Does Earning More Trump Frugality?

Milton writes in with a good question, worthy of discussion:

I don’t see why I should spend fifteen minutes making a batch of homemade laundry detergent just to save a few bucks when I could spend that fifteen minutes building my career. Most “frugality tips” seem like a waste of time.

Let’s say you have a spare hour on a weekend afternoon. You could either utilize it doing things that save you money – like the aforementioned laundry detergent – or you could do something that improves your career – like touching base with clients, getting in touch with old coworkers, or building an online presence for yourself.

Obviously, if you have something where you can directly earn more after tax than you could by doing a frugal project, you should jump on board. If you have more work than you can handle and can bill $150 an hour for it, hiring a maid for $25 an hour makes sense to me.

But very few of us are in that situation – it’s not our reality. Instead, we’re hoping for that situation, and we believe that if we invest our time into career development, we can get there. And that’s true, over the long term, but how much of an impact does that one hour have on a many-year-long transformation.

It’s a “bird in the hand versus two in the bush” situation. The bird in the hand – frugality – earns you a known, relatively small amount. The two birds in the bush – career building – earns you an unknown but potentially larger amount.

Which way is better? I think there’s a different answer for each person, actually. For some people, the bird in the hand is better – if you have a career that isn’t helped by such networking, for example. For others, building your presence might be more valuable than a frugality task.

Some food for thought:

Focus on “bang for the buck” frugality. Installing a programmable thermostat takes about an hour and can save you about $200 a year (assuming you don’t work at home). This type of thing seems like a complete no-brainer. Do you really believe you’ll recoup several hundred dollars in an hour’s worth of networking or reading? A bird in the hand is always worth two in the bush.

Other “big bang” frugality tasks: air sealing your home, making a quadruple batch of a meal and freezing the extra three batches (saves time as much as money), making meal plans (halves your grocery bill for about ten minutes’ effort), selling your rarely-used car, and downgrading to smaller living quarters.

Know your hourly rates. I think this is a very powerful way to compare the value of different activities. How much financial return do you expect from an hour of networking and presence building? $20? $50? Spend some time thinking about that question. When you come to a conclusion, knock 20% off of that rate – taxes will eat that much – and use that number to compare it to frugal tasks.

So, for example, let’s say I’ve decided an hour of network building is worth $25 to my future income. I knock off 20% or so, kicking it down to $20. Then, if I know of a money-saving task that earns me more than $20 for that hour, I jump on it. I’ll install a programmable thermostat instead of writing a blog post, for example.

Look at other values. It may simply be that you enjoy building your career. The time spent building an online presence may bring you an intrinsic joy that money-saving tasks don’t bring.

If that’s the case, be honest with yourself about it. It’s not just about earning money, it’s about personal enjoyment, and you’re accepting that the return is less (or possibly nonexistent) because you enjoy doing it. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean that the frugal task has any less value.

Here’s an example. One of my cousins is a meticulous housekeeper, to the point of being obsessive. Yet she enjoys it. She’d far rather be doing that than engaging in other activities. Sure, it serves as great maintenance on her home, but it doesn’t put much financial value in her pocket. What it does do is make her feel good when she sees her sparkling clean house. She often chooses that for a Saturday afternoon instead of networking within her career.

On the other hand, you might enjoy that networking more – it provides more personal value for you. An afternoon spent building an online presence is more valuable to you than scrubbing every nook and cranny of your home. If that’s the case, go for it!

As long as you’re subscribing to the overall principle of spending less than you earn – and either way you choose, you’re not spending much money here – either choice is healthy because it expands on your existing non-financial values. Frugality or career-building both trump idleness.

Multitasking. If you’re still unsure, there’s nothing that says you can’t do both. Get a hands-free calling solution (a speakerphone or a headset) and do a mentally uninvolved frugality task while talking to a client or a contact. Make laundry detergent while touching base with someone. Make a quadruple batch of a meal and freeze the other three while chatting up a client.

