Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Captain Worley

Do we really need two incomes?

32 posts in this topic

I got a little off topic on another thread, and thought the subject was important enough to start a new thread.

Someone suggested that there wasn't enough time to teach children values and morlas, since bot parents had to work. I've been doingsome thinking on this, and I'm wondering if we really need two incomes.

Think of all the stuff that you have that you don't really need. For me, it's books, but think of all the money you pay for cable, cells, high speed internet, dining out, new cars, more house than you need, etc, etc. We buy a TON of stuff we don't need.

My wife and I both work, but we could easily live on one salary, with no kids. We already put one salary into savings. With kids, it'd be a stretch, but we could do it if we had to. We would also pay much less taxes on one salary, which would help out quite a bit.

I think we've been programmed to consume. People that grew up in the depression years really impress me with their thrift. My contemporaries seem to buy stuff willy-nilly.

Are we dooming ourselves with consumerism, and ignoring our kids? From what I see, I tempted to say yes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I think the two income necessity for American households is here to stay. Americans just don't want to live a financially constricted lifestyle. Americans want "things"---nice "things". Americans want good services (cable TV, high speed internet etc)

Here's my take on it----a two income family would work just fine if Americans would figure out that raising a child isn't just for the parents. In past times, grandma lived with the family, and cared for the kids, taught them morals, along with the parents. Aunties either lived nearby, or could come over anytime, giving more positive influence on the kids. Grandpa helped out financially.etc etc etc

But now these days, the family consists of the parents and the kids. Grandparents and aunties are people that are just visited occassionally. And it's a huge loss for our society. Hillary Clinton claimed it takes a village to raise a child. A village would be ideal, but this day and age I would settle for just having grandma around to help.

Grandma and Auntie are better at teaching morals than day care.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everything costs too much... we need 2 3 and 4 jobs just to live! Try buying a house... one person unless they were filthy rich, can't afford a house at $250,000 - $500,000 like those houses coming up here in Richmond now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what do you consider two incomes? 40,000 per household? If so then yes, I think 2 incomes still makes living hard. I remember learning in school (catholic) that you could support a family of 4 on 35,000 a year, and I always thought of maybe, until I started getting bills and realize 40,000 is not easy for 2 people let alone a family. I think if the main earner makes anywhere from 60,000+ the second income can be part time or part of "spending" leisure money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a matter of personal taste/opinion on whether we need two incomes.

Many families absolutely need two incomes to make ends meet (using all of their income on housing, food, utilities with very little extra left over). Unfortunately, the kind of jobs that pay these wages where you'd need a two income household are growing the fastest in number.

Traditional blue collar jobs where one brought enough in to allow the spouse to stay home and care for the kids are all but extinct. Not only have the number of these jobs declined over the last 30 years, but they have lost ground in wages as well. We're talking meat packing jobs, farms, manufacturing, mining, etc. It is now often necessary for one parent to work full time and the other to work at least part time to be able to afford a decent standard of living (the basics, plus a few toys and vacations here and there).

So, yes, I believe real wages for Americans have not kept pace with the price of goods they need to buy.

But there is certainly the "luxury" factor. No longer is Spam Velveeta Turkey Wiener Doo-dah Hotdish good enough for supper. Now we have to have organic lamb chops with a zesty orange/mint glaze (which does sound amazing, by the way), Parmesan garlic smashed potatoes with a truffle garnish, and you'd be crazy to think that sherbet punch will suffice. No.. no longer can you combine the wonders of lime sherbet with 7 up and some random cut up fruit for a refreshing drink... it's gotta be a bottle of 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon.

We have to live in "Executive homes" in developments with retarded names (ooh, a big pet peeve of mine) "The Estates at Drury Hill" or "The Obviously Luxurious, but Poorly Built And 50 Miles From Work Villas at Maplewood Orchards" that includes a 4500 sq. ft. house with a 4 car garage, formal living and dining rooms, a "flex suite" in case you snore too loud and your wife gets pissed, a "games room", a "mud room" (you know, from all that mud your video game addicted children will drag in from the pristinely manicured Kentucky bluegrass lawn and professionally planted garden), and you can't just call it a porch any more (no, that's for the under class), it has to be twice as big with a hot tub and referred to as a Lanai!

