Friday, April 5, 2013

Entering Frugal Overdrive

Engine on display at the Dulles Air & Space Museum
M. Gustafson Gervasi, 2013

Overdrive -- 1) a gearing mechanism in a vehicle that maintains speed but decreases output, or 
2) a state of heightened concentration.  
Either way of defining the word applies to our current situation.  We are in frugal overdrive!

Change is upon us.  And change can be tricky, especially when it is in a dual self-employed household and the change is occurring in the business of the person who works full-time as opposed to the other who works part-time.  The goal of said change? To move from being the consultant on-site for 40 hours a week towards the company who places an employee at that job for 40 hours a week.  Profit comes off the spread, allowing room for growth.  There are only so many hours in the day no matter how many energy drinks one consumes.  After a while you hit a ceiling on earnings.  And navigating this change means stepping back from what was in place, from what was working and paying well.   Life is too short not to aim for your dreams.  So we are tightening the belt around our house to give this business as much runway as possible.

How do you make those cuts in an already frugal household?  Easy, there is always some slack that can be found and trimmed.  For us the answer was obvious.  The largest expense on our monthly budget was child care, substantially more than our mortgage.  Did the word "was" jump out?  It should, because that is what we decided to cut.

Embracing the concepts in a book we read upon first entering parenthood, we are halving the work.  Deutsch's book Having It All: How Equally Parenting Works is a wonderful illustration in how parents can work together to achieve financial goals and maintain careers.  As the new model of my husband's business grows he has more time and more flexibility.  And working in the tech field means late starts to the day and late evenings is customary.  When I go off to the office to meet with clients and other matters related to my legal practice he is now in charge of the children, not a sitter.

Should this model work, we will maintain earnings but substantially decrease the hours he once worked.  It is worth a try for a few months.  The change means I no longer having someone making the Tuesday night pancakes to my specification (add pumpkin), but the children have their father fixing dinner.  And pancakes are his specialty.  And even more important, the cost savings mean we do not have to dip into our emergency fund.

Frugal living may get a bad rap at times, but it allows both of us to chase after the business dreams we love.  It's worth it in my mind.  Thanks for reading, and I'd love some fresh ideas on saving money -- it's good for the budget, but also our health and planet!

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