Monday, July 5, 2010

The "impossibility" of living on one income

A couple of days ago, I received a comment saying it's impossible to live on one income alone in our day and age. This touched a nerve (in a positive way!), because most people would probably say it's impossible to manage on our monthly budget, yet we have been doing it for a while now.

Just for the record, this post only focuses on the practical side of a wife at home; the spiritual is a story onto itself, along with the husband's obligation to provide for his family. My husband often says there is no true financial blessing when husbands rely on their wives to provide. 


There is an entire section of this blog devoted to frugality; I'm probably not the most frugal-savvy person there is, though. I know many of my readers have been living on one small income for quite a few years and have raised/are raising large families this way. I'm not an expert on budgeting, coupon-clipping and discount-hunting, but if there's one thing I can tell, it's this: living on one income (and one far from large!) is definitely possible.

The greater part of it is in the mindset. Letting go of what I call "the entitlement syndrome" will almost immediately lead most people to think of whole lists of things they have previously regarded as necessities or legitimate needs, yet in fact it's entirely possible to do without them. There are so many ways to cut down costs in the usage of electricity, water and gas, grocery shopping, entertainment and many other things; time and space currently don't permit me to dig into them. I'll just share one main principle – enjoy what's free; think twice before spending a shekel (a penny, a cent… you get the idea).

Another important thing I would like to mention is the importance of being debt-free from the beginning. My husband and I were blessed to start out that way. Of course it's more difficult (though not impossible) to manage on a small income if you also have debt to pay.

The notion that women can't afford to stay home because that second income is so badly needed is a false one. It's a myth perpetuated by those who are interested in pushing women out to the work force – where they more likely will benefit someone else than their immediate family. The fact is, there are many people living on one income. Take for example single mothers (whose rampantly increasing number is a direct outcome of feminism). While fathers are legally obligated to pay child support, the fact is that many single mothers get none and support their children themselves. No one tells them they "can't" do it. But in a family where the wife is healthy and hard-working (and therefore able to do beneficial work for her family in her home), they are told they "can't afford" for the wife to stay at home.

The notion is that the wife's working outside the home will automatically double the family income. This idea is in most cases a false one. To start with, women generally earn much less than men. Not because of so-called "gender discrimination", but because women naturally choose the less lucrative fields and invest less vigorously in their careers. In most families, the husband is the one who produces the lion's share of the income anyway. I know many families where the wife's paycheck is viewed as pocket money and is spent on luxuries and "extras" – most of them meant for her personal use alone.

Of course, in many more families the wife's income is only directed towards what is considered necessary. I had one woman tell me the surplus of her salary, gas costs deduced, is only enough to pay for daycare for her two-year-old. For this family, daycare for a two-year-old was believed to be an unquestionable necessity; not for a moment did they stop to consider the possibility of just keeping their boy at home. Why is that? Because we were led to believe that "properly trained" people are better at caring for toddlers than us, their own parents. In Israel, especially, it's very unacceptable for children over a year old to still be at home. It always boggles my mind to think how many families with two children under three (in religious families, this is nearly a status quo for many years) could afford for the wife to be home if only they considered keeping their children at home as well. I'm not even talking about full-fledged homeschooling, just the delay of shepherding the children off to institutions from very young age.

Naturally, daycare and gas costs are a no-brainer when we try to calculate what is actually left of a wife's salary at the end of the month. By the way, I'm by now thoroughly familiar with the feminist argument that said costs should not be deduced from the wife's salary, but rather, from the combined family income. Such theoretical calculations are utterly useless if what we want to know is how much the family will gain or lose by sending the wife out to work.

There are of course many things a wife at home can do directly or indirectly in order to cut costs. An example of a direct way to save is having more time to plan menus and shopping trips and to cook from scratch and in bulk. An indirect way of saving is providing a joyful, pleasant place to be in by investing many hours into home keeping – thus making the home more attractive for the family. A family who loves being home is less likely to dash out at the first opportunity. Being out and about usually means spending more money, on gas, eating out, and different temptations that always present themselves on such outings.

