Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Surviving on one wage: Part A

People often ask me how we survive living on one wage. We don't just survive, we flourish.
I am going to share some of our secrets to successfully living on one wage, whilst saving and living with luxuries. Sounds impossible right? Wrong!
Our weekly income is not very high. It's not exceptionally low either. But it is most certainly not high. Probably not even mid. I don't discuss wages so I don't know what is 'normal'. I don't think its important how much you earn. It's not about how much money you have, but how you spend it.

1. Write a budget and STICK TOO IT!
We did this whilst we were saving for our wedding and managed to get a decent amount of money together. After the wedding and saving so much of our wage we wanted to splurge a little and forgot about our budget. Well, we noticed. Budget's are so crucial.
Be realistic. Don't give yourself $100 for groceries and decide to eat less. That won't work and you'll end up going over budget. This is a sure way to see you giving up your budget after the first week.
Make sure you include some money for luxuries. After all, what's the point of having money if you can't enjoy it. Here is an example of our fortnightly budget:

Each evening we get out our receipts and we write up what we spent during the day. So make sure you keep your receipts! 

2. Open a bills account:
You may notice that there are no bills in our budget. That's because we have a separate bills account. It is connected to our spendings account but we don't touch it. I know how much goes in each fortnight to cover the bills. So if our phone bill is $150 a month, $75 goes in each fortnight no matter if it's due or not. With things like our gas bill I over estimate how much it is quarterly, divide it by six, and that amount goes in fortnightly. I have also set up a deposit to go into our savings from this account each fortnight so if we end up spending the allocated money in our budget for other/savings we still put some away. Again, be realistic. Don't try and save to much otherwise you might have to hack into that savings account.

3. Open up a savings account:
We decided to open a savings account with a different bank just to ensure that it was difficult to access. We can still access it if we have to but we lose interest for the month, so that is a deterrent. We have Oliver's trust fund linked to this account. Each fortnight we deposit $100 into savings and $20 into Oliver's account. Okay so it's not much, but it adds up. Also, whatever is left in our spendings the day before pay day goes into it too, (apart from our personal spendings as that is accumulated so we can save for our own luxuries.) 
Also on the odd occasion that I do earn some money this goes directly into savings. We are so used to living on one wage that we do not need it for day-to-day living but I'm certain one day it will come in handy.

4. Cut up those credit cards:
If you can't afford it you can't have it. Okay, that's easier said than done. 
James and I have never had credit cards so we are used to it. 
We have a car loan, and we have bought a few electrical goods on interest free loans. But we don't use a credit card for day-to-day purchases. There is no need for it as long as we are following our budget. Live within your means. Your wage, the car you drive, the computer you use, the house you live in- these things do not define you. Sure you can have the luxuries you enjoy, but you might not be able to have it there and then. Do it the old fashioned way and save your money. The feeling of walking away from a big purchase knowing that item is all yours and you have worked hard for it makes you enjoy it all the more. 
Also you start to realise what you really need and/or enjoy. Money has more value when it's your own

I think the best bit of advice I can give you is to just be conscious of what you are spending. You don't have to be stingy, but you don't have to live paycheque to paycheque. Just be economical, notice what comes out when and live within your means.

Good Luck.

Cassandra J


  1. What about rent in that one?

    1. We are fortunate that it comes out of James' wage before it reaches his account so we don't have to think about it, but before this arrangement we had it set up in our bills account.