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Rent/Mortgage with One Income - Page 2

post #21 of 49

We live in a moderately high cost of living area.  It's an affluent suburb, but we live in the "poorer" part of it, which is actually some of the most economical housing in the whole metro.  We have kept our housing costs down to a quarter or a third of a single gross income, ever since we were first married.  That's really been the key for us in getting out of debt and keeping me home with the children (and surviving a layoff as well).  My husband makes a decent, but not great, income at his job.  Our neighbors are mostly families with two not-so-great incomes, so it's pretty quiet (dead) around here during the day.


I actually calculated cost per square foot when we were looking for an apartment--we're home all day and need SPACE, not high-end finishes.  We moved much closer to my husband's work, to save on gas and on commuting stress.  We took a three bedroom apartment when we only had one child, so we'd be able to stay a few years before we outgrew it (moving is expensive, in both time and money).


Our lifestyle reflects that we've prioritized having children over buying a home or anything else; partly because of our ages.  (Running out of time on the biological clock.)  With only one income, we're priced out of buying a home here, but it's not where we want to live long-term, anyway.

post #22 of 49



I'd love to hear your ideas for lentil meals.  I have one lentil stew recipe I like, but haven't tried any other lentil dishes and really want to eat them more often!

I think our favorite is Taco Lentils.  We've also had them in pilaf, and honey-garlic baked, and as the filling in samoosas. :)

post #23 of 49

We make it work.  DH earns a decent income, but the area has a high COL.  We plan to purchase a home in a couple years, but until then we deal with renting something decent but inexpensive while we save a downpayment that will keep the monthly expense from kicking our butts. We have one newer vehicle that is paid off, and DH drives an older (but  reliable) car with good gas milage.  It's one thing if he has a car breakdown while it's just him, with the kids, it's very different if the family vehicle leaves us stranded. 


We eat what we can organically, but not everything, and I meal plan around sales. 


I happily thrift/craigslist/etc for most things. 


We save.  For us, it is a priority to establish a large amount in savings in case something happens. We don't want to have to rely on debt. 

post #24 of 49

I agree with the advice to buy a house with 1 income in mind. DH bought this house before ds and I moved in, so he obviously did it with his income in mind and not relying on any other money. Over the years (dh has owned this house for 7 or 8 years now) his income has gone up and his mortgage has gone down (by refinancing). When I'm working, my money is just basically for extras. I've been here for 4 years now and for the first 3 years I worked pretty steady, part time. This last year I changed jobs to be a substitute para for the school district so I chose when I wanted to work. When this baby is born I'll be mostly a SAHM (might work a day here and there as a substitute, but not more than 2 or 3 days a month).


When we go to buy our next house we will do the same thing- buy it with dh's income in mind and not mine. We also don't take ds's child support into consideration when making financial decisions. That's considered "bonus money".

post #25 of 49

I think the key really is to budget and make choices early on based on one income.  When you live in an area where a cheap 3 br apartment is over 1K/month it's a harsh reality that that one income had better be pretty decent. 

post #26 of 49

Re: simplifying eating and lentil recipes....  To the pp who asked about lentils, there is an awesome thread floating around here (and compilation of said thread) entitled, "Under $2 meal ideas" in the frugality and finances section.  There are tons of lentil recipes/ideas there!  We love lentils.  For us, it is a nice break from meat.  We eat alot of meat, but for us it is one of the most economical parts of our diet.  We raise rabbits for the table, we have chickens and guineas for eggs and meat, goat and duck is our red meat, and we get pork for the cost of butchering it (we do all the butchering and processing so mostly just bags and water is what we use to do it, plus the initial cost of knives and a foodsaver, which have since paid for themselves many times over).  So yeah, we eat lots of meat.  Anyway, so for me to simplify our eating has been hard since there's always meat that needs to be cooked/deboned/etc.  I have been using our meat differently, and have begun making mostly one-dish meals.  For me, time=$ since we have $ making projects going on at all times, esp. w/keeping bees this time of year.  I've been making lots of grilled pizzas. I can use bits of different veggies and grilled pizzas use WAY less cheese.  I use up bits of leftover meat.  I try to pick one day a week to smoke meat to use the rest of the week, since it is an all-day project keeping the temp right on the smoker.  I use to feel guilty if I had less than 4 dishes per meal to serve, but have realized how expensive it was getting and everyone still seems perfectly satisfied.  I'm having my oldest dd make a nice big meal once a week and that helps us not feel deprived of fancy cookin', lol.  Last night she made doro wat w/rabbit, extra boiled eggs, a huge salad, and lots of watermelon.  I don't know where I'm going with this except that everyone has different things available and we mamas have to do the best we can with what we have.  My garden stinks this year and i just wish I had someone with whom I could barter meat or honey for veggies!  It'll be an awful fruit year, too here.

