DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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19 October 2015

Becoming a one income family


I'm queen of my home and here with my king, we grow, make, recycle, mend, bake, ferment, preserve, cook and do as much for ourselves as we can. Doing that helps us live a frugal life where we make the most of our assets and live according to our values and not those of multi-national corporations, advertising agencies or politicians who tell us to keep spending for the sake of the economy. I gave up full time paid work about ten years before the accepted retirement period and I have never regretted it for one moment. But this lifestyle is not only for retirees, it's here for anyone who is willing to do the work. Age is irrelevant.  The best way forward is to pay off your mortgage while you're both still working. That will secure your home as your major asset and you won't have mortgage payments hanging over your head every month. Hanno and I paid off our 25 year mortgage in eight years by paying fortnightly instead of monthly, and extra payments when we had any spare cash. It's not easy but it's doable and all the hard work will pay off as you cruise into life without a mortgage.



If you've still got a way to go on your morttage, this post is for you too but it isn't for the faint hearted. It involves much more than wishing you could pay off the mortgage, it's about planning to do it then following through on that plan. Not everyone will want to do this, some won't have the will power or even the opportunity to do it but the payoff is magnificent if you succeed. If you've been thinking about this for a while and decide to go for it, you'll need to plan out your debt reduction, then work towards that magical day when you breathe out and say: We did it!

Then the fun starts.


It's a really good idea to organise yourself well and have a clear plan. In those early weeks the aim for both of you is to set a budget and continue to deliver the same standard of food and house work as you did in the past.  You'll have to continue feeding the family and keeping your home clean so the areas you'll probably concentrate on first are finances, food shopping, food storage, and making your own cleaning products. In the following weeks, the person who is working at home can review all expenses, start a major home audit, then begin the life-long commitment to learning the skills needed to carry out the work you want to do. These new skills might include baking, cooking form scratch, food storage, fermenting, cheese making, and making the cleaning products you want to use. There is no doubt that if you master these more traditional skills - either one, two or many of them, you'll save money and increase your independence while moving further away from mainstream life. Hopefully, as you move through these stages, your sense of well being improves and a warm feeling of calm contentment will settle on you as you carry out your daily work.


When you first leave work and become a full time homemaker, you'll probably focus on setting your home up to support the family in a different way. You'll go from shopping weekly for most of your food and cleaning needs, to fewer trips to the supermarket. You'll probably stop buying convenience items and buy more ingredients to make what you need at home. These simple steps reduce the cost of living a lot but they also increase your self-reliance and resilience. This period of reskilling, or learning new skills from scratch is important and it never ends. You'll probably teach yourself how to do all the things your immediate future holds but as time goes on, there will always be more to learn as you go through different stages of your life.



And before this turns into War and Peace, let me finish by saying that gender is irrelevant in the choice of who will do their work at home and who will go out to work. There are so many things to consider - who works best with the children, who enjoys paid work, who gets paid more, who already has the homemaking and garden skills. The important thing is that you work with your partner as a team, make joint decisions, don't blame each other for past mistakes, share work when you're there together, and look to your future with shared optimism. This is the best way of living I've ever known but if I told you it's easy, I'd be lying. But if you want your life to be about more than working to pay bills, if you want to discover your true mettle, if you want to live on your own terms, if you want to spend time with your children and be the one who teaches them most of what they learn in those early years, then this is the life for you.

In the next post, I'll continue on this theme and discuss life after that initial change.


32 comments:

  1. Thanks Rhonda - I will never get sick of this foundational advice. Reading this information is like pressing the re-set button in my brain.....everything seems clear again.

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  2. Queen of my own home, love that phrase. I don't have a mortgage but as a single parent (and therefore single income) a frugal lifestyle is one I've been aspiring to for a few years now. I have different challenges as I have both roles to fulfil and no one to be on my team. It would be nice to see a positive post on how single people can achieve a simpler life too :-)

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    1. Being a working single Mom is not easy. I wish I had had good advice like this back in the day! I hope there will be some helpful guidelines for you. Some of the advice can be "tweaked" to your needs.