I do this all the time. I’ll do laundry while writing a post. I’ll read emails while on a walk (seriously, on my handheld) – in fact, I’ve considered rigging up some kind of standing desk with a very slow treadmill under it. I’ll toss something up on Twitter while I’m grilling.

In the end, it’s all about value – and value means more than just dollars.

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48 thoughts on “Does Earning More Trump Frugality?

  1. Torrey says:

    I think frugailty is a constructive way to better your finanicial picture. I do not think it’s as waste of time at all. But there’s always a limit to what you can cut, save, etc.

    At some point, especially during debt repayment, you have to consider means to earn more money.

    It may not be easy and can take some intense thought and creativity, but it’s something that we all can do.

  2. Susan says:

    For some people, networking is more glamourous than domestic maintenance or cooking; engaging in frugal activities is work/drudgery whereas talking it up with work related people is not. My husband, for example would much rather go out and work an extra shift than complete paperwork or home maintenance. I am the other way – after being at work for 45-50 hours per week, I am glad to be home making our nest a better place – homemade food, clothes off the line, etc.

  3. Frugality trumps income hands down.

    1. Frugality is a mindset that helps you appreciate what you have and live in gratitude. It forces you to consider and weigh alternatives before making a purchase. It gives you the gift of living mindfully.

    2. In many cases, our spending rises as our incomes do. This means our net financial security does not increase. If anything, our financial insecurity increases because we have a larger nut to crack each month.

    For me the end game is not to have MORE….but to enjoy what I have more. Frugal thinking is a gift.

  4. steve weaver says:

    I’ve spent the last 5 months exploring the internet for ways to increase/generate income, save money and alter my habits. The fact that my main job has drastically reduced my hours, resulting in much less income, has made this a necessity.
    I have no idea if this will actually help anyone, but here’s what I’ve learned.
    A)If you’re already one of the working poor, you can only reduce your spending by a small amount.
    B)If you aren’t materialistic to begin with, it’s hard to find things to sell on ebay etc..
    C)If you can not express yourself in a way that interests or entertains other people, increasing your “on-line presence” adds exactly zero to your net worth.
    D)Tackling a lot of projects, at the same time, greatly reduces the chances you’ll succeed with any of them.
    E)The more time you spend on learning, the less time you spend on doing!
    I’ve made very little progress towards my goals during these 5 months, but I have made some.
    Just the fact I actually have some goals set is progress. I have sold some things on ebay, craigslist, Amazon, at yard sales and once at a flea market. The fact that I used my credit cards to buy those items has made it much harder to realize any sort of profit (Yes, I’m still in the red on those ventures AND paying interest for tackling the learning curve!)
    The bottom line, for me anyway, is that any progress is better than none. You start from where you are, no matter how good or bad that place may be. And even when things go wrong, as they often do, you’ll feel better about yourself as long as you don’t give up hope and continue striving for a better life.
    I hope this helps someone.

  5. I believe that you should be frugal whatever your income — but as frugality to me means not being wasteful, that can also include not wasting your time.

    However, as you said, you can multitask, and not everyone is — or wants — to be working on building a higher income 24/7. And some of us find our frugal habits to be enjoyable in and of themselves. Plus, there are health benefits to a lot of them if they get you up and moving around. And often things like shopping, going to a restaurant, and even hiring someone to do things for you can take MORE time than just doing things yourself.

    Regardless of which things truly are or are not worth your time, one this is certain — you can’t out earn stupidity when it comes to money. I can’t believe how many people just “plan” to be rich one day and think that they don’t have to watch their money then or now. Even if they do become rich, I know that it won’t last long for them unless they change their attitudes. Plenty of people have found ways to end up bankrupt even after earning millions.

    (On another note, if all you need is a place to put your laptop on your treadmill, I use the Surf Shelf and am quite happy with it. Check it out at Surfshelf.com, and if you have questions you can tweet with the CEO at http://twitter.com/randysurfshelf)

  6. I think that looking for ways to save money is always a good idea, but I do think that people sometimes focus too much on frugality and not enough on earning more money.

    If you are looking to pay down debt or build up savings, there is no better way to do it than to earn more money. Go get a second job.

