This isn’t a very deep thought, to be sure, but it’s something I’ve pondered off and on over the years.
While I think it’s totally fine (and often advisable) to try to earn more money, living a frugal, simple life can put you in a position where you don’t need to maximize your earning capabilities.
Why is this useful?
A few personal examples might be helpful.
- When I was engaged/newly married, I worked in a large national department store in a mall. We got paid a fair hourly rate but then earned commission on top of that if we sold a certain amount. Some of my co-workers used less-than-fabulous methods to encourage customers to buy things (like telling lies), and I’m sure they earned more money than I did. But because I managed my money carefully, my financial state was probably just as good or better than my co-workers’ and my conscience was clear.
- When I quit at the department store, it was so that I could transition into just teaching piano lessons (I was doing a combo before). If you’ve looked into music lessons, you know they don’t come cheap. I’ve always wanted to make quality lessons available to families who couldn’t otherwise afford them, though, so over my 20 years of teaching, I’ve charged a price that’s consistently lower than the going rate. A number of people have thought this was crazy, and from a purely financial standpoint, it was. But I was able to teach music to a lot of kids who might not have had access to piano lessons otherwise, and our frugal lifestyle allowed us to do this and still stay in good financial shape.
- Frugal living has also made it possible for me to work part-time throughout our marriage. This has made daycare unnecessary, homeschooling a reality, and also given me sufficient time to serve at church and keep up on work around the house.
- Before he got into his current field, Mr. FG had some co-workers who worked oodles of overtime to make ends meet. But Mr. FG has always been able to keep his work week to a reasonable length, which has helped to maintain our family sanity.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
To a person who spends money willy-nilly, $50 isn’t a lot of money.
So when other people are saying, “I just don’t know how a family could possibly live on $xx,xxx a year!”, a frugal family could be thriving on that amount.
Naturally, if you have an opportunity to earn more money without compromising any of your important priorities, I think you’d be sort of crazy not to take it.
But when you’re faced with income-increasing situations that would cause you to compromise your priorities, frugal living can give you the freedom to say no.
And that’s pretty valuable.