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    2. Not sure if this ok, Rhonda, but I read the blog CT on a budget (not sure how to add links) written by Carol, a single working Mom who is living frugally while raising kids on her own. Might be helpful to Ali.

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  3. Wonderful post, dear friend.. I loved being home and working away in my basement creating.. It was something that I loved to do and I was there in the home when the kids came home.. Not everyone can do that and it does not turn everyone's crank but if it is it is certainly worth all the trouble it takes to accomplish.. I think so anyway.. Love your random pics, too.. That bread.. Oh my.. xo

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  4. Great advice...we are working towards paying off our mortgage (we both work part time) and eventually building a house (small, hand made and cheap). Since we are both very close to 50 we will not be retiring before the 'official' retirement age though. We try to make and grow as much as we can ourselves and try to establish some alternate sources of income (various things such as; selling hand knitting and spinning, home made soap, pet sitting, even taking in washing). You are right to say that it is hard work and not for the faint of heart, but it is very rewarding and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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  5. I'm up early today, Rhonda and I love this post. We are journeying down the "road less travelled" this year and making it work by cooking at home (I always have done), expanding our veggie patch, knitting and relying on a whole lot of vinegar for cleaning! I'm about to start teaching myself how to sew too. We still have a mortgage but it's coming down a lot quicker these days, thanks in no small part to the tips and advice I find here whenever I visit.

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  6. I couldn't agree more. When we first bought our house we decided to pay my entire wage each week onto our mortgage and live off my husbands wage. In five years, three months before the birth of our first child we had our home paid off. At the time our friends could not see why we were being so disciplined and not 'enjoying life' more while we were young.. However I went into being a stay at home mum with no concerns, knowing there was no stress on my husband and I could enjoy my mothering role. Now, our friends are filled with envy as they have to juggle two working parents, the costs of day care and a hectic pace of life. It was so worth every second and now that my youngest child is in school I have started a little part time work which will now help set us up for a comfortable retirement, stress free! Rhonda your words are so wise - I hope others can benefit from this.

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  7. Rhonda, Being debt free is a wonderful thing! If all goes well we will pay off our mortgage next month, getting done with a thirty year mortgage in just over 15 years. What a great gift we are giving ourselves! The last thing we wanted as we go into our retirement is a mortgage hanging over our heads. By spending nearly nothing for some time we have managed it! Next we will turn our hands to developing a bigger garden patch, so hopefully we will be more food self-sufficient when I retire in two years.

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  8. Thank you for sharing Rhonda. It is nice to know that those of us who don't subscribe to commercialism or a "traditional" lifestyle aren't alone. We paid off our house years ago and are now currently living debt free. This is very important to us as we are self employed and don't have a steady income, therefore it is very difficult to plan a household budget. When times are good we save like mad to help us get through the tough times when work isn't as abundant. It's not an easy way to live and sometimes I just feel like giving up. Your blog reminds me that the everyday struggle is okay and that it will make me stronger in the long term. Thanks again.

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  9. I was fortunate in that there were pathways made by other people that helped me to get where I am today. I did not live my life knowing that I would become the recipient of these things that I have, I worked hard. I did retire early because of my windfalls though. I purchased property that I could afford to keep up with. Where I grew up and where the other property was that I had been "given" had taxes far too high for me to afford, ever working at the job I had when I retired. I sold the property I could and bought property where I got more for less and the taxes are affordable. I have land to grow my own food; vegetables, chickens, I could get a pig if I like. I was never taught to plan ahead like you and Hanno did. I am now learning from you what is important to me to move forward and be comfortable in my retirement. Thank you!

