How to Survive on One Income (Updated)

Ahhhhh yes.   Time for  another reblog update and I’ve been wondering how I was going to approach this one this time around.   This was by far my most controversial post to date.  I get more hate mail from this than from any other.   I almost hate to change it at all.

But alas… Let’s see where I can and should update without changing the flavor of the post because that would just be such a sad thing.  Here we go.

Note! This Part 1 is ONLY for women who want to live like a 1950’s housewife. This means that if you proceed, you are saying that you want to live in an old-fashioned, admittedly probably completely sexist,  male-lead home. If that’s not you and you are just looking for tips to surviving on one paycheck, skip to Part 2. Agreed?  Again.  If that’s not you, do not proceed.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200.  Had to throw in the Monopoly reference to go with the photo.  🙂

So here it is.  How to Survive on One Paycheck–1950’s style

Page_1If you want to live like an old-fashioned 1950s housewife (AGAIN..note…I’m not talking to career women. I am talking to the women who, by their own desires and choosing, want to live as housewives.  Yes I’m repeating myself), where you stay at home keeping house and tending the kids while your husband goes to work, you can. To be able to live and survive on one pay check is possible. Today we are going to talk about the two big things you must do first to make it possible. Tomorrow we’ll get to all the little details of the “step by step.” But you must be able to do these two steps first before any of the rest can succeed. You ready?

First and foremost is that you have to hand over care of the finances to your husband. Why? First, because if he is going to be solely responsible for bringing in enough money to pay all the expenses and keep a roof over your heads, he needs to see first hand where the family finances stand on a weekly basis. He needs to pay the bills. He needs to budget for the groceries. He needs to see it and experience it so that he knows if he is doing enough.

If you are controlling everything and paying all the bills, and you tell him there isn’t enough money, it is possible he won’t believe you.  Or he may suspect that you aren’t spending wisely. He may even think that you are stashing money and not telling him. He sees plenty coming in, and he will believe there is plenty to cover everything. He will likely get angry, dig in and refuse to make changes. But if he is doing the finances himself, and he sees for himself that you are sticking to a budget but it’s not enough, he will know.  He will adjust where necessary without argument or household distress.

It is equally important that you do not let him tell you that he prefers you to keep the books.  Of course he does.  It’s easier.   But it won’t help either of you.  Having him take 100% responsibility is a psychological thing for both of you.  Not a convenience thing.   He must, must, must have control over every aspect of the money.  He must understand down to the fibers of his bones that the care and keeping of his wife and children are entirely his responsibility. (And his own personal victory when he does it well!)

The second reason you need to turn over the finances to your husband is because if you want to live the life of a 1950’s housewife, you have to live all of it. It doesn’t work half way. If you want to live the gender role of a traditional woman, you have to let your man be the man. You have to step back and let him lead his home, and doing the finances is a huge part of that.   . . . . Did that sting a little?  If so, don’t worry.  You aren’t alone.  To this very day I struggle with shutting down the urge to questioning Mr. C’s spending habits, but I’m getting better.  I don’t even know why I feel like I need to question.  Everything is always paid on time.  I have everything I need and want.  I just can’t seem to get those last little bits of control freak out of me.

Eh.  I’m working on it. Anyway… Where was I?

Ah yes.  Back before the introduction of feminism, this is how it worked.  A man woke every day with just a few things on his mind. After he got that first one out of the way, his laser focus shifted to his duty to provide for his family, and that’s all he kept his attention on all day long.  It has been a man’s instinct to think this way for thousands of years. (Hunt and gather, you know?) It’s only been since after the end of WWII and into the 1970s that gender roles started to become foggy leaving most men not knowing what their role is in this world anymore.   Poor dears.  They have lots of new crazy rules of engagement thrown at them, which is confusing because for most the instinct to lead and provide is still strong.  They’re just waiting to take the reins.

Ok so before you start to back-peddle, let me add this. You have nothing to fear. Just as it was back then, it is the same now. A man not only feels compelled to provide, but he feels compelled to keep his family in the highest social status that he can afford. (The man with the most toys wins!) He will keep you in the very best house that he can afford. He will want to insure that his wife looks as pretty and is wearing the best fashions as he can afford. He will insure that his children are dressed as well as and can participate in as many sports and activities that he can afford. He is not going to short change you or his kids. Why? Because it’s his instinct.  And he wants to look and feel successful, which means you and your home have to look good.

