From DINKs to SINKs: Making One Income Work

From DINKs to SINKs: Making One Income Work July 18, 2011

My wife and I have been DINKs for the last three years.  If you didn’t know, a DINK stands for DUAL INCOME, NO KIDS.  We’ve been extremely blessed and our DINK status has allowed us to save a healthy emergency fund, set aside a good amount in our retirement accounts and pay down student loans over these few years.

But all that changed last week.  My wife’s last day of work was on Friday, so we officially became SINKs – SINGLE INCOME, NO KIDS.  (I guess we’re technically considered SINKED – Single Income, No Kids, Except Dog – not to be confused with SUNK…ok now I’m just playing.) Seriously though, losing an income isn’t an exciting thing, even if you know ahead of time.

We’ve actually known for almost a year that she would end her job last week.  The reason for the change is because she’s starting medical school in August.  We’re really excited for this next phase, and feel good about the status change from DINKs to SINKs.

Preparing to Lose an Income

Most people don’t get a long notice before they lose an income, especially today.  Even though we knew about the change, our strategy is one that could work for any other working couples out there.

Here’s how we’ll make one income work:

1. We built an emergency fund.

This was very important for us because the remaining income will need to cover the bills.  Any major expenses would be difficult to cover with the leftovers each month, so building up six months of expenses really helped us feel comfortable with the change.

 2.  We cut some expenses.

The small things matter, especially when you lose an income.  We are trimming our budget back slightly to help.  Our phone bill had a little room to trim back and we won’t be getting cable.  We’ve also been able to cut our grocery bill by a lot with coupons – more on this in #4.

3.  We created a secret paycheck.

We have direct deposit for our paychecks and my employer allows us to split the check into a savings or checking account.  I was slowly able to defer almost $600 each month into our emergency fund, fully funding it this summer.  Now that we’ve lost an income, I’ll be adding back that $600 to our budget.  It will feel as though we’ve only lost one of her checks instead of two each month.

4.  We turned extra time into savings.

We have saved hundreds of dollars by using coupons this year.  No we’re not as bad as the people on TV – but yes, we do have a small stockpile of toiletries and other things that we saved over 75% on.  This is huge for our budget, as we’ll save over $40 a month on toiletries because we’ve already purchased what we need for a year.

5.  We made a goal.

We couldn’t have made it to this point without making it a priority to adjust.  Our goal was to learn to live on one income over these last six months and the steps we’ve taken have helped us get there.

As a challenge, consider what it would take to adjust to a one family income.  If you are already doing that, then kudos!  Could your budget survive on one income?

Have you ever lost an income?  Was it expected or unexpected?  How did you plan for it or adjust?

image credit: Aprillyn77

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