or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Working and Student Parents › What do you think of the idea of a two-income trap?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What do you think of the idea of a two-income trap? - Page 3

post #41 of 234
After the birth of our first child when I realized I would either have to go back to school to pursue nursing, or return to my minimum wage job, I cried and cried. We just couldn't make it on dh's salary. As in - we wouldn't have been able to afford rent and food.

I remember wailing to my mother, who herself is a SAHM to five children (I'm the oldest) that it wasn't fair, how did they manage to have her stay at home her whole life.

She told me two things a) that today is not 30 years ago. They bought their first house for like $6000, which is less than our vehicle cost today. And b) for the first time ever she told me that if she had someone capable that she trusted to watch us... she would have loved to work part time.

My mother is the textbook SAHM. I always thought she loved it and thrived on it. Now I realize that half of that is true. While she cherished being home with us, today she feels like she may have given something up to do so.

Sorry if that's OT. I really, really struggle with defining myself as mother/wife/nurse/individual, and constantly feel like some area is lacking. We absolutely need me to be working at this point, for both economic issues and relationship issues between dh and I.

So no, I don't think the 'two income' is a trap for most people. Completely anecdotal, but out of ALL the two income families I know, no one is living cushily. It's about providing basics for their families.

NOW - having said all that, I *relish* my career. I am absolutely rabid about critical care nursing. I'm graduating this year, and launching right into my masters. I intend to cross train between the ICU and emergency services. WOH completes who I am. I still get the occasional sicking 'OMGosh my baby' feelings during the day, but I believe that's because I'm having a difficult time with childcare right now, I don't worry about my five year old who is at school.
post #42 of 234
I've not read the book, but I wonder if the authors mean it not on an individual family by individual family basis but on a society-wide basis. I mean, 2-3 generations ago, it was expected that families had only one wage earner, and therefore, businesses were more likely to offer health benefits, retirement benefits, and wages high enough to support a family on that. As it became more common for women to work and families to have 2 incomes though, instead of becoming a system where there is choice in how to earn a family income: 2 full incomes and more disposable income; 2 part time incomes; 1 full time income: it became less important to employers to help their employees sustain a family and now the default middle class income needed is two full incomes.
post #43 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nursemummy View Post
My mother is the textbook SAHM. I always thought she loved it and thrived on it. Now I realize that half of that is true. While she cherished being home with us, today she feels like she may have given something up to do so.
This is not off topic at all. In fact, it's a great point.

I think the stereotype of the 1950s housewife/stay at home mother is falsely idealized. I remember reading the profiles Betty Fridan studied in her book The Feminine Mystique about the despair, even drinking and medication that 1950s housewives used to cope. They often felt trapped.

That is a slightly different topic than the economic ability couples had to live on one income then. Today that same ability is not there. It's not as attainable for couples to live on a single income.

But the other point, about whether women were trapped in their roles as housewives and stay at home mothers, is a valid and related point.

Most families were not the Leave It to Beaver family of Ward and June Cleaver. Some women had alcoholic husbands, abusive husbands, etc. Even in cases where it wasn't a bad marriage, a woman might not have been happy having her role limited to one thing in life.

I guess I would trade the economic limitations we have in today's more expensive world for the increased opportunities I have as a woman, wife, and mother. I have a college education, where my grandmother and mother did not. I own my own property. I have had a good career. I can wear different hats - professional, mother, wife, woman, etc - at different times in my life. That is a choice, even if it's not a perfect economic situation.
post #44 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nursemummy View Post
So no, I don't think the 'two income' is a trap for most people. Completely anecdotal, but out of ALL the two income families I know, no one is living cushily. It's about providing basics for their families.
:
post #45 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EviesMom View Post
I've not read the book, but I wonder if the authors mean it not on an individual family by individual family basis but on a society-wide basis. I mean, 2-3 generations ago, it was expected that families had only one wage earner, and therefore, businesses were more likely to offer health benefits, retirement benefits, and wages high enough to support a family on that. As it became more common for women to work and families to have 2 incomes though, instead of becoming a system where there is choice in how to earn a family income: 2 full incomes and more disposable income; 2 part time incomes; 1 full time income: it became less important to employers to help their employees sustain a family and now the default middle class income needed is two full incomes.
This is a good point. I think that businesses haven't deliberately become anti-family, but they try to cut costs. They have cut pensions and replaced them with 401ks. They have increased employee cost-share rates for health insurance. The average work week hours has increased. It's all in the name of the bottom line.

One thing that strikes me is that in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was assumed most families had one main wage earner, the average work week was shorter than today.

Today, when it is assumed there are two wage earners, we still have the model at places of employment that was set up when there was one wage earner. And, to add to that, the pace of business and business "efficiency" have increased the expected work week.

