Could you support family on 1 income?

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harrychan
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by harrychan » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:49 pm

Made an attempt a few years ago and made many mistakes including not monitoring our budget and relying on credit card. DW then went back to work for a year and now making a 2nd attempt. This time, we are much more intentional with a clearly defined budget we have been sticking to. It also helps that I found a job that pays 50% more than before. Cars are paid off. Kids go to private school. $400k left in mortgage but have $400k in equity.

We're in our late 30's and in a HCOL area so yes it can be done.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

winterfan
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by winterfan » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:07 pm

Yes, we currently live on one income. My husband works and I stay home with our child. We always lived on one income though. What helped is we still live in our "starter" home and I worked until my child was preschool age. We are also older parents, so we had a lot more time to save.

boglebill2015
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by boglebill2015 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:05 pm

yes, since 2005. my wife has been SAHM for 13 years now.

We live in SF Bay Area in San Mateo County , which has the highest % of two income households in Calif or maybe the entire US. I cant remember which stat is correct. Its not easy here.

Had my company not been sold in 2013,we probably would have had a hard time buying a house. Prior to the liquidity event in 2013, we rented and saved what we could. I made about 250K per year then and it looked like we would have to become "house poor" and/or settle for a pretty small place. (1200 sq feet for family of 4). For perspective, housing costs about $1,000 per square foot in our mid-tier suburb.

Our current place is 2200 sq feet, and its just OK. But its good enough and there's no real prospect of my wife returning to work. (shes and electrical engineer and quite out of date with modern tech, which has changed a lot in the last 13 years)

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luminous
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by luminous » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:27 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:58 am
In 2001, my wife and I were considering me becoming a SAHD (Stay At Home Dad). We figured that with the reduced childcare costs, we could just manage it, but we expected that we'd have to be aware of costs.

Shortly afterwards, with the freedom to accept a business trip when necessary, with the freedom to come home late on occasion without worrying about childcare availability or our kids' quality of life, my wife's income started going up. She currently makes a considerable multiple of what she made then, enough to make my "lost" income a rounding error.

So, it was a tight calculation initially, but it turned out really well. My wife makes good money, she loves her job, and if I may say so myself, I'm a better father than I was a "code monkey." Win-win-win-win.
This is close to what happened to us. My husband stays home with the kids and my ability to focus on my career (plus luck) has led to a doubling of my income since the kids were born.
50/20/30 US stock/international stock/bonds. Hope to semi-retire in 2026.

Katietsu
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by Katietsu » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:31 pm

Yooper wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:42 pm
Elemental wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:00 pm
I am the sole provider for my family. I wish that weren't the case, as my anxiety due to being the sole source of income is paralyzing. My wife has been a stay at home mom, and has recently become unable to work even if she wanted to, so that is our reality.

We make some sacrifices. Vacations are mostly cheap, in-state vacations to national parks and the like, with a budget Disneyland-like trip thrown in every couple of years. Our home is small and we wish it was more suitable to our needs and wants. Our furniture is worn, and house needs repairs here and there. Our neighbors have new, big homes, new cars, and fancy vacations. We just have to accept that we're different. Overall, we're pretty happy, but we do feel the constraints now and then. Everything is relative though. We have clean, running water, good health care, and lots of supportive family. Housing has gone up dramatically, so if I were looking for a home now, we'd probably be in a less-desirable area or in a townhome, multiplex.
"We just have to accept we're different". Quite the contrary, in my world you're the norm. And a respectable norm as well. Or maybe I'm saying that because what you described is a mirror of what I/we live. But in those quiet moments at night before sleep overtakes me, I take a lot of satisfaction in knowing that those who depend on me (my family) are covered because I'm not overextended like a number of people I know. And if something should happen to me, well I've tried to cover those bases as well as possible so there's not too much disruption to their lives. Would it be easier if there were two incomes? Sure, but there's not. And I deal with that the best I can. Sort of like my parents did in similar circumstances (single wage earner). Funny how it comes full circle, every now and then when I'm alone with my dad I say, "Dad, how in the world did you do it with 6 kids....?" And it's said with respect.
My thoughts go out to Elemental for being the only family member with the ability to earn an income.

