I cringe when people refer to being a “single income family” as if it should signify that they are struggling financially. It is certainly true that for a very specific group of people it would cost more than the second earner could make in order to pay for childcare. But these are not the people whom I see making the remarks about surviving on a single income.
We lived on a single income from September through December. This was a clear sign that we were wealthy, not an indication of struggling. Sure, we may budget a bit more precisely, but the ability to live on one income is an indication of great resources, not of deprivation.
The truth is that families who are really struggling can’t just budget their way into living off of one income. They find ways of utilizing extended family and trading childcare and working off-hours. It does not matter if the mother only earns minimum wage–she works because she has to. They do not work because they think that smartphones are necessities, they work because they know that smartphones are unimaginable luxuries.
If you are able to feed your family on one income, it should be counted as a tremendous blessing.
We all like to imagine that we are not rich because it spares us the burden of reexamining our lives and sacrificing to help those who desperately need it. But even if we must be selfish and stingy, we should at least spare ourselves dishonesty.
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