Following my post last week about not being frugal for frugal's sake, and I thank all of you who wrote lovely supportive comments which were much appreciated, another issue came up which I want to address.
Whilst I write about trying to save every penny in any which way I can and how I cannot afford many of the things I used to take for granted, my kind of 'poverty' is not real poverty. Real poverty is when you have nothing, you have no money for food or fuel, you live in less than desirable housing conditions, your children are suffering, and you can see no way out of these circumstances. Thank God none of this applies to me.
My circumstances are at worst, sustainable, and at best, temporary. There are a number of very good reasons to choose a temporary poverty. I would even recommend it if quality of life is more important to you than standard of living.
1. A well paying job might take up all your time and you prefer to be flexible while your children are young so that you can be available for school events, volunteering, cooking healthy meals, home-making, helping others, or if the children need a sick day.
2. The logistical organisation and stress that might go with a high-powered career is not worth the money to you and your family.
3. You prefer to be happy finding lesser paid work than to be unhappy in a strict rule-laden work environment. Life's not always all about amassing the most wealth in financial terms. Sometimes it is of course, but at other times you may owe it to your children and/or partner to have a happy parent and/or partner.
4. It may be that a few years of financial struggle while you find and set up alternative sources of income are ultimately worth the investment.
5. Sometimes after a massive effort to put yourself in a good place such as buying a home, paying off debt, finishing a course of study, or paying for IVF, you need to stop peddling so hard for a while and just appreciate how far you've come. Maybe you are gathering your strength for the next big project or maybe you're done. Whichever it is, if you can't take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labour then what's the point of it all?
6. Even if you have a sufficient income, you might strive to live on as little as possible day to day as this allows you to save for expensive things that are more important to you. This may be travel, education, your house, or even amassing a good pension. Each to his own. As one very supportive comment on my last post said: it's about using what you have in a way that best works for you. It's about satisfying your wants as well as your needs without going into debt.
There have been a few worrying moments over the past five years. Realizing that the good income I had prior to motherhood was no longer viable with the time available as a single mother was big shock. I've had to rethink my whole work situation and at times I struggled with it. Only last year I thought I'd have to sell my apartment and downgrade as I couldn't afford to live here. This too passed and we got through it somehow albeit with a lot of tears and sleepless nights.
Now my daughter is 5 and everything is easier. Opportunities are opening up that were impossible to consider with a baby or a toddler. I am no longer struggling or stressed out about it. I am juggling, budgeting, and planning but this empowers me rather than oppresses me. It's a challenge for sure but I'm thriving on it.
Bottom line - I don't plead poverty (anymore), I choose frugality as a tool towards a happy and successful life. I celebrate that I have the choice.