Living On One Income In New York City

living on one income
My husband and I agreed that I would be a stay at home mom and we would learn to live on less once we started to have children. Even though I made twice my husband’s salary, it was very important to me to have the opportunity to spend time with my children during their earliest years. Despite the hardship of living on one income these days, my sweet husband fully supported the idea.

We live in NYC, where living on one income doesn’t go far and being a stay at home mom is a bit of an oddity. In fact, most people are shocked when I tell them I’m not planning to return to work anytime soon. I hear about my “wasted” education and how hard it is on my husband to have to do all the work (because raising a child full-time is not work?).

I understand that these people are well-meaning (I really do- these are people who care and want us to be financially successful in life). But bigger than my dreams of a financially easy life and big home is my dream of spending my life nurturing and caring for my family. I can always go back to work later. The pharmacy world isn’t going anywhere! But these few years my children are young, impressionable, and needing my love? They will be gone before I know it. Totally worth living on one income!

How We Manage To Live On One Income

As a result of our choice, we’ve learned how to save money and how to live frugally. I cook at home a lot now, we entertain ourselves by spending time together, having family and friends visit, participating in free activities, reading, watching movies, we shop for quality items that are long-lasting, and we take care of things better so they last longer. Frugal dad works hard to make up for the absent second income, and we’ve learned to budget his income so we rarely feel the pinch.

I also look for ways to make money in unique ways as a stay at home mom, and my goal is to fund my IRA annually and to put money away for our son’s future. My now penny pinching husband pays the regular family bills, so anything I make goes toward our son or savings. It helps that quitting my job also meant cutting expenses that go along with a full-time job, such as daycare, transportation, union dues, etc. My husband, as a cop, has better insurance anyway, and no babyitters mean I’m not jealous of some poor young girl because she gets to see my son’s first steps while I’m working.

More Tips For Living On One Income

In addition to finding creative ways for living simple and saving money for our son’s future, we’re also committed to debt free living. If we don’t have cash, we don’t buy it. After years of credit card debt, my husband is finally on an all-cash system. A great book (by Joe Dominguez) is “Your Money or Your Life”. It puts things like savings, debt, and advertising in perspective, and even gives advice on how to possibly become financially independant one day (a lofty goal, but others have done it, so why not us?)…this is my favorite financial book and started us on the road to frugal living and having fun at the same time

  • Em

    I completely agree with you but sometimes we have no other options. I don't know if you have read my most recent blog post?

    We are in a situation similar to this, but not by choice and roles revered. I would give anything to be a SAHM but it's ust not feasible. My husband is a self-employed contractor, and is out of work. We DEPEND on his salary. We do not live outside our means, even before he stopped working. We live in a modest home that is at the bottom of the market for our small touristy coastal town, I don't have a cell phone, his truck is paid for and mine is almost there, and they're not new cars. I stopped unnecessary expenses like hair (except sometimes my mother chips in and pays for it), nails, tanning, etc a long time ago. I carry the only health insurance, I work for the government. We have to keep Liam in daycare because if any jobs come up for my DH we must have a place for Liam to go and in our area there is only 1 child care facility and it's obviously full (don't get me started on in home daycare, had a bad experience with that and plus there's only 1 registered provider, rest are exempt, no thanks!). We are worried about losing our home (we were going to let it forclose but if we do my husband loses his license – bonding issues). So, we're in a big pickle. We are going to simply have to rely on credit cards. We cannot get loans but are looking into a modification loan right now. I do not qualify for food stamps or WIC and I am certain I will be turned down for the state medicaid as secondary insurance for Liam. It sucks when you're too poor to make it but too rich to get help. Gotta love it.

    I have heard stories about how expensive it is to live in NY. Our mortgage is nearly $2000 for a 1200 SF house, daycare is $304 for 8 days a month, and a monthly grocery bill is about $400. We were totally fine until this recession. Now we live in a town with (last I read) 74% of the population being at poverty level. There are virtually ZERO jobs within this entire stretch of the coast. How does this compare with your neck of the woods??? I am so curious! :)))

    I am glad everything has worked out the way you wanted it to, that is wonderful. It gives me something to hope for!!!