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  10. Although fabulous advice I am often discouraged reading these posts. Due to illness and various other factors my husband and I do not own our home and are stuck in the rental cycle. We have always lived on one income (except for 3 years recently when due to illness we had none) and I have stayed at home to home school and raise our 3 children. Rent is often close to what mortgage repayments would be for a comparable home. We grow veg and mend and make do and have always lived frugally. We have a low income but never feel poor except on the housing front. We are nearing 40 and still feel like home ownership is forever out of our grasp. Although we have money saved house prices and stamp duties etc mean we are not even close. We already live in a pretty tiny home to reduce our expenses (the smallest and cheapest in our area) and are happy with our downsized life. It would just be lovely if home ownership had not become something for rich investors pushing prices up to unreasonable levels. Sorry, rant over ☺️ Otherwise I get so much joy from your blog and it reminds me that we benefit from being a one income family and the riches we have are beyond compare.

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    1. Dear unknown, although home ownership can be a great thing it is not the be all and end all. It sounds as though you are living a satisfying simpler lifestyle and are living knowing you are blessed. Recently I've had to come to terms that my dream of living on acreage is not going to happen. It's always just out of our reach. So I've decided to live in the moment and look at the positives of the house we are currently paying off. That means using the community garden and purchasing free range eggs off friends. Home ownership is a good thing but on top of the rent you pay with home ownership you still have the cost of rates and maintenance which can be very costly.

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    2. Hi unknown,
      Just wanted to encourage you to consider perhaps a mobile home or caravan would be able to accommodate your needs? At least then your rent would be limited to the tiny parcel of land you need to put the home on. It would also give you much more freedom to travel.

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    3. I agree with Therese, Unknown. Home ownership has its unexpected pitfalls, too. There is always something that needs fixing or replacing - plumbing, wiring, roof, painting, flooring; and depending on the climate, seasonal jobs like mowing grass or shovelling snow. If we have health issues, and as we age, those things take a toll.

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  11. Thank you for this post. It is the foundation for living frugally.

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    1. yes it is the foundation to living frugally...but I prefer living wisely...aware of how corporate world manipulates the human mind. You have it in you...everyone has their own way of being more environmentally conscious

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  12. So good to give people an idea of what is needed to let go of others expectations and live the way you choose for yourself and your family.
    We never had a mortgage. .....it can be done.

    You have to be committed and be flexible.

    Pay off a block of good land as quickly as you can, sell it and buy 2 blocks in a small community ,we were lucky it was a coastal village. Plan was to self build one to sell and then build and furnish the second with the profit , to live in. BUT you have to be prepared to live in a small caravan ,with 1 small child it is doable !
    You have to take whatever work you find and live very frugally, but that is ok in a small town....you are not trying to impress anyone, you are working for a mortgage free future.

    It took more than 3 years to sort plans and self build ,as the money was slowly saved ,had to sell other block to finish as coucil regulations were strct on van time on land while building.
    Sold van at the end to pay electrician and slowly bought furniture from garage sales.
    We were lucky to catch lots of fresh fish for food, I still love fish, if you did this inland you could grow your vegies and maybe sell some eggs to pay for meat.


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  13. I too have left the workplace 10 years before the accepted norm. My kids are grown, but my husband loves that he can come home to a clean house, laundry isn't piled up everywhere, dinner is on, and our stress level has dropped considerably! I never realized how much never got done when I was working until I started having to keep up with it all now. We started downsizing financially 6 months before I retired, so it was not a shock to our finances. We have definitely tightened the purse strings, but no regrets at all. I'd rather be broke and stress free than have stress up to my ears and spend all my money eating out or out buying stuff just to get out of my messy house. I know I'm fortunate, and I don't take it for granted!

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  14. How I wish my husband and I had been more financially savvy before having kids! We had a good 4 years where we had bought our house before we started having kids. I wish so much we had've thrown much more on the mortgage than we did. These days we are on one income, and will probably be util our youngest is at least 7 years old (she is currently 3). We are much more frugal now, I do wonder what the heck we spent our "excess" money on in those kid-free days! Can't wait to read more :)

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  15. This is such a timely topic for me! I quit the rat race just 2 1/2 weeks ago and have begun reacquainting myself with my home. I have worked for the last 26 years, the past 6 as manager that included 6 day work weeks for the past 3 years. You can imagine how behind I am in my cleaning, clutter, cooking, etc. I have worked from sun-up to sunset, cleaning, reorganizing, purging, etc. I am so happy and excited to begin this new journey! This post was so helpful! Thank you, Rhonda!

