Comparing traditional contributions to a household is like comparing apples and oranges. How can raising children compare with working outside the home? How can managing a household compare with providing an income? But in the days of dual-income households—that would be now—comparison is a little easier.
Working Women Contribute Half The Income
And recession-era wives (the data includes only heterosexual, married couples) are finally vindicated. According to Nancy Folbre of the New York Times Economix blog, employed wives now, on average, contribute nearly half (47%) of the income in a married-couple household where both adults are employed. Jobs traditionally held by women are somewhat steadier than traditionally male jobs, so women have in many cases been able to add another income to the household when needed. Interestingly—actually, you may want to pick your own adverb here—women who hold full-time jobs earn an average of 83% of their male counterparts’ salary. Ahem.
More Income Shouldn’t Mean More Spending
But, being our responsible selves, we find it necessary to remind everyone that twice the income doesn’t mean twice the spending. It’s all too common for households to increase their standard of living to the point where it can no longer operate without two incomes… so what happens when it has to? We’re not saying that it’s forbidden to spend some excess cash on a night out or a quick trip, but we’re all about priorities. With an effective budget, you should be aware of how much money you need each month for essentials—and with a little reflection, you should be aware of what, exactly, is essential.
We Can’t Count On Dual Incomes
Inconsistency is the theme of the last decade, and to count on two incomes to support a lavish lifestyle isn’t a safe bet. Needing two incomes to subsist is different than needing two incomes to cover inflated expenses (think landscaping, gym or club memberships, cleaning services, dry cleaning, and other expensive outsourcing), and hopefully won’t leave you in the lurch—or in debt—if one income ceases to exist.
Tell us in the comments: What are your experiences with dual incomes? It is usually a way to stay above water or a way to hire a yacht?