Not Enough Income? Or Just Bad Financial Habits?

I’ve been more mindful of my spending lately because my wife and I are attempting to speed up our debt reduction (debt that was 99% my fault). We aren’t big spenders by any account. My car is 13 years old. My wife’s van is 6 years old—and both paid off. We don’t have cable or satellite TV. We don’t overspend from month to month. We don’t drink or go out to fancy restaurants. But something isn’t quite right.

While we both have an above average combined income, we can’t quite get ahead on the debt. As I’ve started going through our spending, I’m seeing a trend. I call it “death by a thousand cuts”. Yes, we don’t buy large ticket items but a lot of little purchases = one large purchase.


I may think we need to earn more to get ahead (which I wholeheartedly agree with), just not right now. I don’t need to make more money. I simply need to get a handle on my spending. Once spending is under control, then I can look at additional income options.

One of the options my wife and I have discussed to increase our debt reduction is to bank more of my income. To the point where all my income goes to debt and savings. She owns a home based business and we would both eventually like to be able to live on her income alone. We would be able to travel more and spend more time visiting family (most live a full day’s drive from our locale). And we’re not the only ones thinking this way.

In an article on the NY Times Bucks Blog, author Jennifer Saranow Schultz contemplates the same maneuver:

“Recently, some family friends suggested we try what they did when they were our age: save the smaller salary entirely and use the bigger one to pay for everything else. They said this strategy allowed them to save up enough to buy a home and start learning early how to accrue wealth.”

My wife and I actually did this when I was in the military and she worked as a dental assistant. We were able to buy our first home and be completely debt free—if only for a few weeks. While Mrs. Saranow Schultz hasn’t taken the next steps to living on one income, she is

“…tempted, however, to change our [her] saving strategy and follow our [her] friends’ advice…in case one spouse was laid off or decided to stay home with children.”

Are you a two income household because you can’t imagine any other way? Would you be willing to lower your expenses and bank one income? Would you be willing to move to make it happen?

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