And God forbid your refrigerator doesn't alert you when you're getting low on Premium Sundhill Farms milk (basically the same milk in a different bottle with a logo that just positively SCREAMS luxury)...

I think you see where I'm getting.

But, alas... these people are the base of the Republican party.. so maybe we should be encouraging this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me, we dont really need 2 incomes. But, if both sposes can get jobs, why not? My parents always both had jobs, and i seem to have turned out fine. Of course, my grandmother was able to watch me, because my parents didnt wait until they were 34 to have me like many parents seem to do these days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

dtown, that is precisely the point I made earlier. Families need Grandma, Grandad, aunties, and older cousins to join in on the raising of kids.

In Japan, grandmothers and grandfathers are treated with great respect, and are valued members of the family. Many times they live with their families. They participate in raising the youngsters. Perhaps that's why Japan has such a low crime rate compared to the West.

In America, grandparents are generally kept at a distance, and most parents despize their parents "interfering" with their child-rearing approach. The opposite of Japan, and look at our crime rate compared to their's. There are other factors of course. But when children receive moral/values training from family members, they do much better than kids who "learn it" in daycare.

Bring Grandma and Grandad back into the family unit! Then 2 incomes can come in, AND the kids are receiving proper guidance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


dtown, that is precisely the point I made earlier. Families need Grandma, Grandad, aunties, and older cousins to join in on the raising of kids.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In many parts of the country, such as the Northeast, West coast and other "desirable" locations, 2 incomes doesn't even cut it most of the time. The cost of living varies so greatly from place to place, it is hard to make a blanket statement.

I would love to have grandparents more involved in raising our child, but they all live several hours away! My wife and I both left home because our education would have gone to waste there. We do our best to keep grandparents as involved in our child's life as possible (lots of road trips for all of our family), but it is difficult. A lot of people are in the same boat. Luckily, our families are truly willing to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to help out, even though there is distance between us.

I think another part of the equation of the 2 income trap. More and more women are going to college, graduate school, professional school... This generation of women was not raised to find a husband, then stay home, do his laundry and raise his kids. They have careers they are passionate about and often times are compensated pretty well for. My wife would go nuts if she stayed home all the time with the children. Plus, if she completely took off work for child rearing years, she'd never be able to get back into her field because technology would have passed her by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

rnc, I agree---how absurd it would be for an educated career woman to give up her career to stay home and raise the kids. It would not only decrease the family's income, it would also hurt the American economy by taking such valuable people out of the labor market.

Perhaps expanded education has permanently changed the face of the American family. When women are college educated, and have careers, the less they wanna leave the work world in exchange for a nuclear family unit.

We still have to find a way, as a society, to come up with some possibilities for this problem of the family being unable to properly teach values to the young.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are the kids of educated women and men the ones that are causing problems?

Also, please tell me what these values are that kids are missing out on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know in my personal situation, I live in the expensive Northeast, both my wife and I work, and I have above average income. There are times when we have difficulty with money, and there were towns we couldn't touch when we were looking for a house. We now have a 7 month old baby, and my wife needs to finish her teaching degree come September, so she'll be leaving her job. I'm very concerned about what will happen in the year/ year-and-a-half that she will not be working.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

moonshield, I can give you a fine example of the young being poorly raised because the lack of parental guidance....

I have a neighbor, a single woman with three kids. works a fulltime job and two parttime jobs to be able to support herself and her family.

Two younger boys are constantly getting into mischief in our public alley. They apparently have no knowledge of boundaries and respect for private property. They throw balls that hit our cars, they're continually walking through our yard, even though I have repeatedly asked them not to do so. I've put up no tresspass signs, to no avail.

I spoke to another neighbor about it, and he had personally spoken to the mom. The mom told him about her three jobs. She's NEVER HOME to teach values. She has her older daughter (about age 14, but immature and backward) who supposedly "watches" the younger boys.

This is what I meant by kids not being taught values. When I was a kid my parents expressly taught me that you obey adult neighbors when they instruct you to do something. These kids have obviously been taught no "good neighbor" behaviors, and they show absolutely no deference to adults.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok. I see what you mean, and yes, that seems to be common.

