There are many advantages to having a family with two working adults. According to The Nest, a dual income can allow a young couple to split expenses, increase their savings, and have money to do fun activities; both people may be more satisfied, as well. These perks also continue as a couple grows their family, as more income often means more ways to save for and pay for things.
However, while a dual income often helps with bills and savings, there are some situations in which being a two-income family just isn’t worth it. Many situations arise once you have kids, but there are other reasons that you may choose to live on one income. Sometimes these situations lead to a temporary removal from the job market, while other times, one person might permanently decide not to work. Here are five situations when you may find that being a two-income home isn’t worth it.
1. If a child is born
Many people decide to stay home once they have a child. According to the Pew Research Center, there has recently been a rise in stay-at-home mothers. As of 2012, 29% of all mothers stayed at home. The number of stay-at-home dads has also increased. Depending on your own situation, you or your significant other might decide to stay home only during a medical leave.
However, you also might decide to stay at home for a few years, or longer. If you have several kids who need daycare and you can’t afford it, you may find that it actually makes financial sense for one of you to stay home, at least temporarily.
2. If a family member becomes seriously ill
If you have a family member who gets seriously ill, you may determine that it is necessary for one of you to take a leave of absence from or permanently quit your job. Whether you have a child or relative who needs long-term care, many people decide that they need to quit their job or reduce their hours in order to properly care for a family member.
Sometimes this means that you have to live on one income temporarily, either because one of you wants to be home to take care of the family member or because the potential medical costs of getting medical assistance outweigh the positives of making two incomes. There is also the possibility that one of you could suffer a temporary or long-term disability, as well, in which case you might be reduced to a one-income family without having a choice.
3. If one of you wants to go back to school
Maybe you both have college degrees, or perhaps only one of you does. Maybe you both started working immediately after high school. If one of you wants to go back to school, you may have to live on just one income for a while. If your budget can handle it, you may find that the potential financial and personal rewards outweigh the loss of income. However, there are also other options.
Many schools have night programs geared toward adults who want to go back to school, and some employers give tuition remission to employees who still work at the company. There’s also the possibility that you are young enough that one or both of you are still in school at least part time, in which case you may already be experiencing a set budget because you are trying to finish your degree.
4. If the stress is too much
In many cases, both people enjoy working and get personal satisfaction out of their jobs. However, if one of you is experiencing too much stress at work, you may decide that a change is necessary. That change might include looking for a different job, but it could also potentially lead to a mutual decision to live on one income.
According to the American Institute of Stress, increased levels of job stress have been associated with heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders. If you have children, they can also come into play if one of you feels like your stress is making it hard for you to spend enough time together, or enough time with the kids. Temporarily living on one income while the other person finds a job or decides to stay home permanently may be plausible, depending on your financial situation.
For many couples, living on two incomes is personally fulfilling and financially necessary. However, there may be times when you decide to forgo one income in order to deal with a particular situation that is temporary. In other cases, one of you may decide to permanently leave the work force. Although working is fulfilling for many people, others find that staying at home is extremely fulfilling for them, too.
Children affect the financial decisions that parents make, but for some people, they also affect their decision about having a job, because one parent might really want to be home with the kids. Although letting go of one income does make a budget tighter, some couples decide that living with less — or just more frugally — is necessary and sometimes ideal.