Is a two-income family a bad financial move?

While adding a second income to a household means there is more money to pay the bills, there are also more bills.

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  • If one spouse makes $50,000 a year and the nonworking spouse joins the labor force with another $50,000 job, then the household is twice as well off, right? Not always. While adding a second income to a household means there is more money to pay the bills, there are also more bills.

  • For those who are re-entering the workforce after a break, there are many financial aspects to take into consideration. And since our human tendency is to spend up to our income, here are some new expenses that may need to be added to your family budget:

  • 1. Higher taxes

  • Depending on how much you make and where you live, you might be surprised to see up to half of your income taken in taxes. Ouch!

  • 2. Higher clothing costs

  • Depending on the kind of job, there may be a significant wardrobe expense to build up and maintain the look required for the workplace.

  • 3. Higher transportation expenses

  • A one-income household may be able to get by with one car, but in all likelihood a two-income household will need two cars with twice the ownership cost, twice the fuel and maintenance cost, and twice the insurance cost.

  • 4. Higher child care expenses

  • Providing child care is probably the biggest drain on a second income, especially with preschool children who need to be cared for during the full workday.

  • 5. Higher teen expenses

  • When both parents work, they may be tempted to spend more on teens than they would otherwise. They may spring for expensive sports or dance lessons. They may boost the teen clothing budget. In a one-income family, teens wanting these extras may feel a greater need to get a part-time job, which besides earning them money, gives them important life experience, such as basic work skills and independence.

  • 6. Higher convenience food costs

  • With less time at home to prepare food, people often turn to eating out, which can dramatically increase the monthly food expenses.

  • In today's world, it's common for both spouses to work. So, if or when you decide to go the two-income route, remember that you can make it work if you don't use the new income on all the new bills that come with a second job or to upgrade to a more expensive lifestyle. A big plus is a two-income household may allow you to make serious retirement contributions and pay off your house sooner.

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  • The decision to have both spouses work full-time is very personal. After you realistically consider all the things that will change with both spouses working, you should be able to decide what is best for your family.

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Don Milne is the Zions Bank Financial Literacy Manager. Contact him at www.zionsbank.com

Website: http://www.zionsbank.com

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