It's a fact that either by choice or necessity, an increasing number of households are getting by on one income. The difficult job market has played a role, as has the fact that many people are single parents. Some families simply prefer one parent to stay at home with the children.

SEE: Budgeting When You're Broke

Surviving on only one income certainly has its challenges. However, with a little forethought and planning, you can not only do it, but you can do it well. Here are several tips to ease your burden.

Create a Detailed Budget
Creating and following a family budget is generally a good idea, but it's vital if you're living on one income. The key is to determine exactly how much you're spending, where you're spending and to compare that to how much income you're earning.

To do this, collect all of your bank account and credit card statements for the past few months. Organize all expenses into various categories, such as food, gas, utilities and cash withdrawals. Once you see where your money goes, it's much easier to identify expenses you can eliminate or reduce and to set target amounts to spend in each category.

Slash Personal Spending
This strategy is simple: Identify each potential purchase as a "need" or a "want" before you pull out your wallet. Wants include items such as convenience store snacks and sodas, coffee, and dinner at a restaurant. Eliminate these wants as much as possible. Also, find ways to reduce the cost of needs. For example, you may be able to use a smartphone app like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas in your area or clip coupons to save money on groceries.

SEE: Coupon Shopping: Clip Your Way To Savings

Save on Monthly Bills
Next, collect all of your bills from the previous month and search for ways to reduce them. Can you cut back on your cable TV package, reduce your cell phone minutes plan or get by with a lower connection speed for your Internet service? If so, call your provider and start trimming away.

To reduce your home energy bill, raise your thermostat by three degrees and run fans during the summer months. Also, only do full loads of laundry and dishes, and be vigilant about turning off lights and TVs that aren't in use. Simply adjusting your habits can save you hundreds of dollars annually.

Boost Individual Income
After you've identified how to save money, identify ways to boost your income. Can you ask for a raise or better position yourself for one in the near future? Alternatively, you may be able to make money in your spare time. For example, you can sell your unneeded items on eBay or Amazon, or start a side business.

SEE: How To Ask For A Pay Raise

The Bottom Line
One of the most difficult aspects of raising children while living on a single income isn't cutting out the things you want for yourself, it's having to tell your children they can't have the latest and greatest toys, gadgets or clothes. Remember, when you reduce your expenses, you're not necessarily reducing your quality of life. Even if they complain, the most important thing you can give your kids is your time and love. Does your family live on a single income? What adjustments have you made to ease the burden?

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Why Women Are Underprepared for a Spouse’s Death

    Women are typically less prepared for the death of a spouse than men. An advisor can help mitigate some of the financial burdens widows may end up facing.
  2. Professionals

    How to Get Free Social Security Spousal Benefits

    Married couples should thoroughly examine whether they are eligible to collect free spousal benefits on their Social Security income.
  3. Budgeting

    How to Cost Effectively Spend on Baby Clothes

    Don't let your baby's wardrobe derail your budget. These top tips help you to save money and spend wisely on baby clothes.
  4. Personal Finance

    College Students are Failing Financial Literacy

    Financial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial literacy.
  5. Savings

    Passing Down Values and Money to the Next Generation

    Amassing wealth to pass down to your kids is great unless your values don't come with it. A priceless gift is teaching them to be financially responsible.
  6. Personal Finance

    Top Resorts for Multigenerational Family Vacations

    After a week at one of these resorts that cater to families of all ages, you might swear off those exhausting road trips to Grandma’s for good.
  7. Budgeting

    6 Cost-Effective Tips for Raising Your First Child

    The excitement of welcoming your first child to your family shouldn't prevent you from making good cost-effective decisions.
  8. Budgeting

    5 Ways to Date on a Budget

    Dating on a budget doesn't have to be boring. Try these 5 tips to find the best dates on a budget.
  9. Budgeting

    7 Kids Items You Should Never Buy Used

    Buying secondhand items is a great way to save money, but these seven kids items should not be bought used.
  10. Stock Analysis

    Top 3 Stocks for the Coming Holiday Season

    If you want to buck the bear market trend by going long on consumer stocks, these three might be your best bets.
  1. Is Japan an emerging market economy?

    Japan is not an emerging market economy. Emerging market economies are characterized by low per capita incomes, poor infrastructure ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are Social Security payments included in the US GDP calculation?

    Social Security payments are not included in the U.S. definition of the gross domestic product (GDP). Transfer Payments For ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some of the drawbacks of industrialization?

    In economic history, industrialization is the social and economic transformation of the human group from an agrarian society ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do changes in interest rates affect the spending habits in the economy?

    Changes in interest rates can have different effects on consumer spending habits depending on a number of factors, including ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!