Woman working from her home office

Many families in the United States rely on just one income to live and pay bills. Still, that doesn’t mean the other partner can’t financially contribute to help their families save. I’m sharing the stories of three amazing wives who earn extra money to help their families’ bottom lines.

Each of the three women I interviewed use only their husband’s income for monthly budgets and bills. However, they’ve also been able to build small businesses that help pad their families’ savings accounts.

Here are their stories:

The Hemphill Family

I spoke with Jennifer Hemphill, an accomplished blogger, a podcaster, a mother of two boys and a new author (“Her Money Matters,” out February 13). Although Jen makes an income from her business, her family lives solely on her husband’s military income – a choice they made because Jen wanted to stay at home with her children.

Have you always lived on one income? If not, when did you decide to?

JH: We’ve been married 17 years and have been living on one income since 2002 when our oldest son was born. When we got married, we made the decision that when we had kids, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Being that he is active duty and would be gone a lot, we didn’t want to have two “absent” parents because of our jobs. So, we went from a two-income family to a one-income family.

What challenges come with managing a budget on one income?

JH: In the past, when his income was the only option, the challenge was not being able to move as fast in paying off debt and not having much wiggle room. We also weren’t able to put much away toward retirement. As his income has grown and we have changed how we manage our finances for the better, this has completely shifted and improved.

How have you created a happy life on just one income?

JH: By celebrating that we can live and save on one income. We are proud of this.

The Smith-Valentine Family

The next person I interviewed was Sonya Smith-Valentine, an attorney turned entrepreneur at FinanciallyFierce.com. Even though Sonya runs a financial training business, her family lives entirely on her husband’s income. Here’s how that decision has impacted their lives:

Have you always lived on one income? If not, when did you decide to?

SSV: We have always lived on his income. I do work and have my business, but because working for yourself doesn’t include a regular paycheck, we have never relied on my income. So when we plan, it’s only based on his income.

How have you created a happy life on just one income?

SSV: We have managed to live on one income because we aren’t big spenders. We have a modest house (mostly because I don’t want to spend my time cleaning and heating a big house). My car is 10 years old and in great shape. I plan to drive it until the four wheels fall off and the engine dies. We also worked as a team to grow my husband’s career. He’s now making three times what he was making when we met 15 years ago.

The Gaita Family

The last woman I spoke with is Mary Gaita. Mary’s situation is unique because she lives in a very expensive part of the country, just outside of New York City. Still, she and her husband made the decision to live on one income so Mary could be a stay-at-home mom to her two beautiful daughters. Despite the strain that living near NYC and affording two kids causes, the Gaita family has no debt whatsoever. Mary supplements their income by finding high-end clothing at thrift stores and selling them for a profit online. Here is my interview with her:

Have you always lived on one income? If not, when did you decide to?

MG: I worked part time for a year before we had our first child. Since then, we have lived on just one income. We decided that we would have to make one income work. For the amount of money that we would take home after child care expenses, we didn’t think it was worth it.

What challenges come with managing a budget on one income? 

MG: In order to manage our budget on one income, we have chosen not to use credit cards. We use strictly the disposable income that is available to us. Though we are unable to save as much as we used to, we have no debt! We have also traded in tropical vacations for day trips and road trips, as well as our BMW for a Toyota.

How have you created a happy life on just one income? 

MG: Although we can’t have $1,000 Christmases or take fancy trips, we do tons of low-cost, fun activities with our girls like going to zoos, aquariums and picnics.

As you can see, there are many ways that a family can thrive on one income. There are also many ways for one partner to supplement that income, even if they aren’t working full time. Really, it all comes down to your spending habits, your willingness to live within your means and your goals for your family’s future.

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This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. While the article was well-written, as an editor with more than 30 years of experience, the headline could’ve been better crafted to not only draw in the reader but more accurately reflect the content.

    1. Hi Jill:

      We definitely appreciate the feedback! We’re taking all this into consideration for the future.

      Thanks,
      Kevin

  2. I was excited to see how women were staying home and still contributing the the family income. Instead the article stated that the family lives on one income but did not state what the family did or the women did with the income they earned.
    I am all for stay at home moms. Both of my daughters chose to do live this choice. Their budgeting skills and their willingness to do without non essentials helped them through the lean years as their husbands careers took off. Now both families are enjoying some of the non essentials they chose to forego early in their marriages. Choosing to be a stay at home mom is still a viable choice if you desire to not have non family members provide care for your children! Finally, they still have lot of time to enjoy thriving careers later in life. I personally have now lived 21 years since my daughters left home for college. I returned to school, lived abroad for 18 months and taught school for 15 years. I currently teach ESL to Chinese children online. Life does not end when children are raised but if someone else raises your children, you cannot get back those missed early years. Being a mom and having a career does not have to happen all at the same time!

