Earning More is Better than Spending Less

by Andy Hough on March 21, 2013

This might be a strange thing for the writer of a frugality blog to say but I believe it is true. If you want to get ahead financially increasing your income is more important then reducing your spending. I have been able to keep my spending at a very low level for years but I haven’t been able to save much money. This year since I started working my better paying full-time job in addition to my part-time job I’ve managed to save well over 50% of my income. I’ve long thought that if I could just get a decent paying job it would be easy to save money. Now that I have a decent job I’ve found out that I was right. It is easy to save money now. I’m not really making that much money either. At my current rate I’d make a little over $40,000 for the year which is about the average annual salary in the United States.

My views on this subject might be somewhat skewed by the fact that I have always found it easy to keep my spending at a low level. When I read articles on how to save thousands a year by cutting cable and skipping lattes they weren’t any help to me because I never developed wasteful spending habits in the first place. I suppose if you are a spendthrift then it would probably be better to learn how to control your spending rather than increase your income since a spendthrift will likely just increase their spending to match any increase in income. For most people though, increasing income is better than reducing spending. There is a limit to how much you can reduce your spending. There is no limit on how much you can increase your income. I think the big advantage that cutting spending has over increasing income is that it is much easier to cut spending. My job will be ending next month and I doubt I’ll be able to get my income back to its current level any time soon. It is easy for me to find ways to make a little extra money but I’ve had a hard time finding ways to make decent money. That is something I will work on for the rest of the year.

1 Blogging Banks March 22, 2013 at 9:59 am


I think that you are on the right path man. With a job income and your side income streams, you should be able to retire in 4 – 5 years. Or you can just work for 4 months out of the year, and then do nothing for the remaining 8, and live the semi-retired lifestyle..

2 krantcents March 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I already have control of my spending. I want more income because it means I can do more investing.

3 The First Million is the Hardest March 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Cutting spending can only take you so far, cutting cable isn’t going to help anyone reach FI or retire early. To achieve larger financial goals making more money is the only way forward.

4 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey March 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm

“Earning more is better than spending less.” Mathematically speaking, the equation would be earning/revenue equals the sum of savings and expenses. Hence, as long as you keep your expenses constant, you will have more savings if you have higher income.

5 Andy Hough March 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm

The working 4 months a year and being semi-retired does sound appealing. I’m sure I’ll be able to work my tax job again next year. I already have a three week job lined up after the tax job is done and I’ll still have my part time job. I will be going on a long hike this summer though and I’m not sure what I’ll do after that.

6 Andy Hough March 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Spending hasn’t been a problem for me for a long time. Making more money is where I need to improve although I’m pretty satisfied with how I’m doing this year.

7 Andy Hough March 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

That is true. I’ve gone about as far as i can go on cutting spending. Hopefully, I’ll be able to maintain a decent income for the next few years.

8 Andy Hough March 22, 2013 at 8:55 pm

My expenses have stayed constant. I’ve managed to keep them low even though I’m now making about twice as much money as last year.

9 Alexis Marlons March 25, 2013 at 1:24 am

It is quite easier to earn more rather than trying to spend less.

10 Blogging Banks March 25, 2013 at 8:20 am

I have been reading your blog for the past 5 years, and it seems to me that when you go for that annual hike, you always end up spending more than planned, cut it short, and end up leaving a job before that. I think that earning more is the goal you need to set for yourself. But please do not succumb to lifestyle inflation.

11 Andy Hough March 26, 2013 at 9:33 pm

My hikes have pretty consistently been cut short and generally cost more than I planned. I won’t be leaving a job for the hike this year. The long hike could very well become a short hike but keeping the costs down will be my priority. I don’t think I’ll be succumbing to lifestyle inflation.

12 Andy Hough March 26, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I haven’t found it that easy, but after a certain point it is the only option.

13 Shanice April 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I also try to be really frugal, and even influence my husband to go that rout, however, I know that we can only go to a certain degree of frugality since there are things that we cannot just compromise like cable TV and out of town and country trips.

I definitely believe that earning more is going to be better so you can build up your savings while having the rest to fund your little joys (travel, movies, cable) from time to time.

14 Andy Hough April 14, 2013 at 10:36 am

Yes, there is a limit to how far you can go with frugality. I’ll still be frugal but I am working on getting more income.

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