One of the things I was most shocked to learn about is the secret life of men. Secret to women, that is. It’s a brutal, stressful world that they live in—far worse than anything a woman can imagine, simply because our brains and our thoughts don’t work the same way as theirs. But since all men wake thinking the same thing—keep my family at the top!–theirs is a world of fierce competition. They wake up ready to fight. Men spend their entire existence comparing themselves to each other and fighting for position. They fight to win women. They fight to win and then to keep their jobs. They fight for social status. They fight for admiration and acclaim. Sometimes they fight for their own (and our) lives. No matter where you look in a man’s world, there is a fierce battle going on, hence the constant need to look and feel “manly.”

One of the most stressful places for a man is in his work place. There is almost never peace and there is always a lot of back-stabbing there. There has to be. The guy on top gets paid the most. The guy on the bottom gets near nothing. To allow a fall to the bottom is not only financially disastrous, it is humiliating to a man. And to add to the humiliation is the constant, nagging fear that for most families, a fall to the bottom of the social status ladder is often a fall that will last for many generations. Once beaten down, it is nearly impossible to recover and pull out. Some families never do. The emotional burden and stress of knowing that his children, grandchildren and even his great grandchildren will be effected by how he performs today is enormous.

Tell the truth.  When you are working outside the home are you ever considering how it will effect your grandkids?  I didn’t think so.

I almost can’t stand to even think about that constant burden, yet men are designed in such a way that they have the emotional strength and physical ability to fend off the stress that comes with such a huge responsibility. They tend to think more logically and less emotionally.  They focus on only one thing at a time, not 100 like women do.  Their bodies are more rugged, more prepared to take on stress. They are literally designed to handle that type of stress better than we are.  (And we are better designed to handle other stresses better than they.) Those amazing creatures happily take on the full social and economic responsibility for their wives and children, and they will likely never speak of it as a burden because it feels natural. It feels right.

To have the responsibility to be the sole provider, however, could not be bearable or even possible unless your husband has control over decision-making. He has to have the freedom to be able to decide what job to take that will best provide, where to live, how to live, and he needs to have your 100% cooperation in allowing him to be the decision-maker. Remember that word “obey” that was taken out of the marriage vows? This is where it comes in. It didn’t have anything to do with being a slave to your husband. It had to do with respecting his decisions about how he was going to lead his family and obeying his instructions regarding those matters. You get input, of course, but whatever he decides is final. Welcome back to “obey.” If you can’t accept this, then you can try to live like a 1950’s housewife, but odds are that it will not work for long—not without a whole lot of relationship-damaging suspicion, resentment, and arguing.

Besides, why would it be so bad to just let go and let your husband be the head of the house? If you see that as degrading, ask yourself why. Why would it be degrading to be in a happy marriage where your husband feels manly and treats you like a lady and where your children feel protected and happy? What has happened to our thinking? We as women have got to stop seeing everything as a fight for equality. Despite what our generation was taught, we are not meant to be equal in all things. We, as women, are designed to excel at certain things and men are designed to excel at others. Why can’t we honor that?

Tonight sit your husband down and tell him that you want him to take over care of the finances. If it’s true, tell him that you feel like he is better at that type of thing than you are and that it’s just too stressful for you to deal with. If, on the other hand, you struggle with the idea, tell him you struggle with it but you can see how it would benefit both and you think you should give it a one-year trial–no matter what.  If you must, show him this post. Do what you need to do to get him on the same page. And then step away. Resist the urge to show him how to do it.  Resist the urge to remind him what to do. And do not check up on him.  He is capable. Let him step up to the challenge. He may shock you with his abilities. And yes, he may occasionally mess up, but so what. Haven’t you occasionally messed up? Let him be. Remember when we talked about accepting him completely, just as he is?

Watch for the updated versions of these prior posts coming soon!

Part Two — the steps to getting there.
Part Three
Part Four





  1. I actually did research on a housewife living in the 1950’s and a lot of the time the wife was the one who handled the money. I also worked in a nursing home and most of the ladies in there said they were the ones who handled the household money. Don’t say it’s a 1950’s thing because it isn’t. If you prefer that your husband handle the money that is your option. I think a lot of women on your blog, including me, wish we could really go back in time and be “1950’s housewives”. I think everything was simpler back then and I have always had the mindset of an old fashioned era. I love your blog because it brings me closer to that era. However I am a “1950’s housewife” living in 2016. Some allowances have to be made for that because that is just the reality of the situation. You could say that I am a 1950’s housewife who is ahead of her time. I do love your blog and love reading your tips. I love the visual aspect of your blog as well. I appreciate your honesty and the way you care for your family.

