My husband quit his job yesterday

by Erika Torres

Yesterday was Eric’s last day of work, until at least January 2012. That’s right folks, my husband quit his job.

For about a year now, we knew this was coming. Eric has been working as an EMT (emergency medical technician–you know, those guys on ambulances) since August of last year, but the whole goal was–and still is–for Eric to become a firefighter. With that, comes the firefighter academy.

This academy is a 14-week program. And it’s gonna suck. To put it bluntly. He has to be at the academy at 5:30 a.m. and then he doesn’t get home until like 7 or something. And then he has to study for all those tests they give him. Once the academy is complete though, you are able to apply for a lot more firefighter positions. Yes, you are reading this correctly–the academy doesn’t guarantee you a job.

So it is possible that Eric may be out of job longer than 5 months, but we’re hoping that’s not that case as there seem to be a few opportunities on the horizon.

Can we survive on one-income? Yes we can.

When I first heard of Eric’s plan to not work for 5 months, my initial reaction was “You have GOT to be kidding me.” We were barely making ends meet as it was–how the heck were we going to afford living on one salary?

Well, our spending habits have changed a lot since last year. We are no longer saddled with $5,000 in credit card debt that we’re working to pay off. And we will no longer be contributing a huge chunk of our pay toward savings. We’ll also save money by not having Eric’s $200 monthly food allowance for work–yay for packing lunches! And we also won’t be paying $160 for Crossfit, since he’ll be getting a workout every day at the Academy. So that’s at least $1360 in savings every month.

We’ve been preparing for this. We met our $8,000 savings goal briefly in July. For the past 7 months, we’ve been stashing away around $1,000 each month to give us a nice cushion (although we’ve spent $1,487 this month alone for academy uniforms, books, and registration, ugh!)

I’m actually very happy that Eric quit his job. I’ve never been a huge fan of a job that made him work every single weekend, with the exception for two, for the past 12 months and gave him shitty pay. But I understood it was a stepping stone for the next phase in his career. So yes I am happy that I will have him on weekends for the next five months, even if he’ll have to study during some of that time. I’m sure you’ll see an update in about a month, saying how much I hate that I have to do everything while all he does is study, study, study–but for now, I’m gonna enjoy this time–and the next two weeks where I get him all to myself before the academy starts.

Have you ever had to live as a one-income family? Have you ever had to be the breadwinner while your spouse went back to school?


How to supplement income,part time income January 6, 2012 - 10:00 am

Hi Newlywedsonabudget,
Speaking of which, If you are stuck in a job that you hate it is no wonder you are thinking of quitting. However, before you do you may want to consider finding another job first so you don’t wind up stuck without a paycheck or income. Even if you don’t find another job first you should have a definite plan of action in place in case you cannot find another job as quickly as you had hoped. Today’s job market is tough and if you don’t have a plan it can lead to financial trouble, ruined credit, or in some cases even homelessness. Here are some tips for how to quit a job without sacrificing your income along with it.
Kindest Regards

britt@knewlywifed August 26, 2011 - 8:54 pm

We’re going to be a one income family shortly while I complete my student teaching. It’s a little nervewracking to think of, but I’m just praying we’ll be okay. I’m so anxious to see how you guys do and what we can learn from you 🙂

Nicole August 18, 2011 - 11:04 am

Hey there, I think I found your blog through Once Upon a Lime? Anyway, I know exactly where you’re at. My husband just finally got hired, we live in orange county (and actually from the looks of it used to live in the same neighborhood as you before we bought our house). If you need advice or anything on how to deal with all this I am happy to help. Keep your head up! I supported my husband through testing, the academy, etc and it was so worth it!

Lindy Mint August 15, 2011 - 12:59 pm

Congratulations on your next step (and on being so prepared for it).

I had to be the breadwinner when my husband was in grad school. I was
just starting in a new field too, so the pressure was a little engrossing. My husband now works two part time jobs, and supplements with freelance work. His more steady job income just got a little boost, so I’m wondering if we can finagle living only on that, and stashing the rest. I’m inspired by the changes you guys have made to make this transition work.

Mary August 15, 2011 - 12:56 pm

You guys are more than prepared to work your way through this and it will benefit you both in the long run. Good luck Eric!

Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run August 15, 2011 - 5:46 am

I’ve never done the one income thing unless you count my income and living on my own. Then, I guess I have. I know that it’s a possibility this year, so I probably need to make a plan. It’s great you have money saving in other areas to make up for only one income.
So, was Eric not able to bring his lunch to work before? That’s a lot of money for lunches!

Sonya August 14, 2011 - 7:52 pm

We are in the same boat! My husband decided to quit teaching over a year ago and went back to school for accounting. He still has a year and a half to go before he’s done. I’m the one working and we are living on my teacher’s salary. We too had saved half of his paychecks since we knew he would be leaving his job so we would have that cushion. We are also using his student loan money to supplement. We are making it and I’m hoping in the end it will be worth it…I know it will be!

Carol August 13, 2011 - 11:20 am

We’re about a year in on one income and have another year to go. My husband is in grad school full time to change careers. its not easy, but seeing him in something he enjoys doing makes it worth it!

good luck

Tiffany August 13, 2011 - 10:47 am

I love how you guys found ways to work through the situation. I know many wives who would have over-reacted with fear and anger. This post is very inspiring!

