Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tightwad Tuesday: My time is valuable

There have been SO SO SO many times over the past - oh, I don't know - 5 years that I've said to myself, during my own contemplation of a given purchase, "this will save me time, and my time is valuable!" and so into the cart it goes. I've said it about everything from specialty kitchen appliances, to mops with disposable covers, and from dishwasher detergent to dryer sheets. Often, I've even coupled the statement with an assertion of value, something like: "and on top of saving me time, it will be so much better/cleaner/softer/tastier/easier than it was before.

Sometimes, these statements have been valid, other times I've used them as an excuse for laziness, and my (human) desire for things that make me feel better about my life. my status.

Because the first statement comes to my mind SO SO SO frequently (could I use that word a little more and still maintain it's validity?) I'll tackle it first. And please remember - I'm not preaching. For all I know, there are only three lucky individuals who read this. Sometimes I just need to write down my own reasoning for why I'm pinching pennies the way I am. Not only does explaining myself make the process easier, but it makes it more tangible - but I digress. Back to saving my "valuable time".

I've used the "valuable time" excuse for at least 5 years. Why? Because I wanted those things. I specifically remember using that excuse to buy all matter of groceries. Convenience items. You know the type: meals in a box (gasp!), frozen bread dough, any number of canned goods. Cereals, granola bars, crackers, you name it! And while, I assure you, buying these items DID save me time, I have recently come to realize that I could have easily made most of these things (at HALF their grocery store cost, if not better) in the time I spend at home with my son. And if not, I can also assure you I could have found an adequate homemade substitute, or (perish the thought) GONE WITHOUT THEM.

I also remember specifically purchasing an espresso machine with the notion that, not only would it save me the time/money of running down to the "daily grind" (Pullman, WA) before work (Basilios), but it would also make me a happier morning person to be around. And as thrilled as I was to have it, not 3 months went by before I was off my latte kick. Saved me time - but eventually cost me more money than it saved. And, as you know, Time = money.

Oh, you've heard it before - but let me spell it out in a way I've come to understand it more recently.

My time doing a particular task is worth the money I save by doing it at home rather than buying it at the store.

There ya go, math wiz's. And I'll give you an example... One pound of dry black beans costs me $1.22. I put those in the crockpot with water. When 6 hours has elapsed I am left with the equivalent of 5.5 cans of black beans - each of which would have cost me roughly $0.76 (or more) at the store. My savings is $0.54 per can, or 2.97 total. Therefore, the 15 minutes of my time it took me to fill the crockpot, empty it, and wash it (I'm being generous) were worth $2.97, or $11.88/hour. That's nearly 50% above Nebraska minimum wage!

All I'm trying to do with all this is re-evaluate how financially valuable my time really is. In reality, it has a LOT of financial value if I use it wisely. Please don't confuse financial value with the tangible value of spending time with your children, or your spouse - those moments are precious - but I would be lying if I didn't admit that one can use their time in a financially wise way AS WELL AS a tangible-family-togetherness way.

To be honest, it all comes down to my ability/desire to get off the couch or get away from the computer, and DO SOMETHING. Do you know what I mean? The lazy, convenience-desiring part of me would rather use "quality time" as an excuse to sit on the couch and watch TV with my son, when clearly there are much more engaging activities the two of us could be doing together, even activities which would ALSO be financially wise. Making playdough is a good example. Or melting down broken crayons in mini-muffin tins.

So, your turn. What convenience item have you done away with in favor of doing it yourself, and making your time that much MORE valuable? Please, do share.


Julie said...

We just made play dough last week and it doesn't stain as badly as the stuff I bought at a garage sale a few years ago. Just wanted to add though that the money you are saving is tax free, medicare supporting free so really 11 bucks/hr is really good. I think you already know the stuff I make rather than spend more for but they include making our own frozen pizzas so we can have something easy after I get off work one day a week, crackers (now, thanks to you!), we use cloths vs paper towels for cleaning and everything (we only used paper towels for my pump parts but that is done now), lots of fun stuff. Maybe some year we will get a dairy goat but I'm not holding my breath. :)

Brian said...

I bought a second monitor for my work computer because pressing alt+tab does take a little more time to do than simply moving your eyes to a different screen. Not to mention I enter my comps directly from the screen now (used to print them off and then enter them, as I'm not the alt+tab type anyway). This saves me paper from printing off comps I don't end up using, and saves me time working on my reports going back to the sale search after I realized one of my comps wouldn't work, editing my report, printing the new comp, etc. The MLS has a "Cart" where I can save my comps, then I just delete the ones I didn't use, go through and print them one after another, bada-bing bada-boom. I'd estimate it saves me probably 10 minutes per report, which is about five hours a month on average.

Brian said...

OH! I just thought of another one: sometimes we make a dish called Thai Pork Roll-ups which requires the use of ground pork. I dunno about you, but I find it difficult to locate ground pork in the meat section of the grocery store. When I finally do, it's usually over $3 per pound. Well, Brynn found "last day" pork loin for a good price (under $2 per pound, maybe around $1.60?) that she was going to portion out to feed the dogs. I had her cut me off 2 lbs and ground it myself using my stand mixer and meat grinder attachment! They were both gifts from my mom so our net cost was whatever the electricity cost was plus the few dollars in pork loin. Tasted just the same as the stuff from the meat market too! This reminds me that I need to stay on top of the ads and pick out good cuts for Brynn to get when they're on sale so we can have cheaper ground beef.

Scherbarths said...

We stopped buying dog treats. With a toddler who like to "share" and bread that sometimes gets moldy we have enough dog treats to keep Maggie happy! :)

Shelle and Dan said...

This is going to sound like a no-brainer, but we quit buying pizza. I whip up a batch of pizza dough the day before we need it, let it sit in the fridge overnight and can put together a very large (at least 1 dinner and 2 lunches) pizza with the topping we like best in about 35 minutes. Dan has told me often how much he prefers my homemade pizza to other kinds and after pricing it out, I know we save a bundle. The time isn't really that big of a deal. I make the dough after Lana has gone to bed and it's only about 10 minutes of actual work anyway, the rest of the time is for yeast-proofing and such. The next day when I put the pizza together, it only takes a few minutes.