Supporting a Family on One Income

Jodi - posted on 12/21/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

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I was reading through a FB friend's status the other day, and read something that I have really been thinking about, and thought could be an interesting discussion. The comment was about a husband working such long hours and she said



"But it is the way it is these days. It should be like the old days where one income was enough to support a family."



So my question is, is it that one income doesn't support a family like it used to, or is it that we have greater material expectations than our parents did? Is it that we "need" that Plasma TV, we "need" that game machine, we really "must" have that CD or DVD, etc. Have we just been so bombarded these days that it isn't that we can't support a family on one income (in many cases) but that we can't support our family in the manner we choose? Is it that in the "old days" (and this was a very young person saying this), our parents (and their parents) were more prepared to make greater sacrifices so they could afford to live on one income.

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[deleted account]

That's what I was getting at earlier, Sarah-I feel the same way. We *could* survive with me to working, but not only would I go bananas if I didn't at least work part-time, but there are some things that we want to have that we can't if I don't work. There are some people who legitimately can't do without both people working, and there are others-like my family-who just don't want to, for various reasons.

Mel - posted on 01/14/2010

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No its that everything has gone up in cost as well, food fuel, everything. We manage only just but we manage. We are still better off then if I was working because we wouldnt be able to afford day care. I dont get to buy those extra CDs, DVDs, that top, those shoes , nothing for us. We manage becase I use what I get paid for food shopping and I get paid about $250 a fortnight from the government, so when I haveother things to pay for like right now we struggle. Partner gets paid on fridays we have no food in the house right now, I keep getting calls because he hasn't paid the bills. Ive been stuck with my money since way before christmas back then it was christmas presents and birthday now it is a fine long over due, an ultrasound that took all my money last pay, a blood test, my rego, my licence so I wont have money for a while and even though my fiance is getting paid more per hr in a new job he still brings home the same amounts because hes not doing over time

Sarah - posted on 01/14/2010

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I think that's the thing, we could SURVIVE on one income, but it wouldn't be much fun! lol.
We only have a teeny 2 bedroom house, so if we ever want to move somewhere bigger, so the girls don't have to share (tho they love it at the moment!) i would have to go back to work full time and earn a decent wage!
For now tho, it's ok the way it is, i get to be a SAHM and a working mum. Just a pity i hate my job! Hahaha!
Still, once they are both at school i will definitely be doing more hrs and hopefully finding a job that doesn't suck so much! :)

Krista - posted on 01/14/2010

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Sarah brings up a good point. There are some families who might be able to afford having one parent stay home, but they'd be completely strapped for cash, stressed out, and constantly worrying about money. In those cases, it's better for both parents to work (even if one just works part-time) in order to ease the pressure and the stress. Being a parent has enough inherent stresses without adding constant money worries to the mix.

Sarah - posted on 01/14/2010

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Although we could probably survive on one income, the majority of my husband wages go on the mortgage and the bills. He also works as a DJ on a Saturday night and the money he makes from that is his spending money.
I work in the evenings and a Saturday (16hrs a week) and the money i make mostly buys the food and clothes and treats and stuff.

As i said, we probably could afford for me not to work, but it would mean watching every penny and not being able have a few creature comforts every now and then.
Luckily, for now, we are in the position that i only have to work part-time! :)

Johnny - posted on 01/13/2010

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I would love to be able to stay home with my daughter. But much like Jenny said above, the cost of living here prohibits it. I'm not talking about Plasma tv's. I'm referring to the cost of keeping a roof over our head. Of keeping our one car on the road. Paying for food and clothing (which for my daughter comes mostly as gifts, hand-me-downs, or from consignment stores). We certainly do not live a luxurious life, we actually strive for simple living. For us, the cost of housing is #1. My husband is a nuclear technician and gets paid quite well. On his salary, we could afford our housing costs. And nothing else. In my city, a single family home is expected to average $967,000 this year. I work a half-time job to pay for food, clothes, etc. I actually do not know one other mom who lives here that is a SAHM. Thinking of all the mothers I have met through pre-natal, play groups, knew before kids, etc., every single one of them had to return to work after their maternity leave, at least part time. And none of them are doing it to pay for fancy tv's or vacations. If any of us lived in other places, many of us could afford to stay at home.

[deleted account]

I think it is possible for some. We do it. My husband is a nurse at a state prison so he gets paid fairly well and has good benefits. We do have to live VERY frugally though. I still feel very fortunate to be able to stay home. I do get annoyed with people sometimes though. I have a few friends that claim "they would love to be at home but can't afford to stay home" yet live in homes that cost twice as much as mine, drive brand new expensive cars, always have on something new, and have the latest technological gadget. They could afford to be home if they lived more frugally. I'm not saying this about every mom that works outside the home. Many people truly need the extra income to make ends meet or just enjoy their jobs.

