Makin' It, Gettin' By, Etc.
The Man Who Hasn't Seen Jaws raises an interesting point.
Families with multiple children used to survive on one income. Now two people in their twenties who work themselves to the bone can't barely find a way for one of them to take a year off so they can have ONE kid.
Part of me really wants to agree with him, because I think that Nashville is a city filled with underemployed people. I think the economy here encourages employers to pay far less than the going rate elsewhere. When I was in a salaried position a year ago, I was paid $5K less than the bottom bracket for my job as listed on salaryweb. I wasn't even making the base amount, and I think that's typical within the Nashville job market, from what I've seen.
But in a larger sense, I do think that my generation and the one immediately following mine have redefined survival. Not to sound all uphill-both-ways-in-the-snow, but things were different when I was a kid. My parents raised four kids on one income. They didn't have cable TV, internet, cell phones, new cars every two years. We grew our own vegetables, my mom sewed our clothes. Instead of going to the movies we went to the library. Going out to eat was a huge treat that we did exactly five times every year. I know this because there was a restaurant where kids ate free on their birthdays and got a free chocolate cake, so each time one of us had a birthday, we'd go there. The fifth time was when we'd stop at Burger Chef (until it went out of business, then McDonalds) once on the way to my grandparents' farm every summer. That was it.
I do think it can be possible for a family to get by on one income. It just depends on how you define "getting by." It also depends on how you define contentment.
I really should link to Ivy on this topic. She and her husband are raising three kids on one income (plus some additional stuff since January or so.) She's written quite a bit about this. Also, Amy of Lavender Sparkles and her husband made the decision to learn to live on one income from the get-go so they don't feel deprived once children arrive. I also believe that Heather and her family are a one-income joint. So there ARE people making the sacrifice to live this way. It can be done.