Moving From Two Incomes to One

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My wife made the call to her principal last week. “I’ve decided to take a few years off work.”

After a 30 second phone call it started to become real. We were officially moving from two incomes to one.

As a tenured middle school teacher in a good school district, this decision did not come easy. There were many discussions in our home leading up to this moment. We went out to dinner a few weeks back. Kicked back a few drinks and discussed the pros and cons.

If possible I’d love to be the one to take a few years off. However, we’re not in position yet where we could live off just her salary. My wife went back to work a few weeks ago to finish out the current school year. I was fortunate to be able to defer some of my paternity leave until she went back. For two weeks I had the opportunity to drop our pre-schooler off every day, then my new little buddy and I ran all around town together. It was both exhausting and rewarding. I loved every minute of it and am glad my wife will have the opportunity to do the same during the next several years.

Moving From Two Incomes to One

This decision will certainly set us back in our pursuit of financial independence. With less income every month we won’t be able to save as much compared to if we were dual income.  Then again, the reason why we’re on this journey in the first place is to have more freedom, spend more time together as a family, and eventually leave behind a legacy. Having the opportunity for my wife to stay at home with our two children (4 years old and 2 months) will benefit us in many ways.

Our Children Will Only Be Young Once

We are fortunate to have a strong support network of grandparents and other family in close proximity. With our four year old in pre-school our parents helped take him to school and pick him up afterwards. This allowed us from keeping him out of before- and after-care, which would have left him at school from 7 am to 5 pm.

Our daughter was born in March. At the time, we were still undecided about if my wife would step away from her job. During our time off work we both had the opportunity to drop off and pick up from school every day. Just being there to interact with the teachers and other parents was much more meaningful than either of us would have thought. When we had questions we were able to go directly to his teachers without playing the telephone game through grandparents. It made us realize how disconnected we felt for the past several months when not as involved.

The reality is our kids are only young once. The experiences they’re going through will never be repeated. This was the defining factor in our decision.

It’s Not About the Money

So what impact will moving from two incomes to one have on our lifestyle and journey to financial independence?

This decision just so happens to coincide with our huge milestone of paying off our mortgage. If we had a large mortgage or even the one we currently have, we likely wouldn’t be able to do this without huge sacrifices. It’s exciting that all the sacrifices we’ve made over the years to get out of debt will materialize immediately.

Regardless, this decision is not about the money. It’s about being more involved in our children’s lives when they are young. As a result of minimizing lifestyle inflation and paying off all our debt, we are fortunate to be in this situation. This is what financial peace is all about.

How Did We Arrive at This Decision?

In all honesty, this was a decision that I left completely up to my wife. I let her know that I would support her if she decided to go back to work or if she wanted to take a few years off.

My wife really enjoys teaching and stepping away from a good situation comes with some risk. What if she isn’t able to find a comparable job when she decides to enter back into the workforce? While this is a risk, it is likely minimized given her profession.

If she was in corporate America, her situation may be different. She would likely lose out on critical years of growth and potential advancement as a result of stepping away. Any progress that she would have made over her first several years in the workforce would be at risk of being wiped away. I know of several parents who stepped away for several years to raise their children only to come back to a lower position.

Taking time off will allow my wife to finish up her Master’s degree before returning to work in a few years. Given this situation, if she goes back into teaching at a public school she’ll likely end up getting paid a decent amount more than what she’s making today.

Assurance About The Decision

With word spreading at her school, many individuals stopped by to chat with her about it. She has been surprised by the number of individuals at school and other places who have shared that they took a few years off as well. Others have expressed candidly that they wished they had done the same. Overall, every single person who has taken time off has said they definitely do not regret the time they spent with their children. After all, nobody ever says they wish they had worked more when they’re on their death bed. However, almost everyone says they wish they had spent more time with loved ones.

Who knows if this will be the right decision in the long run. There’s always a chance that I could do something stupid and lose my job tomorrow. Then we’d be without any income or insurance until one of us found a new job. Not a great position to be in with two young children.

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What’s Next?

My wife just finished up her last week of class. We’ll still be in mortgage pay down mode during the next two months. The goal is to have the mortgage completed paid off by the end of July. Without any debt our monthly expenses will be relatively minimal. We thought about pulling our 4 year old out of pre-school to further reduce expenses, but he has grown so much in the past year that we don’t want to lose any progress as he heads into kindergarten.

After the summer we plan to take a short vacation to celebrate paying off our mortgage (using airline and hotel miles, of course). We’ll probably go down to Florida in September or October and enjoy some beach time, with maybe a day trip to Disney.

Finally. we are planning to complete a few long overdue projects on our personal residence. Our kitchen needs a serious overhaul and we have put it off for too long. We are still on track to meet our 2018 goals even with the recent decision to move to one income.

Summary

There are many things more important in life than our jobs. Family is often at the top of the list. In this day in age, many are not fortunate to have the opportunity to move to one income either due to barriers out of their control or intentional decisions they’ve made over the year. I am hoping that we are making the right decision here. Something tells me we won’t regret it.

