When Two Incomes Become One

So, just to clarify at the start, this is not going to be a hard sell on giving up on a full time job to stay home with your children, nor is it a dissertation on how becoming a stay at home mom (SAHM) is easy (because it's not!) and better for children.  This is just simply some opinions on the subject matter of a former two income household making it in today's world with one income. 

Realizing the Need for Change

If you'd told me five years ago that my twins would be teaching me financial lessons, I would have probably dismissed both you and the notion.  Looking back now, safely past the whirlwhind first year of diapers, bottles and no sleep (none whatsoever!), I can see that the learning started even before they entered this world.  You see, my hubby and I used to bring in about the same amount of pay (my yearly gross was slightly higher).  Once we learned we had two babies on the way, we knew major changes were on the horizon.  Daycare was never really something we wanted to pursue, and the expense of having two babies in it at once didn't make financial sense for us.  So, we slowly went from two incomes to one.  (Slowly, I say, because I had some time-off-with-pay built up at my job and was able to use that as I went off of work.)

Revamping the Spending Habits

Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that making the transition from a full-time social worker to a full-time mom was easy and painless.  It really took some work and creative budgeting on our part to pull it off.  Perhaps the biggest hurdle to surmount was taking a hard look at our spending habits and trimming some fat, if you will. 

My beloved VW Beetle and its tag-along payments were swapped out for a mini-van with no payments and room for twins plus a mountain of baby gear.  My hubby's daily lunches at the local pizzeria were mostly replaced by the brown bagging phenomenon.  Our jaunts out to restaurants for a dinner here, brunch there whenever we felt like it were drastically cut in favor of home cooked meals (turns out our kitchen table did have a surface you could eat off of -- who knew?).  I could go on, but you get the gist of the idea.  The bottom line: we lived within the boundaries of my hubby's paycheck.

Over the past few years, we've really learned to stretch our dollars and consider wise purchases with long-term benefits over quick, impetuous purchases with little-to-no yield.  While we don't take our used cups to McDonald's to get a "free" drink (and yes, I've actually heard of some super-misers doing this as means to cut costs), we do make it a point to pay cash for most everything and not spend over a weekly limit

My weekly routine includes shopping the sales for groceries and planning out meals to minimize weird purchases and wasted food.  I also keep my eyes peeled for killer deals on clothes and shoes for my girls, often buying a size bigger off the clearance racks for the future.  We supplement our entertainment with trips to the library for books, movies and music. 

I should also point out that right after the girls turned one, I did land the perfect part-time office job which enabled me to go to work 2-3 nights a week after my husband returned from work.  Plus, it brought in some income and let me have interactions with people who didn't need diaper changes. 

So there you have it.  It is possible to live in today's economy and society on one income, even if you are used to two. But it does take some planning, trimming, and compromising!

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Anonymous's picture

Vision Board Friday Links wrote:

Fri, 01/21/2011 - 08:59 Comment #: 1

[...] Momvesting talks about when two incomes become one. [...]

Anonymous's picture

retirebyforty wrote:

Fri, 01/21/2011 - 20:58 Comment #: 2

Thanks for sharing! Our baby is almost here and we are very exited. The plan is to both keep working for now, but who knows what will happen...
I don't like daycare either, but that's probably the way we'll have to do it for a while. Hopefully my mom can move in at some point and we can get out of daycare.

Anonymous's picture

Money Reasons wrote:

Sat, 01/22/2011 - 02:47 Comment #: 3

We did the same thing 10 years ago. My wife only recently got a side gig once both kids were in school (my son is 10, and my daughter is 7).

My wife has done a great job raising the kids as a SAHM, but we do miss the lost income over these past 10 years. I did the calculations, and I figure we would have an additional $500,000 more than we currently are today. So kudos to you for find a side gig early, that extra money will help!!!

Anonymous's picture

Aloysa wrote:

Sat, 01/22/2011 - 04:35 Comment #: 4

We don't have children so I cannot say what our experience is... but what I can say is that I have HUGE respect for mothers like you. It is a full time and a very hard job to raise kids. And you are doing just great!

Anonymous's picture

MoneyCone wrote:

Sat, 01/22/2011 - 11:24 Comment #: 5

We went through the same phase in life.. no we are still going through that phase in life!
:)

Melinda Gregory's picture

Melinda Gregory wrote:

Sat, 01/22/2011 - 13:29 Comment #: 6

Thanks for the great responses, everyone.
@retirebyforty- congrats on the new little one coming! That's very exciting news...enjoy every moment!

@MoneyReason- it seems that even when the kids get into school full-time, being a SAHM becomes busier in some ways... glad your wife found something on the side that works out for your family!

@Aloysa- :) Thank you much...you always write the nicest things on my posts :)

@MoneyCone- sometimes it's a looooong phase, isn't it? :)

Anonymous's picture

Daddy Paul wrote:

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 00:12 Comment #: 7

"But it does take some planning, trimming, and compromising"
Too often that is easier said than done.

Anonymous's picture

Introducing Talk It Out and Aloysa’s Reading Pick wrote:

Wed, 01/26/2011 - 12:58 Comment #: 8

[...] What if one of you would have to stay home and raise children? When Two Incomes Become One @MomVesting; [...]

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Weekend Reading: Moving Edition | Invest It Wisely wrote:

Wed, 01/26/2011 - 14:03 Comment #: 9

[...] When Two Incomes Become One (MomVesting) [...]

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Invest It Wisely wrote:

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 15:03 Comment #: 10

They say that couples with children are more likely to have a good retirement simply because they know how to deal with reduced income. Traded off against the income is the additional benefits the children get from spending time with their mom, which I think is crucial during the formative years. If the mom can get a side gig without getting exhausted and when the kids are somewhat older and more independent, then why not... but there's a good few years there that will be tighter on the budget!

Anonymous's picture

Weekend Reading: Pyramids of Discontent | Invest It Wisely wrote:

Sat, 02/05/2011 - 17:51 Comment #: 11

[...] When Two Incomes Become One (MomVesting) [...]

Anonymous's picture

Introducing Talk It Out and Aloysa’s Reading Pick wrote:

Mon, 02/07/2011 - 22:45 Comment #: 12

[...] What if one of you would have to stay home and raise children? When Two Incomes Become One @MomVesting; [...]

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