One of my biggest pet peeves in life is when people tell me that I’m lucky that I don’t have to bring in additional income. Luck has very little to do with it. And when a person tells me I’m lucky it makes me think that they don’t appreciate or are unaware of the work my husband and I have put in for the past 19 years to get us to the point where we are only dependent upon one income. But rather than rolling my eyes one more time at the people who think I’m lucky, I thought I’d share the rules my husband and have followed since we got together almost 20 years ago. That way, you can be one of the lucky ones as well.
- We don’t believe in credit card debt. When we got married I had credit card debt that equaled around $350. That amount is not too bad for some, but for us it really bothered us. So the first pay check I received once I was out of college went to pay that debt off. And we have never had a month in which we didn’t pay off our credit card in its entirety since. It’s a rule we have that we refuse to break.
- We try to live off of one income. The first few years we were married we were trying very hard to save for a down payment on a house. In order to do this, we decided that it was best for us to live off of only one income and save the other. Honestly there were many months we failed in this endeavor. That happens when you are young and are figuring things out. But for the most part we were successful, and within a year and a half with both of us working full time, we had enough for a down payment on a house. And the house we purchased? We decided to only buy what we could afford on one income. This decision became especially smart when we decided to have children and that one of us wanted to stay home with the new baby. We really didn’t even feel the loss of income when it came to our day to day life. And we didn’t have to worry about suddenly not being able to afford things as we were used to living off of the smaller income.
- We save our bonuses. We never spend our bonuses. Instead they go straight into savings or some long term investment. We have never broken that rule.
- With each salary increase, we only increase our daily budget a small percentage of that salary increase. We have found that if we try to pretend that we don’t get raises, we can instead put the extra income into savings. This savings is where our extra cash for major purchases such as cars, vacations, and a bigger house came from once we lost the second income I was making while working outside of the home. Of course there are times when you have to increase your budget. Kids get more expensive with age, people buy bigger, more expensive homes, etc. But if you are really mindful about these expenses and have the rule of pretending that you haven’t gotten a raise, you tend to only increase your budget a much smaller percentage than the actual raise itself.
- Retirement, college funds, etc. savings comes from the income we live off of. This was an important rule when I decided to quit my job to stay home when the babies arrived. Sure our savings amounts dropped dramatically when the second income stopped coming in, but we didn’t have to shrink our regular household budget at all to get what we consider the minimum savings (retirement, college funds, etc.).
- We pay cash for everything. When we were newly married this rule only applied to small items such as televisions, furniture, remodels, etc. This rule forced us to really think about each and every purchase that we made. If we didn’t have the cash for a new television, did we need a television? Odds are that we didn’t. The only exception to that rule was and is if we can get a loan for something that is either at a zero percent interest rate or a rate that is lower than the interest rate on our savings. Because we have had this rule for so long, and because we have always saved such a large part of our income, we now apply this rule to every purchase we make with the exception of our mortgage. Though paying that off is very much in our near future.
- We’re not too proud to bargain shop. Look, I like the nice quality things as much as the next person. But I refuse to pay full retail price for anything. Every purchase is negotiable, and I make sure that I pay the absolute least I can for everything that I buy.
- We enjoy the simple pleasures in life. There’s a reason that there is a simple pleasures category on this blog. I think that by being hyper-aware of the simple pleasure and beauties in life you tend to not be so worried about having enough. When you’re not worried about having enough, you tend not feel the need to spend money unnecessarily. And this really is the key to how my husband and I became so lucky.
Kelly Kinkaid enjoys writing about such topics as stretching a dollar, personal finance, diet and fitness, and living a life well lived. She spends all of her spare time in her many roles including but not limited to soccer, basketball, swimmer, band, and piano mom, runner and wife. You may contact her via e-mail kellyology(at)gmail(dot)com.