Have you or your spouse made a decision to stay at home with your children? How has it worked out so far?

Content-Blog-Favorites

Favorite Recent Content

Below are a few blogs, podcasts, or other content that I have recently enjoyed. You should check them out as well.

  • Looking for a great book? Check out these suggestions by Robbie at stockstreetblog.com. I had the opportunity to provide a suggestion in this article as well. My recommendation was a book called Lifeonaire by Steve Cook and McCloskey
  • Now that summer has arrived, you should check out this post by Scott at makingmomentum.net. There are great tips here if you’re looking to save some money this summer.
  • One of my favorite podcasters that I listen to every week is Paula Pant over at affordanything.com. You can’t go wrong with any of her podcasts though two of my recent favorites have been interviews with Vicki Robin (episode 123) and Rachel Cruze (episode 115).

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17 thoughts on “Moving From Two Incomes to One

  1. I don’t think you will ever regret the choice to stay home with the kids. Like you said, they are only small once. Before you know it, they won’t like you anymore hah! 🙂

    Best of luck to you folks and enjoy the kiddos!

    1. Thank you! I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I’m sure my kids will always like me like my 4 year old does now. 😉

  2. We made the decision to be a single income family 13 years ago (wow, time flies!). We wanted the reassurance of knowing the kids were being raised by a parent and we didn’t like the idea of my wife working just to pay for daycare. It didn’t make any sense, and we didn’t have family that could help on a consistent basis either.

    All these years later, I don’t regret it. That said, the decision did come with its share of sacrifices and having to do without things that other families could afford because they had two incomes. Be prepared for that nd you’ll be just fine.

    1. Thanks for the advice. We know things will be tighter but believe it will be worth it in the end.

  3. Congratulations on this new phase.

    I hate how unfriendly america (particularly corporate america) is to this idea. We could easily give up my salary for long enough for me to do the same with our upcoming kid, but the re-entry problem definitely gives me pause. As does slowing down the awesome progress we’ve been making financally – but as you point out, FI = more choice.

    1. I’m not sure we would have made the same decision if my wife was in a corporate job. Like you mention, corporate culture isn’t as receptive to taking years off as in the teaching world. I do think things have gotten better in corporate America when it comes to all things paternity but there’s still a long way to go. Congrats again on your upcoming addition!

  4. Good luck to your family on the new phase! Moving to one income is something we’ve been considering and may look to more seriously if we have a second child. I wholeheartedly believe we shouldn’t sacrifice our lives in the pursuit of financial independence, but pursue it while living a fulfilling life along the way.

    1. Agree so much with that last statement. It’s all about balance. We could have been debt free years ago if we really pushed the envelope, but that would have meant giving up things that really do make us happy.

      We weren’t considering the move to one income until our youngest went into pre-school this past year. We just felt like we missed out on a lot. Previously, we had him in an in-home daycare and were able to drop him off and pick up every day. With pre-school we had to drop him off in the morning with grandparents and then grandparents picked him up from school. While we are thankful to have the support system, we felt like we missed out on a lot. It also put our parents in position to where they had to be more of the disciplinarians instead of fun grandparents. These may seem like little things, but these little things led us to have the conversation about one of us staying at home once we found out that number 2 was on the way. My wife loves being a teacher, so we’ll see how she does once school is back in session.

  5. My wife is nearing the end of her maternity leave for our son (also born in March!) and has had no paycheck whatsoever for a pay period or two. Fortunately, things haven’t been super tight financially, although we have put off paying extra on some debt.

    Congrats on the baby and good luck for the future!

    1. Congrats on your new addition! Also congrats on being in a situation where missing a few checks didn’t set you all back too far. Many people would not be able to sustain that.

  6. I second the thoughts of Mr. DS and Budget Kitty above. You’ll never regret it! Our story is similar to yours from the standpoint that my wife “retired” to stay at home after we paid off the mortgage.

    Functioning as a household with at least one full-time stay-at-home parent has always been a dream Mrs. FFP and I have both shared. Now that we’re parents with a 1 year-old, I don’t think either of us could fathom a lifestyle in which we were shuffling his needs between those of two full-time careers.

    No matter how many numbers you crunch, it’s impossible to convey the amount of lifestyle freedom made possible by paying off the mortgage. It opens a whole new world of possibilities once your budget no longer has to include a mortgage payment. Kudos to you both for putting family first!

    1. Thank you! We are looking forward to this next chapter in our lives. Being mortgage free, single income, with a second baby will definitely be different. Hopefully in a good way!

  7. It was the other way around for us. It was 11 years ago when we decided to make that decision. I felt at that time that I was ready to quit and I did. I always tell people that they will know when that time comes. The first two month was more of an adjustment period for me but after that, things became much easier. Best decision I’ve ever made. Best to you and your family.

    1. Thank you! I haven’t come across anyone who regrets spending more time with their family. We’ve fortunate to be in this situation and am grateful we made a decision years ago to start killing off all of our debt.

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