So, we're working more hours, with two jobs, and it's harder to make ends meet. It's not a trap. It's a malfunctioning system.
post #46 of 234
I see a few mothers I know going back to work when their children are one because they 'need' to financially...I see that they 'need' their swimming lessons and starbucks every day, and notice that even when they were no longer receiving Maternity pay, they could still afford all these things (thus living only off hubby's salary). So I think it can be a 'trap' for some. For us, we are really really struggling on one income yet cannot afford for me to work unless we had free childcare.I think unless you have a really well paid job, there is little point (unless you want to do it of course). Our work also never cost us anything, we work in walking /cycling distance of home, get food at work, etc. But i agree with what a PP said that when you are working, you tend to spend more somehow, and have a more relaxed attitude about money perhaps. Whereas now, there's NO room to manoeuvre.

It definitely is way tougher than a generation ago, because of the house prices and inflation etc. I also haven't read the book, though, and am interested to hear about these theories.
post #47 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devaya View Post

It definitely is way tougher than a generation ago, because of the house prices and inflation etc. I also haven't read the book, though, and am interested to hear about these theories.
Absolutely!

That's one of the reasons I don't think there's a two-income trap. I think there is a two-income necessity (for most).

That statistic about how in 75% of American cities, you can not afford a median priced house on one median salary is very telling, I think.
post #48 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devaya View Post
I see a few mothers I know going back to work when their children are one because they 'need' to financially...I see that they 'need' their swimming lessons and starbucks every day, and notice that even when they were no longer receiving Maternity pay, they could still afford all these things (thus living only off hubby's salary). So I think it can be a 'trap' for some. For us, we are really really struggling on one income yet cannot afford for me to work unless we had free childcare.I think unless you have a really well paid job, there is little point (unless you want to do it of course). Our work also never cost us anything, we work in walking /cycling distance of home, get food at work, etc. But i agree with what a PP said that when you are working, you tend to spend more somehow, and have a more relaxed attitude about money perhaps. Whereas now, there's NO room to manoeuvre.
Like you pointed out in your own family, I see many families who struggle on one income. Maybe they can pull it off for a little while, that is short term, but they can not pull it off long term.

In our case, the only reason we can pull it off short term is because we saved up ahead of time. And we're a college educated couple, who both had decent paying careers, and live pretty frugally.

I really do not think it's swim lessons and cups of Starbucks coffee that prevents families from having a SAHP and living on one income. It's less about frugality and self-discipline than it is about housing costs, cost of groceries, gas, and health care, and of course job stability.

The example I used earlier for my own life I think plays with a lot of other families. We can't make it on one income, even if we live frugally (which we do). But, we don't need 100% of a second income to get by. We need about 1/3 of a second income plus 100% of the first income to pay basic expenses.

That leaves about 2/3 of the second income as discretionary income. With that we can choose to buy swim lessons and Starbucks, or whatever else. So, if someone were to glance at our spending, they might think, oh, just cut back on x, y, and z frivolous expenses.

But that wouldn't allow us to live on one income. Because we can live well on two incomes (or save, as we have done more often than not) does not mean we can get by on just a single income.

It's kind of deceiving, but it's not a two income trap.
post #49 of 234
I'm in awe of all the mothers who have saved ahead of time for SAHm-ing...conceiving DS was not exactly intentional but even if it had been, it seemed impossible to save on our income of roughly 12 dollars an hour (converting from pounds). The only reason we are even able to pay rent and bills now is bc we receive some benefit. Looking back though, I wish we had saved some, somehow...now I'm in a position where I feel to have another child would be financially irresponsible (DP feels this too). I agree with That is Nice that it is a flawed system indeed.
post #50 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devaya View Post
For us, we are really really struggling on one income yet cannot afford for me to work unless we had free childcare.I think unless you have a really well paid job, there is little point (unless you want to do it of course). Our work also never cost us anything, we work in walking /cycling distance of home, get food at work, etc. But i agree with what a PP said that when you are working, you tend to spend more somehow, and have a more relaxed attitude about money perhaps. Whereas now, there's NO room to manoeuvre.
I think that is true. I had read a few years ago, that if you remove the issues of retirement, social security credits, and resume gaps and look just at the paycheck, it might cost you more to work if you make under $30,000 per year and have child care expenses.

If you make over $30,000 per year (roughly $15 per hour), even with child care expenses and other work related expenses, it usually makes financial sense to work. Or at least doesn't cost you to work.

Like I said, though, that analysis removed the issues of retirement saving, social security credits, and the impact of being out of the work force on the ability to get a job when needed. So, those issues might need to be factored in...
post #51 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devaya View Post
I'm in awe of all the mothers who have saved ahead of time for SAHm-ing...conceiving DS was not exactly intentional but even if it had been, it seemed impossible to save on our income of roughly 12 dollars an hour (converting from pounds). The only reason we are even able to pay rent and bills now is bc we receive some benefit. Looking back though, I wish we had saved some, somehow...now I'm in a position where I feel to have another child would be financially irresponsible (DP feels this too). I agree with That is Nice that it is a flawed system indeed.
Definitely...the system is flawed. I just saw that you are in England, which, of course is a different system entirely. I think your economy is different, and your job market is different than in the U.S. And also the social programs are different.

