You Don’t Have To Be Stinking Rich To Enjoy Life. #BudgetTips

Last updated 20 May 2019 . 1 min read

how to live on one salary how to live on one salary

Remember those happy family scenes? The wife gets up early morning to make tiffin and breakfast for her working husband? The husband handing over the month’s salary which is budgeted with efficiency by the other spouse?

Many households still see the continuity of this trend where only one member, usually the male, is the sole bread earner. However, the happy family scenes are changing slowly but surely. Both partners who are working and are professionals is not a rarity anymore. This means that the household functions with incomes from two sources and the lifestyle requirements are managed accordingly. But what happens if one decides to stop working? How then can one live on a single salary and adjust to the sudden fall in income?

SHEROES discussion on the same at is a great eye opener on how one can plan and make do with only one person’s income. The key is to be able to plan in such a way that the expenditures are met and at the same time the joys and enjoyments of life are not lost.

It could be that one of the spouses, has to discontinue work to take care of the babies or look after ailing parents. In either case, it is best to take stock of the expenses, income and follow some simple tips given below.

Saving Well In Advance

Quitting work by one of the spouses is usually not an overnight decision. Before discontinuing work try and build a sabbatical corpus. This reserve of cash or investments will help once one of the working members begins his or her break from work. Plan well for at least 6 months in advance, so that, there is enough time to tide through or think of other alternatives in case of shortage of money.

Intelligently Plan Your Break

There are also ways to strategically plan your break. Nafisa Zainee an IT professional decided to take a break when she was expecting her first child. She did not use up any of her leaves and worked till the end of her pregnancy period. She then went on maternity leave and also utilized her pending paid leaves to give her an extra extension. In fact, she comments that her manager was very accommodating and when during a few months in her pregnancy she was advised to rest, she was allowed to work from home hence saving once again on her leave balance. Intelligently planning your break, using your paid leaves sensibly and managing to complete your assignments are good ways to build credibility in your work environment, as well as, getting yourself ready for the long break.

Fulfilling Commitments

Whilst two members of the family are earning it is easier to pay off large monthly expenses, such as loan instalments or EMI. The situation becomes challenging when the same expenses need to be confined within the income of a single working member. Again, planning in advance is imperative. Try to pay off a large instalment whilst both the partners are working, since prepayment brings down loan tenure and the principal amount. The other way is to cut down on various other expenses to make money available to clear the instalments first.


Having a life and medical insurance is a good way to be prepared for any exigencies. Since the dependency on the sole earning member increases drastically in times of emergencies, it is best to have individual health policies for the entire family. Though most professional companies cover medical insurance in their salary package, with now only one salaried member it becomes important to make the necessary insurance investments.

Home and Personal Budgeting

Perhaps the most obvious way to adjust in a single salaried income is to have a proper home budget in place. Make a list of the monthly expenses against the income and chart out a budget that does justice to your needs and wants in the limited capital.

If the saving rates are lower than 20% of your income, it is advisable to start cutting out on extra luxury expenses, such as vacations or unnecessary shopping.

Manisha Singh makes a great example in the discussion on the group regarding mindful shopping. She confesses that she loves shoes, clothes, and bags and didn’t think twice before purchasing these. However, over time, when she looks back, she has realized that most of her shopping collections were either uncomfortable or not used to their full potential. According to her, understanding how to shop mindfully has helped her save a lot of money, space and now most of what she buys sparks joy in her rather than anxiety or regret. As the saying goes, ‘We must consult our means rather than our wishes’. Moreover, if you do not foresee any major increase in income in the future, home budgeting needs to be a sustained effort along with trying to reduce some high ticketing cost heads from discretionary spending.

Also, as Nafisa points out, there is an initial crunch and a conscious need to clearly spend only on things that are really required. At the same time, it is also important to prioritize the things that you want to do as a family and spend the money on those requirements. For example, they decided as a family to cut down on other unnecessary expenses but to keep a saving aside for family vacations for sure. With time, her husband also saw a rise in his professional field and things were back to being comfortable in no time.

Long Term Planning - Investment

Besides the various short term goals, one also needs to have the foresight to make sure that with time, this financial crunch is overcome. For this see if any of the existing systematic investment plans or SIP in mutual funds can be continued. Continue with investments since these will be beneficial in the long run. You might take a while getting adjusted to the new single salary budgeting, but once you get a hang of it, do not waste time in making the right investments to ensure that the future is secured.

Long Term Planning – Additional Income

Besides investments, it is also a great idea to look out for ways to introduce additional incomes. There are various reasons to quit the job and take a break, but one can continue doing something of liking in the free time which can also be a good source of additional income.

A friend, Paro for example, quit her job after a year of marriage since she wanted to dedicate more time at home. She decided to use her free time giving tuitions to her neighbours. This ensured that in spite of her discontinuing work, there was a small flow of income nonetheless. Of course, when compared to her salary, the amount she earned was lower, yet it was a source of income that added itself into the larger collective pool of savings. Similarly, there are various opportunities that are available including online that can be taken up as freelancing or part-time commitments. These help to keep busy and at the same time are long term income generating opportunities.

Shifting and adjusting to lifestyle goals from a two-member salaried household to a single salaried member can bring about its various challenges. Yet, with advance planning and a sensible approach to managing the expenses against the curtailed income definitely, help.

For more such useful information and interesting debates head to our Money Matters community where women are rewriting the financial narratives in their favour.

Tasneem Sariya

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