If you told me 3 years ago that we would be happy living off of one income, I woulda told you duh. But if you told me it would be *my income* I honestly would have panicked.
Let’s get this out of the way: our lifestyle is lavish and our expenses are high. We’re two drivers with three cars (American sports car! Late model commuter! don’t even get me started on insurance). We live in a fancy house in a sought after county that’s real close to DC. We eat meat all the dang time, and buy whatever the heck we want.
In a lot of ways, we have major lifestyle inflation happening, especially since both Mr. H and I work.
Or used to, anyway. Mr. H quit his job and is taking a sabbatical. And to be honest, it is way less stressful than I thought it would be.
Sure, I’m no longer hitting my 30%+ savings rate, but I’m still amazed and proud of how flexible our lives are. Even with our fixed expenses, we’re able to to do all of the things we normally do while still putting away some money every month (savings rate is about 10%).
In fact, we’ve barely made a dent in our lifestyle at all, and if this was a long term arrangement, we could probably still reach FI in about 15-20 years with just a little extra finagling of expenses.
Choosing to keep fixed expenses manageable on one income
Before we bought either of our cars or committed to our rent, we both asked ourselves if we could manage everything on one income. Your job is not your family and they will cut you loose when it’s to their benefit every time, and to think that both of us will always have our jobs or the ability to work is just crazy.
And so, we choose a life where our fixed expenses are low, while our discretionary spending is high. This results in decisions that a lot of people don’t agree with, but for us, it allows us to be flexible with spending as needed.
- We still eat out (just slightly pickier about where we go and about we order)
- We’ve held off on buying new clothes (and in fact took some time to re-arrange our closets to wear what we have)
- We still cook bomb food (thanks to buying our meat in bulk, and stockpiling from eid-ul-fitr)
- We buy what we need (new coats for winter, other cold weather gear)
- We buy what we want too (did I get a blow out at drybar? yes. Do I still drink obscene amounts of coffee at coffee shops? Also yes)
Reducing your fixed expenses is so underrated.
Especially in south asian middle class family culture, where the standard house is actually a mansion, the family car is really a new Lexus, and international vacations are taken 4x a year, we definitely are the crazy ones.
I mean, we don’t house hack but we live with family (a cardinal sin, for many!). And both of Mr. H’s cars are older. I drive a new car, but it’s one of those reasonable commuter cars that is commonly known as an entry-level-get-your-feet-wet-can’t-afford-anything-else cars.
We live large in other ways though, what with our constant eating out (which we can cut back anytime and do!) and shopping splurges (tech, clothes, furniture – take your pick).
Personal finance is personal, but for us low fixed expenses and lots of discretionary spending is the way to go (for now!)
What happens now?
Nothing at all, really. Mr. H will continue looking for a job that he loves, and I’ll continue to manage the monies so we’re saving, spending, and giving without dipping into savings.