Becoming a Single Income Family: How to Prepare
Becoming a single income family can be an incredibly rewarding decision. And given how a large number of families have made this arrangement work, you may be able too as well. Taking some intentional steps with your financial and life decisions may help you thrive as you transition to a single income family.
Take a Good Hard Look at Your Money
Making a decision to live on one paycheck isn't something that should happen overnight. Before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle, it's a good idea to understand what your finances look like — including your budget. Taking a careful look at necessary expenses will help you understand how much you're spending and whether you can reasonably afford to live on one paycheck. It might mean cutting back on some things such as dining out, luxury vacations, and even the occasional shopping trip.
But you can start by practicing now — try living as if you're a single income family. Only use your (or your spouse's) paycheck and set aside the other as part of an emergency savings account. The amount you set aside will help prepare in the event your spouse loses their job or other unexpected expenses arise.
If you do find it difficult to live off of one paycheck, take another look at your expenses and work to adjust accordingly.
Embrace Your Community
It can be difficult to leave the office and the personal and professional relationships made there. It's important that the person who isn't contributing financially to feel like they're still connected with others. Some ways to stay connected to people may include getting to know your neighbors and community volunteer work.
Be intentional about seeking out other parents or others with similar interests as you. Who knows, you could do your community a service by sharing your knowledge, babysitting, or even volunteering at charity events.
Consider Temporary or Part-Time Work
If you find that your budget isn't balancing or that it doesn't make financial sense to live on one paycheck, it may not mean that it's not an option. Many families have made it work by having one spouse take on a part-time or temporary job to alleviate financial burdens. Wanting a more flexible schedule doesn't necessarily mean you have to find a new job. Before looking elsewhere, talk to your current employer. Who knows, they may be able to offer you a more flexible arrangement and even let you return to work full-time if you so choose.
Every family is different, and we are all navigating our days and our commitments according to our own needs and values. If your family weighs the pros and cons and decides that having one adult home is the right choice for you, make sure to check in regularly with each other, and reassess as your situations evolve.