Going from two incomes to one
photo by Rubbermaid Products
Transitioning to one income can be tough. The more time you have to plan, the easier it can be. It may seem impossible to make ends meet, but often, there are added costs to being a two-income family. Try this handy “how much does that lifestyle of hard work REALLY benefit you and your family” calculator at www.jobsformoms.com/income-test. Sometimes, it can end up being cheaper for one person to stay home. One spouse being home leaves additional time to focus on frugality, too.
If you’ve gone from a two-income family to a single income, how did you prepare?
Here are a few suggestions.
TRIAL PERIOD: Try to live at least a few months on one income and bank the other. Look over your budget and see what spending can be reduced or eliminated. During these months, read and learn as many money-saving strategies as you can. For example, consider free and low-cost entertainment, decrease dining out, etc.
INCREASE YOUR PANTRY: Focus on stockpiling pantry and freezer foods. You’ll be thankful to have it as a cushion if money gets tight.
SUPPLEMENT INCOME: Identify ways you can supplement your income if needed. It can be simple ways, such as occasional babysitting, working weekends or during holidays, or selling items on eBay.com or on consignment. One reader, Katherine in Georgia, shares: “I used to go to an outlet the day they did new markdowns and buy everything that was 95 percent off to sell on eBay. It usually did really well because it was new. I would peel the markdown off and leave the store tags, and sell at about half of the tag price. Whatever didn’t sell (most of it usually did), I would store and list later or have a yard sale.” The important thing is to have an idea of ways to make extra money before you need it.
PAY DOWN DEBT: In the months or weeks before leaving your job, pay down as much debt as possible and build up your savings.
SUPPORT: Often, leaving your job and staying home can be isolating. Have a support system in place. Don’t burn any bridges with your employer. You want to keep your options open. Also, your days will be different. If you have kids at home, you’ll need to organize your time. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. Another reader, Kristie in Colorado, adds: “What saved my life was being involved in a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers, www.mops.org) group. It met at my church and does at many churches across the country. I started when my first baby was born and loved it so much that I stayed involved for 10 years! A MOPS morning consisted of an interesting speaker, a yummy breakfast, craft time, making friends with women at the same stage of life as you, and best of all, a little break from the kiddos, who are in their own fun program.”
RE-EVALUATE: Every few months, re-evaluate your situation. Are you doing OK financially and emotionally? Identify any weak areas that can be improved.
ADD TO YOUR SKILLS: While home, learn new skills or keep your current skills updated. You can achieve this through taking classes, learning on your own or through volunteer work. You never know if and when you might want to re-enter the workforce. Keep your resume updated, too. Don’t forget before leaving your job to get reference letters and letters of appreciation or recognition. These letters can help you with any future interviews.