Can we afford to live on a single income?

I really need your thoughts and comments on this one. I will do my best to describe our situation. We are seriously figuring out whether to have momma stay at home instead of working and I want to get any opinions from others who may have done it.

My salary is roughly enough that we can afford to make ends meet so to speak. But we have been using her salary to pay down the debt and continue the snowball effect at the rate we were. But what I realized the other day is that our expenses of her working are continuing to rise and I don’t think it fiscally makes sense any more.

Here’s the deal…

By keeping the kiddo out of daycare, we would save about 4500 dollars off the top. By her not driving to work every day (20 miles away) we would save about 100 dollars a week in gas and about 500 a year in vehicle maintenance costs. Add to that the 3000 less a year in taxes we would owe from just being taxed on my income. Then is the kicker, our child is not only very high needs, but has a very weak immune system and is sick (fever, etc) once a week. Therefore we end up at the doctors office about 4 times a month which costs about 100 bucks minimum a pop with the lab tests. By staying home with mom, he would surely still get sick occasionally but he wouldn’t be exposed to the cesspool of communal diseases at the day care. Since the health care industry has gone to hell, our insurance is now an HSA which means we pay the first 6k out of pocket before insurance even does anything.

So to tally that up:
$4500 Daycare
$5500 Gas (100×50 weeks of the year)(2 weeks off) and maintenance
$3000 Less taxes to pay
$4800 Cost of DR. Visits
$17,800 Total cost of her working

After doing up a spreadsheet with the scenario and running it out until January 2010, it seems feasible.

It would just give us enough to continue to make our snowball continue on and keep our debt reduction efforts going without changing too much. It would require that we become extra frugal and watch every penny (more than we do now).

But the plus side is that mommy will be able to be at home and raise our child and not be running on the verge of a mental/physical breakdown herself. Plus, if we ever had infant #2 come along, the plan is sort of set in motion already to accommodate it.

Anyway, we haven’t made any decision yet, but I would love to hear your comments or experiences with this yourselves. This is not a decision we take lightly, and as you can tell, I have already spent dozens of hours analyzing scenarios.

Thanks in advance!

Comments {26}

{26} Comments

  • 07.27.08 Anonymous

    I was the breadwinner when I decided to quit my job and sah. If I can do it anyone can. What I did was save money before I quit. That money was supposed to last us 2-3 years until our kids were in school but since then dh has gotten promotions, raises and I’ve learned how to be super frugal.

    One of the main reasons I quit was because I’m a CPA and it was stressful, my kids were always sick from daycare, my bosses unreasonable, and our lives were insane. One day at work I sat down and calculated my net bring home after taxes, eating out, convenience foods, gas, medical, wardrobe, daycare, etc. and figured out I was only netting $700 a month and that so wasn’t worth the aggravation. I’d rather work pt at night than put my kids in daycare.

    I didn’t have to do that because it turns out you don’t need as much money when you are home. You have time to shop sales, clip coupons, cook from scratch, your kids stay well, etc.

    I’ve been home 5 years now and haven’t regretted this decision once. The difference in my family was quite shocking. My kids are thriving with me home. Now they are older and I get to be room mother, PTO treasurer, etc. I have one left at home and I cherish ever day that I have with her.

    You can always make money but you can’t get back those years with your kids.

    Just my .02

  • 07.28.08 Ami

    I’m a SAHM and I think you can definitely make ends meet with one parent at home. Other posters has pointed out the savings you’ll get in other areas.

    I want to point out something else. Staying at home is a big financial risk for women. It makes her dependent on you, your health and a stable marriage. It is likely to diminish her lifetime earnings significantly. If the momma in question wants to go back to work eventually, she should check out ways to keep her skill set up-to-date while taking care of the kiddies- membership in professional associations, volunteering, etc.

  • 08.07.08 Olivia's Mom

    Ami, I think you are absolutely right. Keeping up involvement in something and up to date with your industry would be important if returning to work was part of the plan. Think of the difference in the workplace between 1988 and 2005. Someone missing the boat with the internet would be really set back skills wise.

  • 08.10.08 Venita Garner

    we have been one-income since we got married. for a few months here or there the first year, we both worked. then it’s gone to dh at home. then we had our baby and I stayed home. I haven’t worked outside the home yet. yes, it is a sacrifice. not only in money but me having adult-time. however, I have none of the office politics to deal with and i havne’t missed that one bit! we have 7 kids and a son who has autism now. we restructured our mortgage and are paying about $900 a month for his therapy. i still am a SAHM. it’s the best thing ever.

  • 08.16.08 Anonymous

    Living on a single income is not a cake walk. to put things in perspective from my view, consider the fact that my husband works full time, making $8.00 an hour, and i stay home with our 2 kids (and other due in 7 weeks) We dont have the best of the best, we have a single vehicle, which we bought used, we buy used clothing, and we use coupons and discounts whenever possible. However, we live in a very nice (read rich) town, that has great schools. We set a budget for Christmas and birthdays, we do parties here at our house instead of at chuck e cheese, and one of the best times of the week if family movie night. pick a movie you already own, pop some popcorn, and enjoy the time. Living frugally is not for everyone.. i have some friends who think we are crazy for *choosing* this life, but it makes us feel more like a family to raise our own children, cook meals at home, and eat as a family, and enjoy the simple pleasures of afternoon walks, trips to the park, and free stuff for the kids at the library.
    i say, if you can do it, do it. 🙂

  • 08.19.08 Anonymous

    The answer is yes you can live off of one income and even from the list you have there are lots more that you will save. Lunches out with friends, mom doesn’t feel like cooking so you go out to eat or call in a meal, clothes for work, all those pooling money for gifts and parties for work and so much more little things that can add up.

    By staying home your wife will have more time to plan meals at home, clip coupons, look for online rebates, but most of all spend quality time with your child that child care just cannot give. If she’s rested she’ll also have more time for you.

    You just have to prioritize what you want for your family. When I was working I was spending way more than I do now that I’m staying at home. In my case the stress of trying to do it all caused me to have a stroke at age 36 and I was forced to quit working. If I had listened to my body I might not be as ill as I am now and my kids would have a whole mom instead of one that has to depend on them for help. Its a lot to think about.