5 top tips for living on one income

Fast and easy ways to help keep your limited cash on track

Living on one income is tough – especially if you have a family. Perhaps you’re on one income because someone in your household has become unemployed, has just had a new baby or is caring for preschool children, or you’re a student or are unable to work. No matter the reason, it can be hard to make ends meet on a single income, especially if you’re used to having two incomes in your household.

Here’s 5 fast and easy ways to help stretch your cash and make ends meet when living on a single income.

 Make a budget

We know it may seems a little boring, but this is the most important first step.

  • Setting a budget will help you to understand where your money is going (or should be going!).
  • Creating a budget will let you know how much cash you need to set aside for all your essential expenses, and how much can afford to spend on any little extras.
  • Budgeting isn’t as hard as you might think! Check out our 3 quick steps to set a budget post to find out how!
  • There’s loads of great online tools and apps to help you create and use your budget to ensure you keep your cash and spending on track.

 Track your spending

So you’ve set your budget – now comes the hard part. Sticking to it!

  • Keeping track of every cent you spend is a sure way to help keep your cash on track.
  • Carry a small notebook in your wallet or handbag, or use a handy app like Track My Spend. Make a note of every dollar you spend, from your morning coffee and paper, public transport fares, petrol and tolls, groceries, meals and movie tickets, rent or mortgage payments…everything! If you spend it, track it.
  • Don’t forget to include less regular expenses like car rego, insurance and utility bills.
  • It may seem like a hassle, but if you make yourself accountable every time you spend, you’ll be sure to spend a lot less! It’s a little easier to resist temptation when you know it’s going to have to go on your spending record.
  1. Live Within your Means
    As well as holding yourself accountable with your spending – be honest with yourself about what you can afford.
  1. Reduce your expenses

Embrace the power of negotiation and get yourself a better deal wherever you can.

  • There’s so many companies competing for your business nowadays, that almost everything is negotiable.
  • Contact companies you make regular payments to – electricity, gas, water, mobile phone, insurance, your gym membership and so on. Ask what they can do for you to reduce your payments.
  • If a provider can’t reduce their price for you – try to find one who’ll offer you a better deal!
  • Review these expenses every few months to make sure you’re always paying as little as possible.
  • Reduce your usage. It goes without saying – as well as negotiating the best possible deal, make sure you’re minimising your usage of utilities, phone, internet and other such services to keep your bills as low as possible.
  1. Establish an emergency fund

Have a separate account that is for emergency expenses only.

  • Set up an automatic transfer to this emergency fund. Coincide the transfer with the deposit of your household’s single income payment, be it weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.
  • Better still, if possible ask the payroll department to automatically split the payment of this amount to your separate emergency fund.
  • Even if you’re on government benefits, transfer a small amount of each payment to your emergency fund. Every cent counts and will help when you really need it!
  • Be very strict about what constitutes an emergency – seeing your dream handbag on sale doesn’t count! Only touch this cash when you really need it.
  • You’ll eliminate so much stress knowing that you have a small amount set aside if you’re hit with an unexpected expense like the car or washing machine breaking down, or being hit with a big vet’s bill.