Ask Chuck – Going from Two Incomes to One
My wife and I would like to live off my income. The plan is for her to stay home after the birth of our first child. We bought a house and have one car paid for. We’ll have to adapt to the loss of her income, but we really believe she should be the primary caretaker of our children. Any advice?
From Two to One
Dear Two to One,
The transition to one income is admirable and one my wife, Ann, and I chose. I like to tell young people to never depend on two incomes. Rather live off one, preferably the husband’s, and save the other so you learn how to live below your means.
Good financial habits established from the initial days of marriage provide an easy transition to a one-income lifestyle. I’m not saying that was our case. In fact, we learned from our mistakes!
You’re showing maturity by seeking counsel. I recommend gleaning from the wisdom of godly couples who are already doing it, your parents, and your grandparents. You’ll be blessed. “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22 ESV)
Going from two incomes to one requires some preparation but is certainly manageable. Many couples today are burdened with such debt that both incomes are required. If you owe any money, it’s vital you establish a budget, pay down your debt, and learn to be content with what you have.
I want to offer you a number of ways to conserve money. Ann and I have implemented most of these through our years of making financial choices together. Some of these things may seem extreme and unnecessary in your case. But if you’re like me, the long-term benefit of having your wife at home will outweigh what you have to give up. Here goes….
Make sure your income covers all budgeted expenses. Does your job provide healthcare benefits? If not, determine the cost and add that to your monthly budget.
Think through how to save on baby costs now! All the cute patterns and fun advertisements can get you carried away quickly.
Do you really need two cars? If you can get by with one, perhaps you should sell the least valuable one and put the money in an emergency fund, savings or towards any remaining debt.
Eat at home. Start a grocery shopping date night (just don’t go when you’re hungry – trust me on that one!). If you’re a coffee drinker, brew it at home. You can save hundreds by avoiding coffee shops. Cook together and carry your lunch to work whenever you can.
Instead of paying to be entertained, never stop learning. Pick up a book rather than your phone or computer. Read the Bible aloud and memorize scripture together. Be the shepherd of your home, if you haven’t already taken on that role. Discuss worthy books. Listen to podcasts. Lead your family well.
Enjoy an occasional movie at home. Attend free concerts and community events. Hike, garden, ride bikes. Develop friendships with couples with the same goals and do life together. Play board games.
Serve the poor or handicapped– it will make you grateful and you’ll be challenged by the joy you’ll see in those with few earthly possessions.
Commit to save and invest your pay raises rather than increasing your lifestyle. You’ll be surprised in a decade or two how your investments grow just by steady plodding.
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5 ESV)
Don’t spend hard earned money to accumulate things. The world will always try to convince you to buy more, bigger, better. Resist the temptation by setting and reviewing goals together. Remember, this world is not your home. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20 ESV)
Care for Your Wife
The joy of coming home will eventually wear off if she doesn’t have your support. Show your appreciation whenever you can because she is no longer being applauded in the marketplace. Leave room in the budget for her needs. She’s still working – just not getting paid.
Encourage her to spend time with a godly mentor. Many wives are not prepared to be helpmates for their husbands. According to Titus, “Older women are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:3-5 ESV)
Remember Lydia in Acts 16? Many industrious women today find great satisfaction using their talents and contributing to the finances while working from home. The opportunities are endless. The topic is definitely worthy of discussion.
Finally, seek the Lord in all things. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7 ESV) Remember this and you WILL be a blessed man.
Being on the same page about your finances now will set you up for success later on. Many couples have found the Money Map to be a helpful guide to accomplishing this. It has practical steps for you to follow that are straight from Scripture and lead you on a path to finding financial freedom. It also makes your financial goals objective so it’s easier for you to agree on how to prioritize your budget. Make it a date night to review it and brainstorm ways to reach your goals!
Originally posted on the Christian Post, July 7, 2017