How much income is needed to support a family on one income?


My husband makes less then 50,000 dollars a year. We have it tight but are not suffering in any way. If we hadn’t been so foolish as to go into debt, we would actually be doing pretty good.:blush:

I have always heard that most families don’t make enough to live off one income. But I am curious, how much is enough income for one person to make to support a family?

This thread, by the way, is not intended to be any kind of bashing vehicle for either SAHMs or those who are employed outside the home!:dts:

I suppose that I should set some parameters for this thread. So, lets say the family has four members, mom, dad, and two kids. They have a house and car payment but aren’t in debt.

How much does one spouse need to make to afford that the other remain home. I have nothing against SAHD(stay at home dads) so if you want to picture the woman going to work and the guy staying home that is fine with me.:slight_smile:


Could not answer in general, it varies across the nation and by what part of a state you live in.

Where I live, 50K would allow a family of four to live on one income (not in a lavish new home). In So Cal, it would not be enough.


I agree with Kage, you need to specify where.

NYC is very different from Scranton.


In the midwest (or at least the part I live in) 50K would be PERFECT for us :thumbsup: Those perimeters fit us (1 wife, 1 husband, 2 kids). My husband currently makes let than that, quite a bit less and we make it :slight_smile: Living a lavish life is not what we would enjoy anyway :blush:


I thought about this but considering that not everyone has lived in every state it might be difficult if I picked a specific state for those that haven’t lived in that state(I hope that made sense)

Just answer for the area that you live in but include in your answer the state that you are from.


Interested to know where the two people who answered over 110K live -


it depends on where you live, your level of debt, your health (health care cost is a huge factor), and your priorities, and how your family defines “needs” vs “desires”–gotta have vs wanna have. you also have to factor benefits and taxes into salary to arrive at real income.

our bishop gave a sermon recently on living out the commandments and mentioned the living wage and the need for employers to pay it, and apparently his advisors define that, the minimum needed to support a family of 4 in our area, as $10/hour, or 20M a year, still more than min wage.


I put $30-40k. We are surviving with less than that with the two of us, and we are in the process of moving from a medium city to large city where everything costs more. Plus the cost of those 2 hypothetical children :wink: so I bumped it up to the next category. We could survive on DH (okay he’s still FH for 3 more weeks)'s salary but anything I make goes toward buying a better car, saving for house, etc. so that we can have a proper home one day for our family.


In the Chicago area if one were able to keep out of debt $50K might do it. However, I don’t hink one could make it in many places in Cal. or NY on that or maybe not even twice that. As you’ve indicated, staying out of debt is the key. It will eat you alive and even mortgage payments are damaging. Cash truely is king.



I understand the point of your thread and I am curious to read what others write. However, you would recieve a variety of answers even if you asked how much money it takes to live on two incomes. How much money it takes entirely depends on the lifestyle, the ages of the children, the price they paid for their home, etc, etc… Some larger families in third world countries manage to live on what many Americans make in one day.

I haven’t received a paycheck in over ten years. When I worked, most of the amount of money I earned equated the extra cost of child-care and taxes. Factor out the cost of gas, work clothes, eating out because everyone’s too tired to cook, etc., etc. and there may not actually be any additional money brought into the home by a second income.

The original post asked about a family with two children–when I worked we had only two children. We have more now, in large part because we were willing to have more since we didn’t have to pay for child-care. A second income may “cost” a child or two (or more.)

I also point out that while this may not always be the case, when one spouse stays home it is fairly typical for the other spouse to move up in his/her career. The second income might actually be replaced by a larger single paycheck within a few years.

God bless any of you families trying to make this decision. Pray about it and listen for what your heart tells you.


I long to be a SAHM and hope it’ll happen soon (please God!). I chose $40,000-$50,000 in the poll because that’s what it would take for us in upstate NY.

I bolded the quote above because that’s pretty much how it is for us. I commute 60 miles roundtrip daily, so the gas, car maintenance, daycare, etc. really adds up. It seems like it’s a wash every week, but our insurance is through my job so we’re stuck for now. :frowning:


I don’t get the question.

The question should be about how much does it cost for a family of four to live in a particular area, and is there a cost savings by having one spouse stay home.

You take into account commuting costs, wardrobe, babysitting, etc, and determine how much that family of four needs to survive with only one spouse working

Lifestyle is a factor, too.

If you are presently making $100K between the two people in the couple, say a 60/40 split, the question is could the $40K spouse stay home and the family still pay it’s bills, based on the research done up above about any cost savings involved. If you aren’t saving most of the potential stay-at-home’s income, I bet it would be hard.


Stay-at-Home Dad of 3… is me!