Rosie - posted on 01/13/2010

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while i agree that we do spend more money, i also think that the price of things have gone up waaaaaaay to much over the last few years, and my income hasn't changed to accomidate that incredible change. i work 3-5 hours a day, 6 days a week, and my hubby works 40+ hrs a week. and we work opposite shifts so we don't have to have a babysitter.

while i do wish my husband was around more, it's not very realistic for us. i don't feel i need some of the things that u talked about, but it would be nice if it was like it was a few years ago when gas was 88 cents a gallon, milk was less than 1.50, and flying somewhere didn't take up all your vacation fund.

[deleted account]

One of the difficult things for us was before we had kids we both worked FT, then we were going to school & getting student loans and became accustomed to an income that was over what we made *thanx loans!* when the loans went away my husband did not wish to drop back down to our income level and then we got pregnant and I stopped working...with such drastic financial changes so quick our credit cards got used ALOT and now we are working to pay those debts off...this is not anything I am overly thrilled about and I cut everything for me to give to my kids, but hubby doesn't do that soo much :( When you have 2 people who are on different wave lengths w/the spending it sure don't help! He makes enough to pay our bills each month, but god forbid he gets sick or anything! I have to work to put food on the table & pay for gas...unfortunately we are paying for the mistakes we made while we were young and naive! Thank god we have lived in the same place for 8 years because if we had to pay for housing costs as they are now we'd have to tack on another $200 to our rent! I think what would have made a huge difference would have been that way back when Momma wouldn't have been in the work force to begin with making them accustomed to a higher lifestyle! Just a though anyways!!! Cuz that was our downfall!!! :(

[deleted account]

Quoting Diana:

There are women (and I'm one of them) who would go bananas if they didn't work outside the home at least part-time.


Oh I am one of those kinda moms too!  Don't get me wrong-I love my family.  But, I am NOT Miss Suzy Homemaker by a longshot!  I enjoy working and quite frankly, I am good at what I do.  I get ancy over the long summer break and can't wait for teacher's to return to work.  Even if my husband had some high paying 6 figure income executive job (in my dreams-but the reality is that he is a mailman!) I would have a strong need to get out of my home and work towards the family income.

Jodi - posted on 12/23/2009

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Quoting Sharon:

One aspect I haven't heard brought up is what if the other spouse (assuming the mother) actually enjoys working? Why is that such a bad thing to contribute to the family's income? Just something curious to add to the conversation.



Sharon, I agree, the debate wasn't deliberately trying to exclude anyone who enjoys working at all.  It was just something I had been thinking about, LOL.  I have my own business at home too, so I contribute a fair bit financially to the household and enjoy what I do too :)  So no, it is not such a bad thing at all!!  I was just interested in viewpoints :)



 

[deleted account]

I think it depends on where you are and what you are doing. If the man has a high paying profession and the couple lives in a low to moderately priced area-sure they can afford it. But if it's a minimum wage situation or an expensive area, it may be necessary for both parents to work. There really IS a difference in the cost of living from then to now. I do think that "wants" play into it in very large part-but I don't think that's the whole picture for most families. I also think it depends largely on whether you WANT to sacrifice in order to stay home. There are women (and I'm one of them) who would go bananas if they didn't work outside the home at least part-time. There are also families to whom it is more important to have luxuries than have one parent a stay-at-home parent. So I think it's a yes and a no...Yes, the cost of living has gone up, and yes, we see more things as "neccessities" now than before-but no, it isn't always possible or feasible to give up enough things to survive on one income.

[deleted account]

Like someone else pointed out, the cost of living is drastically increased for your basic needs even compared to a decade ago, let alone a generation ago. If a family is happy and financially sound and secure on 1 income, then great. It works for them. It also is dependent on the job position and salary that allows a family to survive on 1 salary. My husband works + gets as much overtime as possible. With the job lay-offs always looming, he works very hard to try to put as much into savings. I also teach full time and am a club sponsor for extra income. But yes, we both want to get rewarded for our hard work and if we want some nicer items or lifestyle, well we just deserve it. By no means at all do I go out and blow money! Everything is financially planned out. Both of our vehicles have over 100,000 miles on it. Apparently our 3 year old cell phones are now ancient! We don't want any hi-tech gadgets. Our big screen TV (bought 2nd hand) broke in September, so we put the old 20 inch one sitting on top of it! We won't buy anything as a luxury item unless we can pay it off in cash, so we'll have to wait a few more months to replace our TV. Also, I only have 1 child which is less expensive to raise than larger families.



One aspect I haven't heard brought up is what if the other spouse (assuming the mother) actually enjoys working? Why is that such a bad thing to contribute to the family's income? Just something curious to add to the conversation.

Krista - posted on 12/22/2009

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Quoting Crystal:

Well I have a family of 6 kids and my husband and I and we survive very nicely on his income alone. We dont have plasma tv's and brand new cars but we dont care. Even with the cost of living up you can still do it if you recognize the difference between a "need" and a "want".


Hon, we don't have a plasma TV. I drive a 2003 Taurus, and my husband's car is even older than that. I buy most of my clothing at the second-hand store. We just don't make much money. We're able to buy a few little treats now and again, but other than that, we live very frugally. And there is no way in hell that we would ever be able to live off of one salary. 



