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7 Ways to Prepare for Living with Less Income

We would all like to increase our income as time goes on, wouldn't we?  But sometimes that doesn't happen; in fact, sometimes the process goes in reverse, and we actually need to start living with LESS.  It might be a job loss or change, or recent medical procedures that must be paid for, or some other unforeseen event, but we need to make less money stretch just as far as before.

Living with less income IS possible, and it's easiest if you can prepare ahead of time. These tips really help ease the transition!! Especially #2!!The Man and I might be experiencing this phenomenon soon, as his new job transitions from straight salary to more commission-based.  Commission in this economy is not to be taken for granted, so I've been thinking about how we can prepare for the possibility of living with less money to pay the bills than we have gotten used to.

It's always nice to have a bit of warning for this type of thing, lol.  Sometimes that's not possible, but when it is, it's wise to not delay in shoring up the finances.  I've come up with several things that we can do NOW to get ready for when the paycheck is less than before.

Here's what I want to start doing NOW to prepare for living with less later:

1) Make sure a minimal emergency fund is in place This was one of my goals for 2016, and guess what?  It's already done. :-)  I would advise anyone facing a decreased income to not pass go or collect two hundred dollars until they have at least $1000 saved up for those unexpected appliance deaths or plumbing leaks.  On second thought, if you collect two hundred dollars you're 20% there — so I guess you can do that. :-)

2) Have a no spend month (or two or three) to save up as much more cash as possible.  We have been doing our first no spend month ever for the duration of January and it's been a great thing.  Not only are we not spending as much, we are also learning where our “bad spots” have been in the past.  That gives us that much more ammunition to fix those problems in the future, which will be absolutely necessary on a lower income.

Related Post: How to Survive No Spend Month to the End

3) Be diligent about meal planning.  This one is a tough one for me, y'all, because I really hate meal planning.  Maybe because I hate cooking (ya think??).  But meal planning is the KEY to keeping the food budget under control, so I need to get in the habit of it NOW.  This will keep me from buying too much in the first place and having waste, and it will be easier to resist the temptation to eat out (which is another toughie, y'all — at least for me us).  To help me with this goal, next month is going to be Meal Planning Month on the blog.  Join me every Friday in February for info and tips about meal planning, including an indepth look at my favorite online meal plan service!

Related Post: Easy Two-Week Meal Planner

4) Pay down as much debt as possible.  This will reduce our minimum payments, so that we won't technically NEED as much income to get by.  I know that a case could be made for saving that cash and stockpiling it to make up for the difference in income — but that's only a temporary solution.  Paying down the debt (and keeping it there, of course) is a long-term better place to be.

5) Explore ways to reduce our fixed bills such as electricity, cell phones, and internet.  Of course, we can reduce the electric bill by being much more careful with our use of the heat and a/c, not leaving lights on, etc. — but I'm talking about calling the electric company and seeing if they have any special programs, or maybe even seeing if there is a different company that might give us better rates in order to get our business.  Since we have run out our contract with our cell phone provider, we are free to switch to another one if we want; so I will check into that possibility also.  As for internet, we might be stuck on that one.  We live so rurally that we can't get most providers. #firstworldprobs

6) Replace things now that look like they might die in the near future, such as our washing machine — although this is more a wish than a reality at this point.  Unfortunately, our current budget doesn't stretch far enough to replace all of the almost-dead appliances around here (the house is 10 years old, and things just don't last like they used to…sigh).  As a compromise, we decided to save up the money for the washing machine but not use it until the thing is absolutely dead dead dead.  And when it's time, we will buy a USED machine, because neither one of us can stomach paying the kind of money they expect for new these days (see previous parentheses).

7) Explore the possibility of reducing interest rates on the credit cards, either by a) calling the companies themselves, or b) playing “balance transfer roulette” (that's an Annie and Everything term, in case you're wondering ;-) ) by taking advantage of promotional rates given for moving money around from one card to another.  This is not a long-term solution, but for the short-term it could reduce our minimum payments.  Another thought is to close out the accounts altogether, if that's possible without paying off the full balance, so that we CANNOT accrue any more debt on them.  Then the payments will go down every month, because the balance will, also.

