(Laura’s note: I’m on the road this week and will be bringing you a few guest posts on my favorite time and money themes. Today’s comes from Anne Bogel, better known online as Modern Mrs. Darcy. Please go visit her blog!)
by Anne Bogel
I once heard there are two kinds of people: Spenders and Savers. I’ve always been smug about my status as a born Saver: I’m in my early thirties, but I’ve had a mortgage and an IRA and a money market fund for over a decade. I’ve never had credit card debt or a car loan. I calculate things like return on investment and cost per wear.
But sometimes my Saver status works against me, because my frugal nature keeps me from spending money that ought to be spent.
I run a blog, and do an increasing amount of freelance writing and editing. I work part-time in the legal field; I homeschool my four kids. My life is more than full.
I’ve had a little household help for a few years; I’ve known for a while now it was time to hire more. But I’m a born saver: I love the idea of paying someone to fold my laundry, but I also love keeping my money in my own bank account.
I tried to convince my inner Saver that hiring help would let me get more work done, for more profit, but this line of reasoning remained unhelpfully abstract.
The breakthrough came when I realized this decision was about more than money. It was about choosing between two different versions of my life.
As an example, let’s look at a typical Monday, pre-help: We start our homeschool day at 9:00. I have 3 students on 3 different grade levels plus a mischievous preschooler, so I rotate between kids all morning, trying to keep everyone on task, working one-on-one as needed. I do reading lessons, I quiz them on spelling words, I check multiplication problems. (I run downstairs to put the clothes in the dryer.) I help them summarize stories and enter the Rosetta Stone password. (I get my youngest milk, again.) I explain long division, I correct grammar, I turn on a history audiobook. (I change over the laundry and finally check my email.) We break for lunch, then during our daily “rest time” I do private writing lessons with each child and anything else we didn’t get to in the morning while my baby naps.
But here’s what our Mondays look like with help: I work one-on-one with each child in math and writing, and read a story aloud to my youngest, in a blissfully unhurried fashion. My mother’s helper checks the kids’ work, quizzes them on their multiplication tables, and runs through their spelling flashcards. She sets them up on Rosetta Stone and their typing program. When the dryer buzzes, she changes the laundry over (and folds it!) She gets them snacks and drinks and turns on their audiobook while I slip away to bury myself in my work for an hour. Later, during rest time, the kids read and play independently while I get back to work.
When I frame it like this, I’m happy to pay for help. We all have a better school experience, and I pick up 3 extra hours to work.
When I thought this decision was only about the money, my inner Saver had a hard time coughing up the dough. But once I realized spending a little extra cash fundamentally changed my way of life, the decision was easy.
It all came down to how I framed it.