But I agree with Yooper that your life sounds more “ordinary” than the new cars, new homes and new furniture if your neighbors. The average vehicle age in the US is 11.6 years. The average American took 16 days off with 15% taking none off. Most people I know with two income families spend a lot of those days getting their car serviced and taking their parents and children to the doctor. It is funny how are immediate environment can skew are perspective of ordinary. Being at the kids’ school Christmas party, not needing to spend Saturday grocery shopping and being able to mow Grandma’s lawn can all be a worthwhile trade off to fancy vacations and new cars.

blinx77
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by blinx77 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:50 pm

I make $200k per year as a lawyer. My wife made $60k a year as a university administrator. After taxes, plus daycare for two kids, we would not net much from her income. So once baby #2 came, we figured it was not worth it. She liked her job, but not enough to do it for free.

Some of my friends are ideologically, or just personally, committed to having both people work, so they both do even though after the taxes, daycare, commuting expenses, work lunches out, etc. it is somewhat of a wash. They think it's the best way to have two high incomes later on. They are probably right.

Personally, we'd rather FIRE and have two people NOT working. 8-)

rgs92
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by rgs92 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:12 pm

I know several couples who did live OK on 1 income with kids. The problem was that now they are in their 60's and still scrambling for jobs and can't retire since saving for retirement was the generally the main expense that got sacrificed.

A friend of mine is 65 and was always the sole income and just lost his job (in IT), and says he needs to work as long as he lives. He's struggling and not doing well and in a bit of a panic.
So the actionable advice I believe is to make sure you can save a large retirement nest egg at the same time you are living on that single income.
The problem is not now, it's the future.
Last edited by rgs92 on Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BradJ
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by BradJ » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:30 pm

My wife and I just transitioned to one income. We currently have a 3 year old child, with another due in May. It is new for us, both come from households where work was highly valued, but it’s been nice so far. My wife is a class away from her Masters in Education, with a Math certification. All that to say, she has an “ejector button” once she is ready to go back, if ever. We have always been frugal, but it took a massive sacrifice of moving to a fixer upper to cut our mortgage in half, and our monthly payment down $850. In the end, do what’s right for your family. Kids are just fine in daycare, but we just wanted to try it out.

Ron Ronnerson
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by Ron Ronnerson » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:05 pm

We’re currently running an experiment (monitoring our income and expenses closely) to see if we can have my wife be a stay-at-home-parent as of next year (or work minimally and have pretty much her entire income go toward retirement accounts). So far, it looks very promising that we’ll be able to make it. I’m a public school teacher in a VHCOL Area (Bay Area) and my salary is around $104k. Net income (after taxes, retirement contributions, union dues, medical/dental, etc.) is around $75k. As of next year, preschool charges go away and my net income should be enough to meet our expenses.

We’re a family of three and live in a 4 bedroom/4 bath townhouse (2150 sq. ft). The public schools and neighborhood are excellent. We got very lucky with the timing of our home purchase (summer of 2009) and that has made a big difference.

Edit: fixed typo

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CyclingDuo
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by CyclingDuo » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:39 am

jehovasfitness wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:42 am
I'm sure several here already do. But for those in a dual-income household could you?
Not by choice: we're possibly about to find out! :shock:

Married 29 years (lived together 4 years before that), dual income for the majority of that time frame (24 of the 33 years). The exception being 5 years after our children were born. Then another 4 year stint of being a one income household due to an overseas job related move. We once again became a full-time dual income household the past 11 years, but due to an upcoming layoff at the end of August, will have to go to a single income starting in September unless replacement income or partial replacement income can be found by then - or soon after. I am currently searching and trying to piece together some income to avoid becoming a one income household at that juncture.

We did live on a single income for 9 years, but could we do it again?

