How To Live Frugally On One Income (47 Brilliant Hacks)
Did you just type how to live frugally on one income in the search bar in hopes of getting a grip on your money management habits?
While I was studying at university, I googled the exact same thing! I had to pay my university fees and accommodation by myself (because my parents couldn’t afford it).
Everyone around me seemed to be coupled up and benefiting financially from two incomes, so I thought saving on one income was impossible. But I learned it IS possible!
The ONLY way I managed to graduate with zero education debt is because I lived frugally during my studies.
If you want to do the same, I am sharing all my frugal tips in this article.
Here are 47 tips below to assist you in this quest. Practicing these habits of frugal living on one income may take some time to get used to but then again, that goes without saying for any new habit.
Minimalism has become the new in-trend thing because more and more people are realizing that they are content with just a few staple belongings. It doesn’t matter if you’re frugal living in the UK or the US, or Asia, or anywhere around the world, these tips will benefit you in one way or another.
Summary Of How To Live Frugally On One Income Tips
1. Meal planning
2. Buy in bulk
3. Grow your food
4. Make your food
5. Get Baking
6. Seasonal Produce
8. Eating Out
9. Minimize food waste
10. Cut the cable
11. Shared Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu subscriptions
12. Use energy-saving electrical appliances
14. Forget the dryer
15. Forget the dishwasher
16. Dish soap consumption
17. DIY cleaning products
18. Recycle all the way
19. Youtube it
20. DIY everything
22. Reusable water bottle
23. Track your spending
24. Have an emergency fund
25. Sell unwanted items
26. Get into frugal living groups
27. Practice a no-spend weekend
28. Practice cash envelope system
29. Check subscriptions
30. Meatless meals
31. Grocery apps
32. Babysitting options
33. Switch up the brands
35. Make creative snack options
36. Walk or bike
37. Make money from your hobby
38. Thrift all your clothes
39. Take your time
40. Write smaller
41. Children’s toothbrush
42. Find the cheapest mobile phone
43. Only buy second hand
44. Reuse bags
45. The library is your best friend
46. Capsule wardrobe
47. Cheap meals
Some of the links on here are affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks
What Is Frugal Living?
One of the concerns I had when I wanted to know how to live frugally on one income, was that I didn’t want to be stingy.
Contrary to popular belief, frugal living isn’t about being a cheapskate. Rather, it is about making the most out of the readily available resources.
In terms of the definition of frugal living, it honestly varies depending on the individual.
However, the concept of frugal living revolves around taking control of your money management skills, tucking in your hard-earned cash away instead of spending them lavishly on things that you don’t need.
Now, bear in mind that there is nothing wrong with wanting certain items, like the luxury bag or car, but at what expense? Are you draining your savings for them or are you maxing out your credit cards?
These decisions reflect on the poor money management skills that you possess. That is why you clicked on this article because it is time to change that.
Why Should You Try Frugal Living?
Be honest with yourself, how many people do you know that are barely scraping by every month, just waiting for their paycheck? I don’t know about you, but living paycheck to paycheck does not seem like the dream life to me.
Aside from the obvious reason, that frugal living will benefit you financially, there’s more to this lifestyle than that.
You Get To Relax
Financial stress is a leading cause of mental health issues and with the leading pandemic and economic fallout, these worries have escalated to an alarming level.
Worrying about money constantly can lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia, or even put a strain on some relationships.
Imagine a life where you’re not worried about the bills that are due, or the food that you have to put on the table for your family. Can you feel your shoulders dropping? That sigh of relief?
That is what frugal living can help you achieve.
You will be in control of your expenditures, and you will have your financial priorities sorted paving the way to a financially secure life.
Shift In Priorities
Frugal minimalist living allows you to hone in on your expenditures and spending habits.
You will be more conscious of where your money is going, differentiating the needs and wants. Being frugal will enable you to spend money on items or experiences that are meaningful to you, and bring you joy.
Debt often feels like an invisible anchor tied to your ankles, pulling you down.
You can’t see it, but the weight of it is sufficient to feel like you’re suffocating. According to CNBC, up to 47% of Americans are knee-deep in credit card debt, and for the citizens of the UK, the average household credit card debt is £2,592 (USD 3,586).
