If you’ve already checked out our guide to dropping one income, you know there are a few tricks to making the switch to one income less painful.

But what are other families doing to not just survive, but THRIVE on one income?

We polled 13 couples who have successfully dropped an income while raising a family to see how they handle everything from everyday purchases to budgeting for a vacation.

Here’s what they had to say:



1. “If an item scans with the wrong price, I ask for it for free.”

Stores like Safeway have a policy that states if an item scans wrong, you’ll get it free. Pointing out a store error does not make you a whiney shopper — it makes you a savvy shopper. — Delma, mother of 6


2. “I think of meat and fish as a side dish rather than the main course.”

Meat is usually the most expensive part of a dinner. Small amounts of meat or fish surrounded by fruit, vegetables and homemade bread makes your dollar go further. — Delma, mother of 6


3. “I mentally add up the cost of everything I put into my cart.”

Nothing undermines a grocery trip faster than thinking, “These chips only cost $3.” Add up what you are spending when you put things in your cart and stick to your spending plan. Or opt for free grocery pickup from Walmart so you can see exactly how much your virtual cartload of food costs as you add each item. — Anna, mother of 2


4. “I use shopping apps like Krazy Coupon Lady, Ibotta and Checkout51 to get all the coupons and rebates I can.”

Using digital coupons and redeeming rebates with an app for items I’m already buying is just too easy. Plus, it’s still an adrenaline rush every time I see that I just got $5 back in my pocket! — Kelly, mother of 1



5. “My motto is ‘buy used or recycle!'”

Being environmentally- and budget-conscious, we trade with other moms who want to swap gently used clothes, toys and books. If I don’t have any friends looking to trade, I put a message out on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to connect with local moms who are hoping to swap for the items I have! — Bri, mother of 2


6. “We don’t buy anything new unless we have to.”

Consignment stores are our go-to. Shopping mid-week (instead of on Saturdays) and driving to more wealthy subdivisions to get their second-hand items are some consignment tricks I’ve learned to get the best selection. Online swaps like ThredUp and PoshMark are perfect for my own clothes too. — Brenda, mother of 2


RELATED: Thrift-Store Shopping Hacks from a Professional Thrifter


7. “After learning to sew, I started making beautiful dresses for my little girls.”

I learned to smock and made dresses for $3 that sold for $60+ in stores. I made dress pants and shirts for my boys. I made school uniform shirts for under $1 when the store was charging $10. I have made Halloween costumes, drapes, pillowcases, quilts, clothes, dolls, doll clothes, toys, even prom dresses. I’ve also made money sewing for others. — Delma, mother of 6

Jo-Ann’s offers sewing classes for beginners every month, and we’ve written a guide on the best items to buy at Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s and Michaels so you’ll always know where to buy craft supplies on a budget.


Earning Extra Cash

8. “I earn a free couple hundred dollars from banks about twice a year.”

Whenever a bank is running a new account promotion, I open a new account to earn the free cash. Every promo runs differently, so just make sure you read the fine print and don’t close your account or pull your money out too soon! — Kathryn, mother of 3

Check large banks like US Bank, Wells Fargo and Chase for current account incentive programs.


9. “I figured out what I’m good at and started selling my skills.”

I do freelance writing from home for extra cash now, but I’ve also run a successful Etsy shop selling T-shirts I printed from home. It likely won’t make up for your former income, but it’ll definitely help. — Anna, mother of 2

In need of inspiration? We discovered items nearly anyone can make and sell on Etsy.



10. “I make $25/day watching one dog in my own home.”

People want to know their dog is loved while they’re at work, and my kids loved to play with the pups! I made a profile on Rover.com and started making $25/day for every dog I welcome into my home! — Sara, mother of 4


11. “I collect cash back rebates like it’s my job.”

Every time I shop, I check for rebates on Ibotta, Ebates, RetailMeNot, Checkout51 and a few more of my favorites. I choose which site to use based on which one has the highest current rebate offer, and I always try to double-dip using at least Ibotta and Ebates. — Anna, mother of 2


Birthdays & Holidays

12. “I build a gift stockpile whenever I see giftable items on sale.”

Instead of draining our bank account to buy Christmas gifts or during a wedding or birthday season, I build a stockpile of giftable items throughout the year. It’s pretty easy and I save about 50% on my yearly gifting budget while still feeling generous. — Steph, mother of 2


13. “I decorate birthday cakes for my family instead of purchasing them.”

Buy a cake mix (plus 2-3 eggs and oil), powdered sugar, and butter for under $5.00 and then peruse Pinterest for a quick (and easy-looking!) cake or cupcake design for your kiddo.