Our household income has been derived from the field of education the past 15 years, so the question is a bit different for those of us with such salaries compared to careers that pay higher.

Based on our current annual expenses, it looks like we could do it if we had to on one income provided we halt the extra retirement contributions come September to a bare minimum. The full mandatory contribution to the DB/Pension plan would continue, but we'd lose maxing out our retirement plans that we've been making and have to pare any of that down to pretty much a few table scraps that we might be able to work into the budget.

We are taking a close look at all expenses: needs, wants, and variable expenses. Based on reality of a single income, we are working through our budget and trying to come up with a scenario and adjusted lifestyle that one income would cover all of our expenses and allow a little bit to be saved beyond the pension contribution for the next 5-6 years minimum.

Dual income current salaries...

1. $77K salary
2. $63K salary (this is the one ending)

Number 2 salary will be lost by September, and along with it the $24.5K going to the associated 403b, plus the $2700 annual employer match that was going into that 403b. Original plan was for those contributions to continue another 10 years, along with similar contributions in the associated 403b/457b for the other salary that our plans originally were designed to happen for another 5-6 years - so it's a rather major loss from the household savings standpoint when you ask the question of supporting a family on one income. For us, savings has always been a basic need within our household budget whether it was for college education for our children, retirement plan, housing, taxable investments, etc... . Losing that savings ability is the real stinger for us in the scenario of moving to a single income household. :annoyed Not only is one salary lost with a layoff and going to a single income, but we also lose the ability combined to save the $52K a year in retirement savings as a result.

Living on salary number one alone will cover the needs: health care, taxes, mortgage, utilities, insurance, food, transportation.

We'll lose our ability to contribute to charity, have to cut a good percentage in the budget of our wants such as entertainment, dining out, travel/vacation, and do as many car and home repairs myself, etc... to make it work while avoiding any need to have to access our current nest egg.

Finding replacement income or partial income for me would certainly help contribute to our original plan of saving more than just what goes to the mandatory pension of salary number one, and help us meet all of our expenses without worry.

We are adaptable, so even though we might go kicking and screaming into a one income void - we could make it work if that's what the job market gives me as an answer. In our scenario, going to a single income household means we dial back the lifestyle, and we lose the ability to continue with an aggressive savings plan. Not sure most could live with both of those realities.

That being said, I am going to do my very best that we do not become a one income household... :beer
"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time." ~ Steven Wright

retiringwhen
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by retiringwhen » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:51 am

SRenaeP wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:52 am
Yes. When DH and I got married (2006), we agreed that we would live in a such a way that we only *needed* one income. You never know what life may bring. That said, I suspect it is much easier to do given that we don't have or want kids.
It is key to plan on one income from the beginning. We did it by buying housing that was less than we could afford while she still worked and the usual LBYM mantra stated on BH. Of course having a good paying primary job is key. Stability too. That can be only partially planned for, but do consider it when job choices are made.

It can be done even in HCOL areas if you focus on the LBYM mantra.

Rainmaker41
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by Rainmaker41 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:20 am

Yes, but we are married with no children. When we started our joint household & got married, we chose an apartment and built our expenses around one job, because the other person was moving and would look for work. The second job was secured more quickly than we had expected though. We joke that the second job "pays nothing but will fund most of our retirement".
My username is not about money, but is my old online gaming username. I can't say that I make a great deal of money; I just hate spending it. Married the most loving woman in the world October 2017.

Ron
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by Ron » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:52 am

warner25 wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:20 pm
I'd just like to point out that among active duty military families, for a variety of reasons, living on one income is the norm, almost regardless of the spouse's education level or the service member's rank/income. This is a good primer on the issue which states that only 38% of military spouses are employed full-time, and maybe 18% of those are in temporary/seasonal work. People just find a way to make it work, even (especially) with kids. We are one of those families. When we were dual-income for a short time before having kids, we saved up to 70% of our income, so moving to one income was easy.
Exactly.