Megg August 13, 2011 - 7:48 am

Wow, that’s both awesome and scary all at once, but in a good way!
When we first got married (a year and a half ago) my husband was the only one working. I was unemployed for 10 months before we were able to become a 2 income household. We had student loans, some credit card debt and a car payment, along with our other bills. We had a strict budget that we didn’t always stick to, and we weren’t saving much at all.
Somehow (with money borrowed from his mom) we were able to buy a house, but thank goodness I got a job shortly after (even though we know we can pay our mortgage payment on his salary).
Long story short, we made it work, but not well. Since then we’ve expanded our budget to include things like weight watchers and the gym, but we’re also saving a significant amount every month, and I think we’re in much, much better shape than we used to be. If my husband lost his job we’d be hard pressed to pay the bills, unfortunately, because I only have an office job, but at least we have a couple month’s savings (and ALL the extras would go!)
Good luck, and congrats to your husband! What a great leap of faith! And I’m glad you had time to prepare, instead of being thrown into it too!

Cait August 13, 2011 - 1:50 am

my fiance and i are in the process of also becoming a one income family because i’m still in Grad school and finding a full time job right now is difficult. It’s challenging to say the last but I believe everyone can make it work in their own way. 🙂 I just came across your blog and I love it! You should stop by my blog and enter my Bobbie Brown eye shadow compact Giveaway! It ends Tuesday 🙂

eemusings August 12, 2011 - 9:22 pm

I’ve been the breadwinner while T was unemployed. (For part of that time he studied part time, the rest of it he was simply job hunting). It wasn’t by choice, so I wasn’t too graceful about it and it wasn’t a fun time. The first stint was while I was still at uni, the second in my first year of FT work – so both weren’t ideal times and I definitely resented it. But by the same time, I didn’t want him to just take any minimum wage job that he would hate. It sounds like you guys are well prepared – and while I’m sure firefighting, as another emergency service, will involve some more round the clock work later on, it will hopefully give you guys a better balance.

Teacher Girl August 12, 2011 - 8:27 pm

I think that it will be hard, but you have done an incredible job of preparing for it! I think it is great that you two can support each other in your endeavors. Best of luck!

Jennifer August 12, 2011 - 2:59 pm

Good luck! You guys can do this. : )
What an exciting change in schedule, though.

prettylittlereckless August 12, 2011 - 2:42 pm

It’s all about sacrifices to get where you want to be! I’m learning that now as I go back to school myself and how much my work schedule will change because of it. I just keep thinking- it’s for the future, it’s for the future!

Sounds like you have really planned everything out for this and you’ll do great!

Stevie August 12, 2011 - 2:36 pm

Hahahaha, oh boy do I know what it’s like to live on one income. I’ve basically been unemployed since 2008, except for a few temp jobs here and there. Now I’m in school full time. Luckily, because of the fact that I didn’t make much money the past few years, I have received a decent amount of financial aid that completely pays for my school, but still…we’re basically living on one income and we’re getting married next year! But we’ve also been good about our spending habits. Our rent is very, very low, neither of us own cars, we don’t have a TV or cable, and we generally live pretty simple lives. Even though it’s been hard at some points, I’ve never been happier.

I know you guys can do this and it’ll be totally worth it in the end!

Hannah August 12, 2011 - 11:39 am

We just became a one-income family. My hubby was laid off and we saw it coming so we’ve been able to prep a very healthy savings. We can live off of my income but it would be nice if he can find something soon so we can continue to hack down our student loans. It always sucks to go to one income but it feels good knowing that we’ve prepared for it.

Its awesome that you can be so supportive of all of this, congrats on making all of your savings goals!

newlywedsonabudget August 12, 2011 - 12:14 pm

You all are thinking way too highly of me. I am only supportive now because it hasn’t started yet. Give me about a month when he’s doing the academy, and studying all the time, and I’m doing all the cooking, cleaning, and bill paying and then I’ll be bitching for sure
: P

The Coach's Wife August 12, 2011 - 11:36 am

Good luck with everything! sounds like you are super prepared! I would have done the same thing.. I kinda am with our baby on the way. the minute I found out I was pregnant I started looking at how we could cut costs, and i started saving, so we’ll have a cushion to pay off the hospital bill, and have a jumpstart on Daycare costs. Yeah for being organized wth the finances! I know you guys will do great!!!

Akirah August 12, 2011 - 10:57 am

How exciting! And nerve-wracking, I’m sure. I’m glad you feel good about this step and are gonna be encouraging and supportive. Not that I’d expect anything different. But this will be a good step for him and you both. Can’t wait to read more.

jobo August 12, 2011 - 10:53 am

Congrats to Eric…but also congrats to YOU for being as supportive as you are (even when it sucks!) and for being such a mastermind with your budget. I am so SO impressed. Miss you guys, hope to be out there SOMETIME soon! you guys should come up to wine country when we are there!! 9/21-26 🙂

Couple A Saving August 12, 2011 - 10:43 am

Its crazy to think how different fire departments are around the US. My husband is working towards becoming a fire fighter too! The way it works for him is he applies for a firefighter job, has tons of physical tests, written tests, interviews and much more. It takes months for the application process. Im sure Eric has gone through all of those too. After that they give you an offer to join the fire academy. Basically when they offer you into the academy they are offering you a job, if you can hack it. If you don’t do well enough with the physical parts, test and all of that other good stuff then they ask you to leave. As long as you pass the academy they offer you a job. The part that is really different here is they pay you for being in the fire academy. At least this is what B has told me about everything. I couldn’t imagine living on only 1 income. We live on 1 and a half and it sucks.

LatteLove August 12, 2011 - 9:57 am

We’ve only ever lived as a one income family – a very small one at that. My husband is a grad student. We’re making it work, but because of our situation we can’t put anything in savings, which makes me nervous!
Being able to live comfortably, albeit cheaply on one income is reassuring though – it will make two incomes seem luxurious!


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