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Marriage & The Secret to One-Income Living...

September 20th, 2008 at 04:44 pm

Oh boy, spending too much time in the forums. Actually, some of the threads I missed while gone were fascinating. The "who has the final say in your marriage" thread was actually cracking me up. But kind of sad all the same. You know, compromise. Those with strong marriages understand. You COMPROMISE. No one gets the final say all the time. I dare say that would suck. The inference that the spouse with the larger income gets the final say, really offends me. I guess since we have a long tradition in our family of a spouse who stays home. The spouse who stays home contributes plenty to the marriage, and I can't imagine ever telling my husband he has less say because he doesn't have a paycheck. I have told him, "If you want that you can get a job." Not because I have the final say. It's my way of saying we can not afford that and if it's that important to you, you know what you need to do. I am sure he has had to put me in check in some way in the past as well. It's nice to have someone to bring you back to reality when you have a crazy idea. !!

& if you have that much to disagree on, I guess I could argue you shouldn't be married. We have disagreed on a few major things, but marriage is give and take. If we disagreed very often on major things, I think I would question our compatibility. As is, our disagreements are sometimes rather shocking because they are so few and far between. You wonder, "Where the heck did that come from?" OR, "I had no idea you felt so strongly about that."

We sometimes just agree to disagree.

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Anyway, the other interesting thread was the "Do you NEED two incomes" thread. You have to understand that this is a pet peeve of mine because where I live I know a lot of people who make $80k-$120k and can not make ends meet. I am not talking about people on minimum wage, or people making $30k. Not even necessarily $50k (though I could support a family on that quite EASILY, personally. I have rather recently). But when you come across people all the time who can't make ends meet on a near six figure income. Oy vey! This is the group who can not distinguish wants and needs.

Anyway, I giggled at a reply (& not to pick on the poster - but yeah, made me laugh) that you can not possibly plan for things like a new washer/dryer, car repairs, or a new roof on ONE income.

& of course I think, "Why Not???"

I mean, you know I haven't had the best month or 2. We just replaced a $800 computer, are facing $1500-$2k in completely unexpected dental bills, and just had a $270 fridge repair.

But we had the cash to cover all things.

Why? Why did we have the cash to cover all these things?

Well, for one, these are not all surprises, and we save up for them.

But more importantly, we are not scared to buy USED things.

If my washer and dryer died tomorrow (the ones we bought in 2005 on ONE income - brand new). Well, it would be a little unexpected. So what would we do with such an early appliance death?

We would pop on Craigslist and pick up a used washer/dryer in a heartbeat. $100 easy if we were willing to go really used. Like our first washer and dryer we had for 3 years for $100. The dryer was fine when the washer died but it seemed like a good time to just go new. We could have spent $50 for another ancient washer that may have lasted a few years...

Since BM's recent dental bills were so entirely unexpected, we pulled from our future large expense fund. If we had too many of these "emergencies" we would go out and buy a VERY used car next round, instead of buying something newer and fancier.

It is this willingness to buy used that makes our budget VERY flexible. In the past buying used was the only way we could survive. We don't have very much new furniture in our house, and we have mostly had old appliances.

With time and raises and better means we find that we tend to go for the new stuff (& hope it lasts forever). But if we have to replace something unusually early, we will go *used* in the interim.

For now we are aiming to save about $5k/year for our next cars and for home maintenance. But if by some bad chance we have to use all that money for other things, or more for home repairs, then, well, we will just go buy a really used car the next time we need a car.

Rather than pay retail for our toys (the kids and all of dh's games he must have), we tend to buy them used.

If we needed some furniture we would go used. The old hand-me-downs and used furniture is just dandy though - it's not even on my radar as far as upgrading. (I guess particularly not with kids who like to destroy things).

There is a wealth of stuff out there that people bought and realized they couldn't keep, and turned around and sold the next day. "Used" does not necessarily mean used at all. What it really means is you can get brand new, or like new stuff, for a fraction of the price.

If you ask me, the difference between people who do not understand how to live on less income, and those who do quite well on one income, the difference I usually see is a willingness to buy used things or more to the point, just a willingness to think outside the box a bit.

I have a lot of broke friends who make good money and buy a brand new car every 3 years, like clock work. They just don't realize how much money they are losing on cars. If they truly understood they would do things very different. But their eyes glaze over when you bring it up. These are the people, from my experience, who whine the most that living on less is impossible. Well, yeah, of course it is if you buy TWO brand new car every 3 years!!!

Anyway, if you truly can not live on less money, don't take any offense to my ranting and raving. I have no issues with that. All I can say there is a lot of people out there who give the rest of you (in true dire straits) a bad name. I have no doubt many people can not survive on less income. So to them this whole thing is kind of moot.

I have mentioned many times, my dad came from a very poor upbringing. I have seen true poverty firsthand. When I think how my grandparents lived their ENTIRE lives and people with nice homes and cars whine that they are broke, it just gets old. I just think, "You have got to be kidding me."

Even my MIL is very jealous that my mother never worked. She said to my parents' one day, "I have ALWAYS had to work." Like, poor me. "I had to work to pay for all the vacations and private school (grade school and college)."

Yes, she seriously said that to my father who grew up dirt poor!!!

My parents and I just looked at each other and roll our eyes. My parents could never afford vacation (before I was maybe 16?). No one in my family has ever attended a private school. Pfffft.

