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Rent/Mortgage with One Income

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 

How do families with one income and a stay-at-home parent afford to make a monthly rent or mortgage payment? Do you live in a low cost-of-living area?

 

I know that you can save money with clothing, food, household products, etc., but how do you save money on housing, especially with one or more children?


Edited by aquarius aspiring - 12/31/11 at 6:07pm
post #2 of 49

I live in a high cost of living area and have been a SAHM since my first was born over 6 years ago.

 

My husband has a good salary.  We budget pretty well.  We don't go on expensive vacations.  We sold our house at the height of the market and paid off our cars and student loans, so we have no debt.  That helps tremendously.

 

We are very lucky though, and realize that.

post #3 of 49

We live in a SUPER high cost area (Oahu, Hawaii) but spent 12 years living frugally before we had our son for this to work. Also, we didn't take out any student loans, we drive a crappy car and rent instead of own. But I love the flexibility it gives me not to have to go back to work. I don't think a family can make it on one income withut pre=planning nowadays.

post #4 of 49

We bought our house based on only DH's income. My plan was to someday move to a bigger house. Then I decided to never return to work. So now here we are in a small ranch "making it work."

post #5 of 49

We live in a relatively high cost-of-living area (downtown Chicago), and I am a mostly (90%?) stay-at-home mom.  My income, what little there is, goes into savings.  How do we do it?

 

1) We don't have a mortgage, as mentioned by a PP.  Renting rather than owning is less stressful for us, as we don't have to worry about maintenance costs.

2) We live in a lovely neighborhood, but in an old (NOT updated) apartment.  We don't have a yard or central air conditioning or a washer/dryer in our unit. We make do with our patio and fans and the shared basement laundry. 

3) Our apartment is quite small - 500 square feet.  It has two tiny bedrooms and one miniscule bathroom, and our family of three fits fine.  I think we could add one or two more between co-sleeping and lots of time outdoors.

4) We live right by some train tracks.  I don't mind at all, but supposedly this can lower costs by about 20%.  Sweet!

 

Obviously, we do a lot of other things to save money too.  However, those are the main ways we save on rent.  We didn't think much about each of those factors, though... before we found this place, we set a max rent budget and only looked at apartments that met that criteria.  I feel so blessed to live where we do for what we pay. 

post #6 of 49

We live in a fairly low COL area, and our house is def less than we could qualify for, and def less than DH's peers. Of course that's kind of turning out to be a bummer now as our kids start public school, but that's another thread. We relocated here from a much higher COL just so we could have our family w/ a SAHM. If we had stayed home I'd have still SAHM'ed, but in a condo vs a house, not as much extra cash, etc. If you can swing it job-wise and don't mind leaving family (which sucks!!!!!), a low COL makes a big difference.

post #7 of 49

We live in a decent COL place, but we pay $1287 for our mortgage (4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a MIL house that is 900 sq ft and is now our honey processing/meat processing/milk processing/sewing/art house and we put a pool table in there).  It's alot, and some months harder than others, but we make it work because we love our home.  We bought out here though because we wanted so badly to homestead.  We have almost 5 acres, and live near nothing fun, lol.  Dh and our oldest dd drive 45 minutes each way to work (they work together).  They carpool.  We don't go out to eat.  We don't go on expensive vacations (the last one we went on was to go to KY to scatter MILs ashes and we drove and camped.  We paid for it by scrapping out all the junk I gripe about my dh dragging home and it gave us $600!).  Dh does sidejobs (HVAC), and as far as saving $ on home maintenance, my dh can fix a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. (that is a real biggie!) We barter for lots of stuff (we barter skills and food).  We try to find any way we can to make $ off of either our homestead products, or by flipping things we find (example:I found someone w/bee hives in their hangar.  I talked them into selling me most of them and I sold them on Craigslist.  We made $500 profit in a week on that deal, and got 12 free hive bodies for us.  We work our butts off and that's how we do it. 

post #8 of 49

We live in Canada, but the cost of living seems high to me.  I see people talking about $50 a week for groceries and think the must be eating flour (and maybe a few apples lol).  To make it work staying home we have saved up my maternity payments as a down payment on a house.  We will only get a house that is affordable on my husband's wage, so I think it will be a condo townhouse in not the most desirable, but not too dodgy part of town. We buy our vegetables/meat at the farmer's market (cheaper than grocery store) and stock up on dry stuff at the discount grocery store.  I buy day old bread from the bakery that is the same price as the yucky bread from the grocery.  I think our biggest money saver is that we don't have a car.  It's kind of a pain, but we cycle year round, and hey, no need for a gym pass.  I would also like to get a part time job, but my husband works shift work and some overtime on the weekends so I'm only availble on....Sundays...not great for scheduling.  I thought about babysitting a kid but with the twins and my 3yr old I just don't think I can do it.  So we cut back on stuff (car, no cable, line dry, don't use the air conditioning, put up plastic on windows in the winter to cut heating, use fire place, eat meat only 3-4 times per week, use the library etc).  It's tough, but having worked in a day care myself I think the lack of rushing and stress two working parents bring to a family is worth it.  Of course I saw many families who thrived with two working parents, it just wouldn't work in our family dynamic.