    Second jobs can be entertaining too. For me, I have built up a successful online business as a second job. But, there are tons of second jobs that you can have fun doing.

    If you love books, go get a second job at Barnes & Noble. If you love to garden, put up an add on craiglist offering to take care of someone’s garden. If you love to walk, put up an add on craigslist to get paid to walk someone’s dogs.

    Earning this extra money will really help you to pay off your debt faster.

  7. Marc says:

    1. “Building your career” while important is very intangible. Some actions may never yield results, at least by living frugally you can directly measure (in $) your actions.

    2. Just because you work at your career doesn’t mean there won’t be down periods, where savings and an inexpensive lifestyle will help you get by.

    3. If your solution to “money problems” is to earn more money, in all likelihood you won’t actually make any headway (see bankrupt lottery winners, athletes, actors, or even those making $150k+ a year, and there are many!).

    The problem with just earning more money to cover your expenses is that you’re still stuck *needing* your job. You can still be in the paycheck to paycheck trap, just with larger amounts involved. If you love what you do needing your job doesn’t seem so bad (but then you can probably succeed regardless), however most of us are not in that situation. Love your job or not, rainy days still happen.

  8. How is it in 24 hours of a day, 8 hours for sleep accounted for, you could spend a full 16 hours focusing ONLY on your career?

    With that kind of logic, you should be blackberrying while in the bathroom or taking calls while showering, as not to waste every precious moment.

    You must have SOME down time somewhere, and with that down time, you spend time with your kids, or cook, or make laundry detergent.

    Whatever improves your life and makes you happy is what you should be doing.

    Making detergent makes Trent & many others happy because they feel good doing it, even to save a couple of bucks.

    You could even argue: Why bother to cook? Just order and eat out every day to save time, because I could use the time to improve my income & career, working 3 jobs instead.

    Or just feed me through an IV …

    No, to me, time is flexible. Please consider that you are not spending your 16 hours awake, only solely focused on making more money rather than cutting back.

    To be truly happy and wealthy, you need to make more money AND cut back.

    I have a potential salary rate of $60,000 – $250,000 a year (am a freelancer, it’s based on projects), but I still took the time to cut back in my budget down to $700 a month (TOTAL basic living expenses) instead of falling back on thinking that I should be making more money and not cutting back as well.

    To each her or his own. :) You may enjoy working, but I enjoy NOT working a full year, and working a couple of months instead.

  9. John Hunter says:

    I think you are exactly right that it is a balance. Some tasks are very valuable and therefore make sense for almost everybody. Other tasks will depend much more on your personality and situation. In general I think frugality items have a built in advantage (reducing expenses are reduced whether you get promoted, lose your job, or not) plus often frugality makes your life simpler and less hectic.

    But it depends on the specific task and your personality. I could save money by cooking. I don’t like cooking. So I eat out a lot.

  10. Ms. Clear says:

    Not everyone has a career that has huge wealth potential. I’m a teacher. I do work on my career by improving my lesson plans and activities, which I really enjoy. But I need frugality to help me live on my modest income.

  11. LC says:

    Somehow, the principal of not getting ripped-off comes into play here — people say that it is never the principal, but always about the money. Nevertheless, do you really want to pay for all of the advertizing along with your petroleum-based laundry detergent? Isn’t it usually cheaper in time to throw something away than to recyle it? There are many hidden costs that must be taken into account. And thanks Steve for sharing the results of your investigations.

  12. anne says:

    steve weaver- you’re so right!

    “D)Tackling a lot of projects, at the same time, greatly reduces the chances you’ll succeed with any of them.”

    i get very overwhelmed and distracted- i really do. i’m not someone who can multitask, but i so often have to. ugh.

    so if have the choice, i really, really try to focus on one thing.

  13. Jojo says:

    Frugality allows earning more to make a difference. The one-two punch in personal finance is to spend less & earn more. If your spending is going to match your earning it doesn’t trump anything.

    I read the article that ticked you off, Trent (pablum anyone?). My position is this. For most of us saving, Ja$900 (US$10) makes the difference. Increasing one’s income and diversifying income streams is great but that takes a while. Just cooking more than you plan to eat tonight and freezing it doesn’t take much more time and pays off the next evening when you don’t stop for fast food after networking.

    We should strive to earn more if helps but we should also learn the art of making do so we don’t have to.

  14. ysdata Personal Finance and Money says:

    I think living frugal should be off set with time and usage in mind. Frugal can also apply to the way you watch your pennies. For example, you can save and make money by raising your insurance deductibles.

  15. Every one should practice frugality. It teaches you how to multitask. One should not only looks at how he/she has save while practicing this but also look at the learning aspect of it.

  16. Bret says:

    I agree with Torrey on this one. There is only so much you can save. But, what you can earn is not as limited. Even people with small incomes, such as Ms. Clear, can easily pick up extra income from side-work or a hobby business.

    Let’s face it, not everyone wants to spend their life chasing money just to have fancy material things. But, not everyone wants to scrape by on very little income either. Neither appeals to me.

    I have definitely done both and found increasing my income was a lot funner and more efficient.

  17. Amateur says:

    I doubt many of us are living the life of constant and consistent upwards money earning or life of excess where we worry whether to buy a new yacht or upgrade the one we already own. Frugality is more of a lifestyle for those who have grown up with less, lived with less, and continue to maximize their money by being frugal despite having higher earning potentials as adults.

    Frugality also needs focus, there is no sense in finding sales on every single thing, if it is not specific to what I need for basic comfort. There is too much wasted time obsessing over saving a few bucks by doing hours upon hours of research or driving extra miles. The lifestyle of frugality should be pretty simple, almost common sense, and tolerable.

    Trent’s recipe for home detergent is tolerable and would not make someone insane, it may not save a ton of money outright, but the knowing and common sense of how to do something like that is very useful for survival through good and bad times.

    Frugality can include pouring time on learning how to make our favorite restaurant dishes so we can enjoy them at home at a lower cost and share them in bigger batches with people we enjoy having around.

  18. Bang for your buck frugality is exactly right. When you drive 20 miles to save 20cents a gallon in gas, that is a horrendous use of frugality, yet the gimmick works all the time.

    Spending for convenience is important, just like spending for service. You’ve got to get something out of it, just don’t lay and always pay $20 for a $1.5 bus fare as I write in my latest entry!

    Rgds,

    RB

    Rich By 30 Retire By 40

  19. We’ve adopted a team approach to this question.

    I handle the day-to-day frugality, which I consider part of my job as a SAHM. The money we’ve saved in home-based projects helped us put my husband through graduate school on an all-cash basis. Now that he has his dream job, I continue to save for bigger goals.

    My focus on the little things has helped him tackle the bigger career issues. We both win.

  20. Meredith – It’s great you are a SAHM. Have you written anything on comparing being a SAHM vs. hiring full time help? I think that would be a great article b/c a lot of people are holding off having kids due to the downturn and both parents need to work.

    Best,

    RB

    Rich By 30 Retire By 40

  21. Steve in W MA says:

    @ “Not everyone has a career that has huge wealth potential. I’m a teacher. I do work on my career by improving my lesson plans and activities, which I really enjoy. But I need frugality to help me live on my modest income.”

    Focusing on your earning potential in such a case as yours would be deciding if you want to get more money and finding a way to get there. It might mean stopping being a teacher. It might mean deciding to become a principal or superintendent. Or it might mean a career switch of some other sort. Or it might mean putting together a deal to buy a commercial property in a town you know well and either renting it or using it for your own business. Just because you are a teacher now doesn’t mean that you have to stay as a teacher.

    Of course, if you want to continue teaching, you can.

  22. Not to undermind frugality, but I give the nod to the earning side. You can only cut back so much on spending before your standard of living drops to what could be a dangerous level (health, living situation, etc), but at least in theory earnings are unlimited.

    The fact is that being frugal takes more of our time and energy than being spendthrift, so we need to find balance. People who become certified cheap skates tend to circle the wagons, but the reality is that earnings potential are some where out there beyond the wagons.

