January 2017 One Income Family Budget Update

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the exact numbers of another family’s finances? A family who has successfully paid off over $20,000 of debt on one income. A family who has found a way to live on one income in one of the most expensive cities in the USA.

I know that’s what I wished for back when we were trying to figure out how to make a budget that actually worked for our family.

Which is why we have started sharing our real life family finances with you! Every single month I get on here and lay it all out there, holding nothing back. You can learn how to live on one income by learning from our trial and error to help you achieve your financial goals even faster!

See the real life numbers of our one income family who has made it work in an expensive city, paid off over $20,000 in debt, and is currently putting away hundreds of dollars a month to save to buy their first home. You can learn how to live on one income by learning from our trial and error to help you achieve your financial goals even faster!

If there is something that I have left out or that you would like to be included, just let me know in the comments and I will do my best to include it next time!

You can make sure that you don’t miss anything by signing up for my newsletter . Not only will you be updated through email on all things frugal living but as a thanks to you, you will get a FREE download of my Budgeting for Beginners Starter Kit.

Why do we share our family budget?

I personally find it very motivating to learn about other family budgets and what they do to manage them. Learning about their tricks on how to make their pennies stretch and what they do when obstacles come up.

One problem I have seen though, is that a lot of articles out there are families that live where the cost of living is a lot less then where we live. Making their budget a lot less realistic for us to follow.

I want to show you guys how to live on one and that it is completely doable, even if you live in an area where the cost of living is high.

Our family lives in San Diego, which is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. But we are finding ways to make it work on one income and I want to help you do the same thing!

Check out our previous month’s budget updates here to find out what we have been learning along the way.

January 2017 One Income Family Budget Update

One of the biggest things we have learned over the last several years of keeping a budget that actually works, is that we have to consistently reevaluate.

Keep reading and I will explain what we had to move around in January to make our budget keep working.

If you are interested in seeing exactly where our family spends every single dollar each month and exactly how much, then you will want to watch this video.


Unplanned Expenses

I had mentioned before that we had not planned to go on a Disneyland vacation so soon in the year. As a result needed to find a way to come up with the cash quick.

We ended up doing a no spend month and was able to save about $450 which all went towards our vacation.

There were a couple other expenses that we had not planned for…

One being a road trip up to northern California coming up very quickly, but also a uniform expense for hubby’s work and a dirt bike race my hubby is going to be doing in February.

All things considered, in addition to the $450 savings from the no spend month, we needed to come up with an additional $816. We had to get creative!

In order to get that cash fast, we made the decision to take $311 of the overtime money that we would have normally put into our house savings. Then we used $505 of the remaining money from our “extra paycheck” (third paycheck) from December 2016.

We had to decide what currently we valued most. Was it worth it to us to take that money away from house savings? Ultimately, we decided that the family time was worth it.


Increasing the Budget

Coming back to the idea that a budget needs to constantly be reevaluated, we recognized that we were going over budget on our gas budget a little.

It wasn’t a huge number and was able to cover it with the some of the extra $50 that we leave in our checking account for any miscalculations. But we also looked ahead to our future and realized that we might be driving a bit more as we are looking for a house to buy. (Ahh! I’m so excited about that!)

As a result, we decided to temporarily bump our bi-weekly budget for gas from $150 to $200. In order to compensate for this added expense, we are trying to cut back in flexible areas like our heating expenses, but also hubby is going to try harder to get to our goal of 10 hours of overtime each month.


January No Spend Month

Did you join in on the No Spend January? How did it go for you? How much money were you able to save!?!

Our family was able to save $450! Which, cutting that from an already super frugal budget, I feel is pretty impressive. My guess is that you were able to save even more!!

This is our 3rd or 4th (can’t remember…) time doing a no spend month which makes me feel like it isn’t quiet as hard to do as the first time we tried it out.

But that doesn’t mean that it is easy. No way. I would say that by the fourth week I was definitely feeling it. I wanted to go out on a date (out of the house) with hubby SO bad!! That was probably my biggest struggle.

What was your biggest struggle with the no spend month?


Savings Goals

We met with our lender and real estate agent for the first time in January. I plan to do an entire blog post soon about our plan to buy a house on a small budget to give you more details.

But let me share some details really quick as they relate to our family budget.

Our current plan to purchase a home would only require closing costs of $9,000 (which is about $4,000 more than we thought) with a zero down payment.

After talking with the lender and real estate agent, we aren’t super sure that we will find something any time soon. We have come up with a Plan B.

With this Plan B we will need the $9,000 closing costs, plus $10,500 for a down payment. Our goal is to have the total $19,500 saved by the end of September 2017.

This will require our family to put away $1,700 per month into our “house savings.” Hubby will continue to work 10 hours of OT each month (which is one full shift for him) and then I will begin to “bring home” $500 each month from my business, Pennies Into Pearls.

If you guys are interested, I will start sharing occasional information on how I was able to start my blog and actually make money from it. All while being a fulltime mom with three kids at home.


What do you think?

There you have it! Those are all the numbers that go into our family budget. Make sure to watch the video if you want to see exactly where we spend every single dollar.

Do you currently have a budget set for your family? What do you think is the most challenging thing with sticking with a budget? Which category (food maybe?) do you consistently overspend in?

Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for stopping in and I will talk to you Pearls later! Xoxo




Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_kwanchaichaiudom’>kwanchaichaiudom / 123RF Stock Photo</a>


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  • Vanessa Telford
    February 4, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I love that both our hubbies were in construction together and now yours is a policeman and mine’s a firefighter! I LOVE seeing your numbers. I wish more people would talk real numbers, otherwise you really can’t learn as well! We were really good with budgeting and got out of debt ($26,000+-) and bought a house on low income (Jims first job paid $35k, we bought a short sale for $125k). We were very lucky to sell it a few years for the 20% down we need now. And now we’re stuck. We can’t find a house, we have no debt and we have adequate savings. Why can’t I save money?! We will have zero in our account when we buy a house so not budgeting is not an option but I’ve lost umph. Jim makes about $1k less than your hubs but rent is $850, I feel like we’re semi close with the cost of living difference. And you’re putting away SO much more. I’m gonna try this next paycheck to square us away and STICK especially to a grocery and no extras budget.

    • Brittany Cooper
      February 5, 2017 at 6:23 am

      Hi Vanessa!! It really is so awesome how we both started in the same place and have ended up in similar places! Quiet the journey! It sounds like you are doing good!! One thing to try is to minimize your expenses as much as possible. Have you tried that with your groceries? That is the number one place we were able to cut spending!! Let me know if you have any questions!!

  • Kim Galeta
    February 24, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Congrats on taking your first paycheck from your business. Very inspiring 💙

    I appreciate your detailed posts. I can’t wait to look at the meal planning one in more detail tomorrow.

    • Brittany Cooper
      March 15, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Kim!! It’s been exciting!

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    May 8, 2020 at 2:43 pm

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