Your time is important, don’t waste it

  
How much did your coffee cost you this morning? Or that shirt you bought at the weekend? 

If I asked you these questions you’d probably answer me by stating just how much money you handed over to purchase those items. But there is a more important answer to the questions, one that asks how much of our time those items cost.

 

Henry David Thoreau put it this way: ‘The price of everything is the amount of life we have to pay for it.’

 

It’s a succinct idea and one that has got me thinking since I started the no-spend challenge.

 

I have started to measure the cost of items in the amount of time it would earn me the money to pay for it. A pair of trousers might be four hours spent at work, a coffee might be 15 minutes.

 

Looking at items in terms of minutes and hours has made me realise not just how much money I have frittered away but how many precious hours of the day I have lost in the pursuit of purchasing.

 

Even if items are a bargain, or cheap, or half-price, they still cost us. They cost us even more if we buy them on credit cards and overdrafts as the hours we work are then only going towards paying off interest on the money borrowed.

 

With my wallet locked shut, I now see every hour I work as another step towards financial freedom, working my way towards a life that I want to lead, unencumbered by meetings and deadlines.

 

Purchasing unnecessary items would be self-sabotage, a way of denying myself the life I want to live.

 

M

8 thoughts on “Your time is important, don’t waste it

  1. I think sometimes the trouble with cheap items is that we get into our heads that it’s cheap! I’m saving money! But you’re not saving if you’re spending–especially on something that doesn’t work. My hubs once went shopping at the thrift store and came home with a shirt that cost 99 cents. It didn’t even fit him! But he was all excited about the deal. I told him that just because something was cheap, doesn’t mean he needed it. I threw it in a bag when he wasn’t looking–it was the most horrible shirt ever.

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  2. I’d totally agree with this principle most of the time, we do waste too much time and money and effort on unnecessary things that simply detract from a quality life. One of the best things about my occasional morning coffee run though is the relationship I have with the Barista- she is also the small business owner. We have the kind of friendship where I buy coffee, we both get a fantastic and immediately engaging conversation and she can continue to live the life she has designed from her dreams. The interaction begins with money, and ends in a cup of coffee so much better I am able to create myself and social connection that has been very good for both of us emotionally. For me, despite my otherwise frugal ways, that cup of coffee is money well-spent. I realise this is far from the norm for most people and their spending habits though.

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    1. Hi Naomi, i think that is a lovely way to spend money. In fact building relationships and doing activities with others is the only way I really like to spend my cash! I begrudge wasting money but if it means I spend time with people I care about/ benefits my community I’m all for it. What a nice start to the day you have! M

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      1. It’s an interesting contradiction. Generally big companies go for branding to appeal to people’s desire for connection and community, when in actual fact, fantastic branding and connection can only be found by supporting local businesses and producers. We’ve fallen for a lie that says bigger is better… which is the beautiful reality minimalism and mindfulness opens us to. I’m so loving your posts! Very thoughtful.

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  3. Very true! The idea really hit home with me when I started freelancing – I loved being able to choose how much or how little I worked but had to be extra careful with my expenditure so I could hold on to my new lifestyle (and not have to go back to the hated office job).
    What works best for me though is to measure the cost of stuff (and experiences) not only in terms of the time it would take me to pay for it but as compared against other items / experiences that the money could be spent on / go towards. At the end of the day, both money and time are going to be spent. I always make sure I save, but saving is just deferred spending, since I am not planning to leave a huge Viking-style horde hidden somewhere after I’m gone, haha! And when it comes to time, you can’t even choose not to spend – we all get 24 hours a day and by the end of it, every single minute of it is spent. So to me, it is *how* we spend our time and money is what creates value. To say that it costs me fifteen minutes of my life to buy that coffee certainly makes a point but what really puts things in perspective is to imagine what other ways I could have used that money / time instead. I like this approach because it helps you understand how much or little different things mean to you instead of just comparing price-tags. Even something free can be a waste of time, if it means nothing to you.
    Sorry, it’s all gone a bit convoluted but I hope you understand what I’m trying to say…

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    1. Definitely understand what you mean Irene. I love imagining what other things I could spend the money I don’t fritter away on (if that makes sense). I agree with you re not leaving a Viking horde – I want to use my money to do things I love not to buy things I don’t. Thanks for stopping by. M

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