When you’re aware of your spending habits, you will not have this noose around your neck weighing you down. You will know how to responsibly handle your money and be free of debt.
Excellent reason to learn how to live frugally on one income!
How To Live Frugally On One Income (47 Brilliant Hacks)
To make this easy, we’re going to divide these tips into sections. Let’s cover the basics, shall we?
1. Meal Planning
I mean, this is a great tip you can use, when you’re wondering how to live frugally on one income. Buying ingredients in bulk and focusing on seasonal (cheaper) produce is cheaper than eating out.
Even though it takes up some of your time to prep each meal, it will be worth it.
It is easy to be disorganized when it comes to meals which will heavily impact your grocery budget. Having a meal plan will let you know the exact ingredients needed and thus you can hunt for the best grocery prices.
If you’re looking out for frugal dinner ideas, check out this article that has 17 Best Frugal Recipes. Minimal ingredients are required for each meal and you can switch it up based on what you have in your pantry.
2.Buy In Bulk
One thing to keep in mind when you’re bulk buying is to make sure you only bulk buy items you will eat. There is no point in getting 5 kgs of broccoli just because they’re cheap when in reality, you hate broccoli (although, in my opinion, they are the best vegetable out there).
Most stores will sell items for a cheaper price when you buy them in bulk. This is a great way to save money and keep your pantry shelves stocked up.
Tip- You can freeze vegetables and fruit that you buy in bulk to retain the freshness and taste! I also get frozen fruit for my smoothies so the fruit lasts longer and there is zero waste!
3.Grow Your Food
Our grandmas would probably get very stressed if they knew we were buying vegetables and fruits instead of growing them.
Things like herbs, vegetables, and fruits can be grown at home.
All it takes is some time, nurturing, and patience for your efforts to bloom. Growing your food will give you peace of mind knowing that it is organic and is a cheaper alternative.
Some examples of items you can grow are carrots, okra, basil, bananas, chilies, and aubergines. Here are some effective tips on creating the perfect indoor herb garden.
Right now, I live in an apartment in the city so I grow lots of herbs on the balcony and add them to my pasta dishes or use them to marinate my meat. It saves me so much money !
Learning how to live frugally on one income doesn’t mean you should compromise your health or taste. You can still eat good food but just grown by yourself!
4.Make Your Food
Most canned and bottled items sold in the supermarket can be made at home.
Looking for tomato sauce for your pasta or chicken? Blend up some fresh tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, parsley, basil, and olive oil, and you’re all set!
Craving for some peanut butter jelly sandwich?
Blend up some peanuts and you’ll have delicious, healthy peanut butter with no refined sugar and ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Play around with some ingredients and you’ll be surprised at how much money you’re saving. Healthy eating shouldn’t be made complicated with 101 ingredients, check out this website if you’re looking for a solution to all your healthy eating problems.
Now, one skill that can never go to waste is learning how to bake your bread. Also, homemade bread is healthier and tastes a lot more delicious than store-bought bread.
Also, who doesn’t like bread?
You can have your bread as toast for breakfast, scrumptious BLT sandwiches for lunch, or dip them in a hearty pumpkin soup for dinner.
If you’re looking to bake something for dessert, look no further than Gemma Satfford’s blog, as she has experimented with desserts from breads to pies, you name it, she has done it.
Seasonal produce is usually fresher and healthier as farmers pay their undivided attention to these products.
Seasonal produce is less likely to contain pesticides and other nasty chemicals that are used to keep these items looking fresh.
For example, during spring, you can find veggies such as collard greens, broccoli, and spinach being the freshest. Bring on the apples, cucumbers, and eggplants to your dinner table during summer.
It is pumpkin, carrots, and sweet potatoes galore during fall. During winter, throw in some fresh beets, brussel sprouts, and winter squash in any recipes you’re like to experiment with.
You can find various delicious fresh produce with different seasons.
This is fantastic if you have a long list of recipes you’d like to try out but the ingredients are expensive during certain times of the year. Get experimenting with new dishes and have fun with them!
You will be helping out the local farmers and small business owners when you shop for locally sourced products.
Learning how to live frugally on one income can be a win-win situation. You save your money, you’re helping out the local economy, and you’re having healthy produce on your table.