I'm not saying a family will never lose out financially if the wife doesn't go out to work. For sure, for many having a wife at home means giving up on certain material benefits (even if those aren't nearly as large as the world would have us believe). Yet it is possible to make it on one income once you decide that a wife and mother at home is a more important asset than the paycheck she can potentially bring in.    

33 comments:

Jennifer said...

We have heard this many times as well, but my family has made it on one income. Daddy has worked hard to support my mom, and all 5 of us children. Sure, we had to sacrifice a lot of things, but I wouldn't trade that for having my mom home while we were growing up. That is priceless!

Rebekka said...

I'm curious about how to argue this in what are apparently atypical cases (but which I think are actually typical enough for where I live) - I earn the same amount as my husband after taxes (a little less than US$3000 a month, which is sort of ok but not very impressive for the country we live in). Our costs of working are very small, amounting to bicycle maintenance and in my husband's case about US$50 a month for lunches (I bring my own from home). We have no children (not by choice). I would love to be a stay at home wife, or even just work half-time, but my husband thinks the idea is ridiculous. (Part of this is because of religious differences, part of it is cultural as we are two different nationalities.) If we are blessed with children, I worry about making everything work out, because it seems now like full-time work already is a huge burden on top of keeping things going at home. (My husband does help out but I do much of the housework and cooking.) What to do, what to do?

leah Brand-Burks said...

I stopped working when I was 4 months pregnant, with the intent to get used to living on one income BEFORE the baby got here. Many people asked why I wasn't working for those few months before baby came. It was a real adjustment, and a very beneficial one because we were fully prepared for me to stay home, because we'd trained ourselves to live that way. Now we've been living on one income (AND bought a house on that one income), for two years now! And I wouldn't trade this time with my two sons for anything.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Rebekka, I certainly believe home is the best, most nurturing environment for a woman at any stage of life, with any number of children, or no children at all. I hope to do a post on what you asked; in the meantime, perhaps you'll get some comments from other ladies!

Diana said...

I totally agree with this Anna. We have always only had one income (for 21 years) and even when times have been hard for us we have still managed on ONE income.

Diana
http://little--treasures.blogspot.com

Not a myth said...

I understand that everyone here seems to make it on one income, you "do with less", it's somehow a myth that it's impossible...

I'd like to know how many such people live in New York City or the surrounding suburbs. Single people take on roommates because one income really is impossible- that, or they move back in with their parents. Single mothers almost always have to do without something necessary- usually health insurance or electricity.

It's very easy to say that one income is doable when you live in a place where housing costs are reasonable, kosher food is available without a premium, health insurance is free, and a Jewish education is free or heavily subsidized. I'd like very much to live somewhere where the cost of living isn't so ridiculous, but leaving town is not currently an option. So please don't tell me that I must be able to cut somewhere- we are down to the bone here and still barely making ends meet, even with two incomes and no debt.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but comment on this one! Anna, I read your blog from time to time, but never really comment on your posts. Well, this truly resonates with me. My story: my husband is working full time and going to school. I stay home with our three month old daughter. His job is not lucrative by any means (makes just about $2k gross monthly, for those of you who live in the US), and we live within our means on just that. We are even anticipating owning a home (well, stand-alone condo, but basically like a house) once our lease is done this fall! How? Well, we do have a sizable downpayment saved up from when we both worked full time, but that is beside the point (I only worked a couple years this way). But beside that, we have one car, no cell phones, no cable tv, we don't eat out much and don't really buy extra "stuff" like movies or clothes unless we find it cheap/used--for the most part. Our place right now is small, but doable. I think the key is learning how to be content with what you have; that is the bottom line! And you have to be willing to learn how to shop and spend frugally and wisely.

