Five Tips to Become an
two-income families earn 75 percent more than their single-income
counterparts of a generation ago, but actually have less
discretionary income according to Elizabeth Warren and Amelai Tyagi
in their book The Two Income Trap.
The idea that your family earns more but has less money may be
discouraging unless you are a person who'd like to be an at home
parent. The truth is, jobs, particularly second jobs, are expensive.
When I worked outside the home as a social worker, I made about
$28,000 per year which combined with my husband's income, was a
decent income. But we were always broke, running out of money before
the end of the month. It seemed like it would be impossible for me
to quit my job when we could barely get by as it was. But then I
learned about the dual-income myth and when I ran the numbers, I
discovered that 2/3rds of my income went to work-related expenses.
Of my $28,000 per year income, only $7,900 actually contributed to
the family. The rest paid for things so I could work.
If you would like to join the 5 million moms or 3 million dads who
stay home, here are some tips to help you afford it.
1) Determine how much your second income costs: When I worked the
majority of my income went to taxes, childcare, extra expenses for
nicer second car, commuting, work clothes, lunches out, convenience
foods and dining out, "I-deserve-this-because-I-work-hard" and guilt
2) Determine what you need to live on: Now that you know how much
your job costs you, what would happen if you quit? This exercise
will show you two things; 1) how short, if any, you would be with
one income and 2) areas that you currently over-spend that you can
cut back. Do a budget covering ALL spending. Use your bank
statements to be as accurate as possible.
3) Cut back on food costs. You can save a significant amount of
money menu planning and shopping with a list. You can also save by
not buying packaged foods and instead cooking from scratch. Not only
will the food taste better but it often only involves a couple extra
steps. Avoid dining out including lunches, vending machines, and the
4) Nickels and Dimes. This is probably the biggest area of excess
and waste in most families. Spending a few dollars here and a few
dollars there doesn't seem like it would make a big difference. But
when added all together, it can cost several hundred dollars per
month. Items in this category include things like coffee at the
local cafe, magazines, paperbacks, manicures, a quick snack on the
way home, etc. The best way to avoid wasting money on the small
stuff is to not carry cash or its equivalent (credit cards/checks),
shop only with a list, use libraries and barter groups for books,
videos and other items, and learn to pamper yourself at home.
5) You can cut back on home and auto expenses easily. Make sure your
home is weather sealed (your utility company will likely have tips
on this). Keep appliances clean and tuned. Don't have extra features
on your phone. Shop for the best long distance based on your use.
Get minimal cable and use your library to rent movies instead of
pay-per-view. Install low flow water faucets to help save water. For
your car, opt to get a quality used car that gets good gas mileage.
This not only can save you in payments and gas but also on personal
property tax, registration and insurance.
For many families, even savvy shopping doesn't completely eliminate
the need for extra cash to afford to stay home. This is particularly
true when debt is involved. However, if you eliminate work-related
expenses, cut unnecessary items from your budget, and learn easy
ways save, the income you need to earn should be significantly less
than you originally thought.
In my case, I didn't have to replace a $2300 per month income. After
I cut out work-expenses, sold my car for a less expensive model, and
cut back on household expense, I only needed to earn about $600 per
month to stay home.
I could work 40 hours per week at a job for $658 in discretionary
income or I could stay-home, work part-time and earn the same.
Hmmmmm...what choice would you make?
Earning income from home isn't that hard if you go about it the
right way. Do lots of research and heed the experts' warnings about
envelope stuffing and other scams. Don't fall for "pay for a job"
scams or sign-up for do nothing schemes. Working at home is work no
matter what work-at-home schemers would have you think. If you do
your research right, and choose the right work-at-home option for
you, there is no reason why you can stay and work at home.
Leslie Truex is a work and stay-at-home mom. In 1998, she created
Work-At-Home Success which offers free tips, information and
resources to people who want to work-at-home in a job or home
business. You can get her free Coming Home Manual with 100's of
money saving tips as well as eJobs At Home, a guide to finding
sources for home income, by subscribing to Work-At-Home Success Jobs
and News ezine at