Favorite Books: The Two Income Trap

June 12, 2006 | 3 comments

Since I spend pretty much every minute of free time reading, I keep meaning to share good books I come across. Here’s one that I read a couple months ago that I’ve been thinking about ever since: The Two Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren.

Recommended to me by some friends who are bankruptcy attorneys and have taken classes from Warren, it’s a really interesting look into why it’s so hard for middle-class families to get by these days. Warren, a Harvard Law prof and bankruptcy specialist, talks about things like:

  • Why it’s financially dangerous to have both spouses working (if you’re struggling to get by on one salary you’ll love reading this)
  • Why it’s so much harder for families to get by than for single people (and she’s not talking about needing to buy your kids $80 jeans or stuff like that)
  • Why basic expenses take up much more of your paycheck than in your grandparents’ day
  • How common practices by credit card companies and mortgage lenders set people up for financial ruin

She backs up all her points with interesting data and does a surprisingly good job of remaining politically neutral, criticizing Democrat and Republican policies alike.

Our friends who practice bankruptcy law say that this book validates what they see in their practices every day (i.e. most of their clients are families who made a sincere effort to live within a reasonable budget and just got caught off guard by an unexpected event) and it jives with my personal experience as well. Every month my husband and I marvel at our budget and wonder why on earth it feels like it’s so hard to get by when he technically brings home a decent paycheck.

This isn’t a how-to book for creating a family budget (her other book, All Your Worth, is good for that) but I found it to be a fascinating read. Maybe it’s because my husband’s student loan debt rivals that of some small nations and we spend a lot of time talking and thinking about money, but this book was a real page-turner for me. I think I read the whole thing in about four days. I highly recommend it.


  1. SmartBlkWoman

    I was considering purchasing this book a few days ago when I went on my latest Amazon.com spending spree. I had seen it referenced in another book I was reading and it seemed really good.

    I ended up not purchasing it but I’ve put it in my shopping cart for next time, thanks to your glowing review.

  2. GLouise

    I will have to check it out!

    You may also like the website “Dollar Stretcher,” which is a “budget web site” geared toward helping people become “one income families.”

    One interesting personal note—since my husband and I started tithing and then giving offerings above that tithe, several years ago, we have never had a time where the checkbook didn’t balance. And we have been through some definite highs and lows!

  3. CouponAlbum

    “The Two Income Trap” is very interesting book!! This kind of books are very informative!!

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