I included the monetary details for Rebekka...but as for staying home without children, I quit my job shortly after learning I was pregnant--to be honest, looking back I would probably want to work at least some part time if I didn't have any kids, although having a home-run business or ministry/service work would probably be preferable to that even. Just what I've found after considering the issue. I think I'm partly influenced by my husband on that one, however...he wished I could have taken up a little outside work during my pregnancy (and I did, for a time).

Anyway, getting back to the point about one income...I am so blessed and thrilled to share this testimony because I feel that if we can do it, ANYONE can!! =)

Mummie Lynda said...

I have to comment here. We live off one income. A military income in an expensive city. More expensive than New York City if you can believe that. Lol. It is possible. I have 4 kids with 1 more on the way. We do not keep up with the "Joneses" as the saying goes. We do not have the nice SUV and the luxury car, TV's in every room, and our kids are not in every activity until the sun goes down. It is possible. The ones that deny this idea, are the ones not willing to give up their nail appointments, or their hair appointments. The regular lunch with friends, the coffee at Starbucks every morning or the "girls night out" outing. I don't have "new" clothes, but I am still clothed. Because we don't put ourselves into debt we can afford a nice dinner or a movie every now and then. Or we can take the kids some place fun once in a while. It is all about priorities, as we have learned.

Anonymous said...

For a while, just after graduating college and finishing a residency, my husband was able to find a job as an interpreter and moved to another area of the country. Our son and I moved soon thereafter, and for two years there were two incomes, enough to pay more than half the down payment for the house we've lived in 20 years and paid off more than 5 years ago.

Ever since, we've lived off one income. Financially, it's never been difficult because we were destitute students the first 5 years of our marriage, and my background was 'genteel poverty'.

On the other hand, it's been extremely difficult raising children as our cultural attitudes have clashed, and my husband could find no job to provide a steady income nor comparable health insurance and other benefits since he was not a citizen.

Analytical Adam said...

I for the most part agree although I guess for me it is academic for me since I'm not married but the only thing though that sometimes did exist that is less common now is women did help the husband if they owned a farm or a piece of land or they own a store or something although obviously when children are young the man will spend more time on his own or with workers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anna! I have come back to your blog after a break, and it is a breath of fresh air! Thank you!

Rebecca,

Have you seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" The women in the family create a conversation setup for the "head of the house" (the father), which allows him to freely decide to do something he had been completely opposed to at first.

In your case, the conversation might look something like this, with you, your friend, and your husband having lunch in your home:

Your friend: How are you, Rebekka?
Rebekka: Oh, all right. I didn't have a chance to make the plum tart I had been wanting to, because I had some work at the hospital, but it's okay, no one around here likes plum tart all that much anyway.
Your friend: Oh, really?
Rebekka: Yes, it's really all right, though. (Pause) Also, I have been thinking of turning the garage into a studio so that my husband could do woodworking there, but that will have to wait, too, until these reports are finished. Maybe next year.
Your friend: Oh, I see.
Rebekka: Yes, but it's all right. I enjoy serving others, and if we have to give up some parts of our home life, my husband is very supportive of that, he doesn't mind at all.
Your friend: Oh, that's very sweet of you, Mr. ___.
Mr. ___: Not at all
Rebekka: Oh yes, my husband is very supportive. I don't have time to press and iron his shirts in the morning, but that never ruffles you, does it, Dear? I'm so glad! How happy we are! And you don't mind that I don't change the sheets every week or clean the attic or wash the windows, do you? We love each other, and we're so happy just the way we live. I'm so glad you wanted me to go to work, Dearest.
Mr. ___: You are?
Rebekka: Oh yes! I love helping people. I love bringing them what they need, and I enjoy spending time with such knowledgeable medical professionals. I think it is really increasing my knowledge and making my life more meaningful.

Then the idea is that secretly Mr. ___ is squirming in his chair and wishing he could have plum tart for dinner and a woodworking studio, and he starts to re-think his point of view.

