When should you spend money to save time?

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Live on the cheap.

Time and money are both finite resources. How do you decide when to spend money to save time or when to save money by doing something that takes time on your own?

The decision to spend money to save time depends on your time management and the state of your finances.

Here’s a look at how to make that decision, as well as the types of things that make sense for spending money to save time.

Evaluate your time

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Watch how you spend your week. After work / travel and sleep, calculate how many hours you have left and estimate how much time you spend on household chores (cooking, cleaning, housekeeping, etc.) and how much you spend on leisure (leisure time). , television, play with your family).

Is the balance looking good or do you need more free time to accomplish your personal and professional goals?

If the answer to the last question is yes, it may be worth spending the money to save time. But before you do so, think about your financial situation. Do you have the money available to spend the money to free up more time? Or do you need that money to get your finances under control?

Until your finances are in order, you can’t afford to spend money to save time.

What does it look like? Here, we take a look at when you don’t want to spend money to save time, how you can better spend your time to save more money, and – when you’re in a better financial situation – when you should consider spend money to free up your precious time.

When you don’t have to spend money to save time

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If you are on the verge of financial disaster, if you are at a salary of financial ruin, or if you have no more money to save at the end of each month, you don’t have the luxury of earning money. time spending money, no matter what you are. do with the extra time.

Time is less valuable than money when:

  • You don’t have emergency funds to pay for eight months of expenses.
  • You have all kinds of consumer debt: credit cards, car loans, home equity loans, or student loans.
  • You don’t have enough savings to replace your car (s) and appliances and to pay for home maintenance.
  • You cannot adequately fund your retirement.

If any or all of the above applies to you, then you need to spend more time and less money getting your finances in order.

Better ways to spend your time saving or making more money

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Statistics show that the average working American has 4.2 hours a day for “leisure” and “other” activities.

Of those 4.2 hours per day, the average American spends 2.8 hours watching television. That’s over 1,000 hours a year watching television. Is it really the best use of your free time, especially if you are struggling with debt?

If you want to improve your financial situation, you can reallocate your time from doing less productive things to things that will earn you money or save you more money. Here are just a few:

Get a (better) job. Trade in some of your leisure time for work hours if you want to increase your income to pay off debt or increase your savings.

Spend your time working paid overtime or finding a second job, like a retail job, tutoring, walking dogs, babysitting, etc. Or spend the time looking for a better, higher paying full time job.

Manage your finances. Spend more time reviewing your budget, bills, and expenses each month. Work to reduce or even eliminate some of them (cable, gym, expensive cell plans, etc.). If you can even find $ 20 a month for invest in the stock market instead of spending it, you can watch your money grow rather than disappear.

Meal plan. Spend more time creating a meal plan and shopping list each week based on multiple items on sale at the grocery store. Shopping where the sale is, even if you spend more time shopping, is a productive use of time because you will save a lot on your food bills.

Plus, spend more time preparing dinners and preparing lunches and snacks rather than dining out, grabbing take out, or buying expensive convenience foods at the grocery store.

Do your own chores. Spend more time doing housework that we are currently paying someone else for, like cleaning, lawn care, snow removal, and simple home maintenance chores.

Do personal care at home. Spend more time doing personal maintenance tasks rather than paying someone else to do them. This includes hair coloring, haircuts, facials, manicures, pedicures, teeth whitening, etc.

Find free and inexpensive entertainment. Spend more time researching free or nearly free extracurricular activities rather than buying expensive equipment, tickets or passes to have fun. Look for free, low-cost activities in your local Living on the Cheap website.

We get it – spending time budgeting and chores after a hard day’s work isn’t fun.

But if your financial situation is in crisis mode, spending a little more time each day on tasks that will save you or earn you more money is worth it when you can pay off your debt and increase your financial cushion.

When should you consider spending money to save time

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Once your finances are in order, you can afford to spend more money to save time. But don’t go crazy! Before spending money to save time, think about what you are freeing up of your time to do and decide if it is more valuable.

For example, if you’re paying someone to do something that you could do yourself because you’re lazy or don’t want to do that chore, that’s not a good use of your money.

However, if you free up time to devote yourself to a hobby or passion, to spend more time with your family, or to pursue a side activity to earn more money than you spend, then the money you spend you pay worth it.

Here are some times when spending money to save time is a good idea (again, assuming your finances are in order).

Child care. If paying to have someone else babysit your kids means you can get a job (or a better job), that’s money well spent.

Even though your salary might not initially be much more than the costs of your babysitter, preschool, or camp, investing in your career now means you can get promotions, raises, and better, higher paying jobs.

Home maintenance and repair. DIY projects can take hours and hours of your time if you’re inexperienced, and mistakes can lead to spending more time – and more money – fixing the problem.

Pay a professional to get the job done right the first time, and in half the time it takes, so you can spend your time smarter and more efficiently.

Preparation of meals. We all know that cooked meals, meal preparation services, and restaurant meals cost more than home cooked dinners.

But if the first hours of the evening are the only time you have to spend with your family, it is worth paying more to take the burden off the kitchen, so that you can spend some quality time with your children.

Or, if buying the more expensive pre-grated cheese or chopped butternut squash makes the difference between a healthy, home-cooked meal and another TV dinner or take-out, the slight extra expense is well worth it.

House cleaning. My cleaners can make my whole house shine in under three hours, while without them my whole family spends countless hours tidying and cleaning bathrooms, and there’s always one messy room.

Especially if you want your whole house to be clean at the same time, spending the money to have professionals clean the floors and scrub the kitchen sink can bring you happiness and free up hours of your precious time.

Financial planning. If you’re not good with money, or if you never sit down to figure out the best way to invest your funds, it’s worth paying a financial planner to help you out.

A good person should find ways to earn or save more money even after paying their fees. Likewise, an accountant can alert you to tax deductions you didn’t know you could take, or save you from making costly tax mistakes. It doesn’t matter how much time you don’t have to spend swearing at TurboTax.

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