TWO INCOMES, ONE PAYCHECK:
HOW WE DID IT!
Manon Méthot, B.A.A., Regional Manager
In today’s reality, most families live on two incomes! But, what happens when one income is lost, due to a new posting for example– an all too frequent occurrence for military spouses! Best case scenario, these perpetual relocations mean constantly changing jobs. However more often than not, the family will have to rely on one sole income, thereby facing a number of financial challenges!
Having lived the military life myself, and aware of the demands, my spouse and I came up with a strategic solution: living off one paycheck even when we were lucky enough to be earning two incomes! Making this choice allowed us to lay the groundwork for lasting financial security. How did we do it? Three words: Prioritizing – Budgeting – Planning.
First off we sat down to determine together, as a couple, what our financial priorities were, identifying the main source of our financial woes and stress (i.e. credit card and other outstanding debts) and separating our immediate WANTS from our long term NEEDS (addressing the latter first)! As such, while my husband’s income was designed for our monthly living expenses (think frugal) – rent, groceries, car, insurance, etc. – the extra income (my salary) was exclusively committed to our more long-term goals:
- Paying down debt faster;
- Building an emergency fund;
- Saving for a down-payment on our first home; and
- Additional savings for retirement
Setting up a budget was central to this strategy. It was like turning on a light in a dark room; instantly we were able to pinpoint and identify where and how our money was being spent or misspent! A budget must be suited to your specific goals; we tried to keep ours flexible, realistic and attainable. We made sure to monitor our progress, going back to it every two or three months and tweaking when necessary. Some of our goals were set up for the short term (i.e. our emergency fund with a 3 month salary’s worth), while others, such as the down-payment for our first home was a more long term goal (24 to 36 months). Either way, our budget was and is an essential tool that has kept us on track to this day!
As you can appreciate, all this took some effort and definitely some careful planning. Once you have come up with ways to address your financial situation and determined the solutions that work for you (i.e. living in PMQs, sharing one car, etc.), whether you do it on your own or with assistance from your financial advisor, the resulting plan should be the roadmap to reach your financial destination. Financial problems and challenges can arise at any time, planning ahead is what can help us overcome the hurdles and uncertainty along the way.
What has this meant for us? It has certainly provided us with a greater ability to be prepared for our next posting, a better quality of life, for sure, plus a sense of accomplishment from sticking with our plan. Not to mention, the peace of mind from no more debt-related stress and knowing that we are advancing toward our goals!
It is achievable; we did it, so can you!