Thursday, April 15, 2010

Time v. Money.

Time is money and money is time. So how do you determine which is more important? What is a good balance between saving time and saving money? It’s easy to err on either side. Many spend too much money to save time and end of crippling their finances while others spend so much time obsessing about saving they forget to have a life outside. I can think of someone who fits each category and another who’s balance of the two inspires me.

I could probably write a novel about my thoughts on this topic but I’ll spare you that much reading this evening and we’ll just cover a few things that as I pondered this, came to mind. Starting with, I worry less about saving on items or events that have sentimental value. My best friend’s wedding, a trip to see my sister(s), a good digital camera, unlimited long distance so I’m never cutting anyone off, etc. These lasting memories, filled with the people who mean the most aren’t worth saving a few bucks over. This is the category I do not skimp in.

Another category I don’t torture myself over is books. While my Mom constantly argues that with as much as I read I should be hitting up the library – I just can’t do it. I love to own books. What if it’s a great book I want to lend out? What if I want to write in the margins or underline my favorite quotes? And most recently since I added a Kindle to my daily life – it’s just freakin convenient! I can download a book while waiting for a flight to my next event and have it read by the time I get back. Can a library do that for you? I think not. For the time it would take me to library it several times a week and keep track of those dates, I spend the money instead of the time.

For now, I don’t deprive myself of cable TV. While I’m more than willing to admit that it’s not a necessity – I live alone and enjoy being able to hit up the Tivo on the off chance that I have a few minutes to do nothing. I also like to catch up on my favorite shows or let’s be honest, Sportscenter while I pack my lunches for work or do dishes at night. I’m just not at a point right now where I think it’s worth giving up. I pay extra to have a DVR so that I can watch what I want, when I want. Could I go to a friends to watch my favorite shows? Sure. But again, this is a time over money issue for me.

Groceries are a great area to care enough to save in. A. It’s freaking easy! With sites that map out the savings for the stores in your area and inserts like Publix sends in the mail, saving is made easy. Plus, who really wants to eat all the extra money in their budget? If you can do buy 1 get 1 deals and clip a few coupons to make room in your budget for an extra trip with a friend per year or a much needed, larger memory card for your camera – why not? So I spend time here, keeping up with the sales so I know when to buy what and where. I also spend time getting the newspapers on Sundays and clipping the needed coupons before I head to the store every week. It does cost me some time BUT I get tons of totally free items and plenty of groceries under $1! Worth it.

Gifts. Now before you go off on me about being stingy, hear me out. When you need to buy a gift for a wedding, birthday, etc it seems to be that time is of the essence and in the interest of saving time you spend more money. For example, if you buy a gift card for a wedding you feel totally awkward spending less than say, $25, right? BUT you could find an awesome gift at say, Ross or Homegoods for $10-12 if you thought ahead to make a trip. It requires a bit more time and effort but if you saved $15 bucks on each gift you bought throughout the year, that could really add up. I’m not saying buy the first cheap trinket you can find but I am saying think through thoughtful, useful, thrifty gift giving ideas! Save money, not time on gifts.

Beauty. Oh yes, I just went there. Now in the past I’ve had $50 haircuts and $15 haircuts and if I’m being honest – the quality was quite similar. The difference throughout the year if I get my haircut every 8 weeks (which I do) is $227.50 per year. On top of that, I use to get my hair colored. Not because I have grey hair or a particularly terrible natural color, just to ‘change things up’ from time to time. Turns out, you can buy professional color at Sallys for about 5 bucks (including the processor) and they’ll teach you how to mix the exact color you want while you’re there. For those of us use to paying 100+ dollars every 6-8 weeks, this is life altering. I later decided to go natural again, which I have done now BUT I did save quite a bit of money throughout my crazy hair color days in college by learning to mix my own color.

Beauty savings aren’t limited to hair though. You can get a facial at a beauty school for about 20 bucks (give or take) – instead of 60-100 at a salon. If you’re trying to overcome skin problems as I once was, these can really help clear you up! They’re also amazing and relaxing…just fyi. This applies to waxing, pedis, manis, and sometimes even massages. I will say that because they’re still learning and have to be checked by an instructor is take more time to get your hair, etc done by a student over a salon professional but the money you save is worth the extra time – at least to me. For hundreds of saved dollars in a year and the freedom to continue to enjoy some spa days without guilt; I do my research and I go to affordable priced locations.

DIY? I figured out a year or so ago that I enjoy doing some small maintenance on my own vehicle (a Toyota Corolla). Buying a $10 inside air filter at Discount Auto Parts actually saved me $25 in installation pay. How did I know how to change it? Youtube. You can learn just about anything on the internet these days. I change my inside and outside air filters on the regular now. Maybe being your own grease monkey doesn’t thrill you but you may find another area you don’t mind being handy in.

My most recent discovery for savings? Know your benefits. Turns out that if you dive into your benefits on your insurance plans website you may find that you’re missing out on services that you essentially pay for. For example, my work has vision insurance which I opt into having since I’m blind as a bat (no really, blind). Once per year I get a $5 exam AND $180 towards new frames with only a $10 copay for lenses. If I hadn’t realized this in time to snag my ‘free’ glasses for this benefit calendar year, I would have lost them come June! Check your plans – you may find that you’re missing out on ‘included’ items that you should be taking advantage of!

OK, there’s your time v. money thoughts of the day. Feel free to share some of your own with me in comments, I love other people’s money pointers. I’m always trying to be more efficient.


1 comment:

Tara said...

beccs, sometimes i think we are long lost twins. and if i had a dollar for every time my mom told me to stop buying books and start using the library, i would be rich!

have a great weekend!

left you an award on my blog! :)