This calculation was originally run on the USA Today web site but is based on the book by Andy Dappen "Shattering the Two Income Myth".
Also of possible interest: 2003 NCPA Study on income gains from a second income

The "Can You Live on One Income?" Calculator

From Shattering the Two-Income Myth: Daily Secrets for Living Well on One Income by Andy Dappen (Brier Books). The book is now out of print so try the library or maybe eBay!

Another good book on the topic is Two Incomes and Still Broke? by Linda Kelley, which is easier to find.


Thinking of switching from two incomes to one? Or is your spouse thinking about going back to work? Find out what that second income really amounts to.

Experiment with our automatic calculator -- adapted from the book Shattering the Two-Income Myth by Andy Dappen -- to see how much the second income in your family really amounts to.

First, enter a dollar amount related to the second income and benefits. Then enter the appropriate dollar amounts below for expenses that must be taken into account when both spouses work.

Enter the income of the family member who would be quitting his/her job?
(Type in numerical values)
- Yearly income
- Yearly benefits (e.g., stock options, insurance, retirement plan)
- Hours Worked (typically 2000/year)

Enter only those that can be legitimately pegged to the second income:
(Type in numerical value.

Taxes, including federal, state and local. If your combined income bumps you into a higher tax bracket, these higher rates should be assigned to the second income.
Social Security contributions
(7.65% of first $110,100, 1.45% after that).
Withholdings for redundant benefits (i.e. benefits paid for but which would be received anyway through your spouse's work.)
Transportation/commuting cost (gas and appropriate amounts for insurance, depreciation, repairs). The easiest method is to use this cost-per-mile schedule: 34 for subcompact, 39 for compacts, 43 for midsize vehicles, 49 for large cars, 70 for luxury cars. 39 x 20 miles/day x 250 days = $1950
Would you need this car if you quit work? If not, then tally the annual car payments
Image expenses: How much more per year does it cost to drive the right car, belong to the right clubs, be seen at the right functions?
Tools of the trade: Is a car phone an important tool for work? What about a portable computer, specific software, modem, business books, home office supplies, fax machine, subscriptions to trade magazines/business papers?
Clothing: yearly expenses for work-related clothing stuff you wouldn't buy (or perhaps wouldn't even want) if there weren't for work.
Dry-cleaning costs for work clothes.
Grooming: haircuts, makeup, cosmetics -- whatever is over and above your needs for home.
Daycare and babysitting (Note: Daycare kids get sick more often so add a small percentage of doctor's bills).
Lunch: How much is spent eating out? (Note: A homemade lunch cost about $1.50 and there are ~250 working days each year).
Dinner: How often are you eating out because you lack the postwork energy to cook? (Note: A homemade dinner costs about $3 per person).
Guilt: anything purchased for the kids or spouse to compensate for time away from them.
Pick-me-ups/decompression: could be anything from alcohol to double lattes -- those items purchased to help relieve job stress.
Unresearched expenditures: Lack of time means no comparison shopping for everything from food to furniture, insurance to electronics. On all these items, you're spending around 20 percent more than necessary.
Home maintenance: housecleaning to house painting. How much are you spending on jobs you would like to do yourself if you had the time?

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