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

My wife makes more than I do, so losing her income would hurt more. Either way, we’d still be able to handle the mortgage and household bills, but just barely. Right now we’re aggressively paying down student loans, but we’d have to reduce that to the minimum monthly payments. Home improvement projects would stop. We’d have little or no “leisure” money, short of dipping into our (substantial) savings, which we’re loathe to do.

It’s something that’s on the horizon for me. We’re planning to start a family within the next few years, and one of us, probably my wife, is going to stay home with the kids. Hopefully I’ll have advanced in my career enough by that point that the income hit will hurt less, but we’re bracing for some frugal living regardless. That’s one of the reasons we’re so keen on saving a lot.

In 2003-2004, mr.stretch underwent 48-weeks of chemotherapy (not for cancer). He didn’t work for 9 months; I worked part time. Fortunately, the people* I worked with then were so awesome–they donated enough leave to make sure that I received full-time salary the whole time. Unforturately, the people mr.stretch worked with weren’t as well organized, so we lost almost all his income during that time. We cut back used our meager savings and built up some additional debt. We figured we’d be able to dig ourselves out when mr.stretch went back to work.

Things rarely work out the way you plan.

We lost two thirds of our income last October when mr.stretch had to quit working. We had to declare bankruptcy; we are still trying to finalize an agreement with the court to keep our house. We had to live on my income alone for 6 months until mr.stretch started receiving disability. Things were pretty tight, especially since our house payment is half my take-home pay.

Since we don’t know how long mr.stretch will receive disabilty or if he will ever be able to return to work, we have to plan to live on my income in the future. Which means I have to make sure I keep making enough money to support us. Which means I have to be the perma-adult in our relationship–it’s all on me.

*I will never, ever be able to thank those people enough–they literally saved our house.

I make more than my husband, so it would be worse if I lost my job. On the other hand, it would also be easier for me to find a new job with the same or better pay, since I’ve been in my field long enough and have the kind of experience that makes me rather in demand.

I actually really want my husband to quit his current job (he’s miserable, the boss is insane, and he just got screwed out of a promotion and a raise) and go back to school. I think we could swing it until he got some kind of two-year degree, especially if he also worked part time, or if I do some cake decorating on the side. But, he can’t decide what he wants to go to school for.

My wife has just gone back to university to study for a medical degree - so we’ve not only lost her income, but have to pay med school fees too… all on my salary.

She started 8 wks ago so left work in the summer. I’ve had to take a new job, which pays 50% more per year than my previous job.

Things are tight, but not too bad yet - she receives $9000 a year in bursaries which helps out a bit, but we’re also buying our first house so things are only gonna get worse!!

I keep telling myself that once she’s qualified it’ll be a lot easier, but that’s a few years away yet!

Mini-hijack: what’s a bursary, and am I old enough to know?

We’d be fine. We both make roughly the same amount of money, and could pay the rent on either of our salaries. We’d have to cut back quite a bit on luxuries, of course, but we wouldn’t end up on the street or anything. The biggest blow would be to our savings – right now, we’re trying to save as much as possible for both retirement and eventually buying a house, and that wouldn’t be possible on only one income.

Looks like a cross between a scholarship, a stipend, and a trust fund.

You see, I was going to say this, but then I realized we do have enough money in the bank to get by for a few months. It’s been saved up for a year and is supposed to go to paying my husband’s next semester tuition, but we could theoretically take out another loan. That would leave us further in debt. We’re already well into the tens of thousands (all educational, no credit card). We have no money saved anywhere else.

So if it were his income lost, we’d just be living paycheck-to-paycheck, barely able to make it, but it would be possible. If it were mine, well, we’d go through the savings in six months to a year and then probably have to leave NYC. However…there is the possibility that when he gets his Master’s degree (conveniently, about six months from now), he’ll be able to get a better job. That would pump us up to paycheck-to-paycheck again at worst.

