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The Two Job Town

I recently made contact with a fellow blogger, he is one of our neighbors to the north (Canadian!). Anyways, he has had an interesting struggle to free himself from the confines of debt…and I thought this portion of his story in particular might be of interest to all you. He will be weighing in on comments, so please feel free to discuss.

 

I recently just went through an almost three month period where I worked two jobs, one full-time, one four days a week and just about fulltime. It was an exhausting stretch with zero days off, a double shift every Monday, and a nine to eleven hour day the rest of the week to average about 80 hours a week.

My goal was to keep it up until July or August, but I just couldn’t keep it up that long. With my wife expecting I needed to be home more to help out, and I wanted to enjoy the last few months with her before we forever have a child to look after together.

It’s hard to find that balance in life between happy home life, and happy finances. We have so many goals and aspirations financially, but it’s impossible to just keep working at such a hectic rate. With my wife expecting I know I have become the sole provider and I want to make sure we have everything we want and need in life. I also know I don’t want to miss out on the important things in life like time with my wife, time with the little guy once he arrives, and everything else life has to offer. Ideally it would be better to have one full-time and one part-time job at the most, because two fulltime is just ridiculous (hardly had time to sleep some days) but then at least you’re getting ahead a bit with that extra part-time income.

I believe that the one-income households are fast catching up to being in the same dire circumstances as unemployed households used to be. There is just no getting ahead, only falling behind. It begs the question: who is in a better spot financially? An unemployed person with no debt, or a person with a job who has thousands in credit card debt, car loans, and a back-breaking mortgage?  When regular things such as food, gas, utilities, entertainment, and clothing keep going onto credit cards it’s no wonder people are sinking further and further into debt. These are basic human needs for survival – except entertainment. But the major costs of a mortgage, car payments, and other bills are so high these days that the ‘little’ things like groceries continue to get overlooked in budgets.

When will it end? When do we get to that point where people like me are fed up with working two jobs trying to get ahead, or people with one job are sick of falling further into debt? In another five years should I expect to need 3 jobs instead of two?

The average income in Canada is just over 48,000 dollars a year, or roughly $3000 a month take home. The average price of a home is over $400,000, which works out to about 1800 a month for your mortgage. Let’s add in utilities at 400, food at 500, car payments, gas and insurance at 300. Boom. There goes your 3 grand. That’s not taking into account a single cent for savings, clothes, emergencies, etc.

This math is rough I know, but it illustrates that the average pay versus average life expenses is not balancing out. For those who are already ahead in life, with older kids and higher paying jobs, this is of no consequence. For a younger couple like my wife and I, with our first child on the way, we need to bend the rules in our favour and work twice as hard to get anywhere. We bought a small (but nice) condo instead of a house. I work extra jobs as much as I can handle, or try to get extra shifts at my main job. While my wife was working we were doing reasonably well, but with the added expense of a baby coming, and my wife no longer working, we are getting to the point where we are completely desperate for the maternity pay my wife will get, just to get back in the swing of things.

Since the recession in 2008, the births in Canada, the US, and Europe have all been on the decline, and have not readjusted upwards at all since. (1.61 children per woman in Canada in 2011). It’s getting to the point where a family literally can’t afford to have kids because each adult must be working one job or more. I won’t even get into the insane childcare rates which it make it pointless for one of the parents to work, because you add in transportation costs to and from work, you basically break even. Thirty or forty years ago, a family could easily survive on one income, with multiple kids, and the wife staying home.

I wish I didn’t have to work two jobs, but I actually do recommend it. I would rather work hard and get ahead than live paycheck to paycheck and feel sorry for myself and my financial situation. It’s the world we live in and until it changes we all need to make the best of things. Other things I would suggest are not getting a mortgage above your means, living close to work and drive a cheaper car, being frugal with the money you spend on the ‘extras’ like food, clothes and gas, and invest and save wisely. Who knows how much longer there will even be enough work for you to have the opportunity to have a second income. I say make the money now while you can. Things may get worse in the overall economy before they get better, so fix the roof while the sun is still shining.

 

Logan is a writer at Essential Finances, a website about his personal and financial journey from being 70,000 dollars in the red, as he moved into the black. To follow his journey check out his facebook page here.

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