This is a guest post from my cousin, Mrs. Darling. It originally appeared on her site in a slightly different form.

I’m going to tell you just a bit about how to live on one income, but before doing that I will tell you how I’m qualified. Number one: I live on one income and have done so all our married life. Number two: we have successfully lived on one income. We are not in debt. We truly owe no man, or bank, or corporation, anything!

So how do we do it?

A peek inside my home will answer some of your questions.

A friend once brought someone from her church to my house After leaving, the new lady says to my friend,”I feel so sorry for Mrs. Darling. She lives so frugally. They must be so poor.” So without missing a beat my friend wonders why she thinks that. “Well,” says the sweet lady, “her microwave is so old. They don’t even make those huge cumbersome things anymore and her telephone is still attached to the wall! And the car she drives! That old Monte Carlo is a beast!”

I laughed and laughed when my friend told me this story. I’m happy to say that today I have five phones (none of which are attached to the wall) and I also own a sleek stainless steel microwave. The old ’72 Monte Carlo is sold and in its place is a Ford Expedition. The Monte Carlo we bought used for $3000. The old phone, the huge 1980 model microwave, and the old cars all served as a stepping stone to the day when we could pay not just $3000 for a car, but $30,000 for an SUV!

At one time I drove a car that I needed to keep my foot on the gas and the brake both, just to keep it running at a stop light. Many times it died anyway. I was dating my husband at the time and he was quite concerned about my lack of decent transportation. He bought me a wonderful 1978 oldsmobile for 800 bucks. I drove it for years until it was totaled in an accident.

You ask why didn’t he just finance a new car for me? Because you never get to the point we are today without sacrifice. You never reach the point of no debt when you’re continually buying things you cant afford. It’s all part of frugal living.

When we bought the SUV, another friend who was steeply in debt bought a used van that they could not afford nor did they need. She thought it would be nice for hauling the kids friends around with them so she bought it. She was complaining about the huge monthly bill they would have. Their credit wasn’t any good and because of that they had to pay a very high interest rate to some rip off car lot. She finished her complaint by saying, “Well at least we can better afford our van than you can that brand new Expedition!” I didn’t say anything. Better to leave her thinking that.

The reality of it was that in all the years gone before, my husband had bought used cars. He rebuilt their engines and completely overhauled them until they worked like new. But never had he bought a new car. That year we bought the Expedition he turned 40 years old. I was pregnant. It was the fall of 96 and we bought a spanking new 97 model. We paid cash for our Expedition. Yes, we could better afford our new SUV than my friend could her used van. It was the first new vehicle my husband ever bought. It is now ten years later and remains the only new vehicle we ever bought. It has about forty thousand miles on it. We use it only for long distance comfort traveling or hauling lots of people.

My main car is a 1993 Honda Accord and hubby drives a clunky old company truck to work every day. Could we afford to bring our vehicles into the 21st century and keep up with the Joneses? Of course, we can, but why should we? These cars still work just fine. It’s just another way of staying out of debt and living on one income.

Yesterday a friend spied our old Super Nintendo by the TV. He commented wryly on our updated game system. We had a good laugh. That’s right — our kids are still having fun with little old Mario. Our kids don’t have Game Boys and we don’t own an Xbox. Just because they make it and they sell it, doesn’t mean you have to have it. The TV that Nintendo game was hooked to is 24-years-old, bought by my husband 24 years ago. It’s called living on one income.

Many of our neighbors have motor homes and quads and toy haulers and fifth wheelers. We have a boat. Our first boat was an old 1973 Titanic-type thing. It was heavy and clumsy, but it was fun. My husband and his brother bought it together 20 years ago. They each forked over 600 bucks for it. It’s served us all these years. This spring my husband bought another boat and sold the old one. He found us a very nice updated (but used) boat on the internet. Could we have afforded a new boat. Yes, we could have. But why?

On our deck sits an incredible eyesore in the form of a hot tub. Ugly red decking lines its sides, paint peeling and slats missing. The heater doesn’t work in it, and it used to leak until hubby fixed it a couple of weeks ago. The inside of the hot tub is beautiful swirled grey and white marble. So why didn’t we just go buy a new one when we can afford to do just that? Because this fixer-upper was free, folks! So we have to buy a heating element and put new decking on the outside of it. It is a cheap thing to do in comparison to buying a new one!

Tomorrow I’m going to do the second part of living on one income. This time we will take more of a look inside the house and see how you can still have nice things for your kids and home, and how you can serve wonderful nutritious meals to your family, all on one income.

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