Candied fruits, fresh jams, and pickled vegetables. There’s so much to do with different fruit and vegetables.
Try out different options of preservation such as drying, fermenting, canning, and freezing. Different methods serve different purposes, so read up on the methods before starting your experiment in the kitchen.
This tip is especially useful if you’re going to be buying most of your ingredients in bulk. The last thing you’d want is for your food to spoil and go to waste.
If possible, try to save eating out for special occasions, albeit it is a little hard to do because who doesn’t like eating out and trying new places?
However, this flamboyant lifestyle can be severely damaging to your bank account. When you’re planning to eat out, do some research beforehand.
Look for restaurants where kids and veterans eat for free and look for any discount vouchers online to save you the extra bit of cash.
9.Minimize Food Waste
Allocate at least a day of the week to clean out the fridge and make use of all the leftovers.
Get creative with your meals and mix some dishes up or be innovative and create something new out of the leftovers. Either way, even if it turns out bad, you could always laugh back to the day you tried something unconventional.
How To Live Frugally On One Income-Household Tips
10. Cut The Cable
When was the last you watched TV? Be real with yourself here.
With services like Netflix and Amazon Prime taking over the world, with all the top-rated tv shows and movies, paying for cable services is a waste of money.
11. Shared Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Subscriptions
There is no need for each member of a household to own and pay for an individual subscription especially if you’re living frugally on one income.
This tip can lead to serious savings depending on the cable package you’re currently signed up for.
The extra cash saved could easily be dumped into your savings or investments, where compounding interest can work its magic.
12. Use Energy-Saving Electrical Appliances
Take a trip down to your local hardware store and look for energy-saving light bulbs and electrical appliances.
Skip on the air conditioner and stick to just fans if the weather isn’t unbearably hot. Avoid cooking with the oven if possible, and get on with the stovetop when making your meals.
Energy-saving appliances range from clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, humidifiers, and freezers. Have a chat with your local hardware technician to get your hands on these items that will save you money in the long run.
Learning how to live frugally on one income also involves making small changes that can have a big positive impact on your wallet.
Every single appliance that is plugged into a power socket is draining energy. Leaving these plugs in the socket will only cause an increase in your electricity bill.
If this is a tedious task for you, start by unplugging appliances that are not used often at homes such as the washer, the iron, or unused lamps. Use smart power strips instead to save some bucks on your bill by unplugging the major point at the end of the day.
14. Forget The Dryer
Limit the use of dryers whenever possible. Simply hang a line in the house or your backyard and dry your clothes out in the sun.
This will save you money when your electricity bill reduces due to lack of dryer use.
15. Forget The Dishwasher
Wash your dishes instead of dumping them all into the dishwasher. If you’re a family of two, there’s going to be very few dishes for you to clean up after.
Wash and clean up immediately after each use of utensils and plates so that you won’t have to deal with the burden of cleaning piled-up dishes.
16. Dish Soap Consumption
Dish soaps are usually really concentrated and you don’t need that much each time you’re doing the dishes.
Prepare a smaller bottle and dilute the dish soap to prolong the shelf life of each detergent purchased. You’ll still have clean dishes regardless, so why not save some money while you’re at it?
17. DIY Cleaning Products
There’s an array of homemade cleaning products that you can conjure up right at the comfort of your home and yes, it works like a charm.
The classic vinegar and baking soda concoction are said to scrub off the stubbornest rust and dirt from the bottom of your pans, and it works like a charm every time.
One useful ingredient to have around is rubbing alcohol. This item can be used as a glass cleaner, disinfectant, and many more and is a mighty versatile product.
18. Recycle All The Way
Don’t throw what you can upcycle and reuse. Sew up any ripped clothing and style it in a new and fashionable way.
Keep all the cookie containers, or store-bought jars to store your spices.
Sew up old clothes and use them as a mat in the kitchen. Reuse old towels into household cleaning materials. Do you have 10 different coffee mugs? Turn them into tiny pots for succulents and fill your house with greenery.
People like Lauren Singer advocates a life of zero waste made simple and cost effective.
Get creative in creating a purpose for the items around your house, when you are learning how to live frugally on one income.
