Your spouse can find ways to maybe delay a PCS move or stay a little longer at a certain location, but moving is simply inevitable.
Despite the inevitable, moving is never easy.
Whether you loved the place you were located at or hated it with all your heart and soul, a PCS move is never a smooth process. Part of the process includes finding schools for your kids, finding a new home, getting to know your community and, in some cases, finding a job for you as well.
Here’s what I know for certain:
Whatever life is throwing at you (or isn’t throwing at you) at the moment, there are ways to make a one-income family live well and even thrive.
1. Sit down with your spouse and create a detailed budget (if you don’t have one).
Creating a written out budget is so important because it helps you visualize how much is coming in and how much is going out. Don’t forget to include your retirement fund, your vacation fund (if you have one), life/health/dental insurance, car insurance.
Also, include your kids’ college funds, your kids’ extracurricular classes, your Christmas/birthday fund and whatever you set money aside for that isn’t they typical groceries and bills payments.
The full picture is the first step to surviving a PCS move on one income.
2. Cut way back leading up to the move.
Once you know the ins and outs of your money, determine if there are things that you can cut down on or cut out completely. For example, we cut down on our cable bill by getting less channels. We also changed to a different mobile contract that made more sense to us.
Maybe you can opt to keeping vacations to one modest road trip per year while you are living on one income. Or maybe you want to go for staycations (they can save you a lot of money).
Flying anywhere can be super expensive and really add up, especially if all of you are all flying. Hotel stays can also be pricey, so consider taking up camping or staying with friends or family.
One thing that we cut out altogether was our landline. Who still has those, anyway? That saved us $30 a month. It might not seem like much, but it does add up. One thing that we cut down on was eating out.
We started to eat out only once a week and even then, we watch where we go, as to not spend more than $10 per person, if possible. Of course, we do have the special occasions where we splurge a bit, but it isn’t a regular thing anymore.
3. Look at your grocery bill.
Yes, I said it! Beside some bigger bills like mortgage and car payments, the grocery bill tends to be up there with bills going from $300 a month up to about $1,000 (depending on how you eat and how many people are in your family).
You really need to find ways to cut on that monthly bill. How?
Make a list of exactly what you need and stick to your list. Don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry! Give yourself a predetermined time that you will spend at the store. Don’t dilly-dally. No cruising around. You go to shop and you mean business.
If you have too hard a time sticking to your list and end up buying a lot more than what you need, then consider paying about $8 or so to get a membership with companies like Instacart or Wal-mart (you pick up your groceries) that will shop for you and even bring it to your home.
Spending an extra $8-10 on someone shopping and delivering for you is a small price to pay compared to $50-100 extra that you might spend at a spur of the moment (not that I would know what this is all about, ha!).
It simply removes temptation to overspend money and it makes it easier for you to not have to leave home to go grocery shopping. Personally, I love it!
Also, consider buying some food in bulk to save money and make freezer meals. Not only will it save you money, but it will also save you so much time.
I love how I can dedicate four hours on a Sunday afternoon and make about 20 freezer meals (four or five different kinds). I use my Instant Pot to cook faster and use less electricity (as opposed to oven).
4. Look at how your electric company charges you.
And speaking of electricity, is there a way that you can hang some clothes to dry instead of using the dryer? If you need a new washer and dryer, get energy efficient ones. Have you looked at how your electric bill works?
For us, we get charged a lot more if we use 2 appliances (say, dryer and oven) at the same time as opposed to using them both, but one at a time. Also, our electric company gives us less charges on the weekends and holidays over weekdays. Needless to say, we do laundry on the weekends.
Study your electric company. There are definitely things that you can do to cut your bill there. We have called our company and studied their website thoroughly.
While we cannot get rid of them completely (it’s a monopoly here, sadly), we did decide to get solar for our home because we determined that even though we do have to pay for it upfront, we will, in a few years, end up saving up a whole lot of money.
It was worth it to us.
I hope this list has gotten your wheels turning with ideas to save money because, the more you save, the more you can allocate to the truly important things. It is definitely possible to save money and to live well on one income. You just need to be intentional and consistent on your decision.
Want more on military life?
- The Emotional and Exhausting Reality of a Military PCS Move
- 10 Must-Have Documents for Your Next PCS Move
- The Pain of Saying Goodbye to Your Military Spouse Tribe
- 10 Books That Will Help Military Kids With Their Next PCS Move