I've never made a secret out of the fact that we are still very much in process with this monkey on our backs called finances.  We have made some serious money management mistakes over the years, and we are still making them.  And just when we think we've seen the light at the end of the tunnel…. BAM.  We are back to scrimping again.  But you know what?  “We've got a roof over our heads, and the kids have all been fed…”* and that's a lot to be thankful for.

Perhaps you have your own ideas for living with less income — share them in the comments!

*lyrics from a song by Paul Overstreet

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17 thoughts on “7 Ways to Prepare for Living with Less Income”

  1. I think the reason I hate meal planning is because I hate making decisions! Once I realized that, I decided that it’s better to sit down and make all of the decisions at once than forcing it on myself day after day.

    Great tips! Discipline is so important, but so tough. Thanks for being “real”.

    1. Yes, it’s so many decisions at once that is tough for me. But I think the more I do it the more streamlined it will become. Thanks for stopping by, Jamie! :-)

  2. My husband and I are in the middle of this right now. We are actively paying down debt and living on less to prepare for the bundle of joy that’s coming our way soon! I have an issue with meal planning too. I won’t say I hate it. I just don’t do it. One thing my husband and I have been doing to lessen our grocery budget is only eating salad with chicken. It’s been helping us save money plus maintain a healthy lifestyle. Making different types of salad has helped with variety in our diet and it’s safe for my pregnancy. So this week will be salad and grilled chicken. Next week we’ll be having salad with salmon. The following week may be salads with turkey, etc. For breakfast we have smoothies.

    It’s been great for helping us live on less.

  3. Thanks for the hints- we were forced into this situation unexpectedly- when I was out of work for 15 months, and ended up taking a 50% paycut just to make sure we could pay the mortgage. Having cut bills tremendously- my new hubby is great at fixing things, and finding things!- Great suggestion for you- if you know your washing machine may go soon- start looking on craigslist or your local penny saver lots of people give them away for free if you pick them up. it may be worth it if you find a great one now to pick it up and leave it in the garage until you need it- that way you won’t be rushed to buy a new/and or used one that is not what you want. We have found a number of appliances on craigslist, but often it seems as soon as we buy one, we find a bunch that are even better for free!

      1. Yes!! Craigslist is great for deals! :) we got 2 of ours and a microwave from there… they are definitely used, but they buy us a few yrs to consider other options.

  4. All great tips. My husband and I did a 3 month no spend last year and it was amazing the difference it made.
    Have you considered switching your internet for a mobile hotspot? You have to restructure how you use your internet a little, but it can be a very cost effective option.

  5. It has been 9 months without an income. Should have done some things a while ago, like cutting insurance off things that arent being driven yearly, just in the summer/winter. Talk to the credit card companies, etc. But everytime i think “ok God, we need your help” there has been some form of income or gift come to us. How does that work? No idea. Just very thankful for it. The kids are fed. The house is clean and ours. We have food, shelter, water, clothing ,each other books to read, games to play, we were even able to help adult kid#2 to pay for year one of college, after helping adult kid #1 with hers. We will be able to help#3 with hers for what she wants I am pretty sure because hers is much less costly. :)
    For those of you who hate meal planning me favorite thing has been the book the Big Cook written by two dieticians from Medicine Hat, Alberta. You plan and prepare all your suppers for a month and then you dont have to think about suppers for a whole month. I love love love it! I prepare one day, then jist throw things into a crock pot or roasting pan and I dont have to do the planning or extra work on those days we are running like crazy. Thebigcook.com check it out! Thanks for the encouragement and reminders of how to gwt by. Here’s praying for health and an income soon.

  6. Some great suggestions in these comments. Something to consider….purchase a refurbished unlocked phone and put a Tracfone SIM in it. I bought a refurbished Galaxy S4 and use a Tracfone SIM. I’m such a cheapskate….:) Of course, it depends on what you need your cell for. Hubby is in the Army and the primary mode of communication is text and email so he has to have a contract. BOO hoo.

  7. Kathleen Garley

    Add a garden and learn how to can and make jelly/ jam. It helps but my family has done it for many generations. My husband’s family too. I really enjoy cooking and baking and it helps me have fresh,tasty food and treats for my family.

    1. I tried raised beds and failed miserably, lol. This year I’m doing lettuce and tomatoes in pots on the deck. It’s going MUCH better! :-)

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