Best wishes to you!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Not a myth,

Obviously, I have lived in Israel all my conscious life, so perhaps I don't understand some nuances of life in other countries.

Housing costs are definitely a BIG issue in managing on one income. In Israel, there's a dramatic difference between different areas. For us it was clear from the start we will have to move to an area where housing costs are cheap. Otherwise we'd never be able to afford a house without a mortgage.

Here, many young couples live in caravans, where rent is extremely cheap. However, when I suggested this option to a reader from another country, I was surprised to hear that in her country, mostly negative social elements live in caravans (trailers).

Kosher food is definitely more expensive. Yes, there are people who go to markets and buy food with no kosher certificate. However this is one area where we wouldn't compromise unless we were actually starving.

I'm not sure where health insurance is free. Do you mean in Israel?? It's included in the taxes deduced from one's salary. And that's a lousy security which hardly covers anything. Most people must pay more to have something more decent.

I'm also not sure where you get your information about "free" Jewish education. Yes, schools are subsidized, but parents still have to turn out their pockets for "related" costs which the schools somehow manage to pass through every year. Admittedly, those too poor to pay are often granted help.

Also, don't forget salaries are much, much lower in Israel than in the US (perhaps food and other costs are cheaper, but this isn't enough to make up for it).

I don't know your situation. Perhaps there is indeed nothing you can save on. What I wrote was written in general, and I didn't mean it to be seen as a personal offense by anyone.

Stacey said...

I completely agree with you. My husband and I live on one VERY small income. We are frugal and careful with our money. And we are also convinced that we live far better than our feverishly-working, double-income neighbours, or those who have even taken on two jobs. We eat better and healthier. We have better quality time. We have more meaningful priorities. And, we're better educated. We read and study and discuss things together. We make beautiful things for our home. And we work as a team, with two very different roles. I know my husband is happy to have a warm, loving home to come home to at the end of the day, where the meals are planned, and he knows money has not been spent foolishly. It can be a bit hard at times, and sometimes it is frustrating when there is something we want or need but we can't just buy it. However, the overall picture is that we are both far happier (we tried it with me working out of the home, and it was awful) the way we have chosen to live, and we believe, honour God. Thanks for a great post!

Katy said...

I think that from the comments I have read it appears that some women are blessed and able to stay at home while others are not. As a teacher of some very poor children I see the later quite often. There is one family that particularly stands out in my mind. The mother stays at home with the children during the day (one of whom is severely mentally disabled). When her husband comes homes she is driven off to work as a checker at the supermarket (I'm fairly sure this is not because she is a power hungry feminist). They have one car so he then goes to pick her up with the children asleep in the back late at night. They are a sweet hard-working family with well behaved children. My heart aches to see them struggle as they do. I have been blessed to be at home at certain times in my marriage. This is not one of those times. I used to think of the times I was home as my "blessed times" and the times I was working as my "cursed times". Now, I think of them both as blessed because I see God's hand at work in all aspects of my life. Sometimes, you have to put your head down, do what you must and see what comes of it. I know you yourself must have felt this way when you had to work (part-time) to help support your family, Anna. You did well then and are doing well now.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Rebekka, we keep a family of four on just about $3,000/month in one of the most expensive states in the U.S. We own our home (sort of, we're paying off a standard 30yr mortgage), we have two cars (necessity, rural area, I can't even get milk without traveling five miles away), and I homeschool, so we have to pay for our curriculum and supplies with no tax deduction.

That's right, if I buy a history text for homeschooling, I get no tax break, but if I buy a ream of lined paper for a public schooled student I can deduct it. Anyways, that's another rant entirely.

We live frugally but well. The kids enjoy a variety of national parks, we bring a lunch if we're going to be gone somewhere for hours, and I pick my own fresh produce at local farms for a discount over supermarket prices. It tastes so much better and is so much healthier!

