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The Magicalness of Living Off One Paycheck

by J. Money on Monday, November 12, 2012

hundred dollar bill cut up

You remember when we started living off one paycheck 4 months ago? Well, the non-fun is now over! Haha… The wife’s part-time money just started flowing in and I feel like a new man today ;) The first time ever trying it and we made it out alive! (Although again, not much fun…)

But at least now we know it’s do-able. And if we continue living off just the one (mine) for all daily expenses/savings/etc, then it means everything extra is just that: EXTRA! And that’s the beauty of it all – you then get mad *options* going forward!

Before we get to that though, let me give you an update on Operation Stay-At-Home Twice a Week Dadness ;) Because to make that extra income even a possibility in our household, it meant someone had to watch the wee one while mom was off to work! And you can bet your sweet little patukis that we weren’t going to dump $900 into childcare for it – no siree. I put on my big boy pants and took a whirl at watching the little guy myself.

And here’s how that’s been going so far – it’s pretty close to what I had originally suspected:

  • I’m now bonding a TON more than I used to with Baby $! In fact, I don’t even think I knew what bonding was until I spent the first 12 hours straight – and alone- with him! You really do get to watch him grow right in front of your eyes and learn all about his personality :)
  • I’m a lot LESS stressed out during the week. Which is actually pretty amazing considering it now means I squeeze 5 full working days into 3! But having a “day off” every other day kinda helps spread out my sanity too, haha… It was a nice surprise.
  • It feels like a “day off” more than it does work. Only because it’s MY kid though ;) And I don’t say that to discount the hard work or meaningfulness of it all when other mothers and family members are taking care of them (it really IS a full-time job!), but for me comparing it with a 12 hour work day in front of a computer screen it’s like apples to oranges. The computer screen is full of awesome people, but it doesn’t smile back and thank me for showing it love all day long like my baby does ;) And that’s one incredibly awesome ingredient.
  • I feel like I’m helping around the house more. Like I’m more “there” ya know? Not caught up in business or begrudgingly doing chores to fulfill my household duties or whatever. When it’s actually scheduled in like it is now two days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), my mind can mentally prepare and I know to make the baby #1 on the priority list then. Which makes a WORLD of a difference, and something I initially didn’t foresee. It’s beautiful :)
  • The wife is now enjoying more *adult* time! Even though it’s spent driving in traffic and working long days again ;) But for anyone who has kids at home, especially young ones, you know the importance of taking breaks and surrounding yourself with people who can actually talk back, haha… It’s a nice break for her, and something I’m sure she’ll want to continue and eventually go back to full-time when she’s ready.

And of course, then there’s the money saved – and earned! – now that the wife is back to working a couple times a week. We not only save the $900+ a month while I’m watching him every week, but we’re also now gaining $750 every two weeks from her paycheck now! A pretty nifty trade indeed. And since I’m still working my 40+ hours a week anyways – albeit all hours of the day and night now – we really don’t lose that much other than a few more hours of sleep… But who needs those anyways? ;)

So overall a GREAT first month, and now we sit back and watch the paychecks come in. At least until the end of the semester when her fellowship technically expires (but we’ll probably renew if we’re still living here by then). $1,500 a month that’s totally and completely EXTRA – I love it. And that’s the greatness of learning to live on one paycheck – If you can stick to it no matter what in the future, everything else becomes gravy! And if times get hard later, you can always adjust the flow whenever you want until you’re back to living large again.

