I thought of one more reason why I’m frugal. It’s because I see being frugal as a way of earning money without going to work.
For many years I homeschooled and raised kids and did not earn any money. But I viewed the money I saved by living frugally as being like pay: every dollar deducted from the store receipt total because of a coupon or a sale price was a dollar I had earned through my efforts at finding the best price.
As a bonus, it was money I earned without having to pay tax on it. (When wives going to work full-time first came into vogue, one of the criticisms of the concept was the fact that the second income often pushed a couple into a higher tax bracket. I was a newlywed back then, and that knowledge made an impression that never left me, I guess.)
I’ve also been conscious of the sliding scale between income and expenses. Back when I only had two children, I stumbled upon a job opportunity that allowed me to work at home as a writer and editor. The company I worked for gave me as much or as little work as I wanted.
At first, I took on as much as they would give me, thinking I could make a nice side income. But what I discovered was that the more I worked, the less time I had to make meals, thus driving up what we spent on pricy frozen entrees and restaurant food. I also realized that I was spending money on treats and toys for my kids because I felt guilty that I sometimes parked them in front of the television in order to make a deadline. I began to notice a trend: the more money I earned, the more money I spent.
I had to find a balance between earning enough money and saving enough money. So, where was the happy medium?
I never found out, because I had another baby and had to give up the job. Great way to solve that problem 🙂
These days, I still prefer earning money without going to work. We have a publishing business, so I can continue to work at home, and I decide how many projects I want to take on, i.e., how much I want to work. I divide my day between homeschooling our youngest, working on the business, and continuing to be a frugal homemaker. The ideal mix of those things is something I haven’t figured out yet. But one thing I know for sure: I enjoy the challenge of living frugally.