Yes, you have to learn how to do a lot (We can't afford to replace a seat cushion cover, so I'm going to make a new one out of upholstery fabric I got on a deep discount), but you end up with a better life than you can buy from Walmart. (I double-reinforce my seam and the fabric is high-class, so I'd have to pay double to get as good a replacement)

As a housewife, I love Heinlein's quote: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

The quote is kind of male-oriented, but I'm sure you get the idea behind it. :)

Persuaded said...

notamyth wrote: "I'd like to know how many such people live in New York City or the surrounding suburbs. Single people take on roommates because one income really is impossible- that, or they move back in with their parents. Single mothers almost always have to do without something necessary- usually health insurance or electricity."

Well, I thought I'd pipe up here as I am a single mom, so I can answer a few of these points.☺ While I live in NY, I live in a more rural area of the state, so my cost of living is not quite so exorbitant as those living in the city, so I can't accurately answer that concern. I can assure you however, that single parent families do manage to make it on only one income... and while we do have to go without many of the things that others believe are necessary, I know of no single parent families who are having to forgo true necessities. For example, none go without electricity as you mentioned, or even private transportation. Some families may have to use government subsidized health insurance, and take advantage of things like aid to pay for utility costs but they don't have to do without these things.

When I determined to return home, I had a huge mindset change on what exactly constituted a necessity. A lot of things that I was sure my children and I needed, we do just fine without now. I'm not saying that this is your situation notamyth, but am just speaking from my own experience☺

And Anna... I am hostessing a headcovering wardrobe giveaway at my blog this week. I'm starting my own little headcover business and this is my little kick off! lol. I don't know if the covers that I offer would fit in with your own headcovering needs and choices, but if they'd be of use to you I'd so love to have you enter♥

Anonymous said...

Anon,

I have to say that your advice seems very manipulative. I think that the conversation you proposed is childish and and offensive towards the husband. Without the ulterior motive of making him "squirm" that conversation would be harmless. Wouldn't a better course of action be to tell your husband up front that you want to stay home and then commit to prayer that you and your husband can be on the same page?
I think that its important for our husbands to feel honored at all times and to purposefully manipulate and undermine them will only serve to hurt your marriage.
I will say that expressing your desires to a friend who can join you in prayer is very acceptable.
I just have always thought that the "man is the head and the woman is the neck that turns the head" mentality is degrading to our husbands.

K

Mary M said...

Hi Anna,

Good post!

This is a little off-topic, so please excuse me.

You have written extensively about your dislike of feminism.

I just wanted to clarify whether you dislike certain aspects of feminist ideology (towards the more radical side) or whether you actually do disagree with the basic feminist tenet that all women in all societies should be granted the same social and political rights as enjoyed by men?

Hope you don't mind me asking that. I understand you're often very busy, so no worries if you can't respond.

:-)

mom-e-mae said...

Just finished reading "The two Income Trap: http://www.amazon.com/Two-Income-Trap-Middle-Class-Parents-Going/dp/0465090907/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278426328&sr=1-2
And I recoment this to anyone who is wondering why they are working two jobs and still not making it. This is an epidemic in the US and it's been a long time coming. We were right where "Not a myth" is but we refused to stay trapped.

We had to file bankrupcy, losing one of our vehicles and move to a different state, and drastically reduce our level of lifestyle to escape this trap. I am now home full-time, homeschooling, and have been able to open our family to new additions. This has been difficult, heart-breaking and downright terrifying at times, But this is what we must do. Joy abounds :)

Persuaded said...

Anna.. I'm so disappointed! I wrote out a long comment to notamyth myself and it appears to have not gone through:-( I am having a dickens of a time with comments on my own blog today not publishing and apparently there is some kind of bug that is causing it.

