This week marks the start of a new chapter in our life journey. As I mentioned in From Aggressive Saving To Living Paycheck To Paycheck in January, we are taking a voluntary cut of our income this year relative to last year. It started this week.
As the more timid one, I sent my wife Linda to the front line of this new adventure. I said “You try it first.” She bravely accepted the task. She gave notice to her employer two weeks ago. Last Friday was her last day.
Because she still worked half a year, our income in 2015 will be only 25% less than last year. By 2016, our income will be cut in half.
Linda is the smarter one between the two of us. She has a good degree from a top university. Her skills and experience are in great demand. She is also more driven by her passion for her interest outside work. She has a long list of things she wants to do. Her schedule is already filling up.
Although it’s a new territory for us, one-income couples are fairly common. Government statistics show that they make up 1/4 of the married couples. So many people did it at much younger ages on much less income.
Still, it’s going to be a big change for Linda to go from contributing half of the household income to being a “dependent.” Her specialized knowledge and skills for which employers are willing to pay good money will now go to waste. To someone who refuses to buy a new iPhone because it’s too expensive, the cost of a new iPhone pales in comparison to the income she’s giving up.
I told her that she should not feel obliged to take on more household chores just because she’s no longer working. She’s not quitting to become a housekeeper; that would be way too expensive. I also told her she doesn’t need my permission to spend money. If necessary we will set her up with a separate bank account and a separate credit card so that she will be able to spend without guilt.
The financial aspects of this change are relatively easy to see and deal with. I have The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning (I wrote a chapter in it). We will have to figure out the non-financial aspects as we go.
If you have experience and wisdom on the non-financial aspects of going from two incomes to one, please enlighten me. Thank you.
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