Can a Paycheck Mom Be a Frugal Paragon?

It’s official: I’m an employee again! Having finished my master’s of library science back in December, I started sending out applications as soon as we knew where we were moving to. And I sent out a whoooole lot of applications, most of which were ignored completely. Finally, a chance playground encounter led me to a valuable contact who really stuck her neck out for me (meanwhile, I volunteered at her library) and got me a couple of interviews, and I finally landed a part-time entry-level professional librarian job.

I really think that for me, personally, right now, having a part-time job is the best thing for both me (I count, too!) and my family. It will bring in some welcome extra money, even when the not-insubstantial child care bill is paid (partly because my new employer has such generous part-time benefits, we’ll be saving close to $300 a month on benefits and actually getting more coverage). By an even wider margin, it will increase our income, which we’ll need if we do look at buying a house in the next year or two. And it will get me started on a career that I can continue to develop as the boys get older.

Full-time would, I think, have been a little uncomfortable for all of us right now. Too many long days for the boys, no time for laundry and meal planning and all those thousands of little tasks.

The catch is that the money will only work out if I continue to be a Frugal Paragon when I’m at home. If I slack off on the grocery budgeting, yogurt-making, laundry detergent-making, home mending, etc., then my job won’t pay off. If we can’t make one car work and we buy a second one, then I’ll be working just to pay for the car.

So either I’ve found a brilliant way to have just enough career while still being a part-time homemaker, or I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew! Stay tuned to find out which one or make your predictions in the comments below. Or tell how YOU are balancing your career with your other interests and your domestic responsibilities.


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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

12 responses to “Can a Paycheck Mom Be a Frugal Paragon?”

  1. Amy K / RelaxedGal on the MMM forums says :

    We fall into the “Too many long days for the boys, no time for laundry and meal planning and all those thousands of little tasks.” My husband and I both work, so all three of us are out of the house 8-5, M-F. Two cars are mandatory, though we can make do with one in a pinch as we’ve had to do for 3-4 weeks this year for car repairs. Laundry and batch cooking happens on the weekend, ditto the dishes (the kitchen is pretty ugly by Friday), general clean-up, and most socializing. On the positive side I enjoy my work, as does my husband, and we’re both paid well.

    I think for your family you’ve struck a great balance. The foot in the door on your career is the most important part I really hope one car works for you; it sounds like it will with both the bus and bike as alternatives.

    Best Wishes!

  2. David says :

    Good luck. I couldn’t hack it at ~25 hours a week. 14 hours (2 days, weekends only) is good. 0 hours is even better, or at least I hope it will be come mid-2015!

    • frugalparagon says :

      I know you are counting the days! The only weekends I will be working are every other Saturday. Everyone has a different sweet spot; I think this might be it for us, but we’ll see how it goes. Just finished the first day and we all survived!

  3. Rachael says :

    Congratulations! I wish you every good thing for your new job. With planning, I’m sure you’ll be able to remain frugal, but do be kind to yourself too!

    • frugalparagon says :

      Thank you for the kind words! I at least didn’t do any Leapforce last night after work–I usually try to squeeze in half an hour in the evenings. Figured I had done my money-earning bit for the day :-).

  4. Tarynkay says :

    Maybe you could figure out which frugal activities have the most impact for the least amount of time investment so that you can prioritize.

    And make sure to allow yourself some cheats- on the days that I babysit extra kids, we have a frozen pizza for dinner. We save more if I am realistic about the need to stock up on $3 Costco pizza ahead of time rather than waiting till I failed to make dinner and we order out in a fog of hungry despair.

    • frugalparagon says :

      That’s smart! I think my #1 priority will be keeping up with cooking and meal planning, because that’s where not only the big money is, but the health impact. (Not that I am judging your pizza! Planning to have pizza IS meal planning! My personal Costco kid-food-favorite is chicken nuggets, though :-). ) If I don’t make yogurt and buy it instead, whatever, it’s a dollar fifty lost. If I don’t fill the crockpot and Mr. FP orders a pizza on his night with the kids… that’s a lot more money!

  5. Mrs. Frugalwoods says :

    Congrats on the job! Sounds like a great fit for you! Even though we don’t have kids, I still notice that since we do everything ourselves (whereas we observe most other dual income households paying other people to clean their house, cut their hair, prepare their food, etc) our days are busy. I’m sure you’ll find the right balance and a way to make the finances work in your favor!

  6. Ginger says :

    I know that because of working, and my husband working an hour away, we have increased some of our spending. However, we still come out ahead by both of us working and I expect that our salaries will increase over the years. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do everything. Every penny helps, but don’t forget why you are working.

  7. zambianlady says :

    Congratulations on the new job! You are fortunate that you can still have time to do household chores/errands as per your wish. I think it is the best of both worlds.

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