More American families than ever before are led by “dual income” couples — households with a married couple where both spouses work — but many families, especially while they have young children, might want to try living on one income. Being a family that is living on one income can be a dream come true or, at least, a necessary adjustment to life with babies. It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t always happen purely “by choice,” but your family might discover that living on one income is more possible — and more rewarding — than you might expect.

According to a 2015 articles from the Pew Research Center, as of 2012, 60 percent of married couples with children under age 18 were dual income couples, and only 37 percent of married couples had a sole breadwinner. There has been a dramatic shift in the “typical” married couple’s financial arrangements over the past 60 years. Pew data shows that, in 1960, only 25 percent of married couples were dual income, and 72 percent had a sole breadwinner (70 percent had a sole breadwinner father). As of 2015, according to data from the Center for American Progress, 64.4 percent of American mothers were working outside the home, with 42 percent being the primary or sole breadwinners.

However, lots of moms would prefer to stay home. According to a Gallup poll in 2016, 54 percent of employed mothers with children under the age of 18 would prefer to stay home full-time to take care of the house and family. The Gallup survey also found that, among the mothers who are currently home full-time, 57 percent said that they like their current job as moms and homemakers, and only 37 percent said that they would rather find an outside-the-home job.

Living on one income might seem out of reach, or like something out of a bygone era, but clearly it is something that many families would love to be able to do. And with a few adjustments and careful planning, it can still be done. Here are some key tips, financial strategies and pieces of advice to keep in mind if you want to shift your family to living on one income.

Living on One Income May Improve Your Marriage

Brad Ruttenberg is a Certified Financial Planner and Co-Creator of The Money Twins, who works with his twin brother to help simplify money and personal finance for young families — and he and his wife are veterans at living on one income.

“When my wife and I found out that we were having our first of two baby boys, we decided that she would leave her job to stay home with our son,” Ruttenberg says. “This left us with a single income.”

By going through the process of adjusting to life on one income, Ruttenberg and his wife realized something surprising: Successfully living on one income wasn’t all about numbers or budgets or money — it was about communication, setting goals and helping each other get more of what they really wanted out of life.

“If done properly, living on one income can make your marriage stronger,” Ruttenberg says. “This entire decision should start with a deep understanding of each other’s goals. There need to be joint goals that are agreed upon, but it’s just as important, if not more, to have your own individual goals that you support for each other as a spouse. You need to keep the lines of communication open even more so. If you can pass the test, you’ll have a stronger marriage because of it.”

According to a Gallup poll in 2016, 54 percent of employed mothers with children under the age of 18 would prefer to stay home full-time.

Daycare is Expensive

If you are already part of a dual income household, and you already have kids, think about how much you are already spending just so one spouse can keep going to work every day. Daycare, commuting costs, income taxes and all the other costs of having a job really add up; having one spouse stay home may not hurt your bottom line as much as you might think.

“We live in Southwest Florida, and the daycare that we would have used, three years ago, was around $900 per child per month,” Ruttenberg says. “If we had decided to have my wife keep working, we still would have had a net positive from her income after paying for daycare, but our decision was based on more than just money, it was about our goals individually and as a couple.”

Don’t be Afraid to Keep Renting

Many new parents feel they need to buy a house as soon as possible, to provide stability and have a real sense of “home” for their young family. But if you want to try living on one income, you might be better off renting a cheaper home, instead of stretching for a bigger mortgage.

“If we were still going to have two incomes, we probably would have bought a home right away, but since we had decided to be living on one income, instead we decided to rent a little longer to stay flexible,” Ruttenberg says. For their family, “renting was a smart move. This basically fixed our housing expenses in our budget. If we had purchased a home, our housing expenses could have fluctuated, due to ongoing maintenance and repairs.”

Even if you don’t own your home during the early years of living on one income, you might appreciate the added stability of not being on the hook for unexpected housing repairs and maintenance expenses. As a renter, if your furnace goes out or the appliances break down, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to fix it.

Start a Stay-at-Home Parent Side Hustle

Just because you’re living on one income doesn’t mean your stay-at-home spouse is banished from the labor force forever. Even if you don’t want the time commitment and stress of a full-time job, it’s becoming more popular than ever for people to have a “side hustle” to earn extra income outside the scope of their regular employment. “Parent-preneurs” can use the flexibility of being home with kids to build up a small business on the side — often while taking care of their own kids. Some popular side hustles for stay-at-home parents include: child care, tutoring, photography, children’s party planning, odd jobs, errand running and more.

“A side hustle for parents doesn’t have to be something new that you learn to do,” Ruttenberg says. “Take a current hobby, passion or skill you’ve developed throughout your life and find a way to monetize it. [Today,] it’s hard not to find a way to make money on a skill. With online courses, blogging and social media, anything’s possible.”

Living on one income might seem like a dream come true, but keep in mind that it does require careful planning, budgeting and, most importantly, open communication between the spouses. Reducing your income while adding kids to your family might sound like a recipe for stress and conflict, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Talk with — and listen to — your spouse. Identify your deepest goals together. Support each other in building the life you want for your family — and, along that journey, you can find a way to make the money work and have all the numbers add up.

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