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Many homeschooling families (and non-homeschooling families, too) are living on one income in a two-income economy.
Our own household income was cut by 50% when I quit my full-time architecture career to stay home with our first baby. We had some savings and made it work for the short-term but once we decided to homeschool we realized the “dip-into-savings-and-just-don’t-buy-stuff” approach wasn’t going to work for the long haul.
The loss of one full-time salary or the switch to part-time income with fewer benefits is a huge adjustment. In a culture obsessed with money and material possessions you’ll need to muster all your courage and intentionality to stick to a financial plan that works.
But I’m here to tell you it CAN be done!
There’s no fairy godmother that adds extra digits to your paycheck or makes your bills disappear (if you find one, send her my way). But there are sensible, doable strategies you can incorporate into your day-to-day life that will make profound change possible over time.
For the next few weeks, this series of posts is going to fly in the face of the current Black Friday frenzy and all it’s pressure to spend more. I’ll be sharing four of the most effective strategies our family has used to save money to make our single-income, homeschooling lifestyle possible.
The 4 C’s: Strategies for Living on Less
Strategy #1 – Be Competent
One of the best things my husband and I did early in our marriage was to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class and make a plan for our money management. It got us on the same page and set us on a path to live within our means.
Whether you take a class like Financial Peace or do your own informal research, start somewhere to learn more about finances. If you’ve never made a budget in your life or if you’re already financially savvy, there’s always more to learn and always a next step to take. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some resources that we’ve used over the years to self-educate:
Bible & Prayer
God has a lot to say about money, stewardship and right priorities – don’t overlook the wealth of wisdom available to us in the Bible! Pray for discernment, guidance and His provision. He hears you!
Personal Finance Classes
Like I said, we’ve used Dave Ramsey’s class but there are a lot of quality programs out there. Many of them have free tips and money management tools on their websites. You can learn a lot just by reading through their FAQs.
I’m not talking about the hundreds of get-rich-quick books out there. Read books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad that present interesting perspectives on money or others, like this budgeting e-book for beginners, that give practical help for specific topics.
Track Your Finances
If you’ve taken financial classes, you know the first things they all recommend are to track your spending and make a budget. You can’t make decisions without a good picture of your situation. We’ve used several programs over the years including homemade Excel and Numbers spreadsheets, Quicken and iBank to keep track of all the details. Find a method that works for you and start keeping track of your income and expenses as soon as possible!
The one I’ve used most is Money Saving Mom which has great deals and ideas for couponing and saving money. It can be a bit overwhelming so start on her beginner’s page to get a good overview first. Just be careful that sites like this don’t encourage you to start buying things you don’t really need just because there’s a good deal! (Not that I would know anything about this… ahem)
If you’re trying to learn more about mortgages, loans and investing, it can be hard to know where to start. When we were buying a house, we used BankRate.com to research all about the process. They have a glossary of money-related terms and financial calculators, too, so you can plan out different savings/investment scenarios.
Churches and Libraries
Look for free or inexpensive money management classes in your community. We’ve taken several classes at our church over the years to learn more about topics like saving for college and making wise investments.
Friends & Family
Find people who handle money wisely and ask them for advice. People love to share what they know!
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Basically, Strategy #1 is to gather as much quality information as you can to help your family make wise financial decisions and live within your means. Whether your goal is to homeschool on one income, save for a new car or retire to Aruba at age 35, increasing your competency with money will help make your dreams a reality.
Click here to check out Part 2 of the Money-Saving Strategies series!
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