Personal Finances: Can you live on one income?

February 15, 2008

A worksheet to see if you have enough money to cover your expenses if you or your spouse quits the work world.

Maybe you and your spouse are planning to start a family soon, or he or she wants to leave Corporate America to start a business. If one of you quits the work world, can you still cover your bills, save enough for retirement, and have enough left over to, say, save for your kids' college education or take a nice trip every so often? To find out, use the worksheet posted at Kiplinger.com ( http://kiplinger.com/tools/managing/afford.html). It covers everything you've probably already considered (mortgage, property taxes, homeowners and life insurance, retirement and education savings) and some things you might overlook (child-care costs; fees, dues, and subscriptions; and commuting costs). Input your numbers and the program will calculate your family's net monthly cash flow. If you get a negative result, go back and see where you can pare down the budget, starting with discretionary spending. You may not get to the Caribbean this year, but you can't put a price on living your dream.