post #9 of 49

For us it's a combination of factors. We live in a city but the COL is pretty reasonable. We bought our house and put a fair amount of money down, thanks to an inheritance I'd been squirreling away. So our mortgage payment is very reasonable, under $700/month for a 3 bed/2 bath in a nice neighborhood. We both finished grad school before DS was born, I did a one year program with in-state tuition. Have some loans from that, but not too bad. DH went to a private university for two years but had an amazing scholarship, the stipend paid our bills while he was in school and it left him with no college debt. His degree enabled him to get a job that pays well, and after working there for two years we're about to move to a bigger house in the same neighborhood. We make some other sacrifices, like sharing one car (with a low monthly payment), but they don't really feel like sacrifices because it's how we've been living for years.

post #10 of 49

We moved 3000 miles away from all of our friends and family to a high cost of living area and my DH's "dream job". 

 

We feel very lucky that my DH has a job with a very high salary.  BUT, moving here was a huge sacrafice in terms of family and friends and support system.  I'm not sure if I would do it again.

 

I think about moving back all the time.  With DH's time at "dream job," under his belt, I'm sure he could find another job closer to home.  I have to admit though, that it's the benefits that make it difficult to leave.  Our health insurance is amazing.

post #11 of 49

I have been a SAHM for 10 years, so our housing and any other costs have always been based upon DH's income (which, has gone up over the years, luckily). 

 

If we had settled into life with two incomes for a decade and then decided to have kids and a stay at home parent, we would have struggled, I'm sure, to cut our income in half and still keep our standard of living. 

post #12 of 49

When we lived in a high COL area, I "worked" to bring in income. Sometimes I cleaned houses, sometimes I baby-sat, sometimes I full time nannied to bring in money but brought DS1 with me, or later had the child I cared for in my home when I had DS2 as well. We couldn't make it on DH's income alone. We could now, as he's stepped up considerably as far as income is concerned. But before, it wasn't mathematically possible. 

post #13 of 49

We live in a pretty moderate COL area, but it is increasing.

 

We don't have a mortgage now, but I stayed home when we did, at one point even covering two mortgages until we sold our old house.  It was very, very tight, but we managed.  For a while I did a little bit of babysitting at home, which covered maybe 2/3 of our grocery costs and so saved us a decent chunk of money there.  I would like to do that again, but we need to get the house back in order after moving and take care of the poison ivy in the back yard before we do that.

 

Ultimately, how we did it is: We lived Very Frugally.  Frugal to the point that most people thought we were flat out crazy.  We minimized driving and travelling.  We radically simplified our eating.  We didn't pay for entertainment, ever.  At that time we had limited local calling, no cell phones, and dialup internet.  We looked for things we wanted in free places first, and then the thrift stores, and if it wasn't available, we waited until it was.  I kept an eye on the thrift store so I could buy a head for the children's clothing, so that we didn't hit a point where we suddenly needed certain items and sizes and had to buy them new because they didn't happen to be in stock in thrift stores at just that moment.  We homeschool using a state cyberschool, so curric. is free, we have a school computer for the kids, and partially subsidized internet.  We make do with annoyances until we have the money to fix them, rather than go into debt to deal with them.  If push comes to shove, we may let one of our cars sit in the drive way until we have the money to pay for inspection (at the end of this month, unless dh gets a job, I will be vanless. *sigh*.  But only temporarily).

 

Like a previous poster said, we base our lifestyle on whatever dh's income is at the moment.  And if his income increases, we still carefully limit ourselves so that if there is a loss of income later on, we will have savings and not have difficulty "shifting down" to accomodate that.

post #14 of 49

I'd love it if you would expound here.  I probably already do this, but would love to know what your definition is.

 

We also make do with annoyances until we can (or more likely for us, have time) deal with it, pay for it, whatever.  Some people don't get how some things can not bother me, but eh, it is what it is.  So what if I have a few tiles messed up in my kitchen and hallway?  It's my fault since I'm the one who laid the tile, lol.  There's lots of things, though, but eventually everything ends up getting tended to.

