Living on One Income – Part 2

A couple years ago, I shared how my wife left a good job in healthcare due to some health issues. It was a difficult time for us because we were used to getting her income – and so the adjustments took some time to adapt to.

But, after some time away from work, my wife decided to re-enter the workforce on a part-time basis, working two, 8-hour days, each week. She also picked up another part-time job where she was working intermittently. At each job, her hourly rate was very respectable for the line of work she's in.

Late last year, my wife decided to leave both of her jobs again – and focus on her chronic health issues. Again, we adapted and adjusted to the loss of income – but it wasn't / hasn't been all that easy. Whoever you are – I think it's very easy to grow accustomed to the amount of money that you take in and build expenses around that income.

I share all this – not to garner sympathy – but to offer hope / encouragement for those also facing similar situations (or, worse) with your own spouse / loved one. I know there are other TTG readers who have gone through this too.

We survived without the income several years ago – and we can do so again. I want to offer a few things we've done to weather this loss of income and what you can do too if you ever face a similar situation OR wish to prepare for something like this (Lord forbid) it should happen to you.

Live on one income

Now this is something fairly obvious – and a plan to put into place should you ever lose extra income from a spouse – but, it's often very hard to implement. And, to be honest, we haven't always lived up to it either. Even if you have two incomes, live as though you only have one. Some practical ways to implement is to buy a house based on yours or your spouse's income (not your combined income). This will also ensure you are not house-poor. I'm grateful that I don't have a very materialistic wife who requires the “best of everything” – so we never fought on this issue when one of us qualified for the house we bought after we got married. Also, can you set aside that extra income for savings / investments? Folks who live like this can often reach financial freedom earlier than most.

living on one income

Set priorities

My wife and I have often struggled when it comes to discussing money matters. We both come from different life experiences pertaining to money and that affects how we view / handle it today. I could talk about 'em every week while she'd prefer to discuss them once in a blue moon (or never). But after this second season of stepping away from her jobs – we needed to set our money priorities. What were the items we did not / could not cut and where could we cut. This was not an easy discussion – but it had to happen for us to have any success going forward. Getting on the same page and setting some priorities were key to managing the loss of income.

Can you make up the difference?

If you've been around here for any length of time, you know we mention passive income / creating other streams of income quite frequently. Fortunately for us, we have several other sources of income that we can tap when things get tight(er). And, I know that I can push some of these streams a little harder with some extra input / time to generate a few more dollars. This has really given me a little more peace when we enter seasons like this. I would highly recommend this to you as well. And, I know some of us have less time than others – but putting some time into this upfront can reap some long-term benefits to you down the road.

Ways I've made extra income:

  • Design projects
  • Rental income
  • This site
  • Other sites we own
  • Selling crap (namely on Amazon, ebay)

Get creative

As I've gotten older, I feel like my wants – at least for material things – has diminished. I'm also not as impressed with others who have the “latest and greatest”, cuz (based on stats) they have borrowed the money to buy it.

Having less wants is great for the checkbook. And, it can open you up to using more of your creativity. Experiences / time together with family and loved ones / our faith are whats going to sustain us – not materials.

Challenge expenses

J$ over at has a plan to “Challenge Everything” in his finances. Now is a great time to do that. Check with your insurance agent and see if there are any ways to lower your premiums. How bout the cell phone? Cable? (we cut ours). Monthly, repeating expenses are a great place to save some extra coin.

Love to hear if you are going through / have gone through the loss of your spouses income and how you handled it?

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  1. Going from contract phone plan to prepaid plan definitely has saved me a lot of money while not really sacraficing the service. A lot of prepaid plans nowadays actually have great service and coverage.
    One trick to make you save more, that I read somewhere recently and I thought useful, is whenever you buy something at a discount, save the discounted portion directly into your bank account, and think of it as there’s no discount in your spend.

  2. We had to cut some expenses as well due to serious health issues. Prior to undergoing treatment – I refinanced the house. It cut the house payment by $100; and it gave me cash out of almost $2,000 which helped immensely while I was out of work undergoing treatments. Years ago we had dumped the home phone, and cable. We had replaced it with Amazon prime, but when that expired we didn’t renew due to the price increase. The previous year I had the budget plan for utilities (gas and electric) and paid more than the budget, so had built up an extra nest egg credit to go toward upcoming expenses. That worked out well for us too. A year has gone by and I am well on my road to recovery. Plus due to living within my means – I am not in a black hole financially. Always remember too, that when you are undergoing health issues – always ask for financial aid. My illness spread thru 2 years and I was granted aid both times. It helped immensely. It didn’t pay everything but it helped a great deal. I have a high deductible plan with $8,000 deductible so it was very stressful to come up with $16,000 in order for the plan to pay 100%. It all worked out. There are a lot of resources out there. If you are in MN – call United Way 211 – they have a great deal of resources too. Best of luck everyone!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience too Barb. Great reminder about assistance for those who have health issues and can’t work.

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