I'm in the United States. Since maternity leave here is 12 weeks of unpaid leave, unless you use your regularly accumulated paid vacation, sick leave, etc, I felt a need to save ahead of time. I didn't feel like 3 months would be enough time (and it wasn't!).

It is such a flawed system. I paid a lot of taxes for years and years before having a baby (and I still pay taxes). I would like to see some of those taxes used so the U.S. can have family leave policies similar to Canada, and other countries.

Most likely taxes wouldn't increase much, especially if tax monies could be redirected from other programs...I have a few ideas!
post #52 of 234
maybe it was easy for my husband and i to just live with one income because we both always have. we're both from single parent households with deadbeat dads. in fact, compared to how we had it then, we still have it better now. even with just his teacher's salary.

we still go on vacations (camping and road trips, renaissance faires, the beach.) we've never been anywhere exotic, if that's what people mean.

we have plenty in savings.

i don't woh (i know this is the working mamas board, i saw this post from the main page...i do volunteer though!) but plenty of the things i do at home contribute to our "income" in the sense that i make it so that our basic necessities are cared for without having to spend so much money. (growing/ canning/ seed-saving/ from-scratch cooking/ crafting and sewing/ daycare)

i know not everyone is DOWN with doing this...but you COULD do it if you wanted to. which makes me think it's not a trap, but a choice.

of course i have read the posts that having a second job is very much for security as well as creature comforts, and that is understandable...very prudent actually. i guess we just don't feel like we are in that kind of danger.
post #53 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I am currently a SAHP. But I worked for nearly a decade before being a SAHP. Anyway, I always hear from other people that it costs money to work.

But, I honestly haven't noticed this myself. Yes, there is the obvious expense of child care. That is a big one. But my full time salary minus child care still leaves enough to make it financially lucrative to work.

Gas, clothing, wear and tear on a vehicle, and even food, have all been about the same costs when I was a stay at home mother and when I was working. Those costs didn't change. I'm not saving or spending more just because I'm at home or working.

I think it does depend on how much money you make though, especially in terms of child care. I remember reading the figure that if you make more than $30k per year, even with child care expenses, it makes sense to work. If you make less than $30k per year, it doesn't make sense to work, usually.

That figure was from a few years ago, so I don't know how it stands up with inflation or taxes.
Yes, I've never found that it cost me money to work, either. Not to mention the assumption that working outside the home means that I can't cook from scratch, that we eat out all the time, and of course that I spend that little bit of money I DO have left after paying for daycare, fast food and a maid to clean my house on large screen TVs and a big SUV.

If you take into account heating/airconditioning the house during the day, and electricity etc that is not being used when both parents are out of the house all day, I think it must come out costing money to stay at home.
post #54 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirp View Post
but you COULD do it if you wanted to.

I don't mean to call you out or pick on you chirp, but this is EXACLY what we're trying to discuss on this thread - in many, many, many families, NO, we canNOT just make a simple choice to stay home by doing things to save a little money here and there.
post #55 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by _betsy_ View Post
I don't mean to call you out or pick on you chirp, but this is EXACLY what we're trying to discuss on this thread - in many, many, many families, NO, we canNOT just make a simple choice to stay home by doing things to save a little money here and there.
:


When you make half the family income, it's hard to just decide a little extra frugality would make up for that. And, no offense chirp, but you HAVE a SAHM board. This is where we get to discuss our WOHM things. Thanks.
post #56 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirp View Post
i know not everyone is DOWN with doing this...but you COULD do it if you wanted to. which makes me think it's not a trap, but a choice.
How do you know that?

The "choice" as you call it for MANY isn't McMansion X vs. McMansion Y. It's house vs. cardboard box and grocery cart. It's food vs. no food. It's health insurance vs. no health insurance. It's winter clothes for the kids. It's heat vs. no heat. It's a little treat for the family every now and then. It's doing what you believe works best for you, your family, your life, your needs and goals and dreams and desires.

The best garden in the world isn't going to put a new transmission in a beater car or pay a doctor bill.

btw, I love that pic of your hubby and son!!
post #57 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin2004 View Post
How do you know that?

The "choice" as you call it for MANY isn't McMansion X vs. McMansion Y. It's house vs. cardboard box and grocery cart. It's food vs. no food. It's health insurance vs. no health insurance. It's winter clothes for the kids. It's heat vs. no heat. It's a little treat for the family every now and then. It's doing what you believe works best for you, your family, your life, your needs and goals and dreams and desires.