I don't remember ever being like that, nor knowing anyone like that. Maybe we just have selective memory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I think part of the problem is people decide to have kids before they have stable enough incomes to provide without working excessively. People today are living far longer than ever and woman are able to get pregnant later in life. The world has changed, whether for the better or not, and I don't see it ever going back to the way it was. Sometimes you have to make the decision between family or career. There are jobs are out there that pay good money, but that will require more education than a high school diploma. I've known a few people who have gone back to school to get those jobs that do pay more. If you have kids it makes it harder to do, but it can be done. A few years of struggling can open up a hole new world in the future. You just have to take the plunge and not be afraid of failure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could you survive on one income? I'm sure you probably could. But would any want to? Should anyone want to?

We look back in history with rose colored glasses. Gee, wasn't it nice when the world was simple and everything was within reach? But ask the same thing to the black couple across the street - ask them if they thought their life would have been better back in the 40's. Talk to your grandparents about all the brothers, sisters, and cousins they lost due to diseases. Things we don't even thing about today because we have higher levels of sanitation we can afford. Think back to how we viewed the world 40 years ago - and now think how much further we have become aware of the world around us because of those computers and TV. Yup, we spend more on food. Food that is healthier, that is kinder to the environment, and far more enticing and interesting. And what about your career - at least now if you et stuck, you have some choice. Your grandfather, once he started, that was his job for the rest of his life, no matter how hard it was. So what did they do - they took it out on the family. But again, back then that was acceptable.

I think there are a number of issues today. For one, we are now stuck with high costs of just doing business. Our much heavier reliance on the stock market has really turned the business of running a business to be a business of itself. We spend so much on the back end stuff that the actual production and selling of goods and services has become almost a secondary function. I also have to agree that our definition of family has changed from the much broader sense to the one of the nuclear family, which is supposed to fit nicely into this mother stays at home and hangs out with her friends while all the fathers go to work and everyone gets along so nicely and no one is sick and everyone goes to church on sundays ideal. Only that's not the way real life works.

What is interesting, though, is how people are waiting until much later to get married, and the number of unmarried couples grows. I think that within a generation or two, we are going to see a swing back to larger family groups, although with only a few kids. I would even expect in some areas of the country to see population figures fall as fewer people have kids.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think one thing that kids today don't get enough of is playing outside and using your imagination.

I am an exception, but I grew up outside. I HATED rainy days and I was outside playing almost every day as a child. Video games were a fun activity to do sparingly on a rainy day or if you were sick.

My favorite thing to do was to build elaborate cities in the sand at our beach (we owned a family resort) or play night games with the kids staying at the resort. I can't tell you how many games of Sardines and Capture the Flag I played. I had callouses on my feet because I was constantly barefoot and I can't tell you how many pairs of pants I ruined from constantly grinding sand into them.

Kids don't do this these days. They stay inside and play video games or sit on the internet. Everything is laid out for you and you can't just pretend anymore. I mean, I can't tell you how many times I built Minneapolis in the sand and "tore it up" and "rebuilt it" using nothing but my own hands and my imagination. I made everything part of the "game". Guests that stepped on my creation were simply tornadoes and a thunderstorm was a cataclysmic flood. No worries, it was simply a clean slate for a new city.

As I've grown older, this use of imagination has translated into a love for reading and things like urban design.

And the best part of it was: It didn't cost my parents anything other than the occasional pair of pants.

P.S. Is it weird that I still love building sand castles (more like sand cities)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

there seems to be this thing about having kids. i think a big part of the issue is that many people have more kids than they can handle or afford. if you can't afford kids, you shouldn't have them, or you really need to re-think things. also, it seems to that many couples who both work think that kids are easy to deal with and just pass them off to day care or babysitters. someone asked if children of well-educated people grow up properly... the answer to that is it depends on the parents. if the parents are always putting them in day care and letting other people take care of them, then no, the kids will probably not grow up well. you end up with the kids of people with money who end up becoming spoiled brats who don't respect things. someone mentioned that not enough kids these days play outside. this is all too true. in the age of video games and computers, parents are spending more on "toys" for their kids than they did in the past (like when i was a kid, and i'm only 27). i think kids should grow up to enjoy the simple things in life and experience the rest when they're older. this way they'll want to spend more time outside rather than play video games or make myspace pages. they can also learn the value of money if they are told to save up for a playstation or something, getting money for doing things like raking leaves, doing dishes, and taking out the trash (all of which i did for free).