We could have afforded a mortgage on just one salary -- for a home costing no more than $87,000. 



So yeah...I both "needed" and "wanted" a roof over my head that wasn't falling apart. But hey -- I'm really happy for you that your husband makes a big enough salary to support you and 6 kids. 

Crystal - posted on 12/22/2009

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Well I have a family of 6 kids and my husband and I and we survive very nicely on his income alone. We dont have plasma tv's and brand new cars but we dont care. Even with the cost of living up you can still do it if you recognize the difference between a "need" and a "want".

Krista - posted on 12/22/2009

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There IS a difference, though. The cost of living has gone up at a rate much higher than the average salary. When my parents bought their first house, it was a new home, and cost $24K. My mom, as a nurse, was making $8K a year. Fast-forward to now. I make $20K a year -- and if you think I could find a new house (or even an old, crappy fixer-upper) for three times my annual salary, you're dreaming in technicolour.

Now my grandparents' generation, that was different. They would go a long time without luxuries -- you only bought something if you had the cash for it. I'm glad our society isn't like that anymore, as my grandparents' weren't able to move out on their own until after they had their second kid! Yikes!

I think in a lot of cases, families could afford to live off of one income. My husband and I could too, if we moved in with his parents. But housing just plain costs more nowadays, compared to salaries, so we really don't have a choice.

Jenny - posted on 12/22/2009

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I would say it depends on where that single income is coming from. My partner makes an excellent wage with benefits, pension and a company vehicle and because of that I can work PT and we live well. I could stay home FT but I like getting out of the house for 5 hours a day while my daughter is at school and being self sufficient and making my own money.



For others they might not be so lucky such if you are living on the wage of a fast food place manager or in a volatile industry such as forestry.



The other side of it is coost of living. Shelter is supposed to be 30% of gross income and a home purchase should be 3 times your yearly income to be a mangable debt. How many of us are able to live within those parameters? A SFD here starts at 300K and rent for a 3 bdrm. house is $1500+ not including utilities. Food costs have rised astronomically, I bought a can of green beans yersterday for 2 bucks! I estimate my monthly grocery bills have risen by about 3000 a year over the past couple of years. Fuel is sitting at 97.9 per litre (about 3.80 per gallon) and that's supposed to be low. We were at about 5 bucks a gallon in the summertime. So not even including the luxeries in life like big screen and gaming systems and expensive clothes we are getting the shaft from Capitalism.

Sara - posted on 12/22/2009

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Well, I don't know about our parent's generation, I think they were in pretty much the same boat as we are as far as technology must-haves. My grandparents, however, did not have credit cards, student loans, etc...I think that may be the difference. I know that's why one income is not enough for my family, mostly due to the student loans my husband and I have from going to college...



But,I do think that people overspend. They have two cars, big houses, vacations, plasma TV's, digital cable...the credit/mortgage crisis going on is just an example of how people live beyond their means. I know a lot of people like that...

Adrienne - posted on 12/22/2009

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I totally agree. For a long time before having children myself, I worked as a Nanny and/or a Preschool Teacher, both at different times. I think a lot of it IS our awfully materialistic society. My husband and I work very hard on managing our money well and thankfully we have an amazing network of family and friends. I think that even beyond the material issue, that a support network plays a large roll too. Families seem to think now that you must go out and spend spend spend to have any fun. Staying in and cooking dinner with family and friends seems to be just as fun for my crew! We cook, eat, and play cards or watch movies. When the weather is nice, we go to the park and play outside. We don't feel like we go without. As a matter of fact, I think that we have far more than a lot of the people who choose to work outside of the home all of the time. I get the opportunity to raise my child MYSELF, which working in the childcare profession has taught me the value of. I get to be closer to my family, both direct and extended. My husband and I value what we do have more and communicate effectively.

It's all about learning to want what you have. I also wonder why people choose to have children if they don't want to raise them themselves? I know that not all parents have the option, but I do think it's vital for a child to be raised by and with family. It fosters closeness and security...

Kylie - posted on 12/21/2009

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My little family manages well on a single income.. well my hubby works a 40 hour week and i work a Saturday morning. We both have never had a credit card and we don't feel like we go without..we don't have a plasma but if i really wanted one we could save up and get one...i think people get accustomed to certain level of income and as the family grows they could not fathom living without two incomes. People spend what they earn really..

I think a lot of the younger generation including my age group don't understand you have to start off and make sacrifices to slowly build up to what your parents have. I think there's a certain amount of entitlement felt by Y generation.This applies to my sister, she moved out of home into a bigger place than my parents with a new car and furniture etc.. she didn't want to start at the bottom, she wanted the life and luxuries she had living at home..without thinking well our parents worked really hard for many years to have the life they enjoy now. They didn't put it all on credit or put image before common sense.

Personally I feel more happy counting my change and watching what i spend..always looking for ways to save or make money on the side. I like staying at home with the kids..and i feel very fortunate we can live comfortably on one income.

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