Now, when I go back to school to get my nursing degree (in a year or two), he’ll be the only one working for 12-15 months. Scary, but when I’m a nurse I’ll make at least 50% more than I do now, so it’s worth it.

This has been part of our planning thoughts for a while. A couple of years ago, my SO lost his job in Sept, he found a new one within a couple of weeks. I was laid off that December, but hired back 2 minutes later, same company, different department. That really made us think.

We could pay our bills and live on either one of our incomes. The 401K would still get funded, but the extra retirement money being saved would have to stop. The deposits to a college fund for our niece and nephews would get cut. No shopping for electronics on a whim. No more stocking the freezer with nice cuts of meat. Cable TV gone, and probably the cell phones. Definately cut the on-line games with monthly fees. So we would survive nicely, but the frills would be gone.

Good for you!
All I see everywhere are for sale signs on houses that aren’t selling.
This state is dying.

It happened 2 months ago . No ill effect so far . I am lucky in that I make a 6

figure salary and I have a mortage of less than a thousand dollars a month.

My wife was tired of working and hey , I can’t blame her . I feel priveleged that

I can afford her that pleasure. She is more than worth it. :slight_smile:

My wife makes in less than a month what I make all year, so the answer varies.

Losing my income: We’d be fine.

Losing her income: We’d be toast (though we have a bit of a nest egg we could dip into for a while).

Our incomes are pretty close, although mine is larger by virtue of being with the gov’t for over 32 years. We have a daughter in college and one particular debt that takes a huge chunk every month. Then we have the usual expenses, and the unusual expense of rent at a marina to keep our boat.

There is no way we could get along right now on one income for more than a couple of months. In a pinch, we could work with the lender of our big debt (which otherwise disappears in 2009), make our daughter take out some loans (which we’ve worked hard to avoid), sell the boat, and cut way back on our fun stuff.

I could quit contributing to my TSP fund (a 401k equivalent) so we’d have that available. I could reamortize another loan to reduce its payments, so that would help. But the mortgage, the car, the credit card, and the evil loan aren’t going away.

If we had to, we could avoid living in a box under the freeway, but life as we enjoy it now would change a lot. And I wouldn’t be retiring in 2010 as we plan now, when the evil loan is paid and the car is paid and the daughter is out of college and the other little loan is paid. By mid 2009, we’ll be in a happy place, but till then, we both need to maintain our current level of income or rethink our lifestyle entirely.

It would be pretty damned scary. Our youngest has mild special needs and his therapies cost about $5K per month (yeah, you read that right).

But of course, we have a family business, so we all sink or swim together…

Back before his diagnosis, we were flush and we re-financed our mortgage down to 15 years, with the idea that when the kids graduated from HS, it would be paid off. We have not refinanced again, because this is a short-term problem and we don’t want a long-term solution.

But it’s still hard.

Until Labour day, I was earning 2.5-3X what my wife was. We saved her entire salary (easy, since she was paid a government agency in another), plus some of mine.
Then we moved.
After Labour day, MrsB’s income doubled, and I’ve been unemployed. The amount we save each month has dropped, but we’re doing fine.

When I start working again (hopefully soon – I have a third “less formal” interview next week) my paycheques go straight into our savings. Except for a bit I’ll skim for a motorcycle and related expenses.

Unemployment is nothing new to me. I was unemployed from September 2003 to June 2004, and back in 1998 I had an 8 month stretch of payless pleasure.

*agency in another country)

Right now it wouldn’t be a huge problem if my husband were to lose his job. However, if for some reason I was unable to work we’d be screwed. I make about 3x what he does and I pay out accordingly. I have a pretty good amount in savings, so we could coast for a while before we were in dire straits. I hope to save several thousand more in the next few months and get us further above water just in case anything like that were to happen.

Come on, that’s a pretty bleak outlook.

It would take at least a couple months for the eviction proceedings to take full effect. :wink: