Route to One Income

by LB

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One year ago this month I had my second child. I had always wanted to stay home with my kids, but it just wasn't feasible with my first child. My husband and I sat down and had a long chat regarding my wanting to be home and what our financial situation was at the time. After many chats, it was not a one night kind of decision, we decided if we wanted me to be home we would have to change our way of life. At the time, I was working full time, as was my husband, with our oldest in daycare. We had outstanding credit card debt due to major car repair (on both of our cars), student loans, mortgage and auto payments also. For me to stay home would mean our income would be cut in half - almost exactly. A scary thought.

So, we tightened our belts and put every penny we could toward our debt. We used our tax refund and the savings we had to pay off the credit card debt. We then cut our monthly expenses and put that extra money along with any money we received as gifts for holidays etc toward our car and paid it off. That left us with student loans and the mortgage. At that time we looked again at our goal. It was still going to be very tight. I was planning on taking 8 weeks off after the baby was born so we decided we would see if I liked being home as much as I thought, and if I did we would bite the bullet and try living on one income.

Because I would lose my insurance option by staying home we had to go to the family plan offered by my husbands employer. That was money that we had to "find". As long as we kept our other expenses down, we would be able to do it. I went in to let my employer know that I wasn't coming back 5 weeks before my leave was over. He asked if I would be willing to work a few hours a week. I agreed as long as I could work during the time my husband was home (no daycare expense), and no more than 10 hours a week. So, we "found" the money to pay for our insurance. Just last month we were able to pick up a local business delivery route for the free paper - no collections - that takes us 1 1/2 hours and brings in extra cash. We get to deliver the papers as a family, and it is fun for us.

After a year, I can say we made the right decision. There were some times when we wondered, and it is different when you don't go to Burger King every week for a treat, or buy whatever you want just because, and I made a lot of Christmas gifts, but we are happier for it. I spend more time planning menus according to what is on sale, buying some items from a warehouse club and others from the supermarkets. I get the kids clothing at garage sales, and some gifts if they are appropriate, and my husband and I make do with what we have. We have paid off the hospital bill and most of one student loan, and had a car repair (on our only car now) this last month that we were able to pay for (vs credit card as we had in the past). In retrospect, I think we are better off now than we were then - emotionally and financially.

Without going into specifics, our total income is right around $30,000. We are making our mortgage & loan payments, eating well, and saving some money for the future. I think there are a lot of people who are afraid to try, but I don't believe that it is possible to analyze every "what if". I truly believe if we can change our spending habits, and believe in what we are doing, things will come to us that we can't even imagine.

We are living proof.

My Story is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have information that would help our readers, please send it to with "My Story" as the subject.

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