I/we were married in '69 after I returned from Nam. We were stationed in Florida (where our son was born) '69 - '71. During our time in Florida, my wife was unable to get employment. After our son was born, we were quickly made aware of his disability which meant that my wife would remain SAHM for the foreseeable future, which lasted until he was able to get into a special (disability) learning class in '76.

While we were married and I was in the military (as an E5), my base pay was $313/month, with an additional $210/month for subsistence (food)/housing, which would be a total of $3518/month or $42,216/year in today's inflation adjusted total.

My first job after leaving the military in 1971 paid $120/week ($6240/year), which again adjusted for inflation is equal to $39,028/year currently. That income was used to support three people at the time.

The early years were tough, from a financial view. However, things turned around years later. Nothing worth something is ever easy, IMHO.

In fact, when my wife went back to work, we had the condition that her income would only be used for "extra's", not the necessities of a three person household. That task would be retained by me, insuring that if she would lose her job in the future, we could still ensure the basics of life through my income.

- Ron

kjvmartin
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by kjvmartin » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:56 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am

On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Are you implying that full time parenting does not contribute to society? :oops:

warner25
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by warner25 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:59 pm

kjvmartin wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:56 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am

On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Are you implying that full time parenting does not contribute to society? :oops:
I think this statement was in reference to the OP who does not have kids.

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goingup
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by goingup » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:15 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Thanks for weighing in to tell us that only people getting a paycheck contribute to society. :oops:

stoptothink
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:18 pm

goingup wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:15 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Thanks for weighing in to tell us that only people getting a paycheck contribute to society. :oops:
If one does not have kids, as is the case of the OP, the statement is pretty valid and not in any way malicious.

investingdad
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by investingdad » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:33 pm

Could if we wanted to.

I'd stay home, my wife earns 61.5% of our total income last year.

RobLyons
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by RobLyons » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:57 pm

We decided to go (mainly) 1 income when we first had our kids. Wife picks up a few hours a week at a side gig. First few years I worked a lot of overtime. Stress was a little higher for me. Looking back, that was short lived. I also changed careers when my son was born - less work hours and better pay

True we don't have a lot of money for big vacations or home additions but the time spent raising our kids has been like a dream. It has paid dividends for us in our bond with our kids and their behavior - they have excellent manners and are very caring. And just as a personal observation, behavioral differences can be seen as early as K between kids with a parent at home vs the busy parents who aren't able to be there much Monday - Friday. Bottom line, it's about priorities for us. Material possessions vs time together. Our quality of life is fine, with a nice house, newer cars, everyone is healthy, we don't have much to complain about. :happy
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

marcopolo
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by marcopolo » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:22 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
Depends on where you live, how you live, and how much you earn.

I'm sure you could, but you might not enjoy the quality of life.

On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Hmmm, I wonder what my wife will say when I tell her she has been "non-contributing" for the last 20 years!

To the OP, yes it is possible. We were two income (Physical Therapist and Enginner) when we first married. She then supported us while i went to grad school (I did get a small stipend). We had our first child while I was finishing up. I was a stay at home dad (writing dissertation) for about a year. Once I found a job, my wife stayed home to raise our kids and run the household. A lot of the things we did to live well below our means was enabled by her running the household very efficiently. Everybody needs to make their own decision, I don't think there is a right path. But, this worked very well for us.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

marcopolo
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by marcopolo » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:22 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
Depends on where you live, how you live, and how much you earn.

I'm sure you could, but you might not enjoy the quality of life.

On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Hmmm, I wonder what my wife will say when I tell her she has been "non-contributing" for the last 20 years!

To the OP, yes it is possible. We were two income (Physical Therapist and Enginner) when we first married. She then supported us while i went to grad school (I did get a small stipend). We had our first child while I was finishing up. I was a stay at home dad (writing dissertation) for about a year. Once I found a job, my wife stayed home to raise our kids and run the household. A lot of the things we did to live well below our means was enabled by her running the household very efficiently. Everybody needs to make their own decision, I don't think there is a right path. But, this worked very well for us.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

limeyx
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by limeyx » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:50 pm

jehovasfitness wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:42 am
I'm sure several here already do. But for those in a dual-income household could you?

