This post is by Marie at Family Money Values.
Yesterday, I was poignantly reminded that time is a limited commodity by my 88 year old Mother-in-law – as she told me about the death of three distant family members in the past month.
Our allotted time does run out….are you using it wisely? Do you ever wonder about paths not taken in the way you have ‘spent’ your time?
All my life, I have traded time for money, or money for time. Yet I still struggle to achieve balance between the two.
The Cost of Growing Vegetables
Years ago, while I was a stay at home Mom, I spent time growing vegetables. I also worked part time. At some point, several summers into gardening (yes I am a slow learner) it occurred to me that I really wasn’t saving any money by growing our own vegetables. Granted, I enjoyed the activity, but we paid for the plants, we paid for the fertilizer, we paid for the water and we lost the pay I would have made at my part time job.
What did it really cost us to grow those vegetables? Would I have been better off spending my time on the job? Elena Fawkner in The Money Value of Time on Living a Better Life posted about how to start thinking about the money value of your time. Maybe I should have spent my time reading her post?
Hiring Done Vs. Doing
Hubby and I have always been people who ‘did it ourselves’. It’s the way we were raised, and it did keep us from spending money. But what would we have done with the time saved if we had been able to afford to hire someone to do the work we were doing? What ideas might we have pursued, ventures started or moments enjoyed?
During my twenty years as a salaried software development manager I traded huge chunks of my time for money. While I was employed we did hire some things done:
- We had a contractor replace parts of our roof and re-shingle the house.
- We hired someone to re-do our master bathroom and install cabinets in the utility room.
- We hired someone to do a large structural landscaping job – lining our creek with enormous blocks of stone.
I thought that those items were ones on which it was worth spending the money. We didn’t have the know how or the experience to do them ourselves in any kind of time effective manner. We would have lost vacation time (which, by the way, I saved up and for which I have recently been paid) to do them and we would have spent money on specialized equipment to get them done. But, we didn’t like having other people in our home and we weren’t always satisfied with the job as done.
How Should You Allocate Time vs. Money?
All my life I have struggled with the proper allocation of time vs. money. What should I take the time to do myself vs. what should I hire someone to do?
Often it wasn’t as clear cut as the above example. For instance, do you spend the time to make your own laundry detergent to save money? Or do you drive to a discount store an hour away to save money on your grocery bills? Kira at Tip Hero asked her readers that question in When Do You Spend Money to Save Time? She got some interesting answers.
Even now, I am in the process of spending my time tiling a bathroom floor – sealing the travertine tiles, then cutting them to fit, applying thin set mortar to lay them, grouting the cracks and etc. It is my first experience laying tiles. It is taking me a long time to complete. It has seriously cut into my blogging time! I wonder if I should have hired it done?
My experience laying the tile floor has so far been both painful and rewarding. Painful because the old body can’t take it like it used to. Rewarding because I am learning new skills and feel like I am actually doing a better job than the last contractor who invaded our home to lay tile – and of course, the labor is free (wink wink).
My Dad died at 65. If I do the same, I only have 3 years left – shouldn’t I be spending that time on something more worthwhile? But what would that be? What would be that path not taken? Would I have enjoyed it more? Would it have bettered the world?
Brett Arends, at the Wall Street Journal thinks that the value of our time has eroded since the 2008 recession – after all, there are many people out of work. In Spend Some Time, Save Some Money, he suggests “Converting time to cash is one of the easiest ways to boost your savings. It helps to do the math.”
Are You Spending Your Limited Time on the Life Path Best for You?
What are you willing to spend money on to avoid spending the time on it? How do you make the decision between spending the time vs. spending the money?
This was a guest post by Marie at Family Money Values.