So I am a little bit of an obsessive saver. You can read all about my budget here. I love to watch those categories fill up! But before I had my budget in place, I used to ask myself one simple question when I wanted to spend money. And most usually, this question kept me from buying things I didn’t really want or need. It also helped me get an idea of “buy prices” for things I did need. Asking this question undoubtedly helped me save money:
“How much time does ____ cost?”
You might have read that and gone, “Huh?” Allow me to explain.
I had a job that paid me $10/hour at the time. If I wanted to buy a pair of pants that cost $40, I would ask, “How much time do these pants cost?” They cost 4 hours. 4 hours of work.
I would then determine if someone approached me and asked me to do my job for 4 hours in exchange for this pair of pants, would I want to do it? My job wasn’t particularly thrilling so I got a little stingy about what I was willing to spend my money on! I was more willing to save money when I thought of how much time it took me to earn it.
Now I don’t have a job. Instead we use my husband’s paycheck to live. You can read a little about that arrangement here. The question has changed a little bit. It now goes as follows, “How much of my husband’s time does ____ cost?” I think about if I had the choice between spend
ing 2-3 hours with him or spending $40 on pants, which would I rather. If I thought I wanted to save money before…!
You might argue, “Well yeah but he’s going to be gone anyway. He’ll still go to work whether you buy the pants or not so you might as well look good!” It’s true. Me forgoing the purchase won’t actually get me immediate time with my man. But it will eventually.
See, if I save that money instead, and I continue to save that money any time I think I want to buy some new decoration or a candy bar or something frivolous and fleeting, eventually, it adds up to a nice early retirement. It’s astounding how much money you can save when you stop thinking about paying for things with money and start thinking about paying for them with time.
Because that is exactly what you’re doing.