Dual-income household Dopers: how bad would you be hurt by losing 1 of those incomes?

I started to title this tread “married dopers,” but why I am no longer a registered Republican and thus feel no need to discriminate.

Imagine that something happens to either you or your significant other that prevents one of you from working any longer for an indefinite and protracted period, but does not otherwise change your financial situation significantly. (In other words, no crippling medical or legal bills to deal with, and the household is the same size as it was before.) Assuming that the person still working is unable to obtain additional employment, how long would it take you and yours to feel a serious financial pinch? What would you have to give up to be able to pay for necessities? Which person would be the greater loss?

Brainiac4 makes more money and would be a greater loss. But we could live off one of our incomes (even mine) and probably not REALLY notice a difference for pretty much as long as we needed to. We wouldn’t be traveling in retirement, the kids would end up in a State college instead of the private school we hope to send them to, we’d vacation less, and we wouldn’t buy cars that are as nice. Some of our impulse buying (books, video games, movies) would be curtailed and we’d eat out less. Either one of us unemployed would put us in a lower tax bracket and we’d save money there - we also would get rid of child care bills - which are a lot less now that they are in school.

But its taken a long time to get here. Several years ago we had a scare where Brainiac4 was almost laid off…at that time we started aggressively paying down our mortgage and setting aside money - getting rid of as many bills as possible. So now we have no mortgage, kids college well on their way to being funded at the minimum goal level, retirement savings taken care of so we could afford to retire with no further 401k contributions (it wouldn’t be a lush retirement, but we wouldn’t be dependant on SSI or eating cat food).

We would be homeless the next month.

Hubby makes the more money, but at the moment I pay 99% of the bills and other costs associated with running the household. So we could lose either income, and with a bit of rearranging (cancelling non-essentials such as quickflix and the cable TV, budgeting properly for groceries rather than just spending what we want when we want it) we could (and indeed have) survive for extended periods of time without the 2nd person working.

We’d have trouble paying the mortgage. We “moved up” a few years ago in anticipation of the fact that Dweezil will likely be living with us as an adult. We could have afforded the mortgage on the old place on one ncome.

We have enough in savings that it wouldn’t be immediate but we’d have to make massive major cutbacks just to stay even for a few months.

Hopefully in a couple of years that’ll be better. I’m the larger wage-earner at present (and I carry the health insurance through my job) so it’d be a bigger deal to lose my income.

My wife makes a little more than me. If she lost her job, which is a yearly possibility considering her company has downsized over the last 10 years from 500,000 to 50,000 and then got bought out, we would have to cut back on a lot of extras.

If she was not going back to work for a decade, we would simply downsize to a smaller house in a cheaper town closer to my job and we would be fine. We would see a nice profit on the house doing so.

If it looked like it might take a year or two for her to find work, I think we could make it.
· I would knock down my 401k from 15% to 6%, which is the minimum for the max matching.
· We would eat out almost never.
· We would eliminate vacations for the duration.
· No more expensive tech purchases.
· No house improvements.
· I would have to cancel my Lasik procedure.
· No camp for the kids.
· No before and after school care for the kids.
· Coupon clipping and bargain shopping.
· Cut the Cable bill out.
· Cut out our charitable donations.
· Keep the house warmer in the summer.
· Eat into our savings to make up the difference.
· Good Bye Cell Phones.

I think we could scrape buy for two years and still have reserves left. At this point if the job hunting still looked terrible, we would sell the house and move to a place near my job that we could easily afford on my salary alone. I would probably start getting very nervous at the one-year point, as I prefer to save money and not spend our savings.


I might as well come clean on this board and tell everyone that I was out of work for a year (I only started working again this month.)

I had the smaller of the two incomes, but it was still roughly a 40% drop. We had three kids in college at the time I was laid off (one has since graduated.)

We cut luxuries. Quit eating out (not even fast food.) I think we saw two movies the entire year. Canceled magazine subscriptions. (I kept the newspaper for the help wanted ads.) Renewing my membership here took a second thought.

