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How to Live On One Income And Thrive

We have spent big chunks of the last four years living on one income since our daughter was born. Some of it was voluntary, like the twelve months maternity leave I took after she was born. Some of it was involuntary, like the two redundancies that followed soon after that: one for me, then once I got a part-time job; one for my hubby! Go figure! I joke that we are not meant to have two incomes in our household, or so it seems! Living on one income can be tough, really hard given the cost of living in Australia is so high and the cost of housing, well don’t get me started on that one. However, the ability to live on one income is possible. Here are some tips to help you through.

live on one income

How to survive on a single income

Check out what Centrelink benefits you qualify for

Going from two incomes to one income, could mean that you might qualify for more assistance from the government than you could access previously. When my husband was made redundant and with me only working three days a week, we all of a sudden qualified for the Family Tax benefit A & B and the Childcare benefit (the means-tested one). Check out the Centrelink payment finder here, which will give you some guidance as to what Centrelink payments you might qualify for. Getting these extra payments have definitely helped.

Create a budget

If you haven’t done one, click here and see how to. Making one income stretch further is a lot easier if you use a budget. Some people see a budget as something terrible, akin to a diet. I prefer to think of it as a spending plan, making sure each dollar goes to our highest priorities and makes sure we get the best value for every dollar we spend. I use the awesome free budget planner from the MoneySmart website. Click here to check it out.

Check your spending leaks

Checking your spending leaks can also help you identify places where you can easily save money. All you have to do is to think of two things that you spend money on regularly, be it daily, weekly or monthly. It could be a daily takeaway coffee, or weekly takeaway or monthly magazine subscriptions. Next, add up how much one of these things cost you over a month, then a year. Now, think about how you could do that spending differently – be it bringing your lunch to work or cutting down from a large coffee to a smaller one, or buying from a cheaper supplier. Remember, doing things differently does not have to mean that you cut things out entirely unless you are highly motivated to do so!!

See how living frugally on one income can open your eyes to just how much you’ve been spending? Now, all you have to do is look at the difference between the two figures, how much it cost you per year using your old way versus the cost of the new way. This is how much you could save by changing your spending behaviour. In my case, I calculated I could save $2,184 simply by bringing my lunch to work and making my own hot chocolate in the office. A huge figure, especially given I only work 3 days per week!!

live on one income

Meal Plan

Before the hubster was made redundant I used to meal plan for the week. So sit down usually on a Saturday and figure out everything we needed for a week of meals, create a list and purchase it all on a Sunday. It was fab because I knew what we were having on each day and already had the ingredients ready to roll. It prevented any random trips to the shops where I might bring home a few extras, shall we say. At the moment our system is a bit out of whack. My hubby does the meal plans for the three days I am at work (I don’t want to get in the way of him making dinner), and I do the rest. It still works fine and overall substantially cuts our food bill by at a guess at least 20%.

Compare, compare, compare….

On all your major expenses, do a ring around or use online comparison sites to make sure you are getting the best deal. From your insurance to your telephone bill and everything in between, make sure that you have got the best service to meet the needs of your family at the best available price. I try to do the ring around once a year on all my services to make sure I am getting the best deal, and it can make a big difference to your budget. For example, by changing electricity provider, I have saved $400 off my winter electricity bill, absolutely worth the two hours of legwork it took for me to figure it all out.

Living on one income is difficult, but it is achievable. If it gets too hard, there are some great options to earn money from home. I hope my tips will make it easier for you and your family.

Do you have any tips on how to live on one income?


How to live on one income and thrive



Shelley Marsh
Latest posts by Shelley Marsh (see all)


  1. Money Mummy
    December 11, 2014 / 2:25 pm

    Thanks for having on your blog Eva! I really appreciate it!

    • December 11, 2014 / 3:00 pm

      My pleasure! Thank you so much for writing this very valuable post!

  2. Simplify.Create
    December 11, 2014 / 3:15 pm

    Great ideas. Amazing what a difference these habits can make.

  3. December 12, 2014 / 10:56 pm

    My best tip is to make bread. When my boys were growing up we went through about two loaves a day. It cost $4 a day. I started to make bread, because I could make two loaves for .50c. That is a savings of $3.50 a day, or just over $1200 in a year. The cost of making bread has almost doubled since then and yet the cost of making it has stayed about the same. I figure my bread mixer saved me thousands of dollars over the years.

  4. December 15, 2014 / 9:25 am

    So many awesome tips! We have been on one income since June last year and we are really finding things starting to get tight as Zee gets older. It’s only going to get worse next year when I go to Tafe two days a week and we need more care for the girls, so there are a couple of things on here I am getting on to asap, like Centerlink and most definitely meal planning!