19. Youtube It
Any and every skill you could learn has been uploaded by someone on Youtube. All you have to do is find the initiative to look it up, watch the video, and practice it.
If something is broken around the house, try your best to fix the item before heading out the door to purchase a replacement.
Fixing something that is broken doesn’t have to be a tedious task that you dread, check out this REALLY COOL post to find creative ways to mend things that are broken.
20. DIY Everything
I’m talking about everything from doing your nails to washing your car.
If you dive deep into your daily or weekly chores, you will realize that there are so many services that can be done independently.
Make your coffee instead of splurging on them, paint the chipped wall, or even trim your hair. Look into areas of your life that can be improved by DIY items and save some money along the way.
Here are 50 DIY projects you can start trying at home. Learning how to live frugally on one income can be really fun!
You can’t be surprised that this tip is in here. Personally, I don’t have a strict budget that I follow each month.
Every time I get my paycheck, I allocate at least 20% to paying off my debt, savings, and investment.
The rest of my paycheck? I spend it on things that I need and want.
Budgeting may not be the thing for you but be mindful of the money you receive and spend. There’s nothing wrong with getting certain items that spark joy (Hello, Marie Kondo) but make sure they’re not draining your bank account.
22. Reusable Water Bottles
Every fitness guru, dietician, and grandparents would have pinned down the importance of hydration. Although, how much money are you spending every time you get a water bottle from the gas station or convenience store?
Get yourself a reusable water bottle to bring with you on the go to ensure constant hydration and hey, you’re saving the planet too. Reduce plastic consumption and waste by practicing this tip.
23. Track Your Spending
If you’re just trying to figure out how to live frugally on one income, start here. You can track your expenses daily or weekly for a clear picture of where your funds are headed.
This habit is among the practices of people who are successful in their money management.
24. Have An Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is not some cash stashed away for you to get the latest handbag or sneakers. Building an emergency fund is one of the first few steps to take when it comes to money management.
An emergency fund protects you during times of uncertainties and acts as a cushion for your financial needs. There is no set amount to an emergency fund but realistically, you should have three to six months’ worth of expenses stashed away.
25. Sell Unwanted Items
Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, and Decluttr are some of the best places to get cash for all the items that are collecting dust in your home. Give the items a new home and get yourself some extra money.
26. Get Into Frugal Living Groups
Get into one of the many groups on Facebook to start practicing simple frugal living. You will gain useful insights from many others on how to live frugally on one income.
27. Practice A No-Spend Weekend
Some of the extreme frugal living practitioners can even go on a one-year shopping ban and you can find multiple testimonies of this on youtube and google.
You don’t have to bite the bullet and take such a big leap on your frugal living journey.
However, if you watch any of the videos on these topics, you will find that the realization of all these people boils down to the importance of material items and their money management habits.
When you practice a no-spend weekend, all the money that would’ve gone to eating out, alcohol consumptions, or even shopping, can be tucked away towards paying off your debt, emergency fund accumulation, or savings.
Frugal Mom Tips
28. Practice The Cash Envelope System
The cash envelope system has garnered attention over the years and for good reasons.
Those who have practiced this budgeting method claim that it gives them a clear picture of their expenditure.
The cash envelope system is essentially having a designated amount of cash for each category of expenses such as groceries, shopping, eating out, etc.
Upon receiving your paycheck, you allocate some money to each category and spend only the amount that is in the envelope.
29. Check Subscriptions
When was the last time you sifted through all the subscriptions your husband or your kids have made?
Go through the bills and sort out the important subscriptions from the miscellaneous ones and look at how much you’ll be saving.
30. Meatless Meals
Try having one day with meatless meals, like the famous Meatless Monday that is practiced in most restaurants. Red meat generally costs more than fresh produce and when consumed often, they do more harm than good.
Experiment with different kinds of mushrooms to supplement the meaty texture when you’re making the next meal for your family at home.
31. Grocery Apps
Grocery shopping apps have got to be one of the most genius inventions. It saves you time and is convenient to use!
Most grocery apps come with cashback, deals, and coupons from time to time to ensure you get the bang for your buck when buying some items.
