Having a family

The one income challenge

2 min read

Claire and Enrico are a Plunket family who we followed in the lead-up to their first baby's birth. Read on for the second part in their exciting journey to becoming parents.

So, looked like Enrico was right – Claire found out she was having a girl! Between starting a baby names list and shopping for pink things, Claire and Enrico also did the one income challenge where they went down to one income for a week. Read on to find out how they went.

Going down to one income

“I don’t think I’ve ever written out so many budgets in my life as I have to prepare for this challenge,” laughed Claire.

Doing the one income challenge was tough, she said. Having to pay the power bill the same week as the challenge tipped Claire and Enrico over their budget a little, but they didn’t want to lose the prompt payment discount.

“We also had to pay insurance that week, and my nine-year old nephew was staying, so we had to feed him too. It was a good lesson that things will always pop up, but being prepared with a budget and having a plan definitely helps,” recalls Claire.

Being money savvy

According to Statistics New Zealand, the average household income in Wellington is about $780. When Claire and Enrico took out their rent and bills from their take home pay, they were shocked to find that there wasn’t actually a lot of money left.

To save money on groceries, they went to the local market instead of the supermarket. They researched cheaper meals and bought mince and rice from which they could make two or three meals. Chilli con carne helped fill up their hungry nephew too!

Making lifestyle tweaks

The challenge revealed a few eye-openers for the pair: making a Milo in the staff lunch room rather than joining her colleagues on the usual 10am coffee run meant $5 savings a day for Claire, and $20 a week, which instead went toward groceries. Claire says she also found herself craving sushi more than anything, “but at least being pregnant makes it two reasons why I couldn't have it, not just because it’s not in the budget."

The hardest part of the one income challenge was saying no to friends when the pair were invited out for lunch or dinner. Claire says they hosted a potluck dinner and got their social fix and great food with no time restrictions, something they plan to repeat.

Another way to save money was on transport. Claire started catching a ride to work with Enrico, saving $7 a day instead of taking the bus. “All it took was a little more organisation on my part.”

Claire also got some great tips from the BNZ Community forum, which included ideas from other parents about going down to one income. It helped for the couple to know that they were on the right track and that other people were going through the same thing. The tips from other parents were also extremely useful Claire says.

Saving for a house deposit

The challenge highlighted what a large chunk of expenses their rent was, so after re-evaluating their budget, Claire and Enrico were extremely happy to discover that they would actually be better off paying off a mortgage instead. Thanks to their small financial sacrifices, Claire says they discovered they had enough money for a house deposit.

“We’d never have considered buying a house if we hadn’t actually sat down and worked out a budget,” she says. “We were really surprised, but it makes more sense to be paying off an asset rather than someone else’s mortgage.”