post #27 of 49

My dh is the SAHP.  I have a professional degree and a good income.  We weren't huge spenders before the kids, but, between pre-school tuition and the work on our house, our expenses have grown.  We live in a high COL area, but in a crappy neighborhood that was on the cusp of gentrification before the market fell out.  The great thing, though, is that our mortgage is only $1000 and the other household expenses (not including property taxes) run only about $600/ mo (gas, water, electric, phone and insurance).  I am now a firm believer in high efficiency appliances and toilets.  Our electric bill is less than $30 mos (before turning on a/c) and we wash diapers daily.  Our water bill is only $40 every two months.


We have also benefited from my mom stepping in and offering to finance things for us at either 0 or 2% (rehab costs at 0% and a car at 2%).  We've been driving our paid off cars for 4 and 5 years respectively, but will need a new vehicle to accommodate 3 car seats in the winter.


We are also doing better on groceries between our meat and produce CSA's and paying more attention to our waste.  Clothing is either bought through discounted opportunities, thrift stores or end of season sales.


This way, we're still able to max out on the 401(K) and maintain a small sinking fund/emergency fund.


But, the house rehab work is not fully completed.  Since the major work has been completed, we have been doing what remains in chunks as the yearly bonus is paid.

post #28 of 49

We have two kids and I don't see housing as the issue in regards to being able to stay home. Food is our major expense, especially if with trying to be mindful and not eat junk. We have ZERO debt, and this is the number one reason we have been able to make this work. I graduated college, my honey did not, yet he is the working and although I can go back and make more than him, I have no intention of doing so at this time. I sell our no longer needed items on ebay (when I'm motivated enough to do so) to earn extra money. And. after a job loss we caved and applied for assistance, and honestly, all pride aside it really helped. Had we not done that we would have drained savings and then really been in trouble. Now he makes decent money, hours are long but he makes enough to cover rent and all our bills, but the sacrafice I guess is our ability to save like before. When I was working I would bank 75% of my paycheck because I knew we would need it someday. I really think if you want to stay home badly enough, you will find a way to make it work. I really think it just comes down to being debt free, and savvy in the way you spend money on necesseties.

post #29 of 49

I used to make double dh's income and lost my job before we had kids (I was in banking in NYC and it was just before 9/11  greensad.gif ).  Even at that, the adjustment was ROUGH.  I went down to half-salary for a year before I went on unemployment--which was literally 16% of my prior salary.




It took several years for us to adjust to where my missing income wasn't a serious problem.  We bought our house with one income in mind: mine.  We didn't plan to have kids, so this was fine.  And when I lost it, we DIDN'T have kids.  But I also didn't have my degree or certifications and suddenly the market was flooded with the fallout unemployed of 9/11.  So I wasn't without work willingly.  The step-down was fast and if not for the fact that we bought our house below our means and didn't have a ton of other debt, we'd have been in bankruptcy or foreclosure (or both).


Dh now makes a relatively good salary (albeit still less than I made 10 years ago).  And although we took a bath on our house when we moved, we weren't under water on it--and we bought a tiny foreclosure that cost us roughly a year of his income (but needed work).  So we're more comfortable now.


