The Yin and Yang of Frugality and Income

by Katy on January 11, 2016 · 14 comments

yin yang

Every day I work to spend less money without decreasing my family’s quality of life. But I also focus on earning extra money. Alone, neither is enough, as there needs to be a balance between the two. We all know people who earn significant incomes, yet because of lifestyle inflation still live paycheck to paycheck, and conversely we also know those who squeeze every penny, yet never get ahead because of a small income.

I put my focus on both frugality and income.


  • Today I took my husband on a date by treating him to free coffee at Ikea complete with a free ice cream cone chaser. (I had a $1-off coupon from a previous visit.) We spent time sitting across the table from one another while sipping beverages, which qualified in my book as a date.
  • Dinner was leftover turkey noodle soup with the extra either packed up for a work lunch or stuck into the freezer.
  • I filled an empty gallon milk container with water to put into the chest freezer to fill up space and save on electricity.


  • I found 32¢ on the ground.
  • I wrote a blog post.
  • I logged into an old online bank account and discovered that it contained almost $93. I promptly transferred the money into my credit union account, and will use the money towards my son’s next college tuition payment due in April.
  • I submitted another Clark Howard article and proposed five new ideas.
  • Tomorrow I’ll work a 12-hour RN shift at the hospital.

Frugality and income are perfect bedfellows. Together they bring about a balance of financial security that would be impossible if one were to focus on a single half.

Perfectly in balance. Frugality and income, the yin-yang of personal finance.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Mand01 January 11, 2016 at 2:05 am

Could not agree more. I am now in the prime earning years of my life, but if I blow it all I have wasted this opportunity. Save it while I can get it, I say.


Elise @ Simply Scaled Down January 11, 2016 at 5:15 am

Well said. I am constantly trying to bring in extra money to help fund our next home down payment (50% here we come!).

Right now I’m selling crafts on etsy, doing product reviews online, and selling some of the kids’ old toys on craigslist. Its little drips and drops right now, but in the long run it pays off.


Robin Brady January 11, 2016 at 5:26 am

I agree. Often I see posts from those who are trying to find ways to cut spending but don’t even have enough income to pay for the basics. I always advise them to find ways to make more money. To make more money is not being greedy or snobby or selfish but I often think that folks have been taught to feel this way about making money.
It was increasing my income while controlling spending that helped us pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars of business debt. Cutting spending on cable or groceries would never have achieved that goal.


Tara January 11, 2016 at 6:20 am

Well said. I completely agree. Everything is a balance, you get the balance right and life runs fairly smoothly xx


Jennifer January 11, 2016 at 7:31 am

It took me a lot of my adult life to figure these things out. I wish I could open my 20 year old daughter’s head and pour the information inside so she wouldn’t struggle. I thought I taught her when she was growing up but I’m not sure it sunk in.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary January 11, 2016 at 7:47 am

Oh yes, that balancing act between income and frugality. And, I would add, time. So many things come down to time. Everything in life seems to be a balance between those goals. As a simple example, it costs more to buy lettuce already washed and bagged, but it takes less time to prepare a salad than if I have to wash and dry and shred the lettuce myself. I could work an extra job on the weekend to make more money, but then I’d have less time with my family and less time to relax after a hard week.

I’m always impressed with your ability to balance those three things — income, frugality, and time — making sure you manage to have some down time while still increasing your income and watching your budget. I’m sure it’s not always perfect (nothing ever is!), but it is pretty awesome. 🙂


Happy Mum January 12, 2016 at 4:13 am

Thanks for this — I think you’re so right — time is the third leg of the stool, or the third point of the golden triangle, or whatever. I remember about 25 years ago reading something in Your Money Or Your Life about how money — either earned or not-spent — is a unit of exchange for your time (that’s not quite right) and it was a HUGE revelation. Sounds so basic now. Thaanks to Katy and you for this reminder of income-frugality-time.


A. Marie January 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm

The only thing I’d add to Katy’s words of wisdom is that the yin-yang balance is flexible and constantly shifting, depending on where each of us is in life and what our priorities are. For instance, I’ve noticed that Katy’s focus has shifted more toward income now that her sons are older and her family is dealing with the college tuition issue. We all need to keep an eye on our changing conditions and make necessary adjustments, as Katy has done.


Ruby January 11, 2016 at 12:47 pm

This is very true. Ours shifted quite a bit in 2015, when my husband and I made some job changes that greatly improved the quality of life for our family. We have less income than we did this time last year, but we’re no longer exhausted and working crazy hours.


AFS January 11, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Thanks for mentioning the H2O in the freezer.
I just filled gallon jugs with water and put them in the bottom of my chest freezer.
The benefits are three fold. #1 I have emergency water stored in the freezer #2 the gallon jugs on the floor make the food easier to reach #3 I’m saving electricity because the freezer is full.


Katy January 12, 2016 at 8:04 am

I need to keep doing the frozen water thing, as my freezer is pretty empty right now.


Jean January 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for the reminder, Katy–I really need to work on selling some of the items I am ready to purge from my house instead of just dropping them off at the local thrift store. You have taught us that patience pays off with Craigslist!
Also wanted to tell you I made your Red Lentil soup the other night–wow, this will be in my regular rotation of frugal but delicious meals. Took the leftovers to work the following day and had several people ask me what it was because it smelled so good!


Katy January 12, 2016 at 8:04 am

Mmm . . . so yummy! I haven’t made it myself for awhile. Thanks for the reminder!


JD January 12, 2016 at 8:06 am

I needed this reminder. I usually do a yard sale now and then to earn some extra money after my purges, but I could do more. I’m limited by time, since I’m gone from the house at least 50 hours each week with my job, but I could still do more than I am to earn more money while pinching those pennies. We pinched them hard in our early years, but still struggled terribly because we both made low wages. It was when my husband and I finally got jobs with a decent income that we were able to pay off a mortgage, make much needed improvements to our property, such as a pump house to keep our well pump from freezing every darn year, have medical issues taken care of, and lay aside some savings. Much of our income in the first of those better-income years went to playing “catch-up”. When you’ve been wearing broken glasses glued back together, your dental work is four years behind, the house needs repairs and the car tires are smooth, it’s not possible to suddenly start socking away most of a newly enhanced paycheck. Luckily, we had enough good-income years to catch us up and even pull us ahead some, because now circumstances have changed again and we are back to living tight and have been for five years. Therefore, more income is needed! I shall get started on that.


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