Spend Less Or Earn More?

It’s been said that it’s a lot easier to spend less money than it is to earn more money because it does not take as much effort.

But is this really true?

It does take some time and effort to do such money-saving tasks as preparing a meal plan, grocery shopping from a detailed list, comparison shopping and researching your purchases. It’s easy to press the snooze button for more zzzz’s rather than get up earlier to eat a nutritious breakfast and make your lunch. I know – I’ve been there.

It gets a little easier once you have a plan in place and get a routine going.

But what about the psychological aspects? You’ve resolved to pay off your credit card balances and devised a reasonable plan of action. Then your coworkers ask you to go for drinks after work; your sister wants to celebrate at a pricey restaurant, your friends want to hit the mall, or you’re invited to a wedding in Costa Rica. Do you say no, or does your resolve go out the window?

It’s tough.

Even if you’re successful, what if all that cost cutting and frugality is still not helping you meet your expenses? Then you also need to find ways to earn more.

Spend Less or Earn More?

Earn more – look at your current workplace

The first place to turn your attention to when you are focusing on increasing your earnings is your current employment. It’s common to blame your low wages or lousy job for all your problems. Are you a chronic complainer? Do you dread going to work and resent every moment you are there? If so, you need to snap out of it and make an attitude adjustment.

You have to be there for now, so have pride in your work and put forth your best effort and become more productive. If you consistently do more than is expected, you will be recognized and rewarded.

If you want to get ahead in your company and earn more, let your boss know that you want to move up and onwards. If you feel you deserve an increase in pay, then ask for one.

Should you stay, or should you go?

What if you’ve been denied your raise? Or, you have come to conclusion that your job is definitely dead-end, and there is no long-term future for you at this company. By all means consider a change of employment. Don’t take the first thing that comes along though, or jump ship just for an increase in wage. Consider other factors that may be important to you – location, room for advancement, flexibility. You would like to choose a company where you can build a career and stay for the long term.

You may need to get additional education to get the job you desire. Set this as a goal and begin getting the necessary credentials.

The quicker you can complete your education, the more earning time you will have.

Supplementing your income

What if you are happy with your job but still can’t make ends meet?

If you expect your current cash shortfall to be short term, consider seasonal employment, or find a job that requires limited skills or no prior experience and little energy. Remember, this is not a career you are after; you are simply looking to earn some quick money, likely on weekends or evenings. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are too good for a minimum-wage job. You know this is only a short-term fix to reduce your debts or increase your savings.

If you don’t need money immediately, but would still like to supplement your income you have lots of options:

  • If you have the space in your home consider renting out a room or taking in a student (or temporary exchange student) for room and board.
  • Offer your unique services for hire, such as yard maintenance, mechanical work, computer work, tutoring, or babysitting.
  • Start an Internet business, do multi-level marketing, or sell on eBay or Etsy.

Who are your friends?

A common excuse that holds people back is their belief that it isn’t what you know; it’s who you know. This is actually very true to an extent. People like to hire, do business or work with people they know and like. Your goal is to expand your social and professional network to meet more people and get exposed to broader experiences.

It is generally true that your friends have similar backgrounds, interests and financial situations, and usually earn within 10 percent of what you earn, so you need to step outside of this comfort zone.

The ideal method to expand your network is to volunteer. Not only do you get a great deal of personal satisfaction from helping out, you can also benefit from:

  • Meeting new people
  • Making connections
  • Learning new transferable job skills.

Through the contacts you make, you may even find yourself being offered a new job or finding a great mentor.

You can also volunteer for business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce or professional organizations that serve your field. These interactions will expand your knowledge base and your network and are a good source of business leads and employment opportunities.

Spend less or earn more: Final thoughts

We know that one of the key concepts of being successful in managing your finances is that you need to spend less than you earn.

In this quest, you can either spend less or earn more – or do a combination of both.

Whichever choice you make, don’t allow yourself to become a victim of lifestyle inflation. You do not automatically start spending more. If you have debts to repay, apply your raise or extra income to that. Alternatively, you can put at least 10% towards your retirement plan and the remainder to your other financial goals.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Big Cajun Man (AW) on December 3, 2015 at 7:42 am

    It can be argued that there is a limit to how much you can cut your spending, and that eventually you will need to earn more money, however, most folks really don’t try very hard to cut their spending (though).

    • boomer on December 3, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      @AW: There is a limit to how much you can cut. Who wants a bare bones life? But it’s easy to get into the habit of going out to eat because you have nothing in the fridge, or shopping because you’re bored or feeling blue. A combination seems to work best for me.

      • Tom on December 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm

        There is a lot of cutting that the average person could do before even approaching bare bones.
        Last week my blender jar cracked. Stores don’t sell the jar, they sell blenders. I looked for a new one. The prices vary from 34.95 to 549.95. What are the differences? A bit nicer looking and a second jar is about it. I bought the 34.95 as i figured if it lasts 1/2 as long i am saving lots. Besides it blends, makes smoothies, grinds ice as far as i can tell just as well.

  2. DivGuy on December 3, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I’m not sure which one is easier, but I’ve always been better at earning more than spending less. For me, it was easier to put in some extra hours and earn something out of it than to reduce my spending on things I enjoyed doing.

    However, I’m currently trying to look for something more balanced. Reducing spending in reducing our belongings but still earn something decent enough to experience things and enjoy life.



    • boomer on December 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      @DivGuy: I’m pretty cheap so I reduce costs by comparison shopping or buying on sale, etc. but, for some inexplicable reason, every once in a while we go on a splurge. Earning a bit extra helps a lot.

Leave a Comment

Join More Than 10,000 Subscribers!

Sign up now and get our free e-Book- Financial Management by the Decade - plus new financial tips and money stories delivered to your inbox every week.