The best advice I ever got while practicing my baking skills? “Blur your eyes and pretend you’re 5 years old looking at the cake of your dreams.” Your kids will love whatever you make, and you’ll save enough money to spend on the gifts! — Delma, mother of 6


14. “I ask family members to give the kids what they need, not what they want.”

When grandparents and family members are asking me what my kids want for Christmas and birthdays, I only recommend items my kids actually need like clothes, shoes, or an activity such as piano lessons. I send thank you cards with photos of their gifts-in-use and everybody’s happy! — Bri, mother of 2



15. “I pay our bills with our travel reward credit card, and we pay it off every month to earn free trips.”

We’ve already gone to Disneyland for free twice. — Steph, mother of 2


16. “I’ve used KCL’s advice to hack every vacation destination and save money.”

We’ve already hacked Legoland, Disneyland, Six Flags, and a few National Parks — saving hundreds on every trip. — Carol, mother of 4


RELATED: Travel Tips from an Experienced Flight Attendant


17. “Staycations and day trips are the norm for us.”

Traveling overnight with young kids is hard anyway. So we’ve mapped out every tourist spot within two hours of our house and are visiting them during staycations and day trips before we start venturing out overnight! — Erin, mother of 3


18. “I’ve earned free hotel stays by joining Expedia’s travel reward program.”

In addition to discounted member prices, I’ll periodically get emails offering 100% discount rewards for free hotel stays! — Nate, father of 2


Paying Off Debt

19. “When we got a raise, we kept our frugal lifestyle and used the extra income to pay off debt.”

Even though we were tempted to buy fancier cars and go on a nice vacation (we earned it after all!), we decided to chip away at our debt instead. Once our cars and student loans were paid off, our budget consistently had more room for those fun splurges. — Anna, mother of 2



20. “I started couponing and put my grocery savings toward our debt.”

Once I became an expert couponer, I had around $150/month to put toward paying off our car faster. — Kathryn, mother of 3


21. “We paid off everything before having kids.”

Knowing I’d want to stay home once we had kids, we paid off our house, cars, and loans to become debt-free before growing our family. Many days I want to upgrade to a bigger house, but no amount of extra space can compete with the fact that we don’t have a mortgage. — Casey, mother of 2


RELATED: Brilliant Ways to Pay Off Debt Without Getting a Second Job


Paying Bills

22. “Billcutterz saved us around 30% on our monthly expenses.”

I had Billcutterz slash our bills by about 30%. They did the price negotiating for me, and we are now saving a decent chunk of our internet and phone bills. — Sara, mother of 4


23. “I put a reminder in my phone for so I don’t forget to cancel a free trial subscription before I get billed.”

I’ve gotten free trials for Amazon Prime, Audible, and major discounts on meal subscriptions like Blue Apron without paying a dime! Every little bit helps. — Laura, mother of 5


House and Car Maintenance

24. “YouTube is my best friend when it comes to DIY car and house maintenance.”

There are video tutorials for everything you can imagine. Instead of paying a handyman $50/hour, I have learned to fix everything from a leaky sink to a broken chair leg. — Carol, mother of 4


25. I trade babysitting for handyman work around my house.

For example, my husband’s friend is pretty handy (but my husband is not), so the friend replaced a light fixture for free while I babysat their kids for a date night! — Kelly, mother of 1


Nights Out & Activities

26. “We plan date nights at home for after the kids’ bedtime.”

Planning at-home date nights means we almost never have to hire a babysitter. We can still enjoy a weekly date night after the kids go to bed, but we’ve replaced fancy dinners out with cheese plate picnics in the backyard! — Mariyah, mother of 2



27. “We trade babysitting with another one-income family.”

Once a month, each couple gets a night out while the other couple hosts a pizza and a movie night with all the kids. Everyone looks forward to it! — Sara, mother of 4


28. “My kids know every free activity in town!”

We go to the library, participate in free bowling programs, go fishing, swim at lakes instead of pools, join the free community park programs, and we even mark our calendars for holidays like National Donut Day and National Ice Cream day when food joints are offering free treats! — Delma, mother of 6

Check out our list of kids freebies that’ll help you win at parenting.


29. “We only eat out when our kids can eat free.”

I have KCL’s guide to kids eat free restaurants printed out and kept in a kitchen drawer. The list is organized by day of the week, so no matter when we feel like going out, we know we’re covered! — Mariyah, mother of 2


UP NEXT: Legit Ways for Stay-at-Home Moms to Earn Money from Home


How These 13 Families Went from 2 Incomes to 1