I just wanted to add my perspective as a single mother, since you mentioned us lot in your comment;-) While it is true that us single moms usually do have a hard time making ends meet, I have never met a single parent family which had to do without such things as electricity or even private transportation due to economics. And, in my state at least, health care/insurance is available to almost everyone and to all children through government subsidized programs. (I live in NY, btw.)
When I was working outside of the home there were many many things that I felt were absolute necessities, but now that I am home and we are living a simpler life, I realize how truly unnecessary those things were. Of course I am speaking from my own perspective and experience.. your mileage may vary;-D

And Anna, I wanted to let you know that I am hostessing a giveaway on my blog this week. As a kick off to the opening of my headcovering business, I am giving away an entire headcovering wardrobe. I don't know if these types/styles of cover fit in with your own preferences and traditions, but if they do I'd so love to have you enter!

Anonymous said...

You have only your own experience on this.
I have more than one experience and I can tell you that in some cases it is impossible to live on one wage.
No amount of cooking from scratch, buying secondhand clothes etc., will allow you to live on one wage if the bulk of that one wage is used to pay rent for accommodation, leaving very little to live on. Cheaper accommodation was not to be found (believe me I tried) and apartment living with no ground to plant veg etc, not even a balcony meant food had to be bought in.
Staying home with a small child meant more heating had to be used, more electricity etc. A baby is unable to move around to keep warm as an adult can.
I had to go out to work because one wage was not enough to pay rent, feed us and keep us warm. My child being at a child minders house meant that she was warm and well fed in someone elses house and taken care of while I earned to contribute towards the costs of living.
If workers are skilled then perhaps one wage is sufficient but for the poorly paid unskilled workers this is not the case.
By all means say that it would be great to be able to live on one wage but don't preach to us saying that it is always possible.

Katy said...

Oh Anna! I cannot believe I spelled latter incorrectly...right after saying I was a teacher! The horror of typing too quickly! :)

Rebekka said...

We live in Copenhagen, where wages, taxes, housing prices and the cost of living are all high. I'm sure if we moved to the country we could afford a house payment on one income. But my husband is not interested in moving out of the city. Even in the city we could probaby afford to live in an apartment on one income if it was a shared priority - after all, there are single parents who do so, although they get support from the state on top of their wages. But my husband is not interested in being a single-income family.

It's not because I don't like my job, either. I'm a nurse and I consider myself blessed to be able to serve others through my job, and besides that I love nursing, BUT I am often exhausted from working full-time, and I think it is sad that I am "forced" to prioritise giving my best hours and energy to my job while my home is a mess and I'm too tired to make dinner, and because I work different shifts I am often at work when my husband is free.

I don't think that having a manipulative conversation is really helpful - and I don't think it would work. My husband knows my views. He doesn't like the clutter at home either - but he thinks it is wrong for someone to not work when they are able to do so, and thinks we will just have to make things work. "Everyone else does." Of our contemporaries we know NO single-income families, and I believe over 90% of Danish children are in daycares - and of the rest the majority are I believe children of immigrants. So this is a huge cultural gap between us. I was just wondering how other people have responded when their husbands are Just Not Interested - and even think that both men and women have a moral and civic duty to work.

Sorry I've run on like this!

Anonymous said...

What an interesting discussion! I'm a stay-at-home mom and wife but know several women who work who would like to be home. I think husbands are maybe a little insecure in providing, or maybe jealous of a wife who stays home, or maybe just want more money. In any case, if a person in this situation believes they should be home, spend much time praying about it and let God work in your husband. Also study and maybe try to think of a way to earn money at home which often keeps husbands happy and keeps food on the table. Biblically, God does make the man the provider and things just seem to work best that way. I know at our house we have to do without a lot, don't take a lot of vacations or buy a lot of new stuff, but staying at home with my children is worth any sacrifice it takes and with a cheerful attitude, the children love it too! Enjoy your blog!

Hannah said...

