5 Lessons Learned in 395 Days of Living on One Income
I thought it would be best to start this list with a brief description of my particular situation. I am a young, married, female student with a great career for the community I live in. I have been married for a little over two years and as I am sure our situation is not the same as others, there are many ways it could be adjusted to meet different needs. We live in a rural area where the cost of living is relatively cheap. Our mortgage is less than 25% of my net income and we do not have any children. We found ourselves living on one income due to my husband returning to school and being unhappy in a labor intensive job. I can honestly say these last 395 days have been the best for our marriage. I don’t mean to brag (that’s a lie), but in those days we have not argued once about our finances. Actually, we have raised our credit score to above average and paid off our credit card debt.
So… What have I learned during this adventure?
- Cooking at home is important. This is not rocket science to know eating at home is cheaper than eating out. However, eating processed food at home can be just as expensive as going out. I have to applaud my husband and me for taking the time to learn how to cook more than just “chili-ramen” and “spicy noodles” (yes, both are a thing and I won’t lie they do taste wonderful every once in awhile). We did not waste the money on a cooking class or expensive ingredients, rather we made a list of foods we enjoy at restaurants and found recipes to try to mimic these entrees. Not only is cooking at home better for your health and wallet, but it is great bonding with your partner when you both have busy schedules.
2. A date night does not mean you have to spend money. This has been by far one of my favorite adjustments we made this year. Every weekend we have a “movie date night” at home where we find a film we have never seen before, close the curtains, and make homemade popcorn. If you are interested in a date idea such as this, look for a popular movie from the year you were born. We watched “Jungle Fever” from 1991… it was very interesting, to say the least. The best part about “dating” at home is the intimacy which can be hard to achieve in a group date or a busy area. In the last 395 days, we have both learned so much more about each other. My husband honestly knows every horrible thing I have ever done to others. I have admitted things that I am ashamed and embarrassed about, but what an amazing feeling to be able to tell my life partner everything I can about myself including my faults.
3. Anniversaries and Christmas are not about the material things. We learn this concept as children, but there are so many of us that do not actually have to deal with this situation. In the last 395 days, we did not buy each other anything that was not a necessity. With that, I can say our last wedding anniversary and Christmas was the best! Why was it the best? There was no pressure and we legitimately spent all day in bed. All day spent in the intimacy of our bedroom with no interruptions whatsoever. Yeah, it was amazing! (I actually suggest incorporating this into “date day” on weekends whenever possible).
4. Buying new clothes, furniture, or other costly wants is ridiculous on a budget. This was a very hard adjustment for me in the beginning, as I felt I worked hard all week, damn it! I deserve to buy myself a new outfit. The truth is, I have a great set a clothes that I have owned for years. And yes, I do still own several pieces from high school and I do not care. Actually, I am quite impressed I have kept the same physique since then. We have nice furniture, but it is used which is perfect for dogs in the home. A concept that has worked for us is, if we can’t pay cash for it then we don’t need it. We don’t believe in putting furniture, appliances, or other costs on credit and this has worked out very nicely for our credit score and sanity.
5. It’s difficult to be the partner working, but trust me your unemployed partner is just as stressed. People get busy and naturally get stressed. Just because your spouse may not have left the house that day, does not mean they sat around in their filth all day and binged on Netflix. Your spouse is stressed, you’re stressed, the whole world is fucking stressed. Don’t forget to ask your spouse how their day went and if they need help with anything. Your spouse loves you, don’t forget that.