if you can learn to live with only what you need, you can live with 1 income and buy a home (but that doesn't mean you can buy the home of your dreams or in the town/city you had hoped). some things i've done that have saved me a ton of money are be careful of turning on the heat in the winter and AC in the summer only when i need it and i've cut back on the amount of driving i do. so while i get awful gas mileage driving around the city, i am not using half a tank in 2 days, so i fill my tank like once every 2-3 weeks. i don't pay extra for digital cable (although i do pay for cable), i don't own the latest and greatest new computer (although i did buy one in the last 2 years, it was from a local retailer who builds them himself, so i got an awesome deal), but the internet has become almost a necessity for many people, especially those who do some work from home (which saves travel costs). i think the biggest thing, though, is the kids. it's almost taboo for a married couple to decide not to have kids, and i think that whole mindset needs to change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
there seems to be this thing about having kids. i think a big part of the issue is that many people have more kids than they can handle or afford. if you can't afford kids, you shouldn't have them, or you really need to re-think things. also, it seems to that many couples who both work think that kids are easy to deal with and just pass them off to day care or babysitters. someone asked if children of well-educated people grow up properly... the answer to that is it depends on the parents. if the parents are always putting them in day care and letting other people take care of them, then no, the kids will probably not grow up well. you end up with the kids of people with money who end up becoming spoiled brats who don't respect things. someone mentioned that not enough kids these days play outside. this is all too true. in the age of video games and computers, parents are spending more on "toys" for their kids than they did in the past (like when i was a kid, and i'm only 27).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^I think a lot of kids are brought into this world because there is a huge societal pressure to do so. I was speaking to this lady yesterday (mid to late 20s) that said when she was younger and all of her friends were getting married there was a huge pressure on her from her friends and family to do so as well. Now that all these women are having kids and the associated social events are taking place that surround them, she said she is feeling the same pressure to do so now that she has finally gotten married. She said however, that she has decided it's not important enough to take on child bearing at this time in her life and refuses to succumb to getting lost in all of the baby showers, birthday parties, etc. which she feels is why a lot of them had their first kid. And amazingly it's a social status thing on "where" the kids get put into daycare.

I don't know how common this is, but it would seem this is a reason there are so many stressed out parents that have children and have someone else raises them while they struggle with two jobs to make ends meet. This sounds to me like "keeping up with the jones" in extreme excess which is what has happened to much of American life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

having children has become very much part of the "keeping up with the jones". there's people who are happy to have none, there's people who are happy to have just 1, and then there's people that i know who had 2, ended up with a third because it was a "mistake" (i think the woman in this relationship did it on purpose because she wanted a girl, but got another boy) and are considering a 4th because the woman really wants a girl. they can barely afford the 3 they have and have a huge old farm house in NH that's falling apart. i know another couple who is younger and has 1 that's almost 2, but is a total spoiled brat. they had a hard time having this one, and just had a second one after going through a lot of trouble getting pregnant and are still considering at least 1 more. i know someone so selfish that she got married and had 2 kids right out of college, decided she needed a masters degree, took out loans for that, and then decided she wanted to go to med school and is now close to half a million in debt and is going through a divorce and facing some serious child support from her ex-husband who was left with the kids and promised he'd be able to get his masters degree (he's a teacher, so he doesn't really have a choice). she still wants more kids.

it's families like that that end up needing 2 incomes. the child thing becomes such a selfish need that the parents forget that they're bringing another being into this world that they have to take care of for the first 18 years to the point where they forget about what they're doing. it turns into this status symbol for them. i'm currently engaged and we've had serious talks about children. my fiancee really wants them, but i'm still on the table. i like my life and being able to do what i want, when i want. however, i also like kids. when it comes time to decide (and i am sure we will), it may just be 1, but no more than 2 if we can even afford a second one. i don't expect my kids to grow up any differently than i did. we didn't have a lot, but we made the absolute most of what we did have. i knew kids who went on regular family vacations. vacation for me was going to my grandmother's rented beach house 15-20 min away for the day or to a RI beach an hour away for the big waves (i grew up in CT). we went on only a handful of longer farther family trips and those we went on were spent doing cheap or free things (parks, museums, etc.).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting topic. I think that part of the reason why 2 incomes is the norm is that what should be luxuries have become mandatory for a lot of people. For example, telephones. I could go sign up for a normal telephone and pay $40 or $50 a month for a phone in the house. However, many professions and lifestyles almost require to you have a phone, and the most cost effective plans run at least 60 a month. Get a second phone for the spouse, add ten or twenty bucks more. Then there are small options that add up, like text messages and insurance and suddenly your monthly phone bill is $100, but you have the convenience of a phone that you can use anywhere.

