Dear Deborah

0 comments Posted on April 27, 2012

Expert Financial Advice

Dear Deborah,
Do you have any guidelines to help a mother decide if it is beneficial financially to go back to work once her child/children go to preschool or kindergarten?

As a parent, you probably already know what kind of lifestyle you want for you and your family as your children are growing up.

Couples need to discuss what they want for their family. It’s up to the parents to come to an agreement on what’s truly important and how they can achieve this for their family.

Although some mothers prefer to stay at home with their children, they often think they won’t be able to pay the bills. Parents often forget about adding in extra expenses when they both work and when they have children to look after.

There are many evenings of take out food, due to time constraints or exhaustion. Hundreds of dollars are spent on upgrading the wardrobe for work. Child care costs can add up to thousands of dollars every year.

You’ll want to crunch the numbers to find what you are truly earning per month when you’re working.

Second Income Worksheet


Gross Income     __________

Estimated taxes    __________

Deductions (Social Security, etc.)  __________

Net Spendable Income   __________

Second Income Expenses:

Transportation (Gas, parking, etc.)  __________

Child care     __________

Clothing     __________

Lunches at work, snacks, drinks  __________

Dining out (instead of home cooking) __________

Additional work expenses   __________

Total Expenses    _______

Net Monthly Income     __________

Although we may think it is difficult to live on one income, it can be manageable. A reader, T.P., wrote me and explained how he and his wife have lived well on his income. He writes:

“[We have] lived frugally on one income, driving one car, carpooling for everything (work, extracurricular activities, etc.), biking or walking. We are smart shoppers, we garden, and my wife Shelley bakes a lot from scratch. She sews and is a good financial manager. We bought a house with sufficient space for a lot less than what the banks wanted to lend us and thus have been mortgage free for more than ten years. We have been able to put all three of our children through their first college degree, been able to give away lots of money to causes and people we believe in, and even were able to give younger couples interest-free loans.”

T.P. is deeply convinced that we have bought into the wrong dream. He says, “The fact that Christians are in the same kind of [financial] trouble as the average Americans speaks volumes, and we have become ‘of the world.’”

T.P. and his wife are examples of many families who are living happily on one income. Not only have they been able to live well.  Having been thrifty and smart with money, they have been able to be generous with others.

These one-income families have chosen not to live on or depend on credit. They have chosen not to buy the biggest or the most expensive things, such as cars or houses. They’ll have a huge advantage when times get leaner and adjustments need to be made.

Deborah Nayrocker writes on personal money management topics, showing others how to take control of their financial future. An award-winning writer, she is a guest contributor with and a finance columnist with

Deborah is the author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and the Bible study Living a Balanced Financial Life. Her Web site is

If you have a financially-related question that you would like to ask Deborah, click here.


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