Is Your Second Income Worth It?

Faith and Finance
by Phil Lenahan | Source:
Q. My husband and I just had our first child, and I am reaching the end of my leave of absence from work. My greatest desire is to stay home with my baby, but I’m not sure how we will get by financially, since there never seemed to be enough money when we were both working. Do you have any suggestions?


It is possible for many families to make it on one income today, even though society tells us differently. Certainly, you will need to manage your money with great care and skill. Proper budgeting and a simplifying of your material expectations will be key components of a successful plan.

You may also be surprised to hear that in many situations a second income may actually be costing your family money! It’s easy to think of our gross income as the amount being added to the family coffers, when in reality, we incur a great number of expenses just to hold a job. When all of these costs are considered, you may find that you are working for less than minimum wage, or even losing money.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s assume you are planning on working 20 hours per week and you anticipate an hourly rate of $15 per hour. Your gross income would equal $15,600 per year. Because two-income families find themselves extra tired and squeezed for time, they will typically spend a great deal more on convenience items, resulting in substantially higher costs. The following simple income statement provides an example of how a second income may be spent:

Gross Income $15,600
Tithe 1,560
Taxes (estimate @ 30%) 4,680
Higher food costs 2,000
Auto costs 3,000
Child care 3,500
Clothing 1,000
Meals out 1,000

Total expenses $16,740
Net loss $ 1,140

These amounts are estimates, and may differ from your own situation, but I would encourage you to go through the same exercise. You might be surprised when you see the results. Here’s what one woman had to say after our budgeting exercise showed she could stay at home:

“My husband and I have been married just over a year and were excited about starting a family right away. Neither of us had a large amount of savings and both of us had school and credit card debts so I was convinced that I would have to work at least part time after the baby to make things work. My husband was convinced otherwise. He used your worksheets after we both read through the workbook together and proved to me that I could be a full-time homemaker. Our daughter is two months old now and I couldn’t be happier! It isn’t easy, especially living in the ultra-expensive Washington, D.C. area, but it is so worth it. We are encouraging all our young couple friends to go through this same process right away.”

Mrs. D. VA

After completing your own analysis, maybe you’ll find, like “Mrs. D.,” that you can fulfill your dream of staying home for your family. God love you!

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