Check out these apps to start saving some money on your next shopping trip:
32. Babysitting Options
If finding a babysitter is simply not within your means, call up a family or friend to look after your kid when the situation requires it.
Those who understand your circumstances would be more than happy to lend you a helping hand.
33. Switch Up The Brands
Have you been using the same brand of detergent your entire life?
Switch it up for something of lower cost. Look through all the items in your house and make a comparison of all the brands that are available out there.
Although you should not compromise on quality, try out a cheaper brand every once in a while to see if it accommodates you.
Now, I’m pretty sure every country out there has a store equivalent to the ones mentioned above.
Save your money by purchasing items like office or school supplies, party supplies, table covers, stationery, or even kitchenware from the dollar store.
Do not waste your money on items that don’t need to be splurged on.
35. Make Creative Snack Options
The last thing your kids and family need is unhealthy, high in sugar, processed snacks.
There is nothing wrong with having them once in a while but when consumed often, not only is it unhealthy, it does no good for your bank account.
Try out some apple slices with peanut butter or make some fruit skewers for a fun little twist on snacks.
Extreme Frugality Tips
36. Walk Or Bike
Transportation costs eat up into the budgets of many.
Aside from being good for health, walking or biking to places that are close to you is ridiculously cost-saving! It is an amazing free alternative to avoid getting stuck in traffic and going through the hassle of finding a good spot to park.
37. Make Money From Your Hobby
Do you have skills that could make money? If you’re about to start whining and claim that you’ve got no skills, stop right there, take a breath, and think.
Everyone has something they’re good at.
You might be called a grammar nazi for correcting people’s grammar often, then great, proofreading is the job for you. Do you make dainty crafts when you’re bored? Excellent, sell them on Etsy and start making some money.
The opportunities for remote workers are endless as there is something for everyone. Tune into your skills and start earning more.
38. Thrift All Your Clothes
Forget walking into Gucci to get the latest dress, get most of your clothing items from thrift stores around you.
When shopping at a thrift store, you will never know what you’re going to find. It is like walking into a treasure box.
You may find some vintage branded pieces for a fraction of the price and you are bound to feel like you’ve won the lottery!
39. Take Your Time
This is a tip that is seriously practiced among those who are accustomed to extreme frugal living.
Always walk around stores, or to different stores to find the cheapest price on the item you’re looking for.
Scan through shopping websites and secondhand groups to see if you can grab the item you’re looking for at a discounted rate.
40. Write Smaller
Okay, hear me out. Since we’re already on the topic of extreme frugal living, learning to write in smaller handwriting will let you save ink and in return, you don’t have to spend as much on stationery or ink refills.
Or note pads, I used to go though about 3 notepads a month until I stopped my huge scribbles and saved me money by only using one notepad.
41. Children’s Toothbrush
The next time you’re out to get a new toothbrush, get the children’s toothbrush.
They’re cheaper and it does the job. Perhaps try diluting your toothpaste with water to scratch out the shelf life of your toothpaste.
42. Find The Cheapest Mobile Phone
If you’re really into the extreme frugal living, having the latest technology gadget is not going to be a priority. Find the cheapest mobile phone and plan that you can get your hands on.
As long as you can make and receive calls and texts, you’re good to go.
43. Only Buy Second Hand
Now this applies to almost everything. Do you need a car? Survey the cheapest second-hand car that is in fairly good condition and does the job. Need a new desk?
Get on Facebook groups or Craigslist to hunt for your new possession.
Most of the time, you will be able to bargain for a price of your choice and get the goods you’re after.
44. Reuse Bags
Clean out, wash, and reuse plastic bags. Those chips and candy that came in an air-tight ziplock bag can be reused to store cut-up fruits and vegetables in your fridge.
45. The Library Is Your Best Friend
Turn to the library as your main source of entertainment. Books, movies, or pieces of music, you name it, turn to the library to scout for options.
46. Capsule Wardrobe
If you type out a capsule wardrobe, you will be bombarded with a flood of information and see how many people have adopted this tip.
Having a capsule wardrobe is essentially only wearing clothes that staple pieces and compliments one another. That means you’ll probably own 5 pairs of pants, 8 tops, 3 pairs of shoes, 1 dress, and you’re good to go.
