Guest post by Laura Ziesel
I’m not a mom, but I’ve been reading Money Saving Mom® for years because I care about being a wise money manager. Well, that and my husband is a graduate student and I’m a freelance writer and editor. We have to pay attention to every single dollar these days.
Sometimes I get discouraged when I read other people’s success stories at Money Saving Mom® because our family is moving in the “wrong” direction: our income has decreased every year that we’ve been married and we are acquiring more student debt as my husband earns his doctorate in psychology. Our retirement contributions have suffered, we’ve tapped into our emergency savings, and we are barely making ends meet.
Paying off debt is not in the cards for us at the moment. Because of our current financial situation, I catch myself wanting to give up frugality entirely. But I have to remind myself that even though our net worth is decreasing, being budget-minded now is paying off in many ways:
1) While we aren’t getting out of debt now, we are acquiring less debt because of our frugality. Less debt now = less debt to pay off later!
2) By learning to live on less now, we will be able to pay off our debt more quickly when the time comes. We now know how to live on very little money, so our “extra” income will be substantial later.
3) We have become content with the basics–food, clothes, shelter. Keeping up with the Jones’s is not an option, so we truly are not tempted to do so.
4) By keeping our costs low for food and household supplies, we have been able to maintain the amount of money we tithe and give to charities even though our income has decreased each year.
However, we have an additional complicating factor. Because I am a freelancer, I am always calculating how much I’m saving per hour couponing versus how much I could be making if I was writing or editing. I think, “Shouldn’t I simply work more to earn additional income instead of trying to save money?” You’d think.
But the other day, I had a reality check. After a full day of writing and editing, I was spent. My brain literally could not produce any more quality work, nor could I spend one more minute staring at a glowing screen.
So in those remaining hours of the evening, I had to do something away from the TV or computer that did not require deep thought. My husband was busy with school work, my apartment was clean, our meals were planned for the next few days, and we don’t have a yard or garden to work in.
Couponing was what I had left. Clipping coupons, organizing them, flipping through store circulars, and crunching numbers was exactly what the doctor ordered. I felt untaxed yet productive, and was able to give my eyes and mind a much-needed break. I’m not sure how much money I saved during that hour of couponing, but my sanity was saved.
So even though our net worth is decreasing and I might not be saving “enough” money for every hour spent couponing, I am sticking with it.
Laura Ziesel is a freelance writer and editor living in Azusa, California with her husband. She blogs on Following Jesus at LauraZiesel.com. She is also a contributing writer for The Redemptive Pursuit, a weekly devotional for women.