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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Frugal Bliss: Saying No to Extra Money

The title says it all. For me, the goal of frugality is not so much to retire early, but to avoid doing things I don't feel like doing. Even if those things involve extra money.

To wit. I received an email (after 8 days sans email)asking if I'd be interested in teaching a course at a seminary college nearby. Now I taught there for a few years a while back. The pay was pitiful, but I did it as a favor to a friend and for a couple of other good reasons I don't feel like going into.

If you've been reading my blog at all, one thing that should be pretty clear is that I love my chosen profession. Not every bit of it, of course. but the fact that I get to blab for hours about the poetry of John Donne is a privilege I can't even begin to describe.

Just because I love teaching doesn't mean I want to do it all the time. Or that I don't find it incredibly draining. That's why Mr. FS and I don't check the "YES" box on "Do you want a summer course?"

Back to the seminary college. Teaching there was a gruesome experience. Perhaps I pride myself too much on my excellent classroom management and rapport--not to mention my amusing presentation. But the boys at the Abbey were awful to me. they were awful to most of the "outsiders," in fact. That is because when you are in the priest-to-be biz, you are constantly criticized by those above you. All this is taken out on the teachers.

One day, I realized that I could quit. So I did. I said it was because I had a sabbatical coming up, but the real reason was that I hated teaching there and that the money was too pitiful to compensate for my stomach aches.

When I got the email asking if I'd return, I replied that I'd need to hear the details. No reply. Eventually, I returned home and was relieved that someone else had been found. I was planning to say no, but it's always better not to turn down a job.

Though I don't want to retire early--or ever, really--I do enjoy retiring each summer. And I especially don't want to take on extra courses. I have a very heavy teaching load at my "real" job.

What does frugality enable you NOT to do?


Someone said...

Oo boy.

Basically, what you are saying is that some things are not worth the hassle. That is for sure.

I will now be outspoken here about values.

It has long been low the very educated are paid to teach college. I have done it myself and the high hassle to reward ratio is one BIG reason I decided not to continue.

And - it is also obscene that those who are training to be religious leaders should EVER treat ANYONE so badly. These fools have a freaking NERVE to consider themselves morally above ANYONE. Their whole raison-d'ĂȘtre is based on a mass delusion in the first place - it is insulting to the rest of the world how arrogant and self-entitled believers often are, and why. Nobody should be putting up with what you mention. For shame that it should be allowed! That is just flat-out wrong.

Duchesse said...

"the real reason was that I hated teaching there and that the money was too pitiful to compensate for my stomach aches."

Frugal, I wish you had been willing to disclose your real reason to them; they cannot change what is not acknowledged.(Realize this candor takes courage and you might have been so dispirited then.)

re Someone, who referred to the religious leaders as "fools": I have found plenty of fools among believers and non-believers alike- I've also found wise people and those of us who waver regularly between these two states.

Someone said...


I am aware that there are fools of all stripes and need no instruction to recognize that. I am just referring to a specific folly in that case (and a hypocrisy). I'm also not going to argue that there are no relatively wise among the spiritually inclined, but it doesn't mean they are right about everything.

Carry on!

Funny about Money said...

What has frugality allowed me not to do? Well, as an even more underpaid nontenure-track faculty member, precious little. I used to tell friends I was taking on summer and intersession courses "to pay for vacations," but the truth is, I haven't taken a vacation in 15 years, and probably never will again: I can't afford to travel. Summer courses helped to pay for special expenses (such as home and car repairs) I couldn't cover from my regular salary.

Once I'm retired (read "canned") from my better-paid editorial job, I hope frugality will allow me to avoid having to kill myself teaching freshman comp to put food on my table. Because of the odd combination of "early" Social Security rules (you can only earn $14,100 without being penalized), every $2,400 (equivalent to pay for one semester of teaching one section) will get me out of one section of freshman comp.

But that will require me to generate the money from contract editorial work and also to save every freaking penny I can get my hands on. I guess those last two things define frugality.

It's not that I dislike teaching the subjects that I love. But yes, I do most certainly dislike teaching freshman composition. Now, though, I will have no choice: it's teach composition or starve. Really, I'd almost rather work at Walmart...but under the SS rules, Walmart pays too much.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Someone--It's really part-time teaching that has bad pay. This job had especially bad pay because a lot of people taught there out of religious affiliation.

I loved the monks I met! And the abbot! And I have a nun pal. And lots of the students were nice. It's a hard process and I tried not to take it personally. Most of the difficult guys washed out.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--The administration (and I was quite close to many of the teaching monks) was well-aware of the problem. I spoke about it many times. I just used my sabbatical as an excuse to leave.

Sad to say, if the pay had been good, I would have sucked it up and continued. In this case, the experience was bad and the pay was bad. Hence no reason to stay.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--I hope you get summers off when you are teaching part-time. The break does wonders for stress!

Shelley said...

Frugality allowed me to pay off two mortgages early (one in 10 years, another in 8). I have retired early and live on my rental income; my parents and grandparents' frugality allowed me to inherit 2 houses. I too loved the work I did -- and it was well paid. I did not like the politics and the pace of change, however, so I left. Being free to walk away is the gift frugality gave me.