Whenever the holiday and vacation seasons roll around, my colleagues and I will be asked to request our days off months in advance.
My answer is almost always the same: “I will be in town the whole time.”
My colleagues then would complement me on how hard I work and wonder why I rarely take any days off throughout the year.
Even when I’m sick and running a fever, I’ll still show up in the office. I might not talk to anyone since I don’t want to get them sick. But I will still try to finish what I’m supposed to do that day, sometimes inefficiently.
One can say I work hard, but I do that for six reasons below, all of which have to do with my frugality.
1. Long trips to Asia
I want to save my vacation days for our big trips to Asia. Those trips usually last for almost a month. Our whole family is in China and Vietnam. Mr. FAF and I visit them once every two years or so.
We usually go during the winter (once every two years) when almost everyone else is also going on vacation and the workload is low. I think that’s one reason why my colleagues don’t notice that I’m gone for such an extended period of time and only look at my performance throughout the year.
I seem to always be in the office come rain or shine.
2. Baby FAF
I want to save my sick days for Baby FAF. During the first four months after coming back to the US, our son got sick at least four times. He either got a cold somewhere or contracted something from daycare.
He then had to stay at home for anywhere from two days to a whole week. My mother-in-law (MIL) is staying with us in DC and stayed at home with him.
However, she is going back to China in a couple of months, so I will need to take over that responsibility for three reasons.
First, I have been working for 2.5 years and have more sick leave than Mr. FAF. He just started his job six months ago.
Second, Mr. FAF makes more than me, so even if we don’t have any sick leave, it would make more financial sense for me to take day off which is worth less in pay than Mr. FAF.
Third, when Baby FAF is not feeling well, I just want to stay at home and monitor him. I go to work worrying about him the whole day until he gets better.
3. A second child
Mr. FAF and I are planning to have a second baby either this year or next year. While Mr. FAF can go to work the day after our second baby is born, but it’d be impossible for me.
I still remember not being able to think straight for a whole month after giving birth to Baby FAF. I was in grad school at the time, and the birth was near the finals exam period. I tried to read a page about something for my class but just couldn’t understand what I was reading. I was just staring blankly at the paper.
I would like to take at least one month off to recover from the child birth and take care of our baby. The maternity leave at my current job increased from two weeks to a month two years ago. I can take one month off to nurse my baby and still get paid.
However, I want to stay at home with our second baby for longer without having to claim short-term disability benefits or forgoing the pay altogether. I can do that with the sick and annual leave that I have saved up over the years.
4. My colleagues
I want to support my colleagues when they are away. Since I’m always the person who will show up in the office while many of my colleagues go on vacation, I will be given some of their responsibilities because things need to get done.
There was one time when I covered someone for a month during a vacation while trying to complete my job responsibilities. It was challenging to juggle multiple tasks at the same time. However, I also learned a lot from that experience.
After my colleague came back, she was very appreciative and bought me a really nice gift although I told her I was asked to take over her work. I didn’t just volunteer to.
We developed a really good relationship after that experience, and she always goes out of her way to help me at work. I’ve also covered for some of my other colleagues and learned a lot about what they do as well.
Before I go on a long vacation, I always check with my colleagues and my boss to see if there are any imminent tasks that need to be take care of. I don’t want to leave everyone behind trying to cover whatever it is that I’m supposed to do.
I want to be frugal with not only money but also my time. I have to admit that sometimes I need a break from work. But most of the time, I want to maximize my efficiency.
If I have assignments that need to get done, I will try to finish them well in the shortest time possible. My philosophy is that if I can finish something fast in 10 minutes, I don’t want to take my time and spend 20 or 40 minutes on it.
I admit that I do slack off when it comes to housework. But when it comes to my profession, I don’t procrastinate. I believe that when I get things done well and fast, I will be able to take on more responsibilities and attain more professional development.
In other words, I evaluate what I get done every five minutes every day. If I waste an hour not accomplishing anything, it means that I have just wasted an X amount of dollars that my time is worth.
That hour doesn’t have to involve work all the time. It could be me learning something from a TV show episode that I like or me enjoying the time I spend with my family. I want every minute of my life and every cent in my bank account to have a purpose.
6. My blog
Thanks to my frugality, I have been able to start a personal finance blog. I wan to do well at my job during the day so that I can get home on time and start working on my blog in the evening and on the weekends.
Currently, my job provides me with the most powerful wealth building tool I have access to: income. In order to build wealth and grow my blog, I need to increase my main source of income by working hard and getting a raise.
It could be my current job or any other job out there. I just know that before I can successfully turn my blog into a business and reach a net worth that enables me to retire, I need to do well at my day job.
Without a stable source of income, I will have a harder time justifying the time I spent blogging. I haven’t monetized my blog to the point where it can replace my full-time job yet.
I really like looking at everything in my life with a frugal mindset. Frugality helps me improve my health, take better care of my family, build a retirement nest egg, and motivates me to work harder at my day job.
I know many people want to get out of the 9-5 grind, and I do feel that way sometimes. But for someone like me who’s just starting a career, I want to continue with my job in the long term.
I might change my mind in the future and want to focus on something different. But I believe that no matter what I do, my frugality will help me stay focused, efficient, and motivated to achieve the best possible results that I can.