There was a time where tradition dictated that in a family the man went to work and the woman stayed home to perform her "motherly duties". These days, especially for military families with their limited income, it is more and more common to see dual career families. But what happens when you go through a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or you lose your job due to economic downsizing? Going from two incomes to one can be scary.
Whether it is by choice or by necessity of circumstance many families are faced with the challenge to cut corners and make ends meet on one income. Even if it is totally planned, it can be a daunting thought that a portion of your household income (even if it is not a large portion) will soon not be coming in to help pay the bills.
The first thing you need to do is rethink your budget. The easy part is seeing where the "fat" is. The hard part is trimming it. Make sure you consider hidden "income" - things like childcare providers that you will no longer pay due to you being able to care for your children.
Here is a great tool for calculating your expenses, comparing where you were then and now, and forming a new budget.
Have an honest conversation with your spouse and family members about this significant development and how you feel it will affect your family battle rhythm. When you have a significant lifestyle change, such as going from two incomes to one, it is essential to communicate with your spouse. No one can read minds, so it is important to discuss you expectations, fears, and other thoughts to make sure you are on the same page, or at least know where the other person is coming from.
Do some expectations management. Don't expect that things will be easy or go flawlessly. There are going to be speed bumps and hard choices ahead. The more you prepare your family for any upcoming change the easier it will be to navigate the journey.
Don't forget to see the glass half full. One very good thing about successfully living on one income is that you may actually not be in such a bad position should you need additional income. The stay at home spouse can pitch in where necessary, working occasionally, part time, or even going back to work full time should the situation warrant it.
Army wife Suzy says, "We went from 2 to 1. I earned supplemental income from time to time, but it really only helped with the inevitable emergency. It's not easy, and we are constantly making tweaks to our habits, but it has been worth it!"
Have you been in a situation where your family has had to give up their dual income? How did you make it work?
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