CNN-Money profiles a couple who has discovered a radical new way to financial success:

They’ve made it almost a kind of game to limit their income by living on Heather’s salary alone, even when Scott has been employed full time. At the same time, they build for the future. They’ve routinely maxed out their contributions to tax-free retirement accounts whenever possible. And they bought a house, rather than rent.

So, they live well within their means, save for the future, and build equity in a house. While I’m not one for jumping on strange new trends, I think this one could work.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. lefty skeptic says:

    Suppose everyone did this – what would it do to the US economy?

  2. James Joyner says:

    One would think it would be just fine. The marginal money of the second income would be saved rather than spent by the family, but that savings would in turn be loaned to others. If more people bought rather than rented, there would presumably be some marginal loss in the apartment/rental property sector that would, I would guess, be offset in the home construction, remodeling, home improvement, realtor, and other sectors. I know I’m willing to spend a lot more improving a home I own than one I’m renting. If no one ever washes a rental car, no one ever installs new hardwood floors and custom cabinetry in an apartment.

  3. Considering that responsible people have been leaving within their means since the dawning of credit…I wouldn’t expect this to become a trend.

  4. I’m only on my first cup of coffee. I meant living withing their means, not leaving.

  5. Paul says:

    So, they live well within their means, save for the future, and build equity in a house.

    I’m just wondering if CNN is reporting the obvious or if this behavior in today’s world is news?

  6. Blogeline says:

    It seems pretty obvious to me that this is the way it is supposed to be.
    I know many people live beyond their means, but to me, and probably others as well, this is really the smart way to go.
    Although, trying to make it on just one income to save the second is really smart because it prepares for “hard times”.
    I wish I could do that, but with that new house I believ we’ll only be able to save about a third of mine.

  7. My experience is that a lot of spending/saving habits are age related. Sort of like that Sinatra song (with a little different ages for everyone depending on their situation):

    When I was 21, it was a very good year…new sports cars, max the credit cards, go the bars and party. 401k? IRA? Go away!

    When I was 28, it was a very good year…I have HOW much debt? Turn in the sports car for a sedan. Start saving for a house. Find a spouse.

    When I was 35, it was a very good year…tell the credit card companies to buzz off. Mortgage. Kids. Start the college plans. 401Ks in full swing. (the couple profiled in the article seem to be in this stage).

    In the 40s most are nearing their peak earning years. All the savings done in the 30s can relax a little and you can go out and buy that luxury car you always wanted (or relive your youth and re-find that sports car you had at 20)

    50s, kids are off at school. Think seriously for retirement.

    And so on…