    If only we could have the income earning ability of the spendthrift (who is driven by the need to support his “habit”) coupled with being frugal. Unfortunately, the two are usually different personality types so it’s hard coming up with the right mix. But always worth the effort ;-)

  23. Evangeline says:

    This isn’t a ‘either/or’ situation. Milton can build up his career while simultaneously looking for frugal opportunities to suit *his* specific needs. So many people view frugality with such negativity but it is goes hand in hand with any choice you make regarding your happiness with your lifestyle. If you like it, you’re apt to make it successful. If it feels uncomfortable, then just don’t do it.

  24. Sandy says:

    Meredith’s story sounds like ours. I handle the day to day frugality, and he focuses on making the big bucks. He went back to grad school, and while we did end up w/ student loans, we were able to pay them off w/in 5 years, due to my frugality. I still wash baggies and tin foil, wash my own car, hang out 90% of our laundry, plus changing all the lightbulbs,and meal planning on a budget. He’s (thankfully) making the big bucks now, and I reckon I could slow down the frugal nature, but it’s kind of ingrained at this point. But, rather than getting through grad school for him, the goal now is getting the girls thru college w/out too much debt for them, and a very cool retirement. I guess I’ll continue washing the baggies!

  25. Katie says:

    If you’re making NO money, focusing on making more is definitely important :)

  26. sadie says:

    Everyone has excellent points. For me being frugal goes hand in hand with trying to reduce, reuse and recycle. After all, that is a fantastic by product of frugality. I clean with an “organic” cleaner (aka vinegar! the wonder cleaner) and use everything in my fridge, buy products when in season, and drive older fuel efficient cars. Just to name a few. We are truly healthier in body and bank account since we began our frugality journey.

  27. lurker carl says:

    Multi-tasking is a joke. No one can actually perform two or more jobs at the same time. You may be able to integrate other tasks into the “down times” within other jobs but you can not actually do two things at once.

    For instance, I can cook a meal and wash laundry at the same time but there are mechanical devices doing the heavy lifting while I’m attending to the other chore. I can even add talking on the phone while doing the other two but I’m only performing one task at a time while the others are on automatic pilot. Very few people can actually perform meaningful work while juggling a host of other tasks, not to mention caring for children, the human brain does not have the capability.

    Thus the current debate about driving safely while talking on a cell phone. Some people can not operate an automobile while listening to the radio!

  28. Jlynn says:

    This is a very interesting topic, and one I have personally considered quite a bit myself. I have tried many different ways to be more frugal, and sometimes I decide they are simply not worth it. For example, I tried having a garage sale once, and vowed never, ever again. I spent hours marking prices, sorting and organizing. Add, I gave up a nice Saturday that I usually spend with my family. My profit? $80. Coupons are another item that I feel take a bit too much time for the payback. Especially when I buy at discount stores anyway, like Aldis and warehouse clubs. My take on the topic is try it first before deciding if it’s worth your time. There are many frugal choices I’ve made that turned out to be easier than I anticipated. However, other activities are much more profitable, like opening a Roth IRA, continuing education, working overtime, refinancing a mortgage, etc.

  29. Damester says:

    Being “frugal” isn’t an either/or thing, from my experience.

    You do have to spend time building, creating and maintaining a career, whether self-employed, working for a company or running your own biz. It’s extremely time consuming, depending on what stage you’re in in your life or the demands of a particular position, client, etc.

    Long before I became an independent contractor, I still put a dollar value on my time. In part it came from having to account for all of my time as it was billable to clients in one form or another when I worked for a company. That gave me a huge awareness of my time and how I allocated it and helped me focus on what was really important.

    When you do that, you really think about what is the best use of your time. Sometimes, it means taking the afternoon off to attend a child’s game, to help a friend. It’s always people first.

    When I was generating a solid and large revenue for myself, it made sense to spend more time at the office and hire someone to clean and do the laundry and run errands. I rarely cooked, didn’t do my own laundry, and traveled a lot for business. I actually had very little down time. ANd when I did, I spent time catching up on sleep and renewing my creative energies by enjoying cultural activities, that were also necessary for me to maintain my work skills.

