His and Her Money talks about the two-income trap

Are You Guys In The Two-Income Trap?— His & Her Money

There’s this lie that says families are better off if both mom and dad work. It’s called the two-income trap. It’s a trap because we set up our lives relying on two incomes, usually to pay debt—then life happens. 

Someone gets sick or loses their job. Now, we’ve got all these bills and only half the income to cover them. 

The Lord cared enough about the home that he dedicated a whole person to run it: the wife. 

But Black women as a collective group have never been able to focus this God-given priority. We have always had to work, just like men or harder. We’re often the breadwinners and chief financial officers of our households.

Now, we have an opportunity now to look at unbiblical patterns we’ve inherited and correct them, so we can align more with scripture. That starts with how we set up our lives.

Scriptures About Money

Matthew 5:19-34, 6:2

19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those [a]of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother [b]without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’[c] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, [d]‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of [e]hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

27 “You have heard that it was said [f]to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to [g]sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to [h]sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except [i]sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of [j]old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;

Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

Deuteronomy 20:1-14

20 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’

“Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying: ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. Also what man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it. And what man is there who is betrothed to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man marry her.’

“The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, [a]lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’ And so it shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

10 “When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it. 11 And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you. 12 Now if the city will not make peace with you, but war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 And when the Lord your God delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. 14 But the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself; and you shall eat the enemies’ plunder which the Lord your God gives you.

Titus 2

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,[a] sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of [b]you.

Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not [c]pilfering, but showing all good [d]fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

Luke 16:13

13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The book that spells this out is called The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are (Still) Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. Here are 5 key take-homes from the book and some insight from Talaat and Tai McNeely from His & Her Money:

1. Two-income couples have more income, but they’re more broke and strapped for time

E Franklin Frazier, September 24,1894 – May 17,1962 SOURCE: American Sociological Association

When our lifestyles demand that both parents work, more big-ticket expenses are introduced — child care, gas for transportation, more take-out food. There’s also more of a scramble if a child or aging parent gets sick. So there’s not only less disposable income, but also less disposable time.

E Franklin Frazier was a sociologist from Fisk University and was among the first to study Black families. He pointed out back in 1932 that Black children made up a much larger portion of juvenile delinquency cases compared to their portion of the population in the large northern cities. Aside from racist policing, one of the other reasons was this: No one was ever home.  Fathers were absent, delinquent, or working. Black women have always needed to be a co-breadwinner, so mom was definitely at work.

This stopped the family from establishing bonds, traditions, routines, and daily household habits. The parents completely skipped the spiritual training they should be doing according to Deuteronomy 6:6.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. —Deuteronomy 6:6-9

So the child was raised by teachers, neighbors, television, and peers, especially peers on the wrong path. Sound familiar? 

Today, many Black, Christian mothers and fathers only see their children for an hour or two before bed during the week because their jobs dominate their time. We are not our children’s’ primary trainers, and we have little visibility into what’s happening with our children at school everyday.  

2. Public education is one of the primary drivers of the two-income trap

Our nation’s public education system is so bad that a good school district is a luxury. We buy homes based on two incomes because we want to be in a good school district. The homes in these school districts cost more. For many black families, the only way to get in these neighborhoods is if both mom and dad work full-time to pay the mortgage.

3. The common advice is to stop overspending on extra stuff. But that’s not really the problem

It’s the predictable big-ticket fixed expenses that put us under water—things like mortgage, daycare, car notes, student loans. These are not things we can cut, but they are draining both incomes. In order to get out of the two-income trap, we have to make sure we can handle these big-ticket fixed expenses on one income. 

Yes, that might mean a smaller house, or an in-state university, or a used car. But at least the second income can be used to build savings or invest. 

4. A bankruptcy can psychologically damage a child just like a divorce

Financial stress disturbs a child’s peace, causes anxiety and depression issues, and can show up as behavioral issues or struggling in school. Because of the traumatic instability, they may not grow out of the anxiety and depression as adults. More people file for bankruptcy than file for divorce. What happens to the well-being of Black children when their parents force them to endure both?

Focus On Getting Rid Of Debt And Building Passive Income

Better yet, let’s stop accumulating this debt in the first place. This is especially important for debts that are tied to our homes and businesses. We need our businesses and we need a place to stay. Those mission-critical assets should not be subject to getting snatched away if we fall on hard times. If we can’t do it, we should focus on setting our children up with a paid off place to live, so they can avoid a mortgage. 

Here are Talaat and Tai McNeely from His & Her Money talking about how they got out of the two-income trap: