Which do you value more: time or money? I got into a discussion the other day regarding the decisions that many of us make on a daily basis, effectively choosing between time and money.
For example, freelancers and other entrepreneurs oftentimes work much longer hours than their conventional 9-to-5 counterparts, because we are always “on the clock.” We can work before breakfast, through our lunch breaks, and well past dinnertime. I have personally made the choice of trading dollars for hours, perhaps sacrificing a little in income so that I can gain more leisure time and sustain some semblance of sanity.
These kinds of decisions reach much further than the vocational realm. In looking at how you approach your life each day, do you find that you place greater value on your time or on your money? Let’s consider a few illustrative examples to investigate this notion further.
Lining Up for “Cheap” Gas
Whether you sip with a Toyota Yaris or burn through with a Nissan GT-R, you may be mindful of the price you pay at the pump. This is why it may be prudent to keep an eye on the price of gas, filling up when those numbers are at their lowest. That said, is it still worth it to line up when the price is particularly low?
It never ceases to amaze me when I see cars lined up around the block, waiting to enter the gas station just because fuel prices have dropped a few cents on the litre (or on the gallon, if you prefer). Aside from wasting gas by idling in line, these people are also spending an inordinate length of time just waiting. For me, it would make more sense to come back another day, even if the price is a few cents more. On a full tank, that price difference will only represent a couple of dollars in savings. Time wins for me.
Cooking at Home or Eating Out
It takes time to cook your meals at home. You need to shop at the grocery store, selecting the right ingredients and finding fresh produce. You need to do some prep work, chopping onions and trimming fat. You need to do the actual cooking itself, flipping frying pans and grilling the meat. All things considered, cooking can be quite a time-consuming endeavor, but the practice also represents substantial savings over the alternative.
When you eat at a restaurant, the experience is much more convenient. You pick up the menu, choose you meal, and dine away. The trouble, of course, is that your wallet can suffer (and possibly your health as well, depending on what you eat).
For me, this is a balance. I eat the vast majority of my meals at home, partly for the monetary savings, partly for the health benefits, but I do indulge in the outside meal from time to time as well. I typically eat out for 2-3 meals each week, in stark contrast to a certain panda killer who seems to eat out every day.
Bargain Hunting and Coupon Clipping
You don’t want to pay full retail for everything, do you? At the same time, how far are you willing to go to score the best bargain? I’m known to flip through the weekly flyers and peruse the RedFlagDeals forums in search of the best deals, but only when I know that I am shopping for something in particular. I also clip coupons for smaller savings along the way.
The search for deals can take up a fair amount of time, because you end up poking around on far too many websites in search of the most attractive price. This time could be spent doing something else that actually generates more money than you are saving. For instance, instead of searching for an hour only to save $5 off a video game, you could have spent that time doing something work-related for more money or researching a more affordable insurance policy.
Another great example is shopping on Black Friday or Boxing Day. The crowds can be massive and the process maddening, but you may be able to save a fair chunk of change on that new HDTV. Would you prefer to avoid the malls and make money online at home or will you brave the masses to “earn” those well-deserved savings?
The Most Important Non-Renewable Resource
At the end of the day, you will always have another opportunity to make more money. There can be another working day, another investment opportunity, or another monetized website that can be launched. Money is renewable and can be replenished. By contrast, it is literally impossible to save time. You will never get back the few minutes you just spent reading this post. Time is our most valued and most valuable non-renewable resource so, more often than not, I will choose to prioritize my time over my money. How about you?