    Even with that, I managed to save more money then than when I made less money and was intensely frugal and did not hire anyone to do anything and did everything for myself. So it’s all relative.

    I do understand where Milton is coming from. I have close friends who run a business and while they do cook (it’s their form of relaxation!), they hire a number of people to take care of their house. In doing that, they really add to their local economy so it’s not wasteful.

    The key is adjusting to your current income, your available time and what is the best use of it. Cutting costs only goes so far. Especially these days. Everyone I know has been careful with money for years and still can barely make it. And they are neither spending a lot, nor making an hourly minimum wage.

    If you have a low income, all of this is moot. Cause you don’t have the money. Period. And you have to find ways to make more (multiple jobs, if you can find them; going back to school to learn new skills; getting retraining). These days, it’s all about flexibility because jobs are going bye bye and if you want to work, pretty much everyone will have to learn new skills and reinvent themselves at one or more points in their lives.

    There are times in life when you have to really put the energy into expanding your life, taking on new skills for your personal and professional lives. You must network, the sincere and real kind and be available to help people. This is your “investment” time/effort. Sometimes, the real results of this don’t show for awhile. But they serve you better in the long haul.

    You never lose when you spend your time wisely building a life you want.

    THe problem with some people and frugality is that they get lost in the details and miss the big pix.

    They also become penny wise and pound foolish and that’s missing the point.

    sometimes the best use of your time is real downtime, just hanging out with friends. You really can’t be worrying about generating and/or spending money 24/7. That’s something that’s life limiting no matter how much you have or don’t have.

  30. Damester says:

    Trent writes:
    I’ll read emails while on a walk (seriously, on my handheld)

    Trent, honestly, that defeats the purpose of a healthy, relaxing walk.

    Seriously. Everybody needs to relax and recharge, especially creative folks and parents!

    Multi-tasking all the time? That is rarely a good use of time and depending on what you’re doing, can be wasteful and counter-productive.

    I hope you do not multi-task when you drive. There is no excuse for that. It’s dangerous!

  31. Katie says:

    I think you (or at least many people) can safely listen to useful/educational programming while in the car. I listened to test preparation tapes when I was driving between home/college. I was able to focus on the road and hearing the material, even if I was not paying full attention to it, helped me learn it.

  32. Lenore says:

    Dude, be careful walking and reading at the same time. If you don’t watch the terrain, you could end up in a world of pain. How about listening to audiobooks instead? But don’t crank it so loud that you can’t hear traffic or any approaching danger like dogs or muggers. If you keep your eyes free and on the ground most of the time, you might even find some spare change. I found two bucks walking into a movie yesterday, and I was giddy about it for hours.

  33. Johanna says:

    If you don’t want to make laundry detergent, then don’t make laundry detergent. Similarly, if you don’t want to argue with the managers at Target over the price of the thing you’re buying, or if you don’t want to take the time to sell your DVDs individually on eBay, then don’t. Nobody says you have to. But please, don’t try to make up an argument about how the reason you’re not doing those things is because your time is too valuable. You just end up annoying people.

  34. littlepitcher says:

    @Trent–A hospital table costs $25-35, and makes a good treadmill desk, with the following caveats:

    1-Doesn’t work well with cheap treadmills, since they are 6 or more inches shorter than a better
    model. You can walk on the shorter ones but it’s difficult to run.

    2-Test the clearance from the floor. If it has an autoincline feature, you should be OK. If it doesn’t, you will need to allow for the table’s pedestal.

    3-Put a foam pad under the laptop and cooler to reduce vibration. Some laptops have a hard drive housing which will compensate for vibration, some don’t, and if yours does not, you are limited to walking and not running if your floors are weak.

    RE eBay–Recession has dried up many opportunities on eBay and many listed items are unbidded. I am surrounded by a sea of sharks waiting for me to put a certain collection on eBay because sales on that commodity have dropped so badly. Craigslist is a better option currently for most sales of used merchandise.