Then what to DO with it all becomes the fun part :) Do we save it? Pay off debt? Splurge??? (Shoooot, you know we couldn’t do that even if we wanted – we’re old conservative parents now! Haha)

Here are the options that are in front of us:

  1. Keep filling up our Monster Savings account. Something the Mrs. wants, but who I have to keep reminding that we already agreed $66k is enough for an emergency fund! That’s 12 months of living right there – we can’t keep on hoarding it.
  2. Put it towards all those home improvements we so desire. Like hardwood floors, new cabinets, new appliances, etc. But since our house has been falling a part throughout most of the year, I’m kinda sick of pouring more money into it at the present time… Maybe when/if we have a nice stretch of nothing bad happening we’ll then divert a little to sprucing up the place a little more.
  3. Pick up that SUV our family will need real soon. This is the area we probably *should* do sooner than later if I’m being honest, but then again we don’t know how long these extra paychecks will be coming in for especially if we move to another state here soon, and also I dread having car payments again :( It’s been years since either of us have had them! And if our cars are working just fine, is there really a rush? (Don’t answer that wifey)
  4. Get back to paying our 2nd mortgage off again. DING DING DING!!! Haha… of course this is gonna come on the radar again! Especially after the last couple of months of not being able to put in the full $2,000 like I have wanted to do… The faster we have zero mortgage payments, the faster we can live a saner and more debt-free lifestyle! And then we’ll be playing the “what do do with $2,200 a month extra” game! Haha… minus taxes/etc, of course.

As you can see we’re leaning towards that last option as it stands right now. Or at least I am. But since I get to make the final decision being our family’s Chief Financial Officer, you can bet I’m gonna at least have some debt-slaying fun for a little while ;) I want those damn things gone!

So the key takeaway for today: The more you can live off less now, the more options you’ll have later. And the more you stick to it – even when times are GOOD – the better you’ll be in the long term too no matter what you end up doing with that money. As long as it’s not going towards strippers and blow or anything, haha… That increases something else instead of your wealth ;)

It’s also important to have an idea what you’d do with extra cash every month too. It’ll not only prepare you better for when that magical time comes, but it might also MOTIVATE you to get there quicker!  And that’s something we can all use a little more of these days.

Hope this inspires you!

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(Brilliant photo by Tax Credits)

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Travis November 12, 2012 at 7:55 am

It’s great to see you’re bonding with the little guy, J! I remember when my son was just over a year old, I used to put him in a bike seat and we’d go “park hopping.” There was a bike trail near our house and we’d jut go down the trail stopping at every park we could get to before dark. We’d be gone for hours. Vonnie would love the time to herself, and I loved spending time with my son. Enjoy it!!!!!

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2 Walnut November 12, 2012 at 7:56 am

Why an SUV? Is a larger, but still economical car out of the picture?

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3 catherine November 12, 2012 at 8:36 am

Good for you for bonding,no amount of money can do that! I’d love to work it out so both my husband and I could work with no childcare needed but it’s just not possible with our careers. When we get our debt paid down more we may look into me staying home or only working like 2 days/week. Good luck with managing your new income!

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4 Leah November 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

Like @Walnut, I’m curious why you’ll need an SUV? There are loads of baby-safe, reliable, lots-of-space cars on the market.

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5 L Bee and the Money Tree November 12, 2012 at 9:23 am

Great post! I really understood that you guys are working hard, but that hard work pays off. I also love it when you write about the baby!

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6 Budget & the Beach November 12, 2012 at 9:26 am

Glad you’re enjoying your time more now! I don’t have kids, but I imagine that time with the baby is priceless, and no amount of money could make up for that time

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7 @LisaLightnerLL November 12, 2012 at 9:42 am

First, get a Subaru!

Second, glad it’s all working out. We have made so many changes to our budget so that I can work PT and be with the boys. And despite rising food and gas costs, it feels like we are living the same standard of living. Sorta makes me furious at myself for all the waste we had when we were DINKs.

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8 Lance @ Money Life and More November 12, 2012 at 9:49 am

Right now all of our extra money goes to paying off my girlfriend’s student loans or saving to pay them off when we get married. It isn’t fun but when they’re gone it will be aweeeesommeeeee!!

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9 Mandy @MoneyMasterMom November 12, 2012 at 10:36 am

Is this like a survey where we get to vote how you should use the extra cash? An SUV sounds fun, but cars depreciate. I vote for taking a stab at that 2nd Mortgage. I’m all for killing mortgages. We killed ours a few years ago, and it feels great!