What do you say to something so ignorant? All you can do is roll your eyes...

Somehow I survived with all the deprivation though. Wink I actually grew up very middle class and had PLENTY. But yeah, when I compare my upbringing to the standard middle class lifestyle today, all I see is a lot of excess.

We have some of the same excess. We have plenty of excess. But I could just never imagine whining about my lot. I have never had to worry about food or shelter. I've always had plenty for that, and that's all that really matters. I also know I could support my family on a significantly lower income. I feel blessed I do not have to. But it is rather financially freeing to know I could, all the same. A lot of our lifestyle is just gravy, and I am fully aware of that, for sure.

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Oh yeah - I have already mentioned the other little known secret many times. When you have a lower income you have WAY lower taxes.

I seriously know MANY people who pull in six figures (2-incomes) who net less than we do after all their taxes. It can make that much difference. Granted, a lot of them get big tax refunds. But suggesting they give up large tax refunds to them means giving up their only source of savings. So yeah, that is kind of insane too. But how it seems to go...

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P.S. TOTALLY another topic but my investments that I did not check in Quicken all week, were up $100 when I downloaded stock prices today.

I am up $100 and world feels like it is ending. (I don't think your net worth generally increases in a depression. Oh yeah - but I forget the government is footing the bill here. UGH).

Oh boy...

12 Responses to “Marriage & The Secret to One-Income Living...”

  1. baselle Says:

    The real advantage of growing up poor is that you know what its all about and you have to do. Agreed that a lot of what I hear in the "how can you do it?" is "how can you do it by plan A, which is spend money". Pride that comes with a high salary will soon give way to a pride that comes with self sufficiency.

    And its not like that they are really saving that tax refund - they are just spending it over the space of a few months, as opposed to their paycheck, which they spend right away.

  2. monkeymama Says:

    True - the people who can not live without the big tax refunds do not save them. But it covers things that savings usually would, I guess.

  3. sillyoleme Says:

    Haha, did you mean "minimum wage = $30k" or "minimum wage to $30k"? I just find it humorous.. because to most people where I come from, a $30k/year job sounds like a dream. Of course, the cost of property and cost of living in general is alot less too.

  4. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Uh, yeah, $30K is way over minimum wage unless you live in a state with its own whoppin' high minimum wage. Wink But Monkey Mama, I was nodding so much in reading this blog entry that I kicked up a breeze in the room.

  5. gamecock43 Says:

    I agree...it's all about priorities and perspective. Baseball boy and I like our life and how we choose to spend our time. So we have somehow managed to live a lower middle class lifestyle on $30,000 a year combined! I'm not sure how we have done it the past 2 years to be honest. I am hoping this blog will reveal the secret when I look back on it in a year or two.
    I think it's the old antiquated notion: "Do not spend more than you have!"

  6. monkeymama Says:

    No, I meant minimum wage or $30k. I reread and see I didn't type that clearly. Minimum wage here is $15k-ish. $30k would be hard to get by in California - that I will admit and why I typed that.

  7. princessperky Says:

    I would be happy to have 50k personally.....though I do not live in CA, just Charlotte.

  8. Ima saver Says:

    I grew up pretty poor. I think that makes a huge difference in how you see things!

  9. scfr Says:

    Yea - We're a "compromise is what it's all about" couple too. We've never once had a fight about money; only disagreements. I guess the best way to describe what we do when we don't agree is that we both have veto power; in other words, doing nothing will win out over doing something if one person is against it. Probably doesn't make much sense, so here's a couple examples:

    1) If we did not both agree to move (yet again), the one who was opposed to the move would prevail and we would stay put. DH would be happy to live in LA, but I don't want to live there, so we won't be moving there.

    2) I want to invest in municipal bonds; DH does not, because he just doesn't understand them and does not think the returns justify the risk. So, we currently are not invested in municipal bonds ... even tho' I'm right and he's wrong. Wink

  10. sharmanl Says:

    Monkey Mama,

    Wow...Your comments are on point and so relevent. You are so right about living on one income. My husband and I have done that since 1999. It's really about having a financial vision, priorities, being focused, living below your means; tracking and watching your spending and expenses.

    There is so much freedom and the ability to make choices when you are not in bondage to debt. People love to complain about their financial situation, but they hate when you crawl out of their crab bucket of complaining.

    I literally agree with everything you said in your post, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  11. disneysteve Says:

    Of course, I agree with your one-income comments, since I'm the one who started that discussion. We, too, buy used and I hadn't even thought about that in this context, but you are right that doing so plays into that also. A couple of months ago my daughter needed a new bike since she had outgrown her old one (which was purchased for $20 at a yard sale). I went right to craigslist and found her a nice 10-speed for $50. A similar bike new would probably be close to $200. Both of our cars were bought used. My wife and daughter often get jeans at Goodwill for $4.99/pair and we buy other things there and at other thrift stores as well.

    The best thing about used stuff is that it holds it's value. That bike that we bought for $20 should bring the same $20 when we resell it in the spring even though my daughter used it for a couple of years. But the brand new $200 bike wouldn't sell for anywhere near $200 after a couple of years.

  12. monkeymama Says:

    True. Most of our baby stuff that we bought used - we sold then for what we paid for them.

    My dh used to rent video games but these days he is more likely to buy them used and just sell them for the same price when he is done.

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