I've got a BS degree and work for a local gov't for the past 7 years, graduated college in 2005.

Based upon my income, we could not.

Taking into account that we have no debt other than our mortgage. Student loan will be paid off next week.

Now, if we had stayed in our old house that we bought back in 2011 in a non-desirable area due to crime (mainly county issue not so much neighborhood), and terrible school system I still don't think we could. Mortgage at the time was a 15 yr with $1500 total payment.

Our expenses now are total of $4,400 with a more expensive house in a more desirable location ($2200 mortgage). I don't see that as being crazy.

We wouldn't be able to make it on just one income, and we have no kids.
We are just about managing it while the kids get to school age but not saving nearly as much as I want to. Mostly able to do this because we didn't buy a hugely expensive house and so aren't snowed down with huge payments

deskjockey
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by deskjockey » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:05 pm

We could and did. DW took a year of unpaid leave from work after each of our children was born. We made sure to stick to our budget and didn't go on any big vacations (we didn't want to with a baby, in any case). She wasn't keen to give up work and we're aiming for early retirement, so we won't be doing it again.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:31 pm

Wife dropped out of workforce when our children came along. Went back to work when youngest started preschool. All together out of workforce 9-10 years.

Didn't seem so difficult as we always saved a great deal and were able to live on my wages alone. When I was promoted into management and she went back to work, we were in high cotton!

With the affordable after-school care available in some school districts today, I think it would be very possible.

Obviously it would depend on the quality/pay, security of the breadwinner's job.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

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unclescrooge
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:59 pm

marcopolo wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:22 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
Depends on where you live, how you live, and how much you earn.

I'm sure you could, but you might not enjoy the quality of life.

On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Hmmm, I wonder what my wife will say when I tell her she has been "non-contributing" for the last 20 years!

To the OP, yes it is possible. We were two income (Physical Therapist and Enginner) when we first married. She then supported us while i went to grad school (I did get a small stipend). We had our first child while I was finishing up. I was a stay at home dad (writing dissertation) for about a year. Once I found a job, my wife stayed home to raise our kids and run the household. A lot of the things we did to live well below our means was enabled by her running the household very efficiently. Everybody needs to make their own decision, I don't think there is a right path. But, this worked very well for us.
OP doesn't have kids. If I didn't have kids and I told my wife I want to stay home full-time, she would probably kick me to the curb.

Now that we do have kids, I would rather work a minimum wage job than stay home with them full time.

marcopolo
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by marcopolo » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:02 pm

stoptothink wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:18 pm
goingup wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:15 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Thanks for weighing in to tell us that only people getting a paycheck contribute to society. :oops:
If one does not have kids, as is the case of the OP, the statement is pretty valid and not in any way malicious.
What about retiring early to pursue other activities that may not provide an income? Equating working for a paycheck with contributing to society seems a pretty narrow perspective, regardless of ones family composition.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

marcopolo
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by marcopolo » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:07 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:59 pm
marcopolo wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:22 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
Depends on where you live, how you live, and how much you earn.

I'm sure you could, but you might not enjoy the quality of life.

On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Hmmm, I wonder what my wife will say when I tell her she has been "non-contributing" for the last 20 years!

To the OP, yes it is possible. We were two income (Physical Therapist and Enginner) when we first married. She then supported us while i went to grad school (I did get a small stipend). We had our first child while I was finishing up. I was a stay at home dad (writing dissertation) for about a year. Once I found a job, my wife stayed home to raise our kids and run the household. A lot of the things we did to live well below our means was enabled by her running the household very efficiently. Everybody needs to make their own decision, I don't think there is a right path. But, this worked very well for us.
OP doesn't have kids. If I didn't have kids and I told my wife I want to stay home full-time, she would probably kick me to the curb.