Quit giving to charity.

Ate cheaper, lots cheaper. We discovered Aldi.

We cut back on the house and car payments (we were paying the principal down ahead of schedule and went back to the minimum payment.)

Ran up dangerously high credit card balances for car repairs, etc.

I cut back on haircuts, unless I had a job interview.

Told the kids to take out student loans.

Stopped contributing to our retirement plans.

The closest thing we had to a vacation was a day trip.

We were lucky in that we had a fairly large savings account we could draw on for things like when the dishawsher died (replacing the dishwasher was the one big splurge we allowed ourself all year.) We drew down a lot of our savings.

At that we were out of money at the end of almost every month.

Mrs. K is eligible for retirement next year. The plan was to have the house and both cars paid off and all the kids out of college. Now it doesn’t look like we’re going to make it in time.

Well, I really dont’ want to find out, but I think we may and soon.

I am planning on leaving my current place of employ in June. That drops our income substantially (although I will no longer be an overtired, bitchy wreck of a human being). I hope to get a job in my new field that covers some of the loss of income, but until I am out of grad school, I will not make the money in my new field. Not even close, given that I work PT now.

so, the dilemma becomes, do I stay in my current job, doing untold damage to me, or do I take the jump, and hope for the best? We’ll leave the rocky marriage out of the picture, as well as the health insurance issues…
Now I’m depressed.
Seriously, we will have to cut back in some places, but I think we can do it for a year (until I get my MS). After that, we should be ok (although I will have to work FT for what I make PT now0but that’s OK, because the FT work won’t be toxic to me). We tend to live fairly simply anyway.

My wife makes slightly more than I do, and her income exists only as long as the producer chooses to keep her show running, so there’s been thought of going it single income. I think we could meet all of our bills on my income alone, but that’s with me cutting out all retirement contributions. We would be cutting it pretty close, no luxuries, no going out for dinner, every penny accounted for.

For a short period, that’s probably what we would do, my current job has marvelous location and time flexibility, which is great when my wife is working. If her unemployment is long term, I’d have to try and find a higher paying job in NYC. I don’t currently make “city money” which is why we’d have a hard time making ends meet on just my salary. Alternately, we could look to move to a cheaper locale, but we do like it in this town, and love our house.

It would actually be more difficult to get by on my wife’s salary even though her pay is higher because our expenses would also be higher. She has an expensive commute, I work from home. My job pays for our phone and internet connection. My job has better health insurance options for spouses.

I earn more than my wife does. If she was to lose her job, we’d be able to continue, but would not be saving much (maybe hardly any at all). If I was to lose my job, we’d be in trouble in about 4-6 months.

I make more than 2/3rds of the family income.

If she lost her job (she’s self-employed), we’d have to cut back on some luxuries, and probably sock away a lot less for the future.

If I lost mine for a year we’d probably have to dip into the retirement funds. Unemployment payments (which is 6 months) would just about cover the mortgage each month. Then, she could keep us eating, but not by much.

But, last time I was unemployed, I dug ditches for $8 an hour (under the table) and managed to cut out EVERYTHING and when combined with unemployment, we were able to scratch by. She was not making very much money at that point.

It happened to us five years ago. My wife lost her politically-appointed job, which paid about half of what I made at the time. Since then, my salary has increased about 25 per cent. Our mortgage was paid off before she lost her job, so we’ve been doing fine. With her income, I guess we were affluent. Now, we’re middle class and comfortable and still able to add to our savings.

This happened to my in laws, except my FIL was the sole breadwinner and my MIL a homemaker extraordinaire before their accident in over 15 years ago.
Went from a nice comfortable income to nothing in the blink of an eye. Left him paralyzed from the chest down.

If they hadn’t stuffed a wad o’ money aside into the bank and the house mostly paid off ( their mortgage payment was like $125 a month!) they would have been on the street.

