Our budget looks much different this year. We had about 5 years of really good financial times. My husband got a promotion a few years ago, all our debt was paid off and we could save like I had been wanting. This last year, changes began to creep in to our expenses. It all has me focusing on inflation tips for living on one income.
The cost of meat shot up. So many food items cost more than we have ever seen. Our retirement account is losing money. The money I made as a part-time blogger and writer, has been needed to help cover our regular monthly expenses.
Living on one income in the time of a recession and inflation is stressful. With my husband’s work schedule, homeschooling, and the kids, there are not open windows of time for me to get a job outside of the home. Plus, we are committed to me staying home so the kids have supervision.
I think we all feel the burden of costs going up. This list of tips for inflation help us reduced expenses so we can get by living on one income during a recession. Add your tips at the end in the comments too!
Tips for Saving Money During Inflation Living on One Income
I went to my mom-friends and asked them what they are doing to save money. They are pretty frugal. These tips are essential for living within a budget, especially when you have one income.
Grow Your Own Food
Garden and Canning
There are easy ways to set up a garden at home. It does not matter the size of your yard or patio space. From container gardens to gardening in small yards, to learning to use the land you have, they all help you grown your own food. This helps you buy less at the store.
You can easily can extras too. We pickled jalapenos simply. They store in the fridge. Or can veggies to use later. Canning eliminates the need for refrigeration. Less food spoilage when the power goes out.
One Time Set Up Cost
Yes, there is an initial cost to set up a garden. We spent a few hundred dollars to set up a small backyard plot last spring. It was two 8-foot by 4-foot beds. A simple fence wrapped around it has kept all wildlife out. Last summer I hardly ever had to purchase produce at the store. We could harvest what we grew!
With time, this is a big budget-saver. Every year you just amend the garden beds and rotate your crops. No set up cost after the first year.
<<<More Tips for Gardening at Home>>>
Reduce Your Grocery Bill
Cut Meat with Lentils
Use lentils and beans to double meat recipes. I started cutting our typical 2-pounds of meat for taco Tuesday down to 1-pound. Lentils added to the meat add fiber, nutrients and cut the cost of a total meal. Lentils are so easy to rinse and add to any meat dish with ground beef or venison.
Go Meatless on Mondays
Meatless Monday helps eliminate the crazy meat cost. Our family of 6 just keeps eating more as the kids grow. It is hard to keep the pantry and fridge stocked! Eliminating meat on Mondays is a great way to save money.
There are some great vegetarian options here in Meal Planning Simplified. You can use the collection of recipes and meal planning tips to work in a vegetarian meal once a week.
Meal Planning Simplified$8.99
Cook Soups and Stews
Cook soups or stews to use up vegetables left over in the fridge. I often make a chicken or beef stew with what I have on-hand. Looking through my produce drawer in the fridge, I will grab the rest of the carrots, celery, bell peppers or broccoli and toss it all in to a soup.
Soups and stews also help hide lower meat content. You can cut the meat in half, add more veggies, and even toss in some lentils to bulk it up. Soups always help my kids eat more vegetables.
<<<Get the Meal Planning Simplified Guide here.>>>
Make Your Own Chicken Stock
I save the chicken bones and scraps after we eat a rotisseries or roasted chicken to make my own stock. Place the chicken carcass in a Ziploc bag, and store in the freezer until you want to boil it. I also do this with the bottom halves of asparagus, carrot tops, and other vegetable scraps. Store it all in the freezer until boiling time.
When you want to make chicken stock, place the carcass into a stew pot. Add in all the veggies you want to use. Then fill the pot with water until everything is covered. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it all simmer for a few hours.
After the stock cools, I ladle it into jars and store in the freezer. You can can your stock to keep it shelf stable. When I make rice or soups, I can thaw a jar of stock to use. It adds flavor, eliminates the waste of the paper boxes and saves me money by reusing items I would otherwise just throw away.
Clean Out the Fridge Nights
Try to cut the waste of leftovers as much as possible. At least one night each week we have a leftover night. These nights, dinner may not have all the food groups but we use what is in the fridge. This helps to eliminate waste.
Don’t Go Broke on Kids Activities
One Activity Per Kid
We have our children choose one sport or activity per school year. I am allergic to being over-scheduled. I want my kids to learn balance and not chaos. The fact is with four kids, I cannot be everywhere all at the same time. If time conflicts with activities, they have to make a choice.
Luckily, not all my kids are sports’ stars. I know it would be hard to follow this one activity rule if they were all excelling in sports.
We have one that is a Lego building genius so that can be done at home. The other loves theater performance, so she has theater class once a week. One is a football star. He has practice two days a week and a game on Saturdays. The other loves riding horses. This is usually a one day a week activity for her.
<<<Check out if there are Free Kids and Family Activities in Your Area>>>
I firmly believe that my children will not lose by sitting out on occasion from having a sport or extracurricular life. Aptitude is aptitude in my humble opinion. We are not seeking busy for them, but balance. This works for us now. We just cannot afford all the kids in all the activities right now. That may change.
Carpool with a neighbor
We have been blessed with great neighbors whose children occasionally participate in the same sport or activities as ours. Carpooling became an option, and it saved gas. That is a huge money saver.
