Living on Less ~ Step #1, Set Goals

Many people have asked how we live on half our income. I realize for some people this is impossible, but it is possible to live on less. As you know my husband is in the military, which provides a stable income for our family. Over the years he has promoted and received raises.

In 2003 he received a promotion that included a significant pay raise. We decided to take that extra money and use it to pay off debt. Through the years he has received other smaller raises and we have purposed to continue to live off his 2003 salary. Today we still live off of his 2003 paycheck amount even though our family has grown by two.

This would not be possible if we did not set financial goals for our family. Since 2003 we have focused our goals on being debt free, paying cash for everything, and building up our savings. It took us a while to dig ourselves out of the mess we created in previous years, but by 2007 we were completely debt free!

Can you imagine how much extra money you would have if you didn’t have any debt payments every month? The average car payment is $384 a month. We have not had a car payment for about 30 months. That equals $11,000 in payments we have not made.

This year our financial goals are pretty simple:

  • Purchase 15 passenger van (cash) by April 2009 (saved $12,000 so far)
  • Fund IRA
  • Braces for child #3 half-way funded by end of the year (saved $1200 so far)
  • Cut grocery budget by $50 a month
  • Live on half our income/ save or invest other half (need to cut budget slightly to make this happen)
  • Save for short term goals: vacations, homeschool materials, gifts
  • Start commission system for the kids
  • All extra money goes into house fund

Having goals helps us to say no to impulse purchases and frivolous spending. We could not live on half our income if we longed after many items prized by the world.



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  1. That is so inspirational! Can you imagine if everyone lived like that? We wouldn’t be in the economic mess we’re in now.

    Or let’s take it a step further–what if the government lived like that? Spent within their means, saved for infrastructure, and was responsible.


    But we can still be responsible, even if everyone around us isn’t. It’s how to be a good steward, and it helps reduce stress so much!


    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  2. Those are great goals! It’s impressive that you live on half of your income. We live on less than my husband makes, and stash the rest away for retirement and college. We haven’t started saving for braces yet, but I think that’s coming soon. I like your blog!

  3. You are a true inspiration to me. I work part-time 3 days a week as a teacher and my husband is self-employed so it would be hard for me to stop working although I’d love to do so, so I can homeschool my children (they’re still babies!). I would also love to have a large family, so your tips to save are great to follow. Thank you!

  4. I would love to pick your brain about this, seriously. As you know, not only are we also military but we’re also a big family, but we can’t seem to slash it by as much as you do, no matter how much we cut.

  5. We are just trying to figure out how to live on one salary. Forget half of that. A few years ago we did it and saved the whole second salary for our adoption – now we just have to get disciplined again.
    Great advice though!!!

  6. That’s great! I budget but I need to sit down and budget like this. I really wanted to go to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover last Saturday at my church but I was not able to make it. He gives good advice on living debt free. My main goal right night is to get my home paid for so I can either go part time or possibly quit and stay at home. I worked while my son was young and growing up. Now I have an 8 year old granddaughter that I would love to spend more time with but its hard when you work full time outside of the home.

    I have been following you on Twitter if you would like to follow me its k9roo.

  7. I got in a car accident last Nov which forced me to go on leave of absence from work. Thankfully it is paid, but at a much lesser amount. I was stricken til I realized that my bills would still be paid for and I would still have money left over – at the lesser pay. Opened my eyes to the fact that I spend way too much money on frivolous things.

  8. I am impressed! Great job!

  9. I am very interested in seeing how you make this work. I realize that we spend much more money than we should. We have debt, but not as credit cards, car payments or house payments. I would really like to get it all taken care of and start saving for a home.

  10. Toni you ROCK! 🙂 I love your gumption 🙂

  11. We do the same thing too. We are also a big military family and when my hubby recieved a big promotion at the end of ’05 we decided to pay ourselves and live off of the old salary, I love it! While we are not debt free but will be by June/July of this year it is working out fine. I can’t wait to read what else you have to say about your goals.

  12. Thank you so much for this post. It is a fresh, encouraging perspective in a consumer-driven world! I enjoy reading what you have to say : )

  13. This is really commendable. Are you currently in base housing then? You said you were saving for a house. We owned a few houses while we were in the military. Also, we bought our 15 passenger for under 10. They are so cheap used. I’m not sure where you are located. We are in Rockford, IL. I could check for you here, if you like.

  14. The Happier Husband says:

    Reading your post encourages me to keep the course. It is so easy to become beguiled by (alliteration anyone?) the world and all of the empty promises of consumerism. There are things I’d sure like to have right now but they pale in importance next to the bigger plans we have for the family. Thanks for making it easier to keep on keepin’ on.



  15. WOW!!!!!!! Your entire story is so incredible. You are truly a role model to us all!

  16. That is awesome! I have such a hard time sticking to my goals. I need a good kick in the rear. When I get extra money, it seems, I always find another purpose for it.

  17. This is such an inspiration to me! I’ve always had vague financial goals, but haven’t taken the time to really plot it out. I am SO impressed that you live on 1/2 your income.

    I am really looking forward to reading more about how you do it, and your progress on your goals.

  18. I’m planning to do the same, starting this year, with sticking to the same salary & just banking any raises. I figure if we lived on it for a year, we can live on it for a bit longer.
    WTG with your cash purchase of the van. That will be a huge relief to not have that car payment. We’re not there, but we only have one payment which is always better than two! lol
    Thanks for sharing!

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