My long-winded point is that it wasn't one thing that made it possible.  And it wasn't a short-term journey to it being okay.  But it's possible.  Have hope.

post #30 of 49

i left my job last year to become a sahm.  i wanted to do it sooner than that, but we had to make certain adjustments to our lifestyle to make it happen.  when we bought our house several years ago, we bought in a small town in very low cost area, and we bought a house that was cheap enough that we could still afford it on 1 income (even though we had 2 incomes at the time).  then, once we had kids, we just had to get rid of other debt like car/loan payments, etc.  my husband does not make a lot of money (i made more than him), so we live frugally when we have to....shopping at yard sales, basic cable, etc.  i dont particularly love where i live (the part of the country OR the area), but it definately provides me with the opportunity to live the lifestyle that i desire (staying home, homeschooling, etc.)

post #31 of 49

We only have 1 vehicle. Almost everything we own is second hand. Our mortage is affordable at 860 dollars a month. We buy in bulk, and we eat vegetarian about 3-4 days a week. I dont spend much on myself. Its rare that I get to buy a new outfit. I plant a garden so I can have cheap produce. My husband has a really stable well paying job.


I have an education and could double our income if I went back to work, but its just not worth it to me.

post #32 of 49

I left my dh a year and a half ago and, on my own with very little job history, had to find a place to live for myself and my kids. I moved out to my friends' mountain land, bought a 5th wheel travel trailer for $200 and lived in that. Since then I've added a cabover camper and my boyfriend moved up here with me, bringing another 5th wheel with him that he pays $410/mo in rent on. I've been a stay at home mom for most of my kids' lives but this stint has been since my camp job ended last August. Living in travel trailers is not ideal (no insulation and very little space), but it made it possible for me to be home with my kids during a traumatic time for all of us.


Now my partner and I are looking to move into town, in the SF Bay Area of California, which is high COL. We decided to only look at houses that are under 1/3 of his income. It certainly isn't easy to find one in a decent neighborhood, but with persistence we have found a few and will hopefully be moving soon. If you're determined, and patient, you can accomplish quite a bit.


What's interesting is that we have been able to find 3 bedroom houses in this area for less than what my ex-dh is paying for a 2 bedroom apartment, and his rent is going up soon.

post #33 of 49

Good Financial Planning! DP and I just purchased a home, we put about 35% down and the mortgage payments will be about 25% of his moderate salary. We hope to pay off the house in 5 years.


We spent two years, living cheaply in an apartment when we wanted to be in a house, looking for the right place in our budget. We were strict about the house budget! DP is debt free, and has been his entire adult life. He paid off his first home, then when he got a windfall he purchased a rental property which he paid off asap. Now we have the income from 3 (soon to be 4) rental units. I have some debt, but I've been working on paying it off for a few years now (it's a small amount, but I was a single mom for the last 4 years). It was really DP's good financial habits. He has always lived very frugally. We buy older cars, so no payments. We don't aquire new debt (other than the new mortgage). We basically live frugally - we don't eat out very often, we don't take vacations, we don't buy things we don't have the money for.


Sometimes, it bothers me that I drive an old rusty minivan when it seems like all the other moms have nice newer cars/vans, but I just remind myself that WE own our cars, not the bank. It also helped when I saw a girl scout mama in her brand new Toyota Sienna living in a really crummy apartment, on a busy street. I had been jealous of her van, I knew she was lower income than I was. I was happy to be driving my old van knowing I had a really nice place to come home to.

post #34 of 49

We chose to buy a much less expensive home that we could afford.  We grossed 6 figures last year, but only spend ~10% of that on housing.  Other expenses (utilities, etc) add up quickly and food is $$$ here (milk is ~$6-8 a gallon) and we buy a lot of organic, local, etc.  We don't really end up with a lot of money left at the end of the month, but we don't spend the majority on housing.

post #35 of 49

We cut our income in half. We refied our mortgage to 30 years and will be making the minmum payment for the next 2 years until I go back oto work.

post #36 of 49

we rented cheap condo, then moved to an even cheaper 1 bedroom for a year- long enough to save up for a down payment on a house. the mortgage will be less than our 1 bedroom apt rent. the kids are in our room for the first 3 years of their life anyway. it sucked and was cramped but totally worth it to just suck it up. we are debt free minus the house as well so that helps.

post #37 of 49
Originally Posted by whoami View Post

We have ZERO debt, and this is the number one reason we have been able to make this work.

