At the start of a marriage, if husband or wife plans to be a stay-at-home parent, save 100% of the income that might stop. Even if married for several years and one spouse might not stay-at-home, as the Lord leads, set a goal, and develop a plan to live on one income.
Unless God tells you differently, save the unspent income in a Capital Fund or other account you set up specifically to buy major items (“Fund”). Use these funds to pay for big-ticket items that won’t fit the operating spending plan. As well, future home schoolers should use this Fund for extra costs that might result from the move to one income, such as books, tables, chairs. If in debt other than a mortgage, before saving in the Fund, prepare a debt repayment schedule, and repay non-mortgage debts.
Journey to One Income Living
If God leads you and your family to live on one income, go for it. You will need His PhD to start, and stay committed:
- Patience (Isaiah 30:18)
- Humility (1 Peter 5:6)
- Dependence (Isaiah 26:4)
You might find these suggestions helpful:
- Surrender every area of your lives to Christ–let Him be Lord and Saviour. Ask Him to search you and show you hindrances (Psalm 139:23-24). Too often, we forget that when we surrender to Jesus, He will enable us to live in our income. Recall His promise to give life, food, and clothes…when we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:24-34).
- Pray (fast as you feel led) individually and as a family. This should be God’s will. Without reservations, husband and wife must agree to live on one income. When tempted to think you can’t do it, be assured, if it is His will, you will do it in His time (2 Peter 1:3). You can’t do it alone–that’s why Christ followers have the Holy Spirit living in us (Galatians 3:3).
- Once God guides you to set the goal to live on one income by a specific date, accept that you won’t borrow or use credit cards to raise income. Understand that money isn’t the issue, lifestyle choices are. And so, you can’t expect a two income lifestyle, on one income. You must forego some wants.
- Don’t go for the home run! Do not stop the second income abruptly. Move gradually; start living on one income plus, say, 80% of the income that will stop. Over an agreed period, lower 80% to zero. If you try to go there in one swoop, you might think it’s impossible. As noted earlier, save unspent income in the Capital Fund.
Husband and wife should do a household financial plan, including spending plan, Capital Fund, and Material Worth Statement (listing of stuff owned at market value, less debts). To lower debt or raise cash, ask God if you should sell “valuables.”
At first, do not be surprised when expenses exceed the lone income. That’s normal, even at the third attempt! Go back, review assumptions, eliminate more wants, ask God for His insights.
- To track future household activities and finances, decide to start a Family Council (board of directors for the home) or equivalent. One person should write-up the books, but the family should be involved in household decisions.
- Get tax advice about the projected one-income household. You might be pleasantly surprised.
- Downsize; simplify, consider the following: renting instead of owning a home, starting a vegetable garden, getting a freezer to keep out-of-season vegetables.
- When God shows you to start; pray, go, keep praying!
- As you go, monthly in the Family Council, review progress. Don’t revise the goal unless God directs.
Giving up one income to be home with children is not a financial, but a lifestyle decision, which job-loss could force on you. It’s hard work.
Though Doreen and I were not Christ followers when we decided to live on one income, in hindsight, we know it was right. We sacrificed, especially the first five years when Doreen and our two young children didn’t have access to convenient, reliable transport. As a grandparent, I assure you, sacrifices today to train up children “in the way they should go,” are small in the big picture–they are temporary, with permanent rewards.
Copyright (C) 2009, 2012, Michel A. Bell