  2. I am surprised that you receive “hate mail” feedback on this post. I agree that managing the household in the manner of a bygone era cuts against the grain for the majority of American females, however, to each her own. I love your blog and look forward to your posts.

  3. Its truly a shame you are getting hate mail…people need to calm down and relax. I have my own retro housewife type blog, and tho I have worked, most of my 30 years married I have not. I also have always had my husband take care of the money and have been given an allowance…I am ok with that, my Mother was/is not ok with that and her Mother took care of the balancing of the books/budget…what works for some, does not for others. I am quite happy to be a retro wife in a modern world, so I appreciate your blog for what it is. Again truly sorry you have gotten hate mail.

  4. I am so sorry you have gotten so much hate mail over this article and blog. This was the first article that I read on your blog. I remember being so excited and refreshed to know there are other women out there that want to live like this also. I love reading your blog and it has helped me so much to get better at living this lifestyle. I want our family life to be more simple and I want to focus on taking care of me, my husband, and my children. I do not care to work more at the expense of my family just to acquire more stuff that we do not need. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there to help women like me try to be better wives and mothers. Please keep writing because you do a great job and I am very thankful that I have found your blog.

  5. Love this article! It works exactly the way you described with my husband. The one thing we do differently is that I get a small allowance for things that I need, hair care, clothing, etc., and I have a checking account that allows me to purchase these things as needed, and to continue to stay in practice of handling a budget. I have everything I want or need. It works exactly as you described when my husband handles the finances, and he does an excellent job! The confidence that comes with that is extremely attractive. I’m sorry you get hate mail, but I’m enjoying your blog, and I needed this! Thanks!

  6. On my second marriage here, my first I handled all the finances towards the end as my then husband was more the caveman ” I hit you obey and more beer for me” type. When I left I had 2 little children and a massive chip on my shoulder with letting anyone control anything about me. On my second marriage, the first 12 years I was still this controlling person especially with money. Then I let go in a fit of spiteful anger so he could just see what it was like. Well, I’m happy to say its worked. Not only does he ‘treat’ us more than I did, but our bills are paid, we are all well fed and my children are in private schooling. While I do admit to ‘hiding’ a little stash of money ($10 here, $5 there) after counselling I see that is more an instinctual thing to feel safe. And in the end my husband knew all about it and is happy for me to feel safe. It works. Its scary for me, but it worked. Thank you xx.

  7. I love your blog and feel at home here. Finally! Someone that thinks like I do lol My husband and I have lived this way for our 32 yrs of marriage and it works for us. I know this type of life may not be for everyone but it works for us. THANK YOU for this blog and meeting a need.

  8. Hi there. I’m new to your blog and agree with what you have just said. We live on a remote farm in Australia, and therefore impossible to work with 2 small kids at school and a baby at home, as there is no childcare. I have a small sideline business at home. My husband and I have had alot of disagreements over finances, solely because he didn’t understand how many bills we had to pay. The money went out as fast as it came in. I wanted to start a savings plan for upcoming trips we had to make for my daughter, who is being diagnosed with Autism and so I asked him to do the budget with me, so that he could see why I was saying “NO” to him if he wanted to buy something I thought was unnecessary or seen as a luxury. He now understands where I am coming from. If you have full control over the finances, and don’t think there will be a mutual understanding between you and your husband, and feel like my husband just expected that Everything was ok – so it was the best thing we could do was make him see exactly where our money is going and this has also changed his way of thinking. He has realised that sometimes you have to sacrifice luxuries to ensure you have money available for upcoming expenses in the future.

  9. This is such an amazing guide, thank you so much!
    I am a young woman who is hoping to a housewife someday and I’ve always known that letting your man be the captain, saving money and having some good talks are all part of that. I love reading your blog now and one day, I want to be applying this to my life, too. 🙂

  10. I love your blog. Seriously, you get hate mail over this? I find it bizarre that people scream for the right to live how THEY want, but can’t stand it when others do just that. I’m not exactly a 50s wife (I wear jeans, t-shirts, biker boots, etc), but when it comes down to the basics of this lifestyle–he’s the head of the household, handles the finances, etc–I am fine with it. My husband (aka the Redneck) gets up at 3 a.m. each weekday to get ready for work, which means I am up 30 minutes earlier to make his coffee, fix his breakfast and pack his lunch. I have been told by other wives, “He’s a grown man, he can get his own coffee, make his own breakfast, and pack his own lunch. You don’t need to get up with him that early.” And they’re right, about all of it. However, since he DOES get up that early, works long hours, handles the finances, provides all that we need, allows me to stay home with my adult special needs son, and doesn’t mind if I do little jobs to make what was called ‘pin money’ in the 50s…I think I can spare 30 minutes out of my day to get up and do these small tasks for him.