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10 Michelle November 12, 2012 at 11:27 am

We are really working on living more on less. We are trying to build up as much in savings that we can right now.

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11 Samantha November 12, 2012 at 11:35 am

I vote mortgage – we are still chugging along paying ours off and its been very rewarding to see it drop so quickly.

I’m going to chime in about the SUV: you don’t NEED one, you want one. You only have one little one, so you could get away with any small car. But regardless: please please for heaven’s sake, do not let that $66k sit there while you get a car loan. That would be bananas.

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12 LB @ Finanical Black Sheep November 12, 2012 at 11:52 am

I think I will stir up the pot a little. Buy whatever Damn vehicle you want, move wherever you want and enjoy your life. :) Seriously, personal finance can be all about pinching pennies or it can be personal and let you enjoy YOUR life.

I already live off my hubby’s paycheck in order to pay for school in full each semester. Whatever money I make, pretty much goes towards books or needs. I really need to get the old emergency fund up, so in case something happens, but shit I am so bent on finishing school, that I don’t know if I will ever want to do that. HA!

I write about living on less than $50,000 while paying for school each month on my blog. I still get to enjoy time out with friends, vacations, and dreams like running in my first race, so I don’t see how it wouldn’t be possible for you to make all your dreams come true on your income. Glad to hear you are enjoying your little one, and the Mrs. gets to keep her sanity :)

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13 Holly@ClubThrifty November 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm

That sounds awesome! It makes life much easier to live off as little as possible, I think. And I hope to work mostly from home within a few years as well…in my pj’s hopefully!

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14 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager November 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

What kind of SUV are you thinking about getting?

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15 Stephanie November 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Yay, so glad your new schedule is working out so well for you guys!!

And your second-to-last paragraph is pretty much my personal finance mantra. Living below our means has allowed us to deal with all the curveballs life has thrown at us so far, and the additional income we’ll be getting from my husband’s new job gives us even more options in terms of paying down debt, saving more, AND still having some money left over for the fun stuff.

And as you know, I tooootally get your aversion to car payments. But honestly, if you can afford it and you can get a good interest rate, why not get something more practical? I hate having those car payments, true, but it’s a big relief to have cars that are (a) reliable and (b) will work better for our growing family. :-)

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16 J. Money November 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Haha… you guy sure did like to attach to that car section didn’t you! :) All great comments for sure though, so thanks.

To answer your question(s) on why we need an SUV over a larger or other car, it’s mainly because we could then use it for OTHER things too – like hauling stuff back and forth from stores, yard sales, thrift stores, consignments, etc. And maybe one day when I win my first storage unit auction! Haha…

We figure if we’re gonna go out and buy a new (to us) car, then it might as well kill a bunch of birds with one stone. And an SUV or bigger would accomplish that – just not a minivan, yet ;)

