Thursday, April 19, 2007

Living on One Income

Is it possible to live on one income? Yes, I think it is, simply because that's how things have always been in our family. Since we never got any source of financial support from my father, Mom had to work and we lived off her salary, which was never too big.
True, we could never afford a car (without going into debt), and the area we live in isn't something. We couldn't go abroad every year, eat out as often as we wanted, or buy plenty of new clothes every season. Our apartment is tiny, until not long ago we used a computer that was nearly my age, and as a child I knew I would have to put up with my schoolbag until it can't be fixed anymore.

However, we had a decent life, even during an especially tough period when Mom had to do cleaning and babysitting jobs to put some food on our table. We never had to sleep under a bridge; we never went hungry. When Mom took a loan, she returned it soon enough. As times improved and income grew steadily – not to something impressive, just average – Mom started putting a considerable amount into savings.
So, yes, we didn't live this way out of choice. But it only shows living on one income can be done. Yes, it will probably mean living modestly, within one's means, being careful about saving and spending. But it doesn't mean living on welfare.

If it can be done because there is no other choice, it can also be planned well and done out of a conscious decision. If a single woman can manage her finances well, it must be even easier for a married couple, when a woman stands behind her husband's back.
Deciding whether to have a second income or not is an individual decision, of course, but many people make this choice simply because they think there's absolutely no way they can survive otherwise.

I know many families where the wife has an uninteresting, low-paying job; she's overstressed with duties both at work and at home, but she continues working, because she is sure the family will not survive without her income. Yet she doesn't have time to plan and manage her finances, and spends unwisely; when all is said and done, there's not much left of the "second income". The thought that a family can't live on one income is now so deeply ingrained in our minds that often we don't even check how true it is; we forget that for many centuries, nobody even thought of pushing a wife and a mother out there, into the workforce, to compete with men, to collapse while trying to "have it all together".

I can't know for sure God will send me a husband, and I don't know where life will lead me. But I do know who I want to be – a wife that is a helpmeet to her husband, a gracious woman who makes her house a home, a mother that doesn't miss even one day of her children's lives. When a child grows up, will he or she feel sorry for never having all those expensive toys and brand new clothes? I don't think so! We remember precious moments spent with our family, with our parents and siblings; simple joys, quiet evenings, and just being there for each other; no money can ever pay for that.


Tracy said...

Amen! We do live in a nice home, which is amazing for the amount of money that my husband makes. BUT, we moved to the middle of nowhere to be able to afford it! Most people don't think about that fact. I cook from scratch, we eat leftovers, shop thrift stores, have dessert often, but do not snack, save hand me downs for the next in line, etc. Our children have to help around the house, and do not receive an allowance.

Our son will be 16 on Monday. He has a job, and I drive him there. But, he must give me money each week for gas!

It is not always easy. We have never been on a real vacation in almost 18 years of marriage. This year we are renting a house on the coast. We saved and saved for it. I will cook there everyday instead of eating in restaurants.

My children may look longingly at others and what they "have", but we do spend quality time together, and I know that they appreciate that!

Anna S said...

I haven't seen a picture of your home from the outside, but your kitchen and bathroom are lovely.

You have set your priorities, you decided spending time with your family and homeschooling your children are more important than having a couple of nicer and bigger things - and you're reaping the rewards!

Since I was raised by a single mother, we didn't have a second income OR much quality time together. But now I firmly believe that if we survived on one income, other people can do it, too.

Candy said...

I love this post Anna.

We are a one income family. Rob works outside the home. I "work" inside the home. He brings in the money and I make sure Im intentionally careful how it gets spent for our family. We have enough to save and buy some luxury items (by cash) because of our choices on what we spend money on.

I have some friends though that tell me that they (the wife) is working just because they want that extra money to buy their kids more stuff. Yet, their little ones are with caregivers all day and by the time its all said in done with paying for daycares for two kids, gas for work, clothes for work, lunch for work..I wonder is it worth it? Do they even have much left from her paycheque?
And how in the world do they keep up with their homes and meals? I always wonder that.
Because if I had to work, I would have to hire maid service to keep up my home.
I dont know..unless they are supermoms or something, I just dont get it.

But, I actually happen to believe that its Biblical for the woman to be at home. Home is her career.
And to be home for her kids too.. what happens when they are sick and she is working outside the home? I wonder..

Thankfully Rob is very traditional and he always said he prefers me to be at home than working for someone else..

That all said though, if I HAD to work, for necessity, I would do what I would.. but Id would first try to start my own business especially from home..

Thats my thoughts and as always I ENJOY your posts so much.
Keep them coming!

Lots of love,

Craftydaughter said...

Anna, How true that is! Yes it can be done.
My mom(who is a sahw/m) takes what my dad gives her for the weekly household "allowence" and buys everything we need and a couple of wants and then saves what is left over. People ask my parents how they support 2 kids, have a some what decent house, a nice 2005 Avalanche, and only him working.
And at one point my sister and her husband were coming and eating every night.
Daddy says it is Mama's frugality, but mama says it was all of us working together along with prayer. :-D

So yes, it is possible to live even below your means with only one person working. But people only want bigger and better stuff. Even if it means going into dept way over their heads.

Jordin said...

My parents are wealthy now, but I remember the day when that WASN'T so! My mom and dad divorced when I was 5, and it was just me, my mom, and brother. She barely scraped by, but she always made it work! It's funny to look back at those pictures. There we are, sitting on a ratty couch with a hole in the wall, holding a bowl of discounted boxed macaroni and cheese in our laps--but we are smiling HUGE smiles and laughing! We always consider that the "bad" time, but, really, it was wonderful and taught my mom a lot. You are so right, it truly is the love that makes a home, not the amount of money made.

Robert said...

What you said about setting priorities is the key to living on one income.Do you want consumer goods and other items or do you want to homeschool and be there for your children?

Some studies also show that after you take expenses for daycare,clothing and travel that there isn't much money left from the second income.

Anna S said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm grateful for your support.

Robert - yes, the cost of working can be so high that one has to question whether it's worth it (even if we talk about pure finances). It's not just the second car, babysitters and nice clothes for work. More than that, it's developing overspending habits which lead to a situation when both spouses work, are up to their necks in debt and wonder - "Where did all the money go?"

Candy - I believe it is technically possible to deal with cleaning, provide meals etc while working full time. A woman COULD come from work around 6 or 7 pm, rush through the house with a vacuum cleaner and mop and pop some convenience food into the microwave. But that doesn't equal the time and effort a homemaker puts into making her house a home. When I visit, I can tell the difference between a house that has peace and order, that has been lovingly arranged and which smells of fresh cookies, and a house that has been grudgingly cleaned when the woman is exhausted and frustrated. I wrote an article about this which I will post soon.

Emily said...

Once again Anna, you have written a great and inspiring post. I give a wholehearted amen!

When, God willing, I get married, I hope very much to be living off one income. Any money I would generate I would want to put into a savings account, use to pay off any debt, etc.

It IS possible, because our God is big enough! And what you write about precious time spent with family rather than out making money is so true.

Bless you! In His care,