All About Budgets | From the Readers

How I Support My Family On One Income

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how i support my family on one income



This is a Guest Post written by Tanya a CBB fan sharing her story about how she supports her family on one income in hopes to inspire others.

Tanya’s Story:

I live in Prince Edward Island with my two young children. Money wasn’t always streaming in to my bank account, but we were able to get by. The bills were being paid, we had just bought a house and we were comfortable.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I ended up being put on sick leave. With my pay gone and my sick benefits nowhere in site yet, things started to get tight. With only my husband’s salary to go on, one child in full-time day care (I was on bed rest) and another child on the way, the bills started to add up.

We started using my credit cards to cover the extra expenses, always saying we would pay them off as soon as possible, but the balances started to add up. It didn’t help that my husband refused to even try a budget – if he wanted to eat out, he did; if there was a movie he wanted to rent, he rented it.

By the time I went back to work (I work by contract), all of our bills were late, credit cards were maxed and we had one consolidation loan under our belts. Over the next few years, I tried to cut corners when possible, but with two of us having access to the bank accounts it was hard. I’m not saying it was all on my husband, but I do think I tried harder.

This past year, my husband and I separated; as soon as he realized it was over, he opened his own bank account and I was left with all of our bills (minus his car payment), the mortgage and our kids to support.

With my job, I sometimes only work 3-6 months a year. Even when I’m not employed, our son (who has special needs) has to be in day care full-time for his benefit. Now, I am back to one income and still have all of our debts without any financial support from my ex.

When my husband and I separated a few months ago, my household dropped to a one pay cheque home. With two young children (one with special needs) to care for, it was important that I quickly learn how to cut corners.

Working full-time, I used to be guilty of throwing together a lot of quick meals made from canned goods and bringing home take-out meals. Although canned goods can be inexpensive, most times they run at least $1 apiece, which can quickly add up.

woman cutting vegetables on one income

Saving Money and Time In The Grocery Budget

I had the idea of cooking large meals and freezing them in portion sizes. In the mornings, I will take enough for myself and my children out.

By the time supper time arrives, I simply need to pop them into the microwave. This is so easy for me, and a big money saver.

This method also helps with lunches while at work. I just pack one freezer meal in my lunch bag, and when noon hits, microwave and enjoy. I have found that by taking hot meals with me, I have cut way back on using the cafeteria where most of my co-workers spend a bit of money.

I often wonder how much it costs my co-workers who eat out of the cafeteria all week-long. It was certainly not something I was prepared to be doing especially when we didn’t have the money in our budget to do so.


Ways That Helps Me Raise My Family On One Income


  • If you have a cell phone contract, you can still lower your package to the absolute minimum. I save $20/month doing this.
  • With your home phone, try using one that has an answering machine; between dropping voice mail and call waiting, I am saving approximately $15/month.
  • If you absolutely can’t do without your satellite/cable, try getting the cheapest pkg – you can get so many programs online now for free
  • Instead of buying my daughter milk at school for 50 cents/day, I recently started sending a container of milk with her
  • My kids like cereal, but I find it can go stale fast – take a trip to your local Dollarama and pick up some plastic containers – keeps the food fresh and the critters out!  I use mine not only for cereal, but for things like noodles, flour and pancake mix
  • I always wash our clothes in cold water and hang them out on the line for as long as possible during the year – saves on hot water and electricity big time!
  • I buy all of my spices at a bulk store…why pay $5 for a little jar when you can get the same amount for 50 cents?
  • I check local thrift stores a couple of times a month; when my desk chair broke, I managed to find one at a Salvation Army store for only $5!  You can also find great deals on clothing and other necessities.
  • To save on haircuts, I purchased a trimmer set for $20 and use it for my son.
  • When possible, I use u-picks for fruits and vegetables – you can save so much over buying prepackaged in stores
  • When grocery shopping, check the pricing labels carefully.  A lot of stores now have the price/unit on the tags to help you compare items.

This helps a lot when you have two similar items that are different sizes/prices let’s you know the better deal! (Ex: buying two small containers of margarine vs one large).

I am going to start a budget soon since I am back to work again. I have limited eating out to special occasions, have taken a firm stand with my daughter over “treats” and am looking to downsize from a van to a compact car to save on gas.

I have switched my bank account to unlimited transactions; for only $4 more/month in fees, I went from only having 20 free transactions/month ($1/transaction after that)to not having to worry about getting a huge fee.

I’m hoping to start getting back on track financially while supporting my family on one income because my kids deserve a stable environment.

Discussion: What other tips can you add to the list above to help others who must survive on one income ?


CBB Readers

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Photo Credits: Love Mom and Young Woman

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