Computers are another example. Most of the web is geared toward high-speed or cable, so you've got a $1,000 machine that you have to replace every few years, plus at least 40 a month for either a second phone line plus dial-up service or, more commonly, cable internet. If you want cable TV, then its another 60 a month (or more) for 90 channels, 80 of which never get watched.

So yes, I think a lot of people could get by on one income, but it would mean sacrificing a lot of luxuries that have become so commonplace that it would be difficult to get along without them. I also think that people eat at restuaruants too much. Now that I have a kid, the money we save cooking every night instead of eating out once a week is unbelieveable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

personally, i feel like jobs expect too much of us. they take advantage of technology and force many people into 24/7 positions rather than 9-5. any job that wants you to have a cell phone or pager or computer/internet at home but won't pay for it is crazy. if your job requires that, the job should be paying for those items which are still luxuries for many people.

computers don't have to cost you $1000 every few years. i managed using the same computer for 7 years with only a couple hundred in upgrades over the years. if you only use a computer for web browsing, email, and the occasional word document, you don't need the latest and greatest. if your kids use it for homework, same thing applies. you only need the latest and greatest for video games, which are unquestionably a luxury (i can consider a computer a necessity these days).

i don't know where you live that your cable is $60 a month, but i pay $40 for my cable internet and something like $30 or $35 for my cable tv (expanded basic, i don't have a need for digital cable and 80000000 channels, but i do watch comedy central and the discovery channel a lot, which i can't get on standard basic, which doesn't cost a whole lot less). my landline phone only costs me like $15 per month (because if i drop it, i lose a $10 discount on the bundle of all 3 services). i keep the landline around for local calls (so i don't use my cell minutes) and to give to credit card companies, banks, and utilities (so i don't get telemarketing calls).

eating out is another big cost. so many families get take out so often that it costs more than actually making a meal. it also cuts out of family meal time, which was something we did when i was a kid.

things like phone insurance and text messaging are pure luxuries (i've never had to use the phone insurance in my several years using cell phones, so i never pay for it anymore, it's basically a scam and has a $50 deductible... if your phone breaks, you can usually get the $39 special anyways). kids don't need cell phones, i can't stand when i see 12-15 year olds with them. at that age, it's a status symbol. i've never had a situation when i was younger when i wasn't near a payphone. i always had a dime (now it'd be a quarter or 2) to make the call or i'd call collect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my wife and i have 2 youngins. our oldest is in kindergarten and the other is 2 yrs old. when we decided to have kids (not that we planned) - it was very important to my wife especially to stay @ home and take care of them. so, we have lived off mainly my income for the past 6 - 7 years. we bought our house about 4 years ago... and thats pretty much our only "luxury" purchase in this time. even though the funds get tight we make do, and our kids benefit tremendously - as does my wife - thus myself. :)

now, that my daughter is in school, my wife has picked up a few odd jobs here and there that allow us to afford small pleasures like going out. also, we have tapped into a network of like minded folks who have similar situations and share the occasional baby sitting duties. there have certainly been moments of economic strife, but in the long run as long as the essential bills are paid - the 42' flat screen tv can wait. i don't pass judgement on anyone who choses to work full time and place their kids in daycare, but, i often have wondered why so many people do. i think alot of times people set their livelihoods up before having kids and in order to maintain those expenses they cannot disrupt the economics. in our case we built our livelihood around the kids.... so to speak. our biggest drawback is not being able to really save for the future and that can be unnerving... but, i'm an optimist @ heart and the rose colored glasses work for the most part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.