Quote:

Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post

 

  We radically simplified our eating. 


 

 

post #15 of 49
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies, everyone! How you all make it work really makes me think.

 

I should have put more of a background in my original post, but here goes:

I'm finishing up graduate school at the end of the year. DH and I want to find new jobs and move to another state around this time. In a few years, we'll be TTC and I would like to be a SAHM once we have our first babe. It looks like our current area has a 8.9% higher COL than the rest of the country. I think it's kind of high, but I'm also used to it since I've lived in this area for nearly my whole life. I am worried about living on one income in a few years, but I think if we start planning now, we'll be okay.

post #16 of 49

Simplified eating:  For me that meant holding in check my love of new recipes and fabulous meaty foods from all over the world.  lol.gif

 

I feel guilty if I don't serve a huge varity, with a dish and several sides at every meal.  I thought I was failing my family making spaghetti once a week (and making them eat leftover spaghetti too), rather than once a month, interspersed with all kinds of other things.  Fortunately my husband is not a meat-and-potatoes guy, so I could cut down on that expense without making him suffer.  The kids really don't care, to tell the truth.  It's just my inner guilt machine that made me think that way.  1 lb of ground turkey will end up part of 2-3 meals.  The 3 pack of chicken breasts is for three meals on my menu. We get protein from lentils and other beans (cheap), eggs (I watch sales), cheese (on sale), yogurt (on sale), etc.

 

We don't do organic.  Someday, maybe.  But for now we do the best we can.

 

We have oats or muffins for breakfast, with a side of whatever fruit is on sale, either canned or fresh.

Lunches are either pb&j, or leftovers.  With carrot sticks.  Every day.  Boring, but it's food.

We eat the same basics for suppers every week, though I try to change recipes using the same basic ingredients (it's amazing what you can do with lentils, lol).

 

post #17 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post

Simplified eating:  For me that meant holding in check my love of new recipes and fabulous meaty foods from all over the world.  lol.gif

 

I feel guilty if I don't serve a huge varity, with a dish and several sides at every meal.  I thought I was failing my family making spaghetti once a week (and making them eat leftover spaghetti too), rather than once a month, interspersed with all kinds of other things.  Fortunately my husband is not a meat-and-potatoes guy, so I could cut down on that expense without making him suffer.  The kids really don't care, to tell the truth.  It's just my inner guilt machine that made me think that way.  1 lb of ground turkey will end up part of 2-3 meals.  The 3 pack of chicken breasts is for three meals on my menu. We get protein from lentils and other beans (cheap), eggs (I watch sales), cheese (on sale), yogurt (on sale), etc.

 

We don't do organic.  Someday, maybe.  But for now we do the best we can.

 

We have oats or muffins for breakfast, with a side of whatever fruit is on sale, either canned or fresh.

Lunches are either pb&j, or leftovers.  With carrot sticks.  Every day.  Boring, but it's food.

We eat the same basics for suppers every week, though I try to change recipes using the same basic ingredients (it's amazing what you can do with lentils, lol).

 


I'd love to hear your ideas for lentil meals.  I have one lentil stew recipe I like, but haven't tried any other lentil dishes and really want to eat them more often!
 

 

post #18 of 49

I live in a fairly low cost of living area.  I have a nice 3 bd 2 ba apartment and pay $715 for it.  I'm single, so obviously there's just one income.  I do receive food stamps.  My rent is darn near 50% of my take home pay.  I buy cars outright so I have no car payment, I just have to save for them, or use my tax return for them.  So I do that every few years.  I don't have cable or internet (I use a friend's, my mom's or the library).  My bills total about $275 and that's for cell phone, water, insurance, gas and electric.  My other household expenses are like $20 a month.  I go easy on the TP and other disposable products. LOL  I try to get what we need at thrift shops but I also don't hesitate to buy new from the store, particularly the clearance racks.  Gas has been killing me lately though, at $60 a tank every 8 days.  In my area, you can easily live on $2500 a month without assistance (except maybe medical if your job doesn't supply it).  Even food is fairly cheap.

post #19 of 49

We moved across the counrty to a low cost of living area far away from everyone we know.  But it is so remote that we NEED to take fancy vacations in order to preserve our sanity so no real savings there. 

post #20 of 49
I got pg right after school so even though I worked right up till my due date, we put all my money into paying off our car and just never got use to two incomes. We lived very frugally and lived in a tiny one bedroom apt till our oldest was almost 5 yrs.
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