    1. Hi Kathy:

      I think our goal was to highlight that the women featured in this article were able to save the money for whatever they may have wanted or needed it for. I think all the stories being shared with us I was straight that there are all different ways of working and making time for family. I think it’s easier than ever to balance work and life with today’s technology as well and the ability to work from home. So there’s more than one way to get the job done, but I’m glad you found something that works for you.

  3. I am completely offended by this article and what it implies. I believe that women do more all the time and implying that women should depend on their husband’s income and save more money is unrealistic for most families. How about more of this: https://www.simplemost.com/study-shows-moms-work-98-hours-week/?utm_campaign=snd_meredith_wnem&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=partner&utm_partner=meredith_wnem . Shame on Quicken Loans for publishing this.

    1. Hi Martha! Thank you for your feedback. We apologize that the article came across that way. There are multiple work and financial dynamics within different families and the article was not intended to promote any one dynamic over another. It was intended to simply share the story of these three women and their specific dynamic. It’s also a part of a series we’re working on that will be called “Her Wallet” which covers financial topics for women in different life stages and dynamics. We appreciate your feedback and take it into consideration when developing future story ideas, especially for this new series. Hope you have a great day!

    2. I am offended by your statement as there is no implication of anything except what you have dreamed up in your mind. They aren’t saying that women should depend on their husband’s income, they are stating that SOME COUPLES who are secure enough have decided that in order to not have child care expenses, would live off of the husband’s income (or maybe the wife if she makes more than hubby) and that the other spouse would stay home with the children and find something they can do to make extra money and yet still be home with the kids. Get a grip woman!

  4. I agree with Alex. This article is on how to manage on a single salary, not about how they make their extra money… so the title of this article is deceiving.

    1. Hi Bari:

      A choice was made with this article to focus on the women involved, so that’s why their husbands weren’t really mentioned from an income perspective. That said, we definitely understand and value your feedback. Have a wonderful day.

      Thanks,
      Kevin

    2. I agree, the title was very deceiving. I read it simply to , hopefully, get tips on saving money while staying on a budget.

      1. Hi Laura:

        We appreciate your feedback and we do try to take the opinions of our readers into consideration. Although I didn’t write this particular article, I have reviewed it. In each section, it does talk about how the ladies were able to bring extra money into their homes to help with family savings. I am glad you got some tips out of it. Have a wonderful day!

        Thanks,
        Kevin Graham

  5. Although this was an interesting read, it was not the article I was expecting. I thought there would be more information about how women have contributed to a family’s income as stay at home mothers. It doesn’t.
    I am a stay at home AND single mother. I not only managed to support myself and my son with my disability pay and investments, but also have built up a little side hustle that helps us all. I was hoping there would be more information for me in this article. Good read, but not quite what was advertised.

  6. I was taken aback by the blatantly sexist headline. Please publish an accompanying article, “How 3 Husbands Earn Extra Money to Help Their Families Save.”

    1. Hi Catherine:

      This is a good idea for an article. The reasoning behind this headline is we will soon be promoting a new series for financially independent women that this will be a part of. Thanks for sharing your feedback! It’s appreciated!

      Thanks,
      Kevin

  7. The title of this post is a little off putting…”How 3 Wives Earn Extra Money to Help Their Families Save” It sounds a little like saving egg money back in the old days. There are plenty of men caring for kids now and juggling other income opportunities.

    The military family sounds like they are doing well, but most people do not realize the increadible support system and community that can support active duty military families that might live on or near military installations. The author does not state whether the service member is a commissioned officer or not. Pay differences between enlisted members and commissioned officers is quite large. Another monumental advantage to active duty military and veterans is a VA backed home loan.

    1. Hi Kimberly:

      This is part of a larger series we’ll be promoting soon around financial tips for women. Hence the title. Of course, there are plenty of male caregivers out there right now. Many of these tips might help them as well. Your insights on the VA system and military pay structures are extremely valuable. Thanks for sharing!

      Kevin

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