Why Working More Is Easier for Me Than Spending Less

by Maurie Backman | Published on Oct. 2, 2021

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A woman sitting at a table in a cafe window and typing on a laptop.

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Some people would rather curb their spending than work more. Here's why I tend to take the opposite route.

We all tend to go through periods in life when the bills just keep on coming or when our savings start to run low and could use a boost. In situations like that, we generally have a choice -- increase our earnings by working more, or cut back on spending to free up cash.

Boosting one's earnings is more than possible these days given the booming gig economy. This isn't to say that taking on extra work on top of a full-time job is easy. But it is possible.

Similarly, cutting back on spending isn't always easy, especially when you're already living a frugal lifestyle and spending minimally. But many of us do have the option to cut back to some degree, even if it means eking out $20 of savings here and $30 there.

Generally, when I land in a position where life has gotten more expensive or I've dipped into my savings account too many times for comfort, I'll opt to take on extra work rather than cut back on expenses. Here's why that's an easier route for me.

It's all about being in control

Being a homeowner and a parent can be incredibly rewarding -- and stressful. In both situations, there are so many financial unknowns to grapple with.

This past summer, my central air conditioning system died on us without warning. It cost roughly $7,000 to put a new system in, which meant taking a major withdrawal from my emergency fund that I'm now hustling to replenish.

Similarly, my children recently started school again, and while I anticipated some expenses for supplies and clothing, I was shocked at the amount of stuff I was asked to buy. I easily wound up spending twice as much on back-to-school items than I had anticipated (though that total bill was still nowhere close to what my new air conditioner cost me).

It's for this reason that I prefer to take on more work than attempt to reduce my spending. The former is something I can control. I can ask for extra assignments and push myself to put in more hours at my desk, even if it means giving up some much-needed downtime.

But I can't control the bills I face as a parent and homeowner. If something breaks in my house, I generally have to fix it. And if my kids need something for school, or if they ruin or outgrow their clothing or shoes, I need to replace those items. Rather than stress about bills I can't control, I'd rather take on more work and know that I'm boosting my income to cover those expenses.

Working more means we have more to enjoy

My family does spend some money on leisure, and we could technically cut back in that area if the circumstances warranted it. But the way I see it, I spend so much money each month on essentials like housing, food, and utilities that I don't want to deprive myself, my husband, and my kids of modest luxuries like streaming TV services or the occasional meal out. And if I have to work a little extra to keep affording those things, so be it.

Taking on more work can be downright unappealing. But I like having that option. There are weeks when I sleep very little and have minimal time for myself. But it's a sacrifice that's easier for me to make than constantly reworking my budget and stressing out every time an unplanned bill comes my way.

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