Two Income Family - We've Been Swindled

10 litres of excellent laundry liquid can be easily made for under $2
with three simple ingredients.

THE only word to describe two income families is heartbreaking.

Most families I know decide to send both parents out to work full time to make ends meet.  I applaud this brave decision because it seems to be the responsible answer to getting ahead and making ends meet - right?  Wrong.

The both of us.
We're in this together playing
to our strengths.

The following case scenario is based on most two income families that I know of. 

There is wild excitement and celebration that we both are now in full time employment - a bubbly gets popped in honour of this accomplishment. We go out and buy a few office-appropriate clothes (we can buy more once the pay packets begin to come in) and we enroll the three kids in childcare - yep, this is expensive but we will be OK.

After four weeks of catching the bus and it running late then consequently getting in trouble from the boss, we both agree to buy a good reliable second hand car to drive to work - $11,000.00 is a sensible sum to spend....after all, the repayments are well under $100 per week so there is plenty of money left.  Both of us are becoming too tired to make lunches every night, so $10 per day is way less than everyone else at the office spends on food and coffee each day, so we are at least being restrained. The car rego and maintenance are only a yearly or half yearly cost, so there will be money for that no doubt.  We are very proud to be contributing to the household, using our mind and making a better life for the kids. We'll be able to get ahead financially real soon.

One year down the track we realise that something is very, very wrong.  We both are pretty exhausted, no wealthier and weekends are dedicated to housework - what has gone wrong?

Here is what has gone wrong - let's do the very simple math:

Item Weekly
Net Second Income 
Business Clothes
Child Care x 3
Public Transport/Petrol
Presents/Social Fund
Car 2 Rego
Car 2 Maintenance
Car 2 Repayment
Total Extra Net Income

We are only two dollars better off per week. Oh, and this does not cover that fact that we are so tired that we end out buying dinner two nights a week, nor does it include that we have forgotten to factor in car insurance, nor does it factor in that we are now not eligible for child family payments because we earn too much as a combined income. Oh, and it does not cover the extra mobile phone and phone plan we went into so childcare could contact us at work.

We madly recalculate the math and replace the batteries in the calculator but still get the same result. We then figure it on a spreadsheet and end up sitting up in bed staring at the calculations on the laptop well into the wee hours of the morning - the realisation is just simply heartbreaking.

We reach over and shake our partner awake and chat about this sad, sad situation. We cry. We then both agree to get rid of the car and go back to public transport - that will save us $121.00 a week. Excellent! Then the realisation dawns on us that we are still only earning a net $3.20 per hour or $6292.00 a year. Our heart breaks again. Tears flow again for the real slavery we have found ourselves in. Then we just get mad. Real mad.

The family cat.
Do not be deceived, she's the boss.

Folks, there are easier ways to create $121.00 per week (or $2.00 per week!) in the family budget - going out and getting a second full time job could be the most heartbreakingly misguided decision we ever make.

There is another way.

Take care folks - stay nice.


Nothing matches.....
our cupboard of favourite ware


  1. Good post, we see so many exhausted parents I loved being home for 14 years with our daughters. So many don't consider it an option.

    1. And there are so many ways to save and earn the small extra we need from the home front too.

  2. Yes but now my partner has had no work for last 6 weeks we are grateful for my job and income. Thought life was meant to get easier not harder as we get older.
    Really enjoying your blog atm not just for money saving ideas but general subject topics have been very relevant and enjoyable to me. Ruth.

    1. Hi Ruth, I am certainly not encouraging a blanket approach - there are many ways to divide up work outside the home and inside the home. it could be a combination of both of you doing some part time work or perhaps a small home business. it could even be 3 or 4 small part time contracts between you. We do what we need to do, but just making a quantum leap into both being full time out of the home earners can lead to someone wasting their life. Everybody is different - it sound like you are doing the very best thing that needs to be done at your home at the moment. Whilst your partner is looking for more work they could be doing the cooking from scratch, looking after the budget, frugal shopping etc to ensure that the need to earn money is at it's lowest. As times change, both parties in the relationship need to willingly and easily morph into taking up the necessary tasks and responsibilities depending on their circumstances. All the very best for things working out Ruth - never doubt your intelligence on coming up with innovative ways to save and earn the money you need.

