Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time Vs. Money

This is another article in my series about frugality. We have already discussed some general ideas to improve our cash flow in our home. If our budget isn’t balancing and there always seems to be more month left than there is money, then income needs to increase and/or expenses need to decrease. I know from experience that this easier said than done.

I want to look more closely at areas we can cut spending in our homes. As I was thinking about some of these areas such as minimizing eating out, not buying convenience items, watching for bargains, it brought to mind something that I have discovered throughout my years as a wife, mother and keeper of my home.


Yes, I know this is nothing really profound. Most of us have worked at one time for an hourly wage and understand this. But this is really important to remember in terms of caring for our homes and trying to save money. Most things that we can do to save money require an outlay of time on our part. Let me give you an easy example. It is much faster and easier to drive through somewhere and pick up dinner to take home than to go home, plan a meal, prepare it and clean it up. The difference in cost, however, can be staggering. The differences do not stop there. In most cases the home cooked meal is a much healthier alternative for our family, as well.

I can think of many areas where the cheaper alternative requires more time:

*Convenience foods vs. From scratch foods

*Shopping department stores for new clothes vs. Bargain hunting at garage sales, thrift stores, and rummage sales for decent used clothing

*Drying clothes in a dryer vs. Hanging clothes outside on a line

*Shopping for what you want at the grocery store vs. Studying sales flyers, clipping coupons, and planning meals based on weekly bargains

*Store-bought bread vs. Homemade bread

*Store bought gifts vs. Handmade gifts

*Using disposable plates vs. Doing dishes

*Disposable diapers vs. Cloth diapers

Think about it. Anything that is a convenience item or cuts the time it takes you do something, requires that time from someone or something else. Restaurant or take-out food takes no time for you to cook, but someone else had to spend their time and energy doing it. Using a dryer requires the time and energy from the dryer. You had to spend money for the dryer and spend money for the energy to run it.

Everyone’s lifestyle is different and there may be conveniences in your life that are well worth the cost. You need to weigh the costs. If you have a job that pays you $30 an hour, it would be silly to spend your time doing something that saves you $5 an hour instead. However, if you are a stay-at-home mom and you can find some convenience you can give up that saves you $5, but costs you an extra hour of your day it may be well worth it. Because I am one, I know that stay-at-home moms are not just sitting around on their fannies eating bon-bons and watching soaps all day, but there may be areas in our day that we can be more efficient with our time and therefore do more things ourselves to save a few dollars.

I know from my own experience, I can be much more efficient with my time and my money when I am not over-burdened with commitments, especially ones that take me away from the home. Look at your commitments. Are there things you could easily give up even temporarily? We are a homeschooling family and have found that there are an abundance of worthwhile educational opportunities available for homeschooled children. Many of them are for low or no cost. One has to remember that each requires an additional cost of TIME. I consider how much time the activity is going to take away from home and at what time of day it falls. I weigh this against the educational value of the activity. If an activity takes me away from home, has benefit to only a small percentage of my children, and lands just before or during the dinner hour, I probably won’t even consider it unless it is something really special. This is because I know it will disrupt the whole household and make preparing a healthy, inexpensive dinner from scratch very difficult. The time-cost would be high.

In striving to be women of God, we need to remember that God created us to be help mates for our husbands. I know that this is not a popular idea in society. This does not mean that we are to be submissive doormats under our husbands’ thumbs. It does, however, mean that we are not a drain on our spouses, but instead, an asset.

“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-11

This may be by having a job outside the home and bringing in a second income, or it may be by spending our time working at home to conserve the one income that our husband brings in.

I plan to discuss in later posts some ideas for saving money. Some may sound great and others may sound totally unreasonable. Remember that time is money and count the cost. You need to trade one for the other. It is up to you to decide what you value most in each situation: your time or your money.

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