Now that we do have kids, I would rather work a minimum wage job than stay home with them full time.
Those are perfectly valid choices, for you. That may not be true for others. That does not necessarily make their choices wrong. I have known several couples in various stages of life where one member chose not to be gainfully employed, they were all living very productive lives.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

lostdog
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by lostdog » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:34 pm

We had to go on 1 income when I got sick. It was easy because we were LBYM anyway. I am recovered and taking the opportunity to find out what I can do for work that I am passionate about. I was a systems engineer in IT. Very high stress and on call. I don't have e to go back to that and looking forward to my next adventure be it full time or part time.

My wife makes $62,000. She maxes her 401k and max both of our Roth accounts with about $600 to $800 extra a month. We're debt free including mortgage and have no children. We're early 40's. Whatever I make in my next career will just be a bonus.

StealthRabbit
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by StealthRabbit » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:39 pm

Could you support family on 1 income?

Certainly it can be done, and is being done by millions (even low wage earners)

Your current debt structure (housing expenses) is a risk, you will need to fix that for a LT solution.

You can mitigate to a better neighborhood with much lower capital costs and hopefully recover your already committed $$, and more ideally reposition yourself into:
1) sustainable payments
2) Alternative income source if retaining multiple properties.


We did it on a a single hourly income (never over $80k, usually under $40k).

Having multiple investment properties allowed:
the non-wage earner to make substantial contributions to our wealth (over 40+ yrs of single income)
Also provided for our kids to have earned income at age 12 (thus save for college via their Roths)
Built a wealth portfolio that far exceeded wage income contributions to savings / wealth.
Secured an inflation protected income stream for retirement.

There are many ways to skin the cat.
Don't saddle yourself with too much % of income going to personal housing. It just does not pencil out as a 'good' investment (I consider a personal home to be a Liability, not and asset.)

get by on less (enjoyably!)
1) We have always had wonderful view homes, very cheap (We have never bought a personal home through a realtor = EXPENSIVE and troublesome)
2) be frugal (within reason) we eat (well) and entertain on $100 / month for entire family
3) Be resourceful (we drive a $35 car that gets 50 mpg on FREE cooking oil (as we have since 1976)) serves the purpose!
4) Enjoy the journey - we were able to homeschool, live internationally, and travel a lot (50%+ of the time) Kids survived and are thriving 10+ yrs AFTER college.

motorcyclesarecool
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by motorcyclesarecool » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:05 pm

When we started having kids, the tax advantages softened the blow of the loss of DW’s income. Also we could go down to a single vehicle if necessary. One car is more of a beater with liability insurance at the state minimum only, the other one has comprehensive coverage. The TCJA has amplified the tax breaks available to single income married parents.

Case study:
viewtopic.php?t=239899
Understand that choosing an HDHP is very much a "red pill" approach. Most would rather pay higher premiums for a $20 copay per visit. They will think you weird for choosing an HSA.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:16 pm

marcopolo wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:02 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:18 pm
goingup wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:15 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Thanks for weighing in to tell us that only people getting a paycheck contribute to society. :oops:
If one does not have kids, as is the case of the OP, the statement is pretty valid and not in any way malicious.
What about retiring early to pursue other activities that may not provide an income? Equating working for a paycheck with contributing to society seems a pretty narrow perspective, regardless of ones family composition.
Retiring in the prime of your life and complaining about not being able to live on one income seems strange to me. Definitely a first world problem!

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unclescrooge
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:21 pm

marcopolo wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:07 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:59 pm
marcopolo wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:22 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
Depends on where you live, how you live, and how much you earn.

I'm sure you could, but you might not enjoy the quality of life.

On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Hmmm, I wonder what my wife will say when I tell her she has been "non-contributing" for the last 20 years!

