Having less money is better–for me, at least

When I left my full time job to go back to school and finish my degree, I was concerned.

My husband and I have a mortgage. We have a car. Though we didn’t at the time, we now have a daughter. We have two cats. We like eating every now and then and we have utilities to pay. It always made sense for us both to be working full-time, even if it seemed like I always had a little extra money to burn each paycheck. I had been able to save up quite a bit of money as I wasn’t in debt, and I bought some nice clothes for myself. I also had a bad tendency to blow quite a bit of cash at work, because I genuinely liked the product I sold.

Upon going back to school full-time, I dropped work to part-time in a different job,  and I quickly had to begin budgeting based on necessity. Suddenly, I didn’t have the luxury of the extra $200+ a paycheck. I had no money to burn. Every dollar was accounted for in some way or another. Coupons became more important, I used any discount I can get (10% student Tuesdays at Sobeys became my new best friend), and I saved up various loyalty points from any shop that offered them. Most “wants” dissolved entirely. We stopped going out to eat and eliminated expensive or unnecessary items from our grocery list. I started cooking and meal-prepping more often. Cooking quickly grew into a hobby as a result–it was already something I did fairly often and enjoyed doing, but the frequency with which I was now cooking meant I was constantly trying new things and making an effort to have a variety of foods on-hand, as well as challenge my burgeoning skills.

Another interest of mine is money management. I love budgeting, and the tighter the budget is, the more fun I have distributing funds. Putting my budgeting skills to good use was a bit of a side-perk of needing to drop the money a bit. It obviously wasn’t a factor, but kind of a nice bonus.

Dropping to part-time work was also a life choice for me, and not just in order for me to get my degree. I decided that rather than focusing on working or finding a career, I wanted to spend more time with loved ones. This especially rang true for me when I found out I was pregnant, knowing well that I would want to spend as much time as possible while the baby is still a baby. My grandmother’s death in October would confirm this for me. I wanted the flexibility to see people when I could. Since my daughter Amelia’s birth, this has only been further affirmed.

My writing also influenced my decision to work part-time only. My one overarching goal in my life has been to do something with my writing, even if it’s to a small degree, and I’ve been trying to focus on it more and more in the past year–the launch of this website is a testament to that. I’ve had less and less time for my writing, with school at first, followed directly by the new baby, but since January, I’ve already managed to write a short story that placed in the first heat of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Even with Amelia taking up most of my time, I’ve managed to work sporadically on blog posts, and I’ve been keeping a journal to keep track of my experiences as a new parent. I’ve also been working as a copy editor for Animaritime when I have a few spare minutes.

All of this is to say, in part, that I don’t always like the person I become when I work full-time, and I tend to build up a number of work-related resentments while I work. I am much happier if I only have to work part-time (or, as with the present, not at all). The time away from full-time work has helped me to realise that making more money wasn’t making me happier–having the freedom to spend time with loved ones and work on creative projects is. While I may always need to work part-time, I feel very lucky to have a bit of freedom.

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