9 Tips For Going To One Income

Going To One Income?

We’re going to one income very soon.  This is the last month that we’ll receive two paychecks, as Mrs. PT will be going back to school next month.  I decided I would do a little preparation.  I did some research and came up with 9 tips for going to one income:

  1. Reorganize Your Banking Situation – If you’re like me, you have multiple bank accounts.  One for each spouse’s paycheck.  These two accounts likely have their own direct deposits and outgoing automated bill pay and withdrawal.  In order to ensure you don’t incur any NSF fees, you’ll need to adjust your automatic bill pay and withdrawals.  Next week I’ll share how I moved my bill pay to Capital One 360‘s checking account. (subscribe and never miss a post)
  2. Readjust Your Retirement Contributions – Since you’ll likely lose the ability to contribute to one of your retirement accounts (401(k), 403(b), Stock Plan), you’ll need to make up for it using an IRA, or adjusting the income earning spouse’s contributions.  We’ll lose the option of contributing to a 403(b).  I plan to supplement that by maxing out a Roth IRA by next April and by increasing my 401(k) percentage.
  3. Know Your Finances – Beyond banking and retirement, make sure you have a full understanding of your financial situation prior to pulling the plug on the second income.  I recently built a dashboard view of my finances.  Using something like this or a simple pen and paper budget accounting for your new income and expenses will give you confidence in making the move.
  4. Get Serious About Reducing Unnecessary Expenses – If, after you analyzed your finances you realize things are going to be tight, it’s time to get serious about reducing your expenses.  Start with the unnecessary items like dining out and luxury items.  Learn to live a frugal life.
  5. Consider Going To One Car – While we’re discussing reducing expenses, if going to one income means that a spouse will now be at home, consider selling one of your cars.  We’ll be keeping our second vehicle because Mrs. PT will need to commute to school, and because here in sprawling Dallas it’s really hard to go without two cars.
  6. Make a List of Frugal Things You Can Do – The last thing you want to do is shut off one income and increase your expenses because you’re spending more out of boredom.  Check out your local library and community event calendar for good ideas.
  7. Consider Working From Home – If you’re making the move to one income to stay at home with kids, consider doing some part-time work with a few free hours you may have.
  8. Make Sure You’re Still Insured – Don’t forget that the loss of a paycheck usually means you’ll be losing benefits as well.  Health insurance is something you may need to switch to the other spouse.
  9. Adjust Your Tax Withholdings – Here’s a plus.  Moving to one income means you’ll likely pay less in taxes.  Consult your tax professional and see if it’s necessary for you to adjust the withholdings on the remaining income.

Should I Go To One Income?

If you’re trying to decide if going to one income is a good idea for your family, use the Two Income vs. One Income Calculator (@ nytimes.com) which will tell you what you’re truly giving up if you drop one income.  The calculator takes into account expenses like daycare and home maintenance, as well as things you wouldn’t think of, like “un-researched expenditures” (the amount you paid more than the price you would have paid if you had time to properly research it).

Of course, the financial aspect is only one portion of it.  There are many great reasons for going to one income.  I believe a majority of us can make the move with just a few sacrifices.

As always, I don’t know all the answers.  I couldn’t think of a 10th tip for going to one income.  If YOU have one please leave it in the comments below.

Last Edited: June 8, 2013 @ 9:19 pm The content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, FinCon CEO, and husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.


  1. My wife and I are moving to one income in a couple of weeks in expectation of a baby coming in early November. One thing that we needed to do as well was rearrange our living arrangements. So we have moved in with a relative to help reduce our expenses for the time being. With the move we have turned a $200 projected budget deficit into a $700 projected surplus.

  2. Great tips here, thanks for including my post!

  3. @Steward – Thanks for offering that one up. That’s a great point. Like a car, housing is a big expense you may want to look at reducing, or in your case, eliminating. I guess it all depends on how much you like your relatives. :)

    @David – Thanks for swinging by.

  4. That One Caveman says:

    My wife and I have been on one income now for over a year and a half. It’s been difficult, but I know from personal experience that it can work. Your list is solid and I wish we had seen it when we were first starting out.

    One thing we’ve done that wasn’t on your list is to change our eating habits. When my wife worked, we were far more likely to eat out. Now we eat home-cooked meals whenever possible – a huge benefit of a stay-at-home mom. Even if one person’s not staying home, changing your eating habits can save a great deal of money: brown bagging lunch, making large meals and eating leftovers for a few days, etc.

  5. I think its the insurance thing that scares me the most. For me to add Lauren + baby it would be roughly $650 extra per month for me based on my company plan. Ouch!

  6. @ Caveman – Thanks for the comments. It’s good to hear that you are managing it well. Less dining out is going to hard for me, but I know it’s worth the effort.

    @ Jesse – Wow. That’s quite a price jump. Mrs. PT is already on my plan actually since my plan was more affordable than her old one anyway. I’m lucky in that regard I guess. As for our new baby, I’m sure it will jump up a bit. *runs off to check insurance plan*

  7. Wow. That must be really hard cutting back like that. I’m counting the months (10) until we go to a dual income situation!! Can’t wait. I’ll need some tips on that too, PT.

  8. @ Mike D. – That’s awesome. My tip: try and live like you’re still on one…save as much of the new income as you can. Have a little more fun too though. Work hard, play hard.

  9. #10 – Take a practice run. If I’ve followed you’re posts correctly, and you have your accounts set the way I think you do, give it a try in the next few weeks. Set everything up to run on just your account, and completely ignore hers. If you have to delve into hers at some point, you may need to further recalibrate. Plus a bit of practice while you have a safety net can’t hurt.

  10. Wow — congrats on going to one income. At least you’ve got time to think about it ahead of time. Best of luck with it!

  11. @J – Thanks for contributing. Excellent point. That’s sort of what we’re going to attempt to do with her last direct deposit. Let it sit in the old account as a security blanket, and to show we can live off of the other account only.

    @No Debt Plan – Thanks for swinging by. I appreciate it.

  12. We are most likely moving to one income soon. My wife may be staying home to take care of our little one. Great list of tips!

  13. Like everything, living on one income has its pros and con, not of all which are related to financial aspects. But having experienced both two income and one income living, both options can be great depending on the circumstances. The best situation is that both partners are happy and able to adjust things accordingly depending on which phase they are in.