To the OP, yes it is possible. We were two income (Physical Therapist and Enginner) when we first married. She then supported us while i went to grad school (I did get a small stipend). We had our first child while I was finishing up. I was a stay at home dad (writing dissertation) for about a year. Once I found a job, my wife stayed home to raise our kids and run the household. A lot of the things we did to live well below our means was enabled by her running the household very efficiently. Everybody needs to make their own decision, I don't think there is a right path. But, this worked very well for us.
OP doesn't have kids. If I didn't have kids and I told my wife I want to stay home full-time, she would probably kick me to the curb.

Now that we do have kids, I would rather work a minimum wage job than stay home with them full time.
Those are perfectly valid choices, for you. That may not be true for others. That does not necessarily make their choices wrong. I have known several couples in various stages of life where one member chose not to be gainfully employed, they were all living very productive lives.
But do they complain about not being able to live on one salary?

stoptothink
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by stoptothink » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:34 pm

marcopolo wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:02 pm
stoptothink wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:18 pm
goingup wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:15 pm
unclescrooge wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:47 am
On the other hand, why would you want one spouse to stay at home? I assume both of you went to college, and should be contributing members of society.
Thanks for weighing in to tell us that only people getting a paycheck contribute to society. :oops:
If one does not have kids, as is the case of the OP, the statement is pretty valid and not in any way malicious.
What about retiring early to pursue other activities that may not provide an income? Equating working for a paycheck with contributing to society seems a pretty narrow perspective, regardless of ones family composition.
Again, none of that is at all relevant to the OP.

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LadyGeek
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:02 pm

Please stay focused on the financial aspects.
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

MrPotatoHead
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by MrPotatoHead » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:37 pm

We have always been a one earner household. The one earner though was, uh, very, uh...hmmm...willing to work in order to provide for the family. It is a matter of knowledge, budgeting, a market return contingency plan, and of course market returns that will get you there.


We have been doing it for almost a quarter of a century now. We went from zero to (hard to be precise with the market swings these days) 65 times expenses in that time frame. And yep raised a family, paid for the sprouts college etc. So it can be done and in fact was rather easy in retrospect; it just seemed daunting at the time.

There are other considerations but LadyGeek stated we should focus on the financials so I shall not detail them.

Cheers...
Last edited by MrPotatoHead on Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

ny_knicks
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by ny_knicks » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:45 pm

No kids, still young, neither my significant other nor myself would ever consider leaving the workforce. We still have the goal to live like we have one income which will help with savings and prevent us from stretching when we finally purchase a home. Too easy to get used to a lifestyle that relies heavily on dual incomes only to have one ended abruptly. I think this if often where people get in trouble financially.

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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by tibbitts » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:27 pm

jehovasfitness wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:37 pm
TierArtz wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:36 pm
Yes. We've done it since the first child was born in 2005. My wife has two college degrees, including a Masters in an in-demand field, so the decision was strictly for the benefit of the children. The answer will always be yes if you structure your expenses to be no more than 75% of your income; invest at least 15% and give 10% to a worthy charity.
That's kind of my point that the system isn't set up for some people do such even when educated and have a career job.

I mean, sure if we wanted to rent a bedroom or possibly basement it could be done.

Al Bundy did it on a shoe salesman job in the 80s lol
That's an interesting point. It's clear that in most of our lifetimes, the system WAS set up to have many, or maybe even most, one-income households. Then, it wasn't. I don't remember anyone sending out a memo. So it's interesting how/when people determined the world had changed.

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friar1610
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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by friar1610 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:40 pm

My wife and I were a single income family until our 2 kids were in high school. This was partly due to our own values and partly due to the fact that it was often difficult or impossible for military spouses to find meaningful employment during the 70s and 80s. When she did begin to work outside the home, virtually every dollar (of a not very high salary) went into a college fund for our two kids. After they finished college (with no loans taken by either them or us), a very high percentage of her income went into savings for our retirement which we achieved at 58/60.

I don't have very much contact with current active duty military folks so I don't know whether or not the situation has improved for military spouses who want to work for pay but I hope it has.
Friar1610

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Re: Could you support family on 1 income?

Post by RollTide31457 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:30 pm

Always have due to a commitment to family values.

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