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  16. I have recently semi retired. Prior to this I worked full time and my husband stayed at home. The decision for this was due to health concerns and me selfishly wanting him around for the long haul. I work 2-3 days/week. We live within our means and have a good life. By making hard decisions we own everything so a limited income sees us still living well. Thanks for a great post.

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  17. My husband is retire and I work part time. Both us made the choice that we wouldn't put our self in situation that we had to be a slave wage and be taken advantage by some employer.
    So we made the choice not to have a lot of bills that would tie us down...I have a basic flip phone it cost me $15 a month.
    Coffee is on

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  18. I love the phrase Queen of my Home, might just have to pinch that one! You are right about paying your mortgage off quickly being an important part of moving on live in one income. We did that too, we didn't have any thoughts about moving to one income at the time we bought our house we just realised that if we saved hard our mortgage repayments would reduce. We have an all in one mortgage whereby you have all your money in one account, any money you have in credit is offset again your debt and the monthly payments calculated based on the difference, so the more you save the less you pay.

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  19. Good advice indeed Rhonda. I bought my home in my mid 50's and made my mind up that I would not replace a thing in the home until the mortgage was paid off. This was a necessity as I didn't know how much longer I would be working. It was wonderful, in the end, to start to replace much needed curtains, carpets etc. Now, in retirement, I enjoy reading your blog and polishing up my homemaking skills. I have been making my own sauerkraut for a couple of years, and now I'm passing on the skill to my gardening friends as we are expecting a nice glut of cabbages pretty soon over at the allotments.

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  20. Great post - we paid off our mortgage 4 years ago and since then my husband was able to make the choice to finish his uni studies full time, and more recently (10 months ago) stay home as the stay at home parent while I returned to full time work after 9 years part time /off work having the kids. He is 43 and I'm 38 and we love this lifestyle. I often travel for work so sometimes the whole family can come with me (as hubby doesn't have to negotiate time off). Both kids are in primary school so he tinkers with his own business ideas during school hours but there's no pressure to make money from it. So freeing!

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  21. Thanks Rhonda what a great post. It's what I'm striving for even if I have to continue part time work. Will share this post with my husband. Looking forward to next part :)

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  22. My husband and I killed two birds with one stone by paying off our mortgage and decluttering our house at the same time. We went through the house and attic, selling everything that we no longer wanted or needed on ebay. ( This was in the early days of ebay) The feeling of being free from a mortgage is exhilarating.

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  23. The best book I know on this subject is U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren's The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke. And her book All Your Worth is a great one to read when considering personal finance.

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  24. We are finally Down Under, and so starting our lives all over from scratch and trying to figure out how I can stay home with the kids. Thanks for your inspiration, as always...

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  25. Just what I needed to hear in the first few weeks of being the one at home Rhonda! You are amazing. Thank you. I loved reading this post just now and realising that I am doing so many of those things even now.

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  26. HI Rhonda, I just caught up with you blog. I've been living this way for several years now. I just jumped into it, and things fell into place. For the women who are single, I say try it anyway. Sometimes things turn around. I started out renting my place, and now I own it outright! The fruit trees that I planted are providing for me very well. I just picked a couple hundred persimmons. I shared some with a neighbor down the street. I'm still finishing up the pomegranates that I harvested last month. There's always so much to do with this lifestyle. What I love about it is it keeps me busy saving money. It's amazing how much less I can live on now. The longer you do it, the more you reap the rewards. I'm wearing sweaters and socks that I knit a few years ago. They will last me for years and years. I learned to knit because of your blog. I saw those dish cloths and I wanted to make some. Now I have a stack of my own. I'm off to walk the dogs now. Thanks for your inspiration. With love, awakenedsoul

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