@Travis – COOL!! I like that idea!! And I think we could actually do that around my place too – I’m gonna look into that :)
@Walnut – See above :)
@catherine – That’s a good idea too! Working part-time like that :) It’s a hard trade off for sure at times (money vs time?), but we do the best we can!
@Leah – See above :)
@L Bee and the Money Tree – Hehe yeah? I try and not blog *too much* about him so it doesn’t turn into a daddy blog, but it is getting harder over time as he affect so MUCH of our lives and finances! Haha… so I’m glad you enjoy them :)
@Budget & the Beach – Yup! So far at least ;) We’ll see how long this bliss can last!
@@LisaLightnerLL – Haha oh yeah – having kids def. makes you realize how easier/simpler/more money you had back then! I’m glad y’all are living the dream schedule now though – congrats :)
@Lance @ Money Life and More – Yeah doggy it will! You’re a nice bf/fiance/future husband!! :)
@Mandy @MoneyMasterMom – Haha no, but I DO like the voting idea for future stuff – thanks for the idea ;) And as of now that money WILL be going towards our 2nd mortgage still – I’m excited!! I want to be like YOU!
@Michelle – Good good, I love hearing that :)
@Samantha – Haha okay, you caught me – It IS a need over a want ;) But for me since I don’t want ANY new car or loans, I’m making it a requirement that we get a car that does more than just get us from point A to B safely. It’s gotta serve a lot of other purposes or else we might as well just keep using my larger Caddilac! As far as the $66k in savings, that will most def. be staying no matter what. I promised the wife :)
@LB @ Finanical Black Sheep – Thanks! And keep up blogging about how dreams can be done on the cheap! We really CAN live off less and have fun if we really wanted to – it usually just takes something outside of our control to force us into it ;) But the more we do it on our own before that happens, the better! Keep it up, my friend! – GO SCHOOL!!
@Holly@ClubThrifty – Haha nice. Send us a pic when it becomes a reality! :)
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Nooooo idea yet.. I go back and forth between a sexy fancy one (like Benz or Beemer), and then back to a more conservative one ;) I’m pretty sure the latter will win, but for now I’m enjoying keeping the dream alive, haha…
@Stephanie – Yup! That’s true too… I think I’d sleep better with an extra loan on the docket than with thousands less in our savings, so if that’s the case I’m totally cool with the extra car payments. Plus, having payments usually gets you to not only pay them OFF faster, but also *appreciate* what your money has just bought! When it gets taken out in a large chunk all at once, you only feel the sting once and then it’s onward with your life ;) With loans it’s a constant reminder! Haha… Hope you have a great week over there, my friend :)

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17 Savvy Scot November 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Great to hear that you are doing more bonding and reaping the other benefits! I am definitely going to take a look at our budget and try and cut some more things out before Christmas! :)

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18 Paula @ Afford Anything November 12, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I just have to say that “magicalness” is a kick-ass word. :-) That’s all.

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19 debtgirl November 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I live on one paycheck. Its not easy. Its probably how I got into deep doo doo! These days I can’t / don’t charge anything. I am beginning to be quite the planner/cutter backer in order to have fun.

Its not easy!

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20 Carlos Sera November 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Magicalness and Patukis . Maybe go with a Tesla.

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21 K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! November 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I’m excited for you! I agree that being able to live on one paycheque is the making for a very sound financial future. The hubby and I will save around 50% of our after tax earnings once we kick debt’s ass to the curb in Dec 2012…I’ll be throwing a blog party when that happens! Essentially we’d be able to live off of one of our paycheque which is a very nice feeling. Also kudos to making a concerted effort to spend time with your son :)

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22 Alexis Marlons November 14, 2012 at 4:40 am

Thank you J. Your post is inspiring enough to make me realize what I’ve been missing. Savings! I’ve been living my life one day at a time and now I want to think of my future too.

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23 J. Money November 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm

@Savvy Scot – Go for it! You can always spend it later if you change your mind, right? ;)
@Paula @ Afford Anything – Haha… is that actually not a real word? If it isn’t, it should be!
@debtgirl – Well good that you’re on the right track now and DOING something about it :) That’s the hardest part really – realizing you’re in trouble and then ACTING on it. A lot of people tend to just hid their heads in the sand, so congrats on starting the process :)
@Carlos Sera – Haha… I wouldn’t turn one of those down if you’re offering ;)
@K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! – Awesome!! What a great month to kick it all outta there too – December is my favorite :) You better invite me to your blog party!
@Alexis Marlons – Cool! You totally should :) Once the savings start adding up over time – and you don’t touch it – everything really seems to fall into place. That was the hardest thing for me to realize a while back – that you always have to be moving FORWARD with money or you’re on the wrong track. This is why I always review and pay attention to my net worth updates. If I start seeing a trend going down I KNOW for a fact I need to make a change – rather than me *thinking* I need to make a change or not. For years I thought I was saving and doing good but the numbers told me differently ;) So good job if you can start focusing on it more.

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