds to dip into in the event of an emergency so that you don’t get into a worse financial spot by taking out a loan or using a card.

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9. Sell a car

Do you have more than one car? Do you need more than one car? Maybe you do, but maybe you haven’t really thought about it. You may have needed two vehicles when both of you worked, but it could make sense to sell one now, especially if you have a car payment. Dave Ramsey always jokes that his show should be called the “Sell the Car Show”, because of how often that’s the most appropriate solution.

10. Save for big purchases

If you have to finance it, you can’t afford it. Instead of taking out a loan for a car or other big purchase, why not make interest-free payments into a savings account right now? Think of it like a layaway plan; you’re saving until you have the full amount. Then you can make the debt-free purchase. If this doesn’t seem possible for some things, you may be living above your means. The bottom line is that credit card and loan interest will destroy your finances. Anything you can do to avoid interest will set you up for success.

Featured photo credit: Crowd of People Crossing an Old Prague Road/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Kalen Bruce

Military, Writer

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Published on June 12, 2018

How Much Money Do I Need to Retire? Find Your Answer Here

How Much Money Do I Need to Retire? Find Your Answer Here

It is never too early nor is it ever too late to start planning for retirement. It ultimately depends on your way of life, where are you living, and whether you need to let go of anything. A successful retirement strategy is to have enough pay to cover your expenses with a little cash going into a savings account for sudden financial needs.

With regards to retirement, we all have an alternate vision in mind. In fact, some think about traveling throughout the world, while some think of a peaceful life with their grandchildren. Whether we get ready for it or not, we will one day turn to retirement age and so, we should be prepared for it. I’m going to tell you how in this article.

Benefits of early ventures for retirement

The way this works is you figure out where you need to live, the amount it will cost you to live there (rent/food/transportation), and the various expenses you will need to account for, like travel/insurance/medical bills and taxes. Many people are struggling to put aside money for their future savings and some haven’t started yet. Think you can put off thinking about retirement? The reality is that you need to start thinking about it right now, and putting aside some money from today.

There are a lot of benefits of taking early steps towards retirement. Utilize the power of compounding, low investment for targeted corpus and you can create more corpus investing the same money:

  • If someone saves $100 every month and starts investing for 30 years at 10% return, initially you will see that within 5-10 years, your investments will not multiply. However, after that period, the corpus will increase immensely with the impact of compounding. The investment period expands the extent of profits increments in the corpus.
  • Suppose there are two people, one aged 30, and the other 40. Both need to resign at 60 with the same retirement objectives of $300,000 USD each. Both will put resources into an investment with 10% of the return. Thus, to accomplish their retirement objective, the younger one needs to save $100 USD / month and the older one needs to collect $300 USD / month. Since the older one has started investing ten years later than the younger one, he will pay more than double what the younger one will pay.
  • If someone saves $100 USD every month and starts investing at 30 years old till 60 and gets 10% annual return, his corpus becomes around $170,000. Otherwise, if he starts the same amount spending at 40 years of age with the same 10% return, he will have around $57,000 USD. He can profit by just investing ten years early.

You can’t invest too much money in retirement during the early stage of your career since you may have different objectives. However, you can increase the investment gradually if you start investing just a small amount.

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Average retirement age

For many people who are nearing retirement age or recently resigned, one of their most significant financial regrets is that they did not focus on saving for their golden years. As per the Consumer Reports study, it demonstrates that only 28% of investors with the age of 55 years or older are pleased with the way they have saved for retirement.

As per the report, The Economic Policy Institute breaks down how much Americans have put away.[1] Since you know that when the majority of people retire, you can subtract your age from that more significant number and check down what number of more years you need to work.

But many retirees go back to work. Some of them do part time job while others do seek for a second career. Some even come back to full-time work and then retire again in a couple of years. So deciding their retirement age could be tricky.

Average retirement savings

To get retirement started, saving is pretty easy, though it can seem complicated. These simple five steps will make you go on retirement now. So, you don’t need to stress over having the same regrets as today’s retirees.

1. Invest 15% for your retirement

Your initial step is to save 15% of your income. This will depend on your gross income and does not include any coordinating assets you get through your employer’s retirement plan.

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It’s sufficient to enable you to achieve your retirement investment funds objectives, but not too much to keep you from enjoying your income today.

2. Utilize tax-advantaged retirement plan

Yes, we utilized the T-word; however, don’t daydream! Split your 15% retirement contributing budget between charge conceded retirement plans like your 401(k) or after-tax plans like a Roth IRA.

3. Invest your money around

To put it all in one place is the most significant risk that you can take with your retirement money. With mutual funds, however, you can invest in the biggest and most recognizable brands as well as that new organizations you’ve never known about but has a lot of growth potential.

Opt a growth-stock mutual fund with background marked by solid returns for both your 401(k) and Roth IRA speculations.

4. Stay with it

Since mutual fund investing is less risky than investing in single stocks, it is not risk-free. You can see your savings grow in the long term as long as you can leave your money where it is and keep adding to it.

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5. Work with an investing professional

It is essential to look for an investment professional, as you must have a lot of queries concerning your retirement plan during 30 or more years of investing,

Never make due with an investment professional who recommends or patronizes you to turn over all your investment choices to them. Since this is your retirement, nobody will think or care about it more than you do!

You might analyze or compare your savings against the average retirement savings for your age group to check whether you’re falling behind or getting towards of the curve. On the other hand, it might be conceivable to hang up the work boots and hit the shoreline with fewer savings if you live easily or below your means.

How to achieve your financial goals?

An ideal approach to achieve your financial goals is to stay focused on what you need for your future, ignore everything (and everyone) else that may divert you. There’s a significant business culture out there that requires you to stay in debt, live for the occasion and stress over your future later on.

You need to start planning for your future from now, not when you have more time or money to invest. You can even talk to a financial advisor for any help. Cooperate to set your money goals and make an action plan to reach them. You can retire younger than you thought you could if you create a project and follow up on it.

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Start planning for your retirement

A lot has changed in the last 30 years; our previous generation had an career goal and they would join either a large private company or a government organization immediately after school or college. Then they would spend the next 38 years in the same organization and the form of provident fund and gratuity. They would retire with a decent corpus and they would later spend the remaining time with their pension benefits. It’s a bit different now, but with the above information, you’ll be well prepared.

Whether you can afford to retire now or not, you need not bother with a retirement calculator to get a rough estimate. You should have the capacity to closely approximate your daily spending habits to figure out how much money goes out the door every year.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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