I tend to agree that any honest day's work is good work. But I also can see that not all work is afforded respect by others. In fact, the disrespect can make an okay job feel like one that is beneath your dignity.
In my teen and early adult years, I had my share of jobs where I was treated as less-than, primarily in restaurant work and department stores. Undignified working conditions exist in every field and at every level. Even when I held positions of authority, I was subjected to the moods and insults from diners, customers, fellow employees and supervisors/owners. Presently, at my age, I feel that I have had enough disrespect to last my lifetime.
I recently had someone suggest (and quite lovingly, at that) I should take on some part time work at a fast food restaurant, coffee house or even the graveyard shift at the nearby gas station/convenience store, to increase our family's household budget.
My response was that I had learned to live on less, so that I would never "have" to take on work that I didn't want.
Don't get me wrong. I actually do want to work at a paying job (and currently do work for pay, very part time), and I am looking for the right position. But by adopting frugal living techniques, I can take my time to find the most suitable job to use the gifts that God has given me. In other words, I'm not looking for any old job, for the extra money. I'm looking for paying work that I find fulfilling, and where I am treated with basic respect.
We all are given choices in this life. We can choose to work for pay, more, so that we can afford luxury items of desire. Or we can choose to work for pay, less, and not indulge in full-price luxuries.
For me, I choose to focus my energies on activities that I find enjoyable, yet still fulfill our frugal objectives, so that I can take time to nail down that dream job of mine.
Along these lines, at a meeting the other day, I was talking with a gentleman about the nature of my blog. He asked if I had interest in extreme couponing. I told him, no, that I take a different approach to some frugal activities. I told him that I learned to bake bread, so that I wouldn't have to rely on finding coupons or sales for bread. Personally, I'd rather pursue the activity of baking than coupon collecting. That's my preference.
Sometimes, our choices and actions really go against the grain in today's culture. And sometimes, it's hard to be forthcoming about our frugal endeavors, with some family and friends who just don't get it. For instance, that our lovely new sweater was bought at Goodwill, or that we dine in restaurants just a handful of times per year, or that we cut our own hair, or have our husbands do it for us. Many of our friends and family have chosen "the extra paying work to afford luxuries" route. This can make defending our choice to live on less, well, awkward, some of the time.
But I think I would rather have that awkward conversation or two, than sacrifice my dignity by working for a nasty-tempered boss, or have to placate unhappy customers, or work hours that would rob me of needed sleep.
If a job is a means to an end, the end being enough money to pay my way in this world, isn't being frugal just a different means to the same end, if I can trim the fat through frugal endeavors, so that all of our bills are paid?
Knowledge is power. Teaching oneself how to do for ourselves what we have been paying others to do for us, generates power over how we can choose to live out our lives. I wasn't born knowing how to bake bread. My mother never baked bread. I learned this on my own. Likewise, my mother never made her own window cleaning solution, nor did she replace broken underwires in her bras. With each new frugal frontier that I conquer in my own life, be it large or small, I gain confidence that I will be able to conquer the next frontier. And I can see that all of my efforts when combined, make a significant difference in our finances, enough of a differnce to off-set working without pay.
And you know, I don't feel that I "have" to bake bread or hang laundry. I am choosing these activities, sometimes as the lesser of two evils. I would rather bake and cook from scratch, and hang dry my laundry, than feel a part of me is "owned" by an employer. I have chosen to live on less, so that I will never have to accept a job that is beneath my dignity.
And what about that argument that I am "training" my daughters to only see themselves as potential homemakers? What I feel I am teaching my daughters is that they have choices in this life. Yes, they could decide that they want to work in the home. But they could just as easily use what they've seen in me to pursue careers which are not financially lucrative, yet are personally fulfilling, by using the many frugal living techniques that I've modeled, to make ends meet on a shoestring income. I hope that I am modeling "choice" to my daughters and son.
Choices. I've widened my view of just what my choices are in this life. As a result, I have so many opportunities before me.