We have alternated nights, or drop off and pick. It worked well, and helped us all balance being with our other kids.
Set a number of outfits for each child.
Being raised by an immigrant who was raised by a single mom taught me some valuable money lessons. When I was growing up, my mom would only buy us enough clothes to have 10 outfits for the school year. She did this for the summer too.
If we had clothing items that fit from last year, we made as many outfits out of them as we could. If we had 10 full outfits, we did not get new clothes that season.
She did laundry weekly, so we always had a few extra outfits while laundry was getting washed. This is a huge time and space saver.
My children go through their clothes twice a year so I can see how many outfits they can make with what they have. I only buy new clothes to fill in the gaps.
Kids do not need whole new wardrobes every season. (Different for infants and toddlers who grow so quickly!) We have lived by this.
My kids are blessed with grandparents who do shower them with clothes and gifts on holidays. There have been seasons where I did not have to buy my kids new clothes.
Playground hop to entertain.
Playgrounds are free. So many communities have so many playgrounds. To save money on family events, walk or bike to local playgrounds and parks.
Pick a new one each Saturday or Sunday after church. This is a big cost-saver and great way to get everyone outside and off screens.
Hiking trails rather than festivals with entrance fees
Look for your state parks and national parks. Going on a hike with kids is a free or cheap activity outdoors.
Kids of all ages can go on a hike. Many trails have free admission. We love parks and hikes as free field trips.
Earn Extra Money on the Side
Cut down on apps
We can easily lose track of how many apps we have on the tv and phones. This can result in money being wasted every month. Not great to stay on that trend during inflation!
Eliminate apps that are not needed. We got rid of a tv app that was producing unwholesome programming. We also were not watching a couple of apps as much as we thought we would. We eliminated those too.
We often can find more to watch when we have less choices. It can feel like you are missing out at first. But, think of the extra money you keep in your pocket when you reduce the app costs.
Sell extra unused clothing and furniture
Go through your closets and garage for items that have been sitting unused. Sell them! I made a quick $15 one week just from selling my kids old Halloween costumes. I made money another week selling old homeschool curriculum and books.
Kids clothing and learning items sell more quickly than home décor. But, be patient. I leave listings up for a couple of weeks before reducing the price. Also, sell things seasonally. During the spring gather the summer clothes you want to sell. Off season items do not sell as well.
Kids can reuse school supplies.
As a kid I was kind of annoyed by this, but as an adult, this makes total sense! My mom would have us reuse our school supplies from one year to the next if they were in working order. It is fun, of course, to get a brand-new box of crayons in the fall. But, the reality is if the old ones still color, then your child can use them until they are all worn down.
This is a concept that, as the child of an immigrant, I learned early on: Waste was not an option. If it still works, use it until it doesn’t. It saves so much money.
Kids can use folders, colored pencils, etc. as long as they are still in working order. Use your discernment on this. As a mom, who does not buy my kids brand new school supplies every year, it does help us reduce costs. Right now is a time when we really need those savings.
Get a part time job you can do while kids are at school, or work from home.
Working part time from home is something I have been doing for 10 years now. The hours I work have varied from year to year. At first, I could work for 1-2 hours a day while the kids napped. Then, I could work 1-2 hours a week when I started homeschooling.
Now, I work after the kids are done with schoolwork. I also take my laptop so I can work when I am waiting in the car for the kids at their activities.
Sometimes part time work can find you. Consider these work options for moms:
- Babysitting help is a huge need for moms who have little kids at home.
- Sewing skills are very rare these days. Being a seamstress is a definite money maker.
- Baking cakes or treats seasonally.
- Walking dogs or pet sitting.
- I know a stay-at-home mom who started a podcast.
- Blog like I do.
- A couple moms I know run baking businesses out of their homes.
- What do you love?
- What topics are you wanting to spend more time on but have not yet found the time?
These answers could lead you to a job.
<<<This big resource of work at home jobs will be very helpful!>>>
I started blogging here back in 2011 as a ministry to encourage moms. It was a total surprise to me that I could earn money – without charging you a thing for reading. It has been a great me time experience as well, because I rekindled my passion for writing.
Now, I freelance over on Spouselink too! Imagine doing something you love and getting paid for it. And doing this while also having the time you need to take care of your family and home is a huge blessing.
If you want help figuring out what work or business you could add into your life, comment on this post. I would love to help you brainstorm.
Recap: Inflation Tips for Living on One Income
Grow your own food to create a sustaining source in your own space. The initial set up costs are a one-time expense for reducing your grocery bill long-term.
Reduce your grocery expenses by adding in lentils and beans to meals that would normally contain meat. Meatless Mondays are a fun approach to make it theme-based rather than negative.
Be conservative with spending on kids’ activities and related items like clothes and school supplies. Kids learn a lot from the idea that there is not money to buy everything, all the time. It will teach frugality and budgeting for when they are adults.
On top of that, being a stay-at-home mom provides some flexibility for adding on a part time job. This allows you to work during the times the kids are at school. Create your own business, or work virtually, and your work schedule can flex around any family responsibilities.
What are you doing to reduce your expenses during this period of inflation? Is your family making it on one income?