The title is misleading, so let me clarify before I sound like I’m backtracking on everything this blog is about. Recently, someone told me to not be frugal. That I should just make more money instead. It’s a cookie cutter answer to a lot of financial problems. I would not have to be frugal, if I had a higher salary. Duh.
Some personal finance people will disagree. It’s better to earn an extra $100 than to save $100. While I won’t disagree entirely, one of them can happen a lot quicker.
I’ll just say, the comment didn’t catch me off guard because it’s a pretty common thing to hear. My simple rebuttal to that comment is that I love my job. I could also research a hundred or more scenarios where families or individuals make well above average. Guess what? A lot of them still face the same struggles, regardless of income.
Just Make More Money And Your Problems Are Solved
Making more isn’t the problem. I’m certainly not against it. It just ignores the fundamental root cause of most financial catastrophes. I say most because you can’t lump those who are genuinely struggling to make ends meet together with those who overspend.
No one’s immune to the real life phenomenon of life style creep. I’ll paint a picture of what happens.
You get a raise at work. Instead of making $36,000/year, now through hard work and determination (or perhaps luck) you now make $55,000/year. When you were making $36,000, you spent nearly all of it to make ends meet. Now that you earn an extra $19,000, you can finally breathe. You can also buy that newer car you wanted. That new house or apartment looks great. Those extra luxuries you had to miss out on are calling your name. Just like that, that extra $19,000 is gone and somehow you’re back at square one, confused at what happened.
Obviously nothing like that happens over night. That’s why it’s called creep. It happened to me when I graduated college.
What about couples who make well over six figures who feel not-so-rich? Like I said, income disparities matter little, if you don’t curb your spending first. Hence being frugal is not just for the average fella.
Job Satisfaction Is Priceless. Well, Sort Of.
Another key point to my rebuttal is that I simply love what I do. I get to help people. I work with technology. Job satisfaction is an important principle to me. The benefits fit my needs and then some. Money may be more important to some. Hell, I spend the majority of my time at work, I might as well love it. Considering almost half of Americans are unsatisfied, I’ll consider myself lucky.
Perhaps, that’s why so many early retiree’s were fed up and made the plunge to be financially free in the first place.
I’ve had opportunities arise to make more money and turned them down. While it was a struggle coming to that personal decision, I had to put a price on job satisfaction.
When job satisfaction doesn’t outweigh the basic financial needs, you may want to reconsider putting so much weight into being satisfied. Being satisfied, unfortunately, won’t pay your bills.
Make More Money Through Passive Income Streams
Before I come across as too much of a curmudgeon who hates income growth, I am interested in earning more. Passively. Or as passively as possible.
I’m talking about avenues like real estate (not always passive) and through dividend investing. Warren Buffet says to never rely on one source of income. I would absolutely agree (obviously, it’s Warren Buffet).
The bottom line is that if your primary source of income increases and so does your spending, well you’ve negated the increase entirely. You create more wealth, faster, if you increase your income WHILE being frugal. The idea of ditching the latter for the former is exactly what keeps people in the rat race.