We’ve all seen those extreme couponing TV shows where overzealous shoppers meticulously collect, organize, and plan their coupon stack like a pack of hyped-up, giddy preteen boys with their Pokemon cards and pogs (oh wait, did I just give my age away?).
Saving money is a virtue, but if you take it too far, it can be a vice.
I’m glad you asked.
Saving Money Is Easier
Too many people focus solely on saving money (I’m guilty too). I totally understand why; it’s way easier to save a few bucks rather than to make a few bucks.
Don’t believe me? Which would you rather do: Clip a few coupons, or go and convince a total stranger to give you an equal amount of money, just because you so fine-lookin’?
I don’t know about you, but I possess a people-phobia the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Emily Dickinson. It’s one of the main reasons I used to live in the middle of Alaska!
My point is, saving money is easy (well, easier). All you have to do is look at where your money’s going. Too much in one category? Knock it off, hoser. There’s better uses for that money.
Making money, on the other hand, is hard. It involves developing a new skill set. Even if you charge for something you already know, you still have to learn how to market yourself. It involves developing communication skills so you can talk to—gasp—real people.
Before I launched my business, I’d also much rather have preferred to scrimp and save rather than sell myself to someone. How the heck could I sell myself to someone else when I didn’t even think I could sell me to myself?!
Saving Money Isn’t Enough
Here’s the real crux of the matter behind savings:
- The amount of money you can save is finite
- The amount of money you can earn is infinite
You will bring in a set amount of income each month. You can choose to dial back your spending, but you can only do so to a certain, limited extent.
Related: Overcoming Underearning: A Five-Step Plan To A Richer Life by Barbara Stanny
Between me and my husband, we’ve dialed back our spending as much as we’re comfortable doing without risking our marriage. If I dial it back anymore I’m liable to send Zach running for the hills because I’ll be wild-haired, stinky, and covered in tattered rags.
He’s already taken to throwing my shoes away when I’m not looking (something about the soles bending all the way back to the heels, but I chalk it up to semantics…).
On the other hand, you have an infinite ability to earn money. You can earn money doing anything. Don’t believe me? These people make a living online selling taxidermied buffalo scrotums (would the plural be scroti? Asking purely out of biological curiosity).
Earning Money Is Harder – But You Can Do It
Earning money is difficult. That’s the basic concept behind how the world operates though—you get training through college, an apprenticeship, or some other means so that you can get a job and a paycheck. It’s tough enough to do just that, so a lot of people stop there.
Don’t stop, though. If you’re truly in need of more money (and you absolutely are if you’re in debt like me), find another way to earn it.
I was taught how to be a wildlife biologist. For me right now, that doesn’t pay the bills. I’m sure for some people it works, but not for me in this moment. But I know how to write (or at least my cat says so), and so I started working on the side as a freelance writer.
Related post: The Financial Reality Of Being A Broke Biologist
It scared the everloving bejeesus out of me (and it still does), but it’s done wonders for my finances. I made $75 in my first month of freelance writing, and now I consider it a bad month if I bring in less than $1,000. That’s about a third of my entire take-home pay for the month.
Thanks to my side hustle, I’ve broken out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, I’ve started saving for retirement, I’ve paid off all of my credit card debt, I’ve got a second job I stepped into after losing my full-time day job, and I’ve got a strategic game plan for how to ride this side hustle all the way to debt freedom.
I’m not magic (if I am then I want a refund on my powers. I want to fly, dammit). If I can do it, you can do it too. The biggest hurdle is getting over your own mindset.
Should I Spend All My Money On (Rugby) Hookers And Blow (Pops) Then?
Let me say it again: NO.
This isn’t a free pass to an all-you-can-eat-‘MERICA-style spendfest.
I’m simply saying you shouldn’t make saving money your primary or sole focus.
If you need to move the needle on your finances (and do it like yesterday), you first need to focus on making more money. I’m sorry, but ain’t no amount of coupon-clipping alone is going to save you from the mountains of debt most of us are under.
Once you’ve developed a proper side hustle, then you can focus on optimizing your expenses.
You wouldn’t focus on putting a band-aid on the Titanic if you had a Super-Leak-Pumper-Outer 5000, would you? Let’s focus first on the things that will really move the needle, and then plug the leaks.
What do you think? #TeamSave or #TeamEarn? Leave a comment below!