Considering move from two incomes to just one?
Many families feel pressured socially and financially to have two incomes, but often parents in dual-income households wish they had more time with their children and a less hectic lifestyle.
If you’re trying to determine the right work and family-life balance for your household, start by evaluating the real costs of working. Add up how much you spend on:
• Transportation commuting to and from work each day, including gas, car repairs and bus fare
• Work-related expenses like your professional wardrobe and dry cleaning
• Convenient lunches brought from home or dining out
• Personal costs associated with travel and events for your career
• Time-saving services such as house cleaning, snow removal, and lawn care
• Also factor how much you pay in income and Social Security taxes.
After adding up these costs, subtract the sum from your take-home pay to arrive at your “adjusted” income. You may find you have less to lose than you thought by removing yourself from the workforce.
If you decide that you or your spouse will become a stay-at-home parent or reduce your hours to part time, look for opportunities to limit the financial impact of this choice, such as:
• Refinancing to reduce your mortgage payment
• Preparing and eating more meals at home
• Using coupons and shopping sales
• Reducing your car insurance costs if you will put fewer miles on your car
Also, you may consider consulting a financial advisor to develop a strategy to keep your long-term financial goals on track despite the reduction in your household income. If you decide that two incomes are essential, look for opportunities — such as flexible hours — that may help give you more time at home. And, if being an at-home parent remains a goal, develop a budgeting and saving strategy that will eventually give you the financial flexibility you need to do so.
Ronald Garver, CFP®, CRPC®, is a certified financial planner practitioner and chartered retirement planning counselor.