We have been living on one income for a decade, and are raising six (soon 7) children this way.
Off the top of my head, I can't think of things we go without, but our lifestyle choices have to do with our faith and beliefs regarding family rearing. Whereas some might think our kids are at a loss without Disney vacations or a tv in the home, these are things that ADD to the richness of our lives, not something that feels missing.
My husband works hard at his business and does not have any vacation days since he is self employed but we take so many Saturdays and turn them into "Family Day" and spend time together enjoying each other, at a lake, sledding in winter, or working together here at home.
We live in upstate New York, which has some of the highest taxes in the nation, especially for small business owners. We are paying down our mortgage and besides that are debt free.
So, yes, it is a myth. And not only can it be done, but life can be much more beautiful and richer for having chosen this route.
Hannah

MacKenzie said...

My husband and I have been married for just over 3 years and have always lived off of one income, even when we both were working.

After we first got married, we knew my husband wanted to get his masters but we didn't want more debt so we both worked outside the home, saving my income, until he went to school. Then he worked part time and went to school while I worked full time, enabling us to live and pay his tuition without using loans. When I was 5 months pregnant, he graduated and I stopped working. I liked my jobs well enough but missed being at home but we knew the situation was temporary so we made it work. Now that our little one is born and is approaching 6 weeks, I feel so sad for mothers that have to return to work (6 weeks is the typical maternity leave for where I live).

Some of our family members and my husband's co-workers find it odd that I have no plans to go back to work but at other times have also mentioned that once they pay for expenses, they only net a few hundred dollars a month by having their wife work! We live in the US, in a suburb outside a major city and while many in my area would say 2 incomes are necessary, we have made it work without them. It may take us longer to buy a house and we probably won't ever buy a non-used car but that is just a matter of priorities.

My advice for newly married folks is that even if you feel the need to work (or your husband wants you to) before you have kids, still try out living on one income and putting the other directly into savings. You might be surprised at how well it works out.

organicmommy said...

If a family makes a conscience effort to live on 1 income it is totally doable. There if preparation that has to be done. You have to truely want it to be. If you are willing to live without all the things that so many feel you NEED it can be done. We live on 1 income, it is around 3000.00 a month after taxes are taken out. We are purchasing our home but own our cars outright. We have 3 young children that are in activities. However we don't have all the latest and greatest things on the market. We have our animals we raise on the farm to feed our family. We grow many of our own veggies and preserve them for the winter. We keep our grocery bill as small as we possibly can, cook from scratch and stay home a lot. But we are happy.
It is mind boggling to me that people would say that for some it is not possible. IT IS POSSIBLE if you choose to make it possible. You can not live the life of keeping up with the Jone's and still live on one income unless it is a very large income. OH WELL that it is what has gotten the USA into the financial mess we are currently in.
SO please tell some of the many people we know that are making under 1500.00 a month that they can not live on 1 income and see where that gets you, because they do and they do it without any govt assistance.

andrea said...

Great post--it's encouraging to me to read this. I am planning on getting married this fall, and my fiance has told me a number of times he will not expect me to work if I don't want to.

I do work part time at a public library, but the money I make is pretty low, not enough to contribute significantly to life expenses. So, I am planning on saving my income and living on my future husband's pay. We will be covered by the same insurance and so forth, and his credit card debt is almost paid off. The only debt we will have will be some small school loans (we both went to college cheap).

It's not that we will be living large by any means. We will still have to be frugal, but it's good to know that I won't "have" to work full time, I will still have time to devote to home making, and when we have kids, hopefully we will have a bit of savings and I can come home full time.

Andrea said...

Rebekah,
My heart goes out to you. I have a very kind husband who insists I only work part-time because of some health problems I have (I'm the one who always feels like I should be contributing more, lol).
Would you be able to maybe make some practical suggestions to your husband about how it might be workable for you to work at least less hours at your job? Like maybe you could start paying down debt, start an emergency fund, etc, so that he would feel that you were financially secure enough for you to at least cut back hours at your job. Men, in my experience ;), want practical solutions to problems, and listen to logical arguments. Maybe you could ask him if it would be okay to babystep into a slower-paced lifestyle where you didn't have to work so much. He might be more willing to compromise that way.

joyce said...

