Our One Income Budget Update September 2016

We used to be those people who say things like, “Yeah! I think we can afford that.” Then spend the money without another thought. Four days before payday, we would get the dreaded notice of Overdraft & Fees!!

This literally was happening to us more than once a month! Things are quite a bit different now!

What did we change? Well, it’s not complicated at all. It’s called a B-U-D-G-E-T. Don’t freak out! (I feel like I say this a lot! Haha!!)

Living on one income can be tricky, especially when you live in an expensive city. If you want realistic tips on how to live on one income, THIS IS IT! Here are our budget’s REAL NUMBERS for our one income family of 5, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

It doesn’t have to be a complicated budget at all! Start simple. Figure out your expenses, what you are actually spending your money on, and compare those numbers to your income.

You can read this article on how to start your own super simple budget here.

But today I want to take you through our real life one-income family budget. These are REAL numbers friends! We don’t hold anything back!

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 that living on one income 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!

So let’s get to it!

What’s New?

1. THE biggest news around here is that my hubby is back at work, full duty! Which means our pay is back to normal AND hubby is able to do overtime again!

His ability to work overtime so readily has been a giant blessing for our family! We currently use 100% of the overtime money to pay off our debt. Once that is gone it will all go towards saving for our first home!

You can read more about what we did when my husband wasn’t able to work in my last budget update right here.

2. Something else that is budget noteworthy is that we started using a rewards credit card but ONLY when paying for gas. We would like to eventually move all of our bills that we pay with our debit card over to a rewards card.

But for now, as we learn one baby step at a time, we will only use the card for gas and then on the 20th of every month, before the interest is charged, we pay the card off 100%.

This has been great. Just in the last two months we have earned $50. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much but that’s $50 more then we would have earned if we were just using a regular debit card!

3. No more baby formula! This is a big deal guys! Now that our littlest is one year old, holy moly! He doesn’t drink formula anymore, which frees up $100 in our monthly budget! Pretty awesome!

We plan to allocate that money as follows, $20 to “gifts”, $60 to “yearly expenses”, and $20 “clothes”.

We did have a nice little envelope of cash since we have been paying into “formula” even after we stopped feeding him formula. But because all our car registrations are due at the same time, we are using the money we already have set aside to take care of that!

4. It’s time to start the home buying process! Well not quiet yet… We need to finish paying off our debt and then save a little more money. But the plan is that we will be ready to apply for pre-approval on a loan in January 2017 and start looking!

We are hoping to be able to take advantage of the USDA loan. This loan program is awesome because it has one of the lowest mortgage insurance rates around AND it is a 0% down payment program!

The catch is that you have to buy in rural areas. Which happens to be our dream, but it is going to be tricky finding something rural in San Diego County, that isn’t too far from hubby’s work. Of course we will be sharing more info as we actually begin the loan process!

5. No spend October 2016! We are big fans of the “No Spend Month”. It is a great way to redirect your spending on essentials and also a fabulous way to save a load of cash really quickly!

With our super already frugal budget, in a no spend month we can save between $400-$500! If you haven’t already fine-tuned your budget you could easily save closer to $1,000 in one no spend month!

Here are some articles I have all ready for you that go over everything you need to know about having a successful no spend month.

What to Expect and How to Prepare for a No Spend Month

What and Why You Should do a No Spend Month

What we learned

Over that past few months we mostly have realized that we need to tweak a couple areas of our budget. The first being our “annual expenses” account.

We haven’t budgeted nearly enough for annual expenses which became evident as we dried up that cash envelope a couple months ago. Good thing we have a little extra thanks to the no longer needed “formula” budget!

Second, we need to put more into a “medical/dental” budget. We currently don’t have any consistent number going into this account.

When we have a little extra overtime that we weren’t already planning on or maybe a bonus, that is when we put money towards “medical/dental”. We need to figure out a way to pull money each paycheck to go towards this account.

Where we sit with our debt

Our hope is to motivate others to do the same thing. Work hard to get out of debt now, so you can build the life you dream of!

Here are the numbers:

Beginning debt:

            Student loans: $12,500

            Car loan: $8,000

Current total debt as of September 2016:

            Total debt: $7,870  

With my husband’s pay raise and then a bonus that he should be getting this month, we are on track to be completely debt free no later than November 4th, 2016!!!!!

Building a Savings

What is crazy awesome about being debt free is that it releases all that money you used to be paying to someone else and now that money can be used for what YOU WANT!

Savings Goal: $18,200 ($0k down payment, $2k house updates, $3k house emergency, $13,200 three month’s expenses)

Current savings for house: $1,200

Our plan is to take 100% of the money we have been using to pay off our debt and use it to build our savings (after we finish paying off our debt). If we keep with this and then add an additional two overtime days a month from my hubby, we will be putting about $1,300 a month into savings!

As far as the house hunting goes. We will start the pre-approval loan process once we have ZERO DEBT (woot woot!) and the $5,000 total house savings. $2k for house updates and $3k house emergency fund.

Our hope is to be able to use a USDA loan, which is 0% down. I will get more into the details of the loan once we start that process and learn more. Stay tuned!

One Income Budget Breakdown

You can watch the video to see more of a detailed breakdown of our budget. But as for writing out details here is a quick overview.

Total Monthly Expenses: $4,480

August 2016 Income: $4,675

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss a thing! I share different tips and tricks in my videos then I do here so you won’t want to miss it!



Every month we run our checking account down to about $20-$50 and that is exactly how we like it! Every single dollar is either pulled for our cash spending, paid towards bills, or moved into savings.

Last month the “extra” money we had leftover after expenses went towards buying my husband some supplies for work. Not exciting but necessary.

Plans to Increase Our Income

And lastly, we do have plans to increase our household income. Yes, this is a ONE INCOME budget but there are times when you have completely exhausted every way possible to cut spending and yet there is still a need for more income.

That is one of the reasons I started this blog about a year ago. First off, I sincerely love finding ways to live your dream life on less, but the blog has started making money! Pretty cool!

I have been reinvesting 100% of all earnings back into Pennies Into Pearls but starting in February 2017 the goal is to be taking home $200-$500 a month from this business.

This extra income will be a way to add to our savings and eventually to the remodel of our first home.

Would you guys be interested in learning more on how I earn money through blogging and YouTube? Let me know in the comments below and if there is interest, I would be more than happy to share with you guys how you can do it as well!

So there you have it! Our complete one income family budget! Let me know if you have any questions about ANYTHING! How we run our budget, what we use for tracking spending, anything!

Thanks for stopping in and I will talk to you guys soon! Xoxo


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  • Justine
    November 15, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    So just curious….you only have $1,300 in savings currently? I ask this as we are wanting to pay off our truck loan but that would leave us with minimum amount in our savings. I worry about that. Thanks for sharing your journey!

    • Brittany Cooper
      November 16, 2016 at 6:37 am

      We have a little more than that. For our family, when we first started paying off debt, we first made sure we had just $1,000 emergency fund. That was it. Then started pushing all extra income towards the debt! Let me know if you have any other questions!! 💜