  3. Excellent post, Mr HM. Until you sit down with that calculator and crunch the numbers, you don't realize just how much that second income really costs. We have been a one income family for the longest time and people still ask us how we manage. I say - "Quite nicely, thank you".

    1. This made me smile Mel - so many people are shocked by single income families doing OK - sometimes I would love to whip out the calculator on their budget!

  4. This is so true and one of our totally worst mistakes..we thought more money equalled more happiness..took some time but it dawned on us we were not happy and took steps to change it ..several years later we are very happy and do not regret our decision ..

    1. You are one of the enlightened ones then Sara - spread the word. So many folk are slaves to their lives.

  5. Brilliant my friend. I remember my Mum was always there to welcome us home from school. We had a quick veg vegimite sandwhich and then out to the backyard to play. She was there for us and it felt so good. Then Dad would arrive home from work and that was great too. On Friday evening he would bring us three kids a packet of Twisties each and we were allowed to stay up and watch Bonanza. Now that was the good life and they are the things I remember from my youth. Blessings Gail

    1. They are good memories gail. Although we live in a different world now there are still good things to reach out into the past and pull forward into the present. Although employment has a very different reality to 40 years ago, assuming we need two full time incomes is a real lie that is encouraged by consumerism and society.

  6. As the stay at home component of our family arrangement, it may seem like I'm a kept woman. However, apart from the childcare aspect, which is the main focus, I'm also the bank accountant, tax accountant, domestic engineer, personal assistant, secretary, part time nurse, gardener, carpenter, plumber and the occasional taxi service, when my husband's car is off the road, for planned maintenance and repairs.

    If we had to pay others for the work I focus on, there's no way a second income would cover it all. So when someone does manage to stay at home, their services are quite valuable. You can literally save thousands.

    I've been able to keep our dishwasher going for nine years now, by googling the problems it has had, then buying spare parts from a local repair shop. Had I been working, we would have gone through at least two dishwashers by now. Because it adds up, when you have to pay a technician just to replace spare parts. It's more cost effective to replace it, after the third call out.

    While I might actually earn more per hour, if I worked outside the home - I'm only getting paid for doing one job.

    1. Chris this is EXACTLY the conclusion I had hoped all our readers can come to. You epitomise the entire post.

  7. Bravo..!!! Excellent post about a subject that is dear to my heart. :)

    1. Thanks Sally. I could have written so much more - it is a big subject with far reaching effects.

  8. Some years ago I had a young relative put into my care. The child care costs were staggering and it broke my heart daily dropping the little poppet off before work to spend such a long day in care. And the way this year is rolling out I am taking much reassurance from one income families who are sharing their experiences on the web and who are showing us how it is done, especially as I am surrounded by two income families in the physical world, who really only know how to earn and spend.

    1. Oh Sherri - I too am surrounded by double income families. I am becoming less quiet when I listen to their plight. One of the biggest hurdles is the fear of loosing skills in the work place, which certainly is a consideration. However I am more frequently whipping out the calculator when I hear these conversations and spreading the word. If I stay silent then I am contributing to the myth.

  9. Totally agree, but only because we ended up doing it. I spent many nights crying about whether we could afford to live off one wage when we welcomed our little bubba into the world. Now I am kicking myself that we didn't use our two incomes more wisely before I went on maternity leave. It's now been 3 years and 2 babies and we are more than fine!
    - Kelly B

    1. Kelly - well done. It sounds like you have got it sorted. Pay it forward.

  10. The numbers don't lie. :)

    1. Correct....unlike the siren voices of consumerism which do lie.

  11. We have never been a 2 income family. But I know many who struggle and wonder how we are managing so well. I have brought up your exact point to them them, but they dont' want to believe it. If you need more money, surely the way to get ahead is not to stop spending, but earn more money right? Wrong! I know when I was working I would spend money and justify it was making my life "easier". Now I haven't worked outside the home for 4 years and we are crushing our debt!

  12. I couldn't have said it better myself. Yourself and your readers are proof that single income families can thrive. We have never had anywhere near a double income. I waited until our youngest was in Prep before I thought about work outside of the home. Even then, I was happy to clean a couple of homes a week during school hours. Within 5 years we'd paid off our $100,000 mortgage on our low income.


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