The best garden in the world isn't going to put a new transmission in a beater car or pay a doctor bill.
Exactly. This, exactly.

I get a little tired reading the implication all the time that all one needs to do to be a SAHP is garden, can, sew, be crafty. It's simply not so. I am interested in these things, as well as interested in living frugally, but to me they are more recreational pursuits.

Yes, these pursuits may save a person a little money, and certainly living frugally can save a lot of money. I do live frugally, but it's not going to pay the rent, so to speak.

It's just not. No amount of simple living, canning, gardening, or frugality will make up what I can make in my career.

And I have a husband to contend with. My financial goals and outlook in life are not my husband's financial goals and outlook in life. My husband would seriously prefer to have cable tv than a SAHP. He is not going to eat anything that I grow in a garden. He has a different lifestyle and he's not willing to give it up. And I can't make all the decisions for our household. He's his own person, with his own goals.
post #58 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
:


When you make half the family income, it's hard to just decide a little extra frugality would make up for that. And, no offense chirp, but you HAVE a SAHM board. This is where we get to discuss our WOHM things. Thanks.
:

Yes, when you make 50% of the income, things are different. (I didn't make 50%, but I made about 40 to 45% of the income, and had the better benefits).

No amount of homespun living or frugality is going to make up for the loss of 40% plus of the family income. It's just not.

I get a little tired reading the implication all the time that all one needs to do to be a SAHP is garden, can, sew, be crafty. It's simply not so. I am interested in these things, as well as interested in living frugally, but to me they are more recreational pursuits.

Yes, these pursuits may save a person a little money, and certainly living frugally can save a lot of money. I do live frugally, but it's not going to pay the rent, so to speak.

It's just not. No amount of simple living, canning, gardening, or frugality will make up what I can make in my career.

And I have a husband to contend with. My financial goals and outlook in life are not my husband's financial goals and outlook in life. My husband would seriously prefer to have cable tv than a SAHP. He is not going to eat anything that I grow in a garden. He has a different lifestyle and he's not willing to give it up. And I can't make all the decisions for our household. He's his own person, with his own goals.
post #59 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
Yes, I've never found that it cost me money to work, either. Not to mention the assumption that working outside the home means that I can't cook from scratch, that we eat out all the time, and of course that I spend that little bit of money I DO have left after paying for daycare, fast food and a maid to clean my house on large screen TVs and a big SUV.

If you take into account heating/airconditioning the house during the day, and electricity etc that is not being used when both parents are out of the house all day, I think it must come out costing money to stay at home.
:

Exactly! I have found my tribe in the WOHMs forum. This is so true! Ok, I had a career for nearly a decade. I saved money and was able to be a SAHM for the last few years, but now I am planning to return to my career.

Anyway, when I was working, I hardly ever ate out in restaurants, I never had a housekeeper, and I took my lunches to work. I didn't spend more on clothes, etc, etc.

And I worked lots of over time, there was a lot of stress, I had to travel, and I had a lot of meetings in the evenings.

The thing is working 40 plus hours doesn't mean you have to eat out or hire a maid. And I didn't own big tvs and suvs then, I don't know, and I won't when I return to work.
post #60 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirp View Post
maybe it was easy for my husband and i to just live with one income because we both always have. we're both from single parent households with deadbeat dads. in fact, compared to how we had it then, we still have it better now. even with just his teacher's salary.

we still go on vacations (camping and road trips, renaissance faires, the beach.) we've never been anywhere exotic, if that's what people mean.

we have plenty in savings.

i don't woh (i know this is the working mamas board, i saw this post from the main page...i do volunteer though!) but plenty of the things i do at home contribute to our "income" in the sense that i make it so that our basic necessities are cared for without having to spend so much money. (growing/ canning/ seed-saving/ from-scratch cooking/ crafting and sewing/ daycare)

i know not everyone is DOWN with doing this...but you COULD do it if you wanted to. which makes me think it's not a trap, but a choice.

of course i have read the posts that having a second job is very much for security as well as creature comforts, and that is understandable...very prudent actually. i guess we just don't feel like we are in that kind of danger.
I actually grew up with what many would call a deadbeat dad. Unfortunately, I also had a deadbeat mom. Anyway, what that circumstance taught me was anything can happen in life, and I'd better be prepared.

Not only should I be able to support myself at all times, and now that I have a child, also support my child, but I better know how to be frugal, save money, and stretch my dollars.

Those are skills everyone can benefit from. They are good lessons to pass on to our children, no matter what our income bracket. And they also happen to be socially and environmentally responsible choices most of the time, another bonus and compelling reason to do them.

Actually, due to having deadbeat parents, I think I am less apt to want to live on one income long term, remove myself for too long from the work force, etc. It has made me more aware of the need to be self-reliant.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Working and Student Parents
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Working and Student Parents › What do you think of the idea of a two-income trap?