Living on One Income

July 15, 2019

The following was taken from Russ Crosson’s newly released book, Your Money Made Simple.

A few years ago, I was visiting with leaders at Focus on the Family about principles young couples need to understand. They asked, “If you could share one idea with a couple, what would it be?” I responded, “That is easy. If couples would simply practice living on one income and saving the other from the beginning, then it would have incredibly positive consequences on their financial futures.”

When Julie and I got married, I was a school teacher, and she was a nurse anesthetist. She made twice what I made, but we committed to living on my income and saving her income (after taxes and giving). Although it was difficult to live on one income and the budget was tight, it gave us a solid foundation. We learned that if it is hard early on, then it will get easier later, but if you make it easy on yourself early, then it will get harder later. It is very easy to get in the habit of living on both incomes. Cash flow is plentiful, so there is no need to budget or watch expenses. But what happens later if one of you loses your job or decides to stay home? It is difficult to cut back your spending to one income and even more difficult if you haven’t saved cash or have taken on car loans and credit card debt. Your cash flow is strained because you did not store up cash when you had a golden opportunity to do so.

You may always plan to have two incomes, but there will never be a time in your life when your expenses are as low as they are early in your relationship. Life – children, moves, furnishing a home – has a way of increasing your expenses. The best time to maximize your savings is when you first start your journey. Even if you continue to have two incomes, storing up significant cash early on gives you options, plus it allows you to take the sequential investment steps, which will put you on the path to financial freedom.

Living on one income gives you the following benefits:

  1. It allows you to eliminate debt more quickly. Once this is done, you have more cash, which means more options for retirement savings, personal savings, better lifestyle, and so on.
  2. It gives you the cash to help make a budget work.
  3. It gives you more cash for a house down payment. Your home mortgage and house costs are critical components of living expenses. The larger the down payment, the smaller the mortgage and the better off you will be.
  4. It allows you to have cash for emergencies and avoid the need to use credit cards when unplanned expenses arise.
  5. It gives you the option to eliminate one income should you choose to do so in the future. You have set your budget to live on one income and save the rest, so if the second income is not there, you are still on track and don’t have to adjust your spending. My experience is that if a couple gets used to living on two incomes, it is difficult, if not impossible, to adjust to one. Remember, the definition of freedom is having options.

Living on one income and saving the other income can set you up for financial freedom in the future. Financial maturity is forgoing current desires for future rewards and benefits. I know this concept is not easy to live out. Still, I hope you will think long term and have the courage to exhibit maturity in your financial life by living on one income and saving the rest. It is worth it. And trust me; you won’t regret it.

To order a copy of Russ Crosson’s new book, or to speak to an advisor on how you can benefit from a financial plan, please call 800.987.2987 or email


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