When two incomes become one

My husband and I never planned to be a single-income family. We knew people did it and made it work, but that sort of lifestyle didn’t feel applicable to us. We were hustlers when it came to our jobs, determined to prove ourselves and climb the ladder one rung at a time and be in a place of job satisfaction and security within 5-10 years. Now that we’re on one income, we’re still hustlers. But my husband hustles at his conventional job while I hustle at home, raising our three-year-old daughter and attempting to keep our home life at least 65% organized (and, let’s be real — some days 15% is generous).

My point is: I didn’t realize how frivolously I was spending until every dollar counted. Since I lost my job in 2016, here are some lifestyle adjustments I’ve made:

I broke up with my expensive hair stylist. (Sorry, girl.)
Before: Intricate blonde highlights + layers + bangs that needed regular trimming.
Now: Low-maintenance balayage/ombre in which my roots are my natural color. Simple haircut. No bangs.

Now that I go in for my hair MAX twice a year (only once for color refresh), I’m saving a crazy amount of money that I’m too embarrassed to tally. Plus, I am really digging the no-pressure, whenever-you-feel-like-it vibe from my talented yet chill new hair stylist. (Also, it’s now occurring to me that I never actually broke up with my old stylist, I just stopped going. What is the correct/courteous protocol for this?!)

I roll up my change once a quarter.
Change jars have always been a thing in our family, but we typically dump our coins in just a few times a month, meanwhile, the recycled coffee can “jar” accumulates a thick layer of dust. Now, I keep coin rollers (is that what they’re called?) in stock so I can sit down and roll our coinage a few times a year. I’m always surprised by how much is there, and I can use that money to pay a babysitter or get some extra groceries. Our bank tellers are only annoyed about 30% of the time I come in to exchange the rolls, which is fine by me. I kind of really enjoy the whole process.

My clothes are almost exclusively gifts or hand-me-downs.
I would like to give a shoutout to my parents, who spoiled me rotten growing up, so that I was only accustomed to the finer things in life when it came to clothing. As you can imagine, it was a harsh reality check as I began financially sustaining myself. In hindsight, I realize how “good” I had it then — but in all honesty, I feel better/more whole being frugal in this whole clothing department. There is something to be said for simplicity when it comes to self-image (for me, clothes have a LOT to do with my self-image).

I reuse Ziploc bags.
I wash and reuse those suckers, every time. It doesn’t save a noticeable¬†amount of money, but it makes me feel good that I’m making an effort, and it also makes me feel like I am doing something to help the environment (yes, not using them at all would ultimately be the best thing for the environment, but kids).

Before I buy almost anything, I ask my friends, family, and community if they can help.
We have been amazed by the generosity of friends and neighbors since we became a single-income family. Warning label: It can be a humbling thing to ask for help. But when you do, it not only benefits you — it also helps others ask for support in return. There is something so cool about reciprocal, if-you-win-I-win support in relationships. We’ve scored babysitting, food, house items and decor, and clothes, all free. AND, if you haven’t joined your neighborhood Buy Nothing Facebook group, you are missing out.

I’m finally using all those bars of soap gifted to me over the years.
I used to roll my eyes when I opened yet another gift set of Italian soaps (ungrateful much?), but those little babies are saving us nowadays. (Does anyone else always get these as gifts, or is my extended family just obsessed with soap?) I can’t remember the last time I had to purchase body wash. Each time I go to grab a bar from our stash, I feel a small albeit mighty flash of victory.

There are so many other ways in which we’ve cut back our lifestyle out of necessity, but it’s these day-to-day, seemingly minuscule things that are a constant reminder of how fortunate we are to have what we have. Yes, some of them are annoying (e.g. drying recycled and washed Ziploc bags on my kitchen counter), but the mentality of ‘using only what we need’ is humbling in a way I’m grateful for.

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