You don’t own any other piece of clothing and get by with just these custom pieces that you picked out. There are no rules to creating a capsule wardrobe, it depends on your style.
47. Cheap Meals
The best option would be to practice intermittent fasting so that your window of eating is shortened.
However, if fasting isn’t your thing, look up online for dishes that you can make with five ingredients or less to fill you up and save you money.
Is It Possible To Live Off One Income?
The equation is simple, you learn how to manage your money and it is possible to live off one income.
I think the problem with us humans is that we tend to overcomplicate everything. If the first answer that pops to your head is no, about the question above, take a look at your spending habits.
There are thousands if not millions of families living off one income, and the secret lies in money management habits.
Upon practice, you will realize that less is more with frugal living. Those who successfully live off one income are disciplined and adhere to the actions required to achieve their financial goals.
How Do People Survive On A Single Income?
People who survive on a single income implement tips and strategies with the way they work with their money. Here is where you see many adopting the minimalist frugal living lifestyle that has rapidly garnered attention over the years.
There are many ways to go about surviving on a single income, some of them are listed below.
The common way is to have a budget, tailored according to your fixed commitments and spending habits, and sticking to it. This method may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no harm in giving it a go.
Among the various budgeting methods are:
- 50/30/20 rule
- Cash Envelope method
- Zero-based budget
- A rolling budget
- An activity-based budget
Now, there is no magic number to how much you should save for your emergency fund. It depends on your spending habits, and how much you need to sustain your lifestyle should you lose your streams of income. (Some experts say at least 6 months living expenses)
An emergency fund is essentially the money you set aside to cover any unpredictable expenses like a medical emergency, car issues, home repair works, or even unemployment.
So how much should you save? If you’ve analyzed your sustenance amount, then great but if you’re unsure, then the general rule of thumb is that you should save enough to cover a good three to six months’ worth of your living expenses.
Being debt-free is a common aim for those who survive on a single income.
Any money you can set aside should go to clearing off your debts. The last thing you need is to tighten your expenses, living paycheck to paycheck all because you’ve accumulated the interests on your debt.
There is nothing wrong with wanting the new pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, but if you know you’re tight with your money, it is wise to make some at home.
Look at areas where you can cut down on your expenditures and be more mindful of your spending habits.
Start saving early or set up a sinking fund for any large expenses that you know occurs annually like birthday presents, Christmas gifts, insurance payments, etc.
For example, when grocery shopping, make a list of what you’re going to get and stick to it.
Adding additional items to your cart may not seem like much at the time, but at the end of the week, when you’re racking your head trying to add up the expenses, they’re more damaging to your financial goals than you think they are.
What Percentage Of Your Income Should You Live Off Of?
The magic number that is circulating the internet when you typed this up in google is 50%. However, this number is adapted by Elizabeth Warren and her famous 50/30/20 principle.
In her book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan, Senator Warren explains that your income should be segregated into three buckets:
- 50% on needs
- 30% on wants
- 20% on savings/financial goals
Implement this based on your income, your fixed and flexible monthly commitment. If you have high commitments like you’re paying for a mortgage loan or you’re currently leasing on a car, then alter it to fit your income.
However, your needs may not reach up to 50% of your income and you don’t need that much to sustain yourself. If you can live off a smaller percentage of your income, by all means, play around with the number, and maybe increase the amount allocated for your financial goals.
How Can I Live With Very Little Money?
There are two ways to go about this, one is to:
- increase your income, and
- The other is to reduce your expenses.
Now, reducing your expenses is easier said than done because if you’re someone who likes all the finest things in life, this is going to take a lot of willpower, dedication, and discipline.
However, increasing your income is something feasible as there are tons of remote working jobs available for you to tackle right in the comfort of your homes.
Check out some of these articles on how to increase your income and live a financially comfortable life.
- Virtual Assistant Jobs For Beginners (Hiring In 2021)
- Immediate Hire Work From Home Jobs (In 2021)
- Side Hustles for Introverts
Now, it doesn’t matter if you’re searching for frugal money saving tips in the UK, frugal dinner ideas, how to live frugally on one income, or frugal mom tips, these 47 tips on how to live frugally on one income, have got your back.
Not every tip here may float your boat but take your pick and build your confidence around money management!