They got the basic insurance coverage of the other driver ( which is really shit when you think about it) but the saving grace was my FIL had just signed for the Top O’the Line health care insurance just the month before when everything happened. All the medical bills were covered (and the other persons insurance company is responsible for the rest of their lives to cover any problems from the accident, which is always a power struggle…)

However, living on disability sucks raw eggs and the insurance company has been paying my MIL something like $7 an hour for 24/7 work on my FIL. The insurance company hasn’t paid one dime to my MIL in over a year and their lawsuit against this Big Gigantic Asshole company has been pushed back several times.

If it happened to us, and don’t think they with Michigan’s and the Auto Industry’s Economy in the toilet Thank you GWB and Jennifer Granholm! and swirling southward fastly, that this thought hasn’t given me nightmares.

I took a soul sucking job at a local megalomart to work around the kids schedules and bring in extra income. $100 a week. wooooo.

Ah…ain’t Michigan grand these days?

Our economy sucks giant asshole, but I still managed to find a new job.

It’s just completely unrelated to ANY of my expertise and education.

We’d feel the effects immediately, since we don’t have much in savings, but we wouldn’t starve or anything. Our house is within a year of being paid off and we don’t have many debts at all, so it would be a matter of living within the remaining income.

We’d be eating cheaper food, no going out, cheaper cars, no third car for the teenager to use, and so on. Hubby would lose his annual golf vacation and I would lose my trips to Europe, we wouldn’t be going out and buying electronic gadgets on a whim, and we’d have to get some serious loans for college tuition in a couple years. At the moment I’m hoping to retire in about ten years time, but that certainly wouldn’t happen without the two incomes feeding the retirement fund.

I make quite a bit more than my husband, so that loss would hurt us more.

I try not to think about it.

Right now we are basically living off me. Mr. S brings home about $800/month, though he’s working full-time. He’s working as a custodian at a high school. The pay is already low compared to other districts (no union), and the board pulled a big screw job on the last contract regarding paying their share of the health insurance premiums, which means that he essentially took a pay cut to keep the insurance. So we have gonzo health insurance, but he has no money.

I’m self-employed, and we had insurance through me once, but it sucked. When we went to the insurance agent to buy me a life and disability policy (which will pay about a third of my current income if I’m totally disabled, but with some serious belt-tightening would help keep us afloat) he drew up some sample plans that didn’t look to bad. We may end up switching to one of those when Mr. S goes back to school.

Ah, school. He’s planning to go back to tech school for some sort of medical coursework, probably nursing. That should help both his bank balance and his self-esteem.

On the flip side, we could lose his $800/month and (this time, with only a little belt-tightening) barely bat an eye. He wryly observes that right now he’d make more money if he were on Social Security disability. He made a lot more money during his 20-year career in printing, but that went bye-bye in 2001, which is why he’s a janitor now. sigh Fortunately, in the last few years I’ve been able to earn as much as or more than he did at his wage peak, so we’re the same or even a little better off income-wise. But I work my ass off, and I wouldn’t mind cutting back a bit.

If either of us loses our job for more than a month or two, we are completely, totally screwed. Either my parents bail us out or it’s bankruptcy.

As things stand, we could survive if I weren’t working. We’d have to cut back on things like cable, eating out, and symphony subscriptions, but we’d get by. If frauverwirrt were to be out of work, we’d be in trouble pretty quickly (I actually make almost as much as she does, but I don’t get paid in the summer; she does). Hopefully, in a couple of years I’ll be earning enough to support us in that eventuality (or if she decides to take time off for our currently non-existent kids).

It would hurt our retirement, but we could survive our current day-to-day living on one or the other. Preferably, we’d retain mine as it is slightly higher than his.

My wife got laid off four years ago and hasn’t made any effort to find a job, so we’ve been cutting back steadily ever since. We don’t go out any more, we’ve pretty much abandoned the SCA, my kids are having to pay for their own college education, and I don’t get to retire. I’ll be working until the day I die.