Well my wife and I have 3 children 2 boys 16, 10 and our baby-girl who is 4. We live in Dallas now but have lived in Virginia, Missouri, Virginia again and now Texas. I was in the Air Force for six years until I injured my back and required surgery and was retired with some veterans benefits. I ahve been staying home since our oldest was in diapers. I have had several jobs in retail, mainly to get out of the house and have “me” time, but also to bring in a few more bucks. In recent years since our DD was born I have stayed home full time. It has been a great experience for me and the kids. It is neat to hear them say that at school when the other kids hear that their dad stays home with them… the other kids think it is so cool. My kids like it and my wife loves my cooking too which helps.
I do laundry, wash dishes by hand, and bake fresh bread (not by machine either… old school, by hand kneeding too)

We have always been kinda frugal with our money. We have never lived in a huge house, driven expensive cars, or eating out all the time. If you live within your means, reguardless of where you live, you should be able to get by with a single income, or be able to work 10-15 hrs part time to bring in some more money. Also the big thing is sharing the respondsibilities around the house. The only thing this Daddy isn’t willing to do is toilets! Momma knows this and says she is getting off easy if that’s the only thing she “has” to do… by choice of course.
Our kids have never gone without something that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for. Things are a little bt different for us now that we are in a different financial situation. We have been very blessed these last 4 years and are much better off now than then.
My wife has always strived to better her career. I am so proud of her and I love her very much… we were high school sweethearts and have been married for 19 great years now.

She is my WONDERFUL!!



Gee, thanks!

I’m at the point where I sometimes don’t spend enough time at work, they want me at home more, I just want some time to join the Knights, and I feel torn between all of the people competing for my time.

But, you are right. People with a spouse at home can be counted on to work themselves to death and do advance up that 'ol corporate ladder.


I was curious about other’s opinions. Honestly, I didn’t expect answers that fit everyone. I don’t even know how I could word the question so that it would be broad enough for everyone’s opinion but narrow enough to fit your definitions.:shrug: :slight_smile:

I already stay home so this isn’t an issue for me. :slight_smile: I am not even considering returning to work at this time. So, the answers here have no bearing on my life. I would hope that no one is deciding such choices based on the opinions of this thread.

I think that it becomes more difficult for one spouse to remain home if they are both working simply because most of the debt they have is based on the income of both spouses. It could be impossible then to pay off debt on one income.

That is why I specified that the couple’s only debt was the house payment and car. Let’s just pretend that the couple is a lot smarter then I am and hasn’t racked up any debt.:stuck_out_tongue:


It all depends, as others have said. It also depends how much the couple is willing to sacrifice, the age of the children, any medical problems, etc.

I mean, up here, running the air conditioner all year long doesn’t happen, but the fuel bill is high. I seem to remember I couldn’t do that in Texas or Florida.

I would have to disagree with my friend GregoryPalmas. Out in the 'burbs, there are some very affordable suburbs where people are making it on $35-40K a year gross, one income, and have kids (4-6 kids) in the parish school. What happens when they get high school age, I have no idea. I do know they stick to a strict budget, don’t have a car loan but drive used and pay cash, buy experienced clothes for themselves as well as the kids, etc.

But even that depends on location, location, location. My cousin, who lives in a neighborhood in the City, has a two-flat (two apartments stacked one on top of the other, and a finished basement). She paid over $300,000 for it over ten years ago. HOWEVER, despite her mayor’s and city council’s raising of taxes, she pays less for taxes than I do in my collar county.


Out in Chicago burbs,

I commend your frugality. I guess we weren’t as frugal. I really do commend you. I’m not being sarcastic. I thought we were pretty frugal.



Our kids are a bit older than some who post regularly on here. All I know is now that we’re entering the intensely expensive teen education/activity years, I can’t imagine how our boat would float for $50k/year. One example…my eldest is leaving our local public school system to attend a private high school next year and tuition + fees, (required) laptop, etc. are $25,000/year. It’s like starting college 4 years early…and that’s just one kid’s tuition…we haven’t even started talking about the roof over their head, food, clothes, activities, entertainment, travel…it never ends. I may have to go back to work at this pace!


This is what I was gonna say… depends on location and ages of kids… Where I live now… I could make it on $20K (as a single mom with 3 kids) when the kids were little but teen years… no way!!!


My hubby makes 30K a year, I stay at home with the four kids. The main difference since we’re military is we don’t pay any medical expenses so that throws a wrench into the equation. We do live off post so have all the expenses of owning a home. I agree with previous posters that no debt is HUGE. (We’re almost done, just 4K on my student loans left!) We do all right, there are some months is seems we are pretty tight, but I think that is mostly when I get the “wantsies”.

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