  35. Courtney says:

    Standing desks have a venerable history. Here’s a cheap one:
    http://lifehacker.com/5220094/create-a-simple-standing-desk-for-20

  36. Damester (17)–Younger people tend to be more adept at multi-tasking. I think Trent has indicated his age at about 30, that’s still pretty young.

    I’m well past that and find my ability to handle more than one function simultaneously is mostly counterproductive, but we do have to allow that for some people, especially younger ones, it is very doable. It’s virtually the world they live in.

  37. Michael says:

    Trying to guess the hourly value is another good example of empiricism’s limits. Trent measures only what he can see, but increasing income and frugality involve so many things he can’t.

  38. A.J. says:

    #21 – Don’t forget that eBay has somehow managed to leverage their power to increase rates to the point where you’re lucky if they only skim 10% off the top of anything you try to sell.

  39. Patricia says:

    When my mom got sick and I took care of her in her last days I found that elderly people were frugal to make the best of their buck. Let’s say you spend $100 a year on laundry soap, but you can make it for $50 a year. Over 20 years you will spend $2000 or $1000… it’s good financial sense. If you do this with other items that you need (not necessarily making them but stocking up on sales and coupons) such as toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo…you will save thousands (upon thousands) of dollars over your lifetime. I think it’s being a good steward!

  40. Wendy Steele says:

    Wow…washing baggies. Maybe wax paper to wrap sandwiches instead. Costs less, and no washing….and drying.

  41. Rosa says:

    Washing baggies doesn’t take very long, and i hang them to dry. They’re significantly better than waxed paper for things like toddler snacks, or fruit.

  42. My approach has been both finding a way to earn a little extra cash AND continuing to find ways to be frugal. To do the former, I started a part-time microbusiness doing something I love (creating and selling all-natural bath & body products). In terms of the latter, I continue to find ways to shave a little off expenses here and there. Like Your Money or Your Life promotes, the more excess expenses I cut, the more time I freed up to follow my creative projects when I’m not at my fulltime job. I still have a ways to go, but each step on the way to being free of debt I’m feelng lighter and happier. So, for me, it’s a balance between frugality and earning extra money. In my case at least, both were needed to keep me moving toward my goals and a decent pace.

  43. Rejjii says:

    Here is a link to a standing desk treadmill that allows you to walk slowly at the same time you work… have no idea on the cost, but do know this company has excellent safety and performace standards….

    http://www.steelcase.com/na/walkstation_products.aspx?f=30670

  44. Gwen says:

    I view frugality and earning an income as steps, and this has helped me sort through the “which one is better” debate. When I was first sorting through my finances, I looked at ways to be more frugal. Now that these are habit, I am looking at going back to school to get a nursing degree.

  45. Carline says:

    Frugality must be practical and approached with a broad and long term view. I know many frugal people who end up spending more in the long term because they are so focused on the immediate result of saving and not considering all the other values (the tunnel perspective). It is very sad specially when it comes to making decisions on things impacting the future of children such as tools for their growth (schooling, educational programs & materials, etc.)

  46. Gwen (42)–You’re a perfect example of blending the two and allowing one to support the other. Do you think that developing frugal habits has in any way made nursing school possible?

    I think the tension comes when you see a sudden drop in income and have to be frugal for the first time in your life, but then have to balance that against earning more money or getting more training. That’s pressure!

  47. infinityplusone says:

    Trent, I follow someone on Twitter that uses a treadmill desk to hold their computer keyboard.

    They have a link on their site to a DIY setup.

    http://turbowalkstation.com/

  48. Lucy says:

    I don’t understand the programmable thermostat thing. I come from a warm country and just moved to a very cold country so a lot of the culture of heating is new to me.

    In winter, when I leave for work, I turn the thermostat (on a dial) down to 2 degrees celsius (to prevent freezing) and then when I come home I turn it back up to between 16 and 20 depending on how I feel. Is the dial thing a “programmable thermostat”?

    Or do people really leave their heat up at 18 degrees all day? That’s just crazy!

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