How many times have you heard the prase "it's impossible nowadays to live on one income"? I have personally lost count of it. Yet is it really so? As Christians, we are supposed to follow the Bible, including the "difficult" verses, unpopular nowadays, such as Titus 2 admonition for (married) women to be "keepers at home". A lot of people will actually agree with it in theory, but then turn right around and say that it all was very well in the times of Paul because life used to be so much cheaper, but it's impossible now.
The idea that people in the times of the Roman Empire had it so much easier is hilarious, to say the least. There is a book on Project Gutenberg which compares the life of an American worker in the beginning of the 20th century to that of a Roman laborer in the times of Diocletian and comes to the conclusion that
For the urban workman, then, in the fourth century,
conditions of life must have been almost intolerable, and it is hard to
understand how he managed to keep soul and body together, when almost all
the nutritious articles of food were beyond his means. The taste of meat,
fish, butter, and eggs must have been almost unknown to him, and probably
even the coarse bread and vegetables on which he lived were limited in
amount. (Diocletian's Edict and the High Cost of Living)
When we look back and compare our life to what it used to be in the years 1900 we realise how much wealthier we are and yet, in the year 2010 in the USA more than 60% of white married women were in the workforce compared to 2.2% in 1890 (source).
The above statistics make one think that the reason so many married women nowadays work outside home is not extreme poverty, but a total change in society's attitudes towards the traditional woman's work within the home. The good news is that if you want to live on one income, you can do it!
We live in a thoroughly consumerist society where economy is the only thing that matters and the government encourages people to "shop till they drop" presumably to keep the said economy going, but I suspect to collect more taxes for their social engineering programs, but you don't have to live this way. Western countries are still quite different from North Korea and nobody holds a gun to your head telling you to spend your money on stuff. If you don't want it, you don't have to do it!
People don't lack material wealth nowadays, they lack the courage to follow their convictions. They lack faith. They read the Bible passages about God hating divorce and then they go and divorce on a whim. They decry the moral corruption of the modern entertainment but don't have the backbone to forbid their children to watch TV.Women all gush about period dramas with beautiful costumes (which is really a great part of their attraction) and yet will wear jeans day in day out and so on and so forth.
The truth is, you can do it! We still live in (relatively) free countries. As a woman, you can wear a dress, and nobody will stop you. It's not forbidden by law to dress femininely. You still are allowed to stay home with your children, and you don't have to ask the permission from the government. You are allowed to be a housewife. And yes, it's quite possible to live on one income. You can do with less. We all can do with less. There are things which are the necessities of life: food, clothes, shelter and I would add, basic medical coverage and transportation. All the other things are wants.
It's possible to live with one car. It's possible to raise you children in an apartment, instead of a detached house. It's not really necessary to go on luxurious vacations 3 times a year. One doesn't need a plasma TV to survive. Your children can do without various Play Stations and the games which cost 50euro each. You can learn to cook from scratch and clothes can be bought cheaply from a Goodwill type of store.
When you watch old TV series, like I Love Lucy, you see that people had time for each other. Women who stayed home during the day visited neighbours, organised ladies' clubs and were actively involved at school. We used to have a society where people were neighbourly and had time for family and friends. Today people live isolated lives. Children grow up in daycare, the elderly are locked up in nursing homes. The neighbourhoods are empty during the day as everybody works.
In the evening every family member is busy with his or hers electronic entertainment so that they hardly talk to each other. Mothers don't bother to cook so that the family often won't even eat dinner together. Some call it progress, I call it degradation. Our society is falling apart before our very eyes, but apparently as long as the debt-fuelled economy keeps going, it must be OK.
We can change things for the better, though, one family at a time. People are more important than things. As we go through life, we should try to build relationships with those around us as we are not meant to live in isolation. Also the family is not only father, mother and the kids. It's also grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces. Traditionally it always fell to the women to maintain the social contacts as they were those with most time. As they left home, the world around them literally fell apart.
It's up to us to rebuild the society, and yes, we can do it!