I think the ability to live on one income depends on a lot of factors. The number of persons in the family, the amount of money the breadwinner earns, the city where they live, their needs, etc. all should be considered.

I think for some it would be impossible to live on one income, even if they lived as frugally as possible and made many sacifices.

At one time, I struggled as a single mom with two children. I didn't have a car for nine months and we used public transportation. We wore thrift store clothing and shopped at garage sales for many of our household items. I planned meals carefully and we did not eat out often or splurge on grocery store food.

We lived in a nice neighborhood, but our rental house had faulty, unsafe heat, inadequate air conditioning, and other problems.
I would not have lived in an unsafe, crime ridden neighborhood with two girls.

I think it depends on the individual(s) and what they want and what they can do with their resources. I admire families who can make it work on one income, but I don't think badly of those who don't, or can't. I don't think anyone else should, either. My mother had a saying: "Live and let live." I think that's good advice.

Buffy said...

An interesting article. I agree entirely about the whole "entitlement syndrome". most people are not aware that they live in the most incredible luxury compared to their great grandparents or even many people from poorer countries.

I would have to question your remark that the rampantly increasing number of single mothers is a direct outcome of feminism. This is a very sweeping remark to make without any evidence to back it up. I think this is an over simiplication of a very complex issue. You may of course be right, but maybe you need some data to back up your opinon?

I also agree with your findings about most women generally choosing the less lucrative fields. This has been totally my experience both personally and with my other friends. And yet, you now find in films or TV programmes that "succesful" women are portrayed as having very high-powered, dynamic jobs. Twenty years ago they would have been teachers, nurses or secretaries, now they are portrayed as surgeons, police chiefs and barristers. I know there are a few, but they really are in the minoirty and women shouldn't be made to feel that if they don't have these high-powered jobs they are failing in some way.

Looking forward to your article about couples without children.

Cassy said...

I'm glad you mentioned the importance of a living debt-free. When I met my husband 6 years ago we both knew that we wanted a large family but with what we both already had on the table, as well as, our yearly incomes it wasn't going to come easy.

I'm happy to say that on December 16, 2009 I was able to walk away from my job and come home to be a housewife. We are now debt-free and was able to pay off our $80,000 debt in 5 years with an average double income of $40,000/year. We did without what we call "fluff" -- no t.v., no movies, no dining out, no vacations (our honeymoon has been our only vacation in 6 years), and 1 vehicle. I heard a lot of "no honey we can't afford that right now" but it was all so worth it the day I handed in my resignation and knew that I would never walk through the corporate door again -- I was 31 years old. I have been told by numerous woman "I wish I could be in your place" I honestly have to hold my tongue because I would look them straight into their eyes and say "You could, it just takes a lot of no's"

God has been so good to us and we still have yet to conceive but we know it is all in His time and our cup will overflow with blessings in due time.

It is possible to live on 1 income, 1 very small income and still have all the blessings of life.

I'm loving your blog and I'm so glad I found it!!

~Cassy

matt cordell said...

I am a man who supports my wife, my two beautiful daughters and myself on just one income. Of course its hard and we had to cut back on some things life cell phones and cable tv, but its worth having my wife at home to take care of our children and not have her out at work too and have someone else raising our kids. i would much rather have her teach them our values and our way of life then the way that someone else thinks that they should be, sure it would be nice to have the extra money but oh well, does money really bring happiness? Because i know that if i had ten millions dollars and didnt have the family that i do now there is no way that i could be as happy as i am now in life. nothing brings me happiness life knowing that my wife and my babies are at home waiting for me to come home from work, i couldnt imagine life any other way to tell the truth. so yes you can live on just one income but you just have to be smart about how you spend and the things that you do.
M.C.