Ways to live on one income and be a stay at home mum

Want to live on one income and be a stay at home mum? It's easier than you might think, and these 21 tips will make it possible.


So you want to be a stay at home mum, but you’re not sure how well you will be able to live on one income?  Chances are it will be a challenge at first, but with a some determination and changed habits it can be done.  This massive list will help you both save money and possible make a little money on the side, after all every dollar helps.  Even if you’re not a stay at home mum keep reading, there is something here for everyone.


1. Meal plan

I’m sure you have heard it al before, but meal planning is worth the small amount of extra effort.  Going to the supermarket every day in search of something for dinner is the quickest way to increase your grocery bill, or worse, end up resorting to takeaway.  I actually find meal plan makes life just that little bit easier, as I don’t have to spend time each day wondering what to make for dinner, and if I have all of the ingredients on hand.


If you haven’t tried meal planning, it’s easier than you might think.  Start with a list of 7 meals, then write a shopping list of any ingredients in those recipes you don’t already have on hand.  If you are stuck for ideas, try something like this:


Monday – Lamb wraps with mint yoghurt

Tuesday – One pot lasagne

Wednesday – Baked honey soy chicken

Thursday – Roasted sweet potato soup

Friday – Pork stir fry with plum sauce

Saturday – Chicken satay burgers

Sunday – Cheesy meatballs


If you want to keep meal planning really simple, use rotate your weekly meal plans every month or two.


2. Find free family events

Have you noticed how expensive family activities and events are these days?  Something as simple as a round of mini golf will cost $50+.  Skip the budget-blowing activities and find some free family events in your local area.  You are sure to find something on every weekend and school holidays, and there are plenty of websites and Facebook group that share these free activities, like this one in Adelaide.


3. Buy second hand

Next time you need to buy something, have a look around to see if you could find the item second hand instead.  You could pay a fraction of the price of buying an item brand new.  It’s so easy to search for second hand items these days; try the Marketplace tab on the Facebook app, or Gumtree.


4. Become a minimalist

You might have noticed the minimalist trend taking over Facebook, and for good reason.  Most of us have way too much stuff.  Now is the time to downsize, and clear the clutter out of your house and your life.  The bonus is that this can save you money in two ways.  First of all, you can sell all of your unwanted items to free up some cash.  Secondly, once you have realised how nice it is to live in a clutter free home, chances are you will feel as though you don’t want to fill it back up again with more stuff.


5. Downsize your home

This is something we actually did earlier in the year, although only as a short term move (read about it here in 10 reasons why you will be happier in a smaller house).  If you currently live in a house that’s bigger than you really need, downsizing can be a great option to reduce your living expenses.  It means you will have a smaller mortgage, lower council rates and insurance renewals and smaller utility bills.


6. Downsize your wardrobe

Having too many clothes is something many of us struggle with, and is something I made an effort to change before I moved house earlier this year.  It’s no secret that I love a good bargain, but my bargain hunting meant that my wardrobe was bursting at the seams.  If it it was filled with items like $2 shirts and $5 jeans, there is absolutely no need to own that much clothing.  I was doing the exact same thing with my children’s wardrobes; buying items of clothing in the next size up for upcoming seasons whenever I found them on clearance, without first considering how many we already had at home.


My children were growing out of clothes before they had even had a chance to wear them, and that’s when I realised it was so wasteful to be throwing away money like that.


I made an effort to downsize our wardrobes, and only keep however many items of clothing that we actually need, keeping in mind we do the washing a few times per week.  Seeing our organised wardrobes has completely killed my urge to hunt for more bargain priced clothes, and now I only go clothes shopping when there is something we actually need.


7. Sell a car

This won’t be for everyone, but if you can manage without a second car, consider selling it.  Not only will selling a car give your savings a nice boost, depending on what the car is worth, but you will also save on expenses like car registration, insurance and servicing.


8. Cut pay tv

These days there is not much reason to have paid tv services like Foxtel.  With the number of tv streaming services now available, as well as the increased number of free to air channels.  You can even stream free to air tv shows on demand.


9. Find a toy library

Toy libraries are the perfect way to save money on toys.  You can borrow toys, giving your child something new and different to play with, then swap them  for something else.


10. Become an Airtasker

Airtasker matches people looking for work with people needing one-off home and office tasks done.  It’s a great way to earn extra money.  Some of the offered jobs are online based, such as data entry and article writing, while others are physical, such as cleaning and building flat-packed furniture.  You can join Airtasker for free and start searching for jobs here.


11. Colour your own hair

It’s so expensive to have your hair coloured at a salon when compared with the $6 it costs for a bottle of home hair colour.  If you colour your hair with one colour all over it’s a great frugal option, and if you are feeling adventurous you could even try cutting your own hair, or asking a friend to do it for you.


12. Swap clothes

Most of us tend to get bored with wearing the same clothes after a while.  If this is you, pick a day, get a group of friends together and swap clothes.  You could do this with children’s clothes too.


13. Get organised

It’s hard to see exactly what you have when cupboards and drawers are not organised, and that leads to buying things that you already have hiding in the back of the cupboard.  Being organised will save you more money than you might realise.


14. Change your laundry habits

Making a few changes to the way you do the laundry can result in huge money savings.  If you wash your clothes in warm or hot water, switch to cold water; it’s much cheaper and is better for your clothes.  Using the clothes line instead of the clothes dryer will also dramatically reduce your energy bills.


15. Ask your energy provider for a better deal

A simple phone call to your energy provider, whether it’s gas, electricity or both, will usually result in a better rate than you are currently on.  If you are thinking of switching providers, there are websites that can compare all of the available offers in your area.  We recommend a government ran comparison tool like Energy Make Easy rather than an independently ran site like Compare the Market, who make a profit from referring you to particular providers.


16. Walk instead of driving

If you have shops or your children’s school within walking distance, walk rather than drive whenever the weather is good.  Not only will it save you money on petrol, but it’s much better to be out in the fresh air than sitting in the car.


17. Sell stock photos

Styled stock photos, like those from Haute Chocolate, are very popular right now with bloggers.  If you have a decent DSLR or phone camera and love taking photos, you could set up shop and sell them.


18. Pet sit for cash

Looking after others people’s pets while they are on holiday’s is a fun way to earn extra cash.  There are websites like Pawshake that match pet sitters with pet owners.


19. Write an eBook

Writing an eBook and selling it online is a great way to sell a product without any outlay or physical stock involved.  To make decent money doing this it helps if you have a blog with an audience to offer the book to.  I wrote the Ultimate Easy Slice Handbook over a year ago and I still make a good amount of sales each month.


20. Start a blog

If there is a topic your are passionate about, it might be the perfect topic for a new blog.  While creating a blog takes work, it can be a great way to create a side income.  I have put together this post ‘How to start a blog‘, which explains the quickest and easiest way to start your very own blog.


21. Track your spending

The easiest way to live on one income to to know where all of your money goes.  It’s amazing how much money we can spend without realising it.  Write down every single purchase you make for a month or so and you will soon have a clear picture of exactly where your money goes, and any mindless spending that needs to stop.

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