How to S-t-r-e-t-c-h One Income
April 2001

“How to S-t-r-e-t-c-h One Income,” Ensign, Apr. 2001, 72

How to S-t-r-e-t-c-h One Income

I am a father, student, and part-time employee with a wife and six children. A friend of mine, feeling financially besieged after the birth of his first child, asked how we supported a large family on less than one income. After contemplating his question, we determined 10 ideas that have worked for us:

  1. Pay a full tithing. The mere 10 percent of your income will be repaid to you in blessings, opportunities, and assistance.

  2. Pay fast offerings.

  3. Meet your important obligations first. Pay all your bills and known expenditures (including savings, if possible) as soon as the paycheck arrives, then live on whatever is left. This helps keep variable expenses such as groceries, gas, and entertainment under control.

  4. Save on groceries. It is easy to let this expense get out of control. You can save a surprising amount by planning ahead. I suggest:

    • avoiding prepared foods

    • limiting the times you eat out

    • taking advantage of sales (stock up on sale items you could use in your year’s supply)

    • using coupons to save money

  5. Save a percentage of your income in a place that is difficult to access. This makes it less tempting to raid your funds.

  6. Save for periodic expenses. This pertains to Christmas expenses, annual memberships, subscriptions, or anything that comes due quarterly, semiannually, or annually. If you know your auto insurance is due twice a year, put aside one-sixth of the semiannual payment every month.

  7. Avoid debt. Try not to buy on installment. It may be necessary for a car, a home, or education, but it is not essential for furniture, a stereo system, TV, toys, and other wants. For unavoidable debt, borrow only what is absolutely necessary. If you use credit cards, pay off the balance in full every month if you can.

  8. Save on new-baby expenditures. It is not necessary to buy a brand new crib, dresser, play pen, changing table, car seat, swing, or new clothing. These things are often found, in good condition, at yard sales and thrift shops.

  9. Have insurance. Health, auto, life, and renter’s or homeowner’s insurance are worthy investments. Getting a high deductible will save you substantially on premiums.

  10. Avoid impulse buying. Wait at least a day before buying anything expensive. Keep a general-purpose, short-term savings account and use it for special sales or good deals. Knowing how long it has taken you to save will help temper rash impulses.

Our house is not likely to be featured in a magazine, but as students, living within our means is top priority. For today, it is much more important to live on less than we earn. A spacious home full of expensive things is a small comfort if you have crushing debt. We enjoy the peace that comes from following the counsel of the prophets and living within our means.—Chad Petty, Chapel Hill Ward, Durham North Carolina Stake

Photo by John Luke