I think this is really key.  If I were in your position OP, I would pay off every debt you currently have (student loans, vehicle loans, credit cards, etc.) and then start living off your DH income while saving yours.


Like a lot of the previous posters we buy used or discounted for almost everything, try to keep our grocery budget down, own older vehicles, eat (mostly) at home, don't take vacations, etc.  I don't feel like these things are big sacrifices.  In fact, its such a way of life that paying full price for things or buying a new car seems silly to me.  The only thing I really worry about is what we will do if my DH gets laid off.  In this economy being aware of and planning for a lay-off really make sense.


Now, off to try the taco lentils recipe!

Edited by Lucy Alden - 6/27/11 at 9:31am
post #38 of 49

We live in a pretty low COL area. I know we're below the national average anyway. We both drive used cars and we don't really go out to eat or to the movies. We take advantage of a free entertainment as much as we can. We do have debt, mostly from student loans, but we make it work. Most of our money goes to food and rent. We eat pretty simply, although I do buy mostly organic produce. Simply meaning that I don't do a lot of fancy cooking. We're vegan, so we save a lot never buying meat, cheese, etc. We rarely buy new clothes, and even when we do, we keep very simple wardrobes. I only have maybe 4 or 5 shirts and only 2 pairs of pants. I like it that way-less laundry!  I'm very low maintenance as far as beauty products are concerned.  No pricey salon visits or anything. I'm diligent about turning lights off, not wasting water, and reusing things whenever I can.


We also save a lot of money because, fortunately, we're all really healthy.  I've sometimes wondered if I would be able to stay home if one of us got sick or something. We only have major medical insurance since Dh is self employed. Health insurance would be a HUGE cost for us. We have very little in savings, although we're working on it.


We do all of this on about $60,000/year. To me, that seems like a modest or average salary. I'm really not sure about that, though, since most people never talk about money in specifics. I have no idea if that's low/high/average for a one income family.  Anyone care to divulge that information? I'm really curious what others have to work with.

post #39 of 49
Originally Posted by aquarius aspiring View Post

How do families with one income and a stay-at-home parent afford to make a monthly rent or mortgage payment? Do you live in a low cost-of-living area?


I know that you can save money with clothing, food, household products, etc., but how do you save money on housing, especially with one or more children?

We most definately live in a low COL area and made that choice delibrately.  We live outside of town (waaay out) bought more house for less money, and saved big on in town taxes and services.  It's been one of the best decisions we ever made.  No, we don't have city water/sewer, a garage, close by stores/schools/or jobs, but it's worth it to us.  Plus, it's beautiful out here!  We also started our first ever garden this year, which'll save us big on food.  With me being at home and living where we do, we've been able to improve our house and yard, put our daughter(s) in a private school, and have a few extras w/o living above our means.  Both of our cars are older (10 years and six years),  paid for (and were before kids), we limit our credit card use to one, we have life insurance policies in place, dropped our land line and both have older cell phones and great plans, we enjoy basic satellite tv, and we're done having kids now, which means in about 4 years I fully intend to head back to work part-time to supplement our income.  We've been extrememly blessed that my husband's income has kept up with our level of need and since we make conservative spending decisions plus have some savings, we should be okay until I can get back out there.  Even then, I want to be home when the girls are, so I'll need a super flexible schedule (won't be making that much unless I stumble on something really, really good!).

post #40 of 49

When we were looking at buying a house, we knew that I wanted to be a SAHM (even though we had no kids back then).  We purposely looked at houses in a price range that we could afford on one income.  I had seen too many double income families get sucked into buying $400K houses, and then complain that they were "stuck" working when they really wanted to be at home.


So, we purchased a house for half of that, in a town 10 minutes away that wasn't as desirable, and pay all our bills with DH's income.  I get to stay at home, and we can still afford to do fun stuff.  It does take budgeting-- if we want to buy something big, instead of just immediately purchasing it, we have to plan it out, and save up the money. 

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