    Thanks for posting about this :)ReplyCancel

  • GrammyMouse

    It is hard these days for families… but childcare is expensive! and you are the best caretaker for your baby :)
    Of course there is nothing wrong with having a moms day out, or a date night :)
    And I applaud the ladies that can do both… as I did both & also stayed home… but seeing the short precious times when the little one are young are priceless joys!


  • .:*aMbAr*:.

    I admire you for your choice. Family is just as important as a career.ReplyCancel

  • ♥Georgie♥

    being a sahm is a hard job…I am living it as well….thanks for sharing your storyReplyCancel

  • Kat @ measuring my life in l-o-v-e

    It is hard adjusting to a one income but oh so worth it. And our families weren't 100% on board in the beginning, but by the time you take out daycare/extra gas expenses and the other little things it wasn't worth it.ReplyCancel

  • The Redhead Riter

    Way to go! I stayed home with my daughter until she was seven and I don't regret one thing that I didn't "buy". I treasure every second I spent with her and I did indeed get to see every first. Honestly, if I had to do it again, I would do it all over even if we had less income! It was THAT important to me. :o)ReplyCancel

  • Alice

    I am so happy for your son and your family that you are making the tough choice of staying home with him (and hopefully, his future siblings).

    I did this with my children as much as possible and came under tremendous outside pressure.

    It is so totally worth it. You do get to see them experiences their childhood landmarks, but you also avoid most of the childhood illness and bad behaviors picked up from daycare.

    I am so proud of you and hope and pray that you are able to continue in this mode. And can get tough, but you can do it.

    Give your hubby and extra hug from me for being so supportive. He truly IS the man, just like you ARE the woman.


  • Cat@3KidsandUs

    Living on one income is never easy but it comes with so many joys. I've been a stay at home mom for 9 years now and wouldn't trade it for anything.ReplyCancel

  • *Mirage*

    I'm so glad you can stay home with your little one! It's such a difficult and rewarding job to be a SAHM. And like you siad, you can always go back to work later but you can't go back in time and do-over raising a child. If you can stay home and want to then I think that's wonderful. Motherhood is the highest calling there is. Much higher than any other job. If motherhood is your fulltime occupation, I think that is very right and very noble… so don't let anyone get to you with comments about "wasted education" and all that. Children are more important than degrees anyway. ;) And if anyone says you should work so you can provide better for your child, then don't listen to them because all a kid needs is food and basic clothing physically. Emotionally however they need alot and if you are providing for them emotionally it's so much more important than brand-names and tons of toys! Quality time is worth way more than "stuff". I was raised very very poor so I would know! I never resented not having "things" – I resented when my dad got too caught up trying to earn more and more money so we wouldn't be poor anymore and he never spent any time with us anymore.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel

    so inspirational! You can totally do it – and that's exactly what I want to do when we start having kids.

    My hubby and I are starting a similar financial goal – no credit cards…cash only! We're going through the Dave Ramsey course Financial Peace University. So awesome. I recommend it to anyone.

    Good luck! Found you on SITS by the way. =)

    oh, and so so jealous that you live in NY!ReplyCancel

  • Paige

    I am single, and live on one income. I face many of the same challenges you face, minus the husband and children. Thanks for your tips! Just stopping by from SITS.ReplyCancel

  • .:*aMbAr*:.

    Heyy, I considered e-mailing you, but you probably get a million emails a day, so a comment is your way.

    I'm very open to trying new things [recipes]. I do have a recipe book for slow cookers. I bought it because I thought it was for people that cooked slow, I had no idea there was a machine called like that ot whatever. OOOPPS!!!

    Do you recommend getting one?ReplyCancel

  • Fiona

    Penelope, I love this post. I am always inspired by your writing – it is very warm and from the heart, and I can imagine your home is very inviting and welcoming. Lucky husband and son! We plan to do the same if my husband and I are blessed with a baby. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on home life, happy relationships and frugal living!ReplyCancel

  • April

    Great post, I was a sahm before the word was just that :-) It took many years until I felt confident about myself because everyone was finishing college and starting great careers. Once the kids were all in school that is when I finally spread my wings. Great tips!ReplyCancel