    So you just keep posting the truth, and the women who need to read your blog (like me!) will kee coming back for more.

    Wow, I need to go write this comment out as a post for my blog! I said some good stuff! lol

  11. It some ways I agree that things weren’t exactly that way. Yes its important for men to feel in charge but my Grandmother ( who lived through world war ll ) Kept up with all finances BUT would basically show my grandpa each month the detailed finances so he could check them also but still entrusted them to her.

  12. Hello, how do? I was thrilled by your cleaning page and decided to look at the finance pages even though I am single. I am old enough to remember the “man as head” outlook — and I remember that one impetus for the feminist movement was that men were NOT accepting their responsibilities as men and were NOT handling the money well and working hard. I’m glad that today if a woman finds herself with a deadbeat husband, she has the option to take on well paying work and support herself. When I was a child, the only jobs open to women were poorly paid support staff such as secretary. I am glad for any woman who wants to live the 1950s lifestyle and has the resources and spouse to make it work. I’m also glad that if hubby isn’t up to snuff, a woman now has the right to aspire to well paying jobs. Just a trip down memory lane of an old feminist warhorse of the 1960s and 1970s …. 🙂

  13. My husband and I work out finances in a way that we both agree with: we have an account to pay the bills only, he has his separate account to do as he pleases and I have my own account that he adds money to that I can spend however I want. Not 1950s, but with the separation, he gets to control his money and I get to control mine! Oh, and most of our bills are auto-pay. If they aren’t, I pay from our bill account. Since I am at home, I manage ALL the home affairs. He works and manages his career!

  14. Great article! I grew up in the 50’s and while it was true that the men were the main breadwinners, the woman’s job was to make that money go as far as possible. The wife might work outside the home for extras, but her main job was caring for her home and family. Woman often were the ones paying the bills, but decisions were made by both or by the man. Many woman also had a household budget or amount of money for their own use. Enjoying this site immensely!

  15. I was incredibly heartened when I saw you had decided to redo this article. So I took a look. Unfortunately, the one and only section that I had a problem with is still there. Again I do NOT have a problem with your choice of lifestyle or anyone who chooses that life style and I certainly don’t mean for this to be taken as hate male in that regard. I have a problem with the fact that you seem to be criticizing people who don’t chose that life style. The offending section I refer to is as follows.

    Besides, why would it be so bad to just let go and let your husband be the head of the house? If you see that as degrading, ask yourself why. Why would it be degrading to be in a happy marriage where your husband feels manly and treats you like a lady and where your children feel protected and happy? What has happened to our thinking? We as women have got to stop seeing everything as a fight for equality. Despite what our generation was taught, we are not meant to be equal in all things. We, as women, are designed to excel at certain things and men are designed to excel at others. Why can’t we honor that?

    I do appreciate that you stress as the beginning that this is about women who WANT to live 1950s style and does not apply to career women, but this particular passage seem to contradict that. Again, the language in this particular passage leads me to believe that it is being directed at women in general not just at those who choose to live in 1950s gender roles. Why would it be degrading to be treated like a lady? Because I’m not a lady and I don’t want to be one. I am a masculine provider and I honor my partner by treating him like the lady he is (I open doors, carry heavy packages, and remove spiders for him). I think that the statement that “we are not meant to be equal” “despite what our generation thinks”–meaning that the thinking of all women in our generation who don’t agree with you is straight up wrong–and that women are “designed to excel at certain things” not others really tips the hat to the fact that you actually do think that there is one “right” role for women and choice doesn’t actually enter into it. Based on that statement, my existence is “wrong” because I happen to gravitate towards and excel at the “male” things and hate and suck at the “female” things and this, according to that statement, makes me freakish and unnatural. Again, I have no qualms with your personal choice and think that whatever makes you and your partner happy is right for you 100% and that no one should be attacked for making such a choice. I will simply continue to insist that I be extended the same courtesy and that, if you want people to respect your choice, you should not make statements that other women who choose differently are unnatural, bad, or have damaged thinking. If you want to be bigoted and hate all women who don’t agree with you, sadly, there is nothing I can do to stop you, but I would request that you at least admit that this is the case–and this goes for some of the people who post responses on this site as well–instead of hiding behind statements about women’s “right to choose” and then making negative comments about women who choose differently then you.

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