We all view the world through our own particular perspective, and an observation that I’ve made over the years is how people are willing to trade more of their money for something that’s more convenient. It leads me to believe that many people have more money than time, and others have more money than the good sense to handle it wisely. For me, it’s easy to trade off convenience to save money, and often it’s the right choice, but not always.
I am reminded of the classic comparison of how a woman takes her car to the local oil change outfit and is on her way back home in 90 minutes and it cost her $30. Meanwhile, the guy spends half the day with a couple of his buddies and $75 by the time all the materials, supplies, trips to the auto parts store and a case of beer are taken into consideration.
Well, that might not be exactly representative of men and women make decisions when it comes to time and money, but I still think it’s a good one.
To determine which alternative is of most value, we need to stop and think about how much we’re spending in time versus how much we’re spending in money, and then make a decision that reflects the value we see in both. Here are some real life examples of such decision-making:
I once was approached by a car salesman who tried to push me into buying a very expensive model car with the idea that he could have me on the road very quickly in my new wheels. He said, “I can save you a lot of time.” From my perspective, that wasn’t a selling point at all. It was more important to find the right vehicle at a reasonable price. When I’m looking at a potential purchase of $28,000, it’s easy for me to see that taking time to think about it is the best course of action.
An associate of mine stopped at a rest stop along the highway and bought a soft drink out of a vending machine for $2. Admittedly, it’s not a major purchase, but when a can of soda is selling for 35 cents, a price of six times that much just didn’t seem right, at least not for me. It’s my mindset of frugality. He explained to me that it was convenient, so he paid the much higher price. Call me crazy, but it seems that when we stop for gas, we could buy whatever beverage we wanted and pay much less, and not have to make another stop along the way. In my mind, it’s less time spent stopping and less money spent on beverages.
I’ve always been a big fan of eating at home, but many eat out as a convenience. It makes sense if you think about time spent preparing meals, doing dishes and grocery shopping. It makes more sense if you’re the type of person who gets to work early and comes home late. Your time is probably better spent earning money than preparing yourself a meal. Nevertheless, for most of us, there is no way meals prepared by others will cost less than meals we prepare for ourselves.
I live in the country, and I plan my trips to town. A round trip might cost me $4 to $5 in fuel for my car, so I don’t go into town unless it’s absolutely necessary or I have multiple stops that I can make during the same trip. If I need to pick up a $5 item at the store, it doesn’t make sense for me to run to town to get it unless it’s urgently needed. Instead, I wait until I have several things to do and then go. Again, it’s a judgment about time versus money, and I factor in the cost of fuel with the cost of the items I’m fetching. In this example, my time encompasses the delay associated with waiting until I can make one run to town and make it a payload.
Sometimes a little extra cost is worthwhile to enjoy some convenience, and sometimes it’s just too costly. My suggestion is to lower the cost of things by expending more time and effort planning instead of forking over more dough because you might enjoy a bit of convenience. When you consider the above examples, one could:
- do more research (a type of planning) before buying a car
- plan for beverages and snacks necessary for a long drive as part of route planning activities
- engage in meal planning at home
- coordinate errands as part of your route planning
From my perspective, the whole idea of trading money for convenience is a mindset. In some cases it’s worthwhile, in most cases it isn’t. Oh, how it would be nice to say with confidence, “I have much more money than time.” What a position of luxury that would be, indeed.