Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is It Worth My (Your) Time?

Lately, as I explore the blogosphere and read various articles about ways to save money online, I have seen a ot of comments regarding the worth of doing time consuming money saving tasks. Basically most comments are along one of two lines. They suggest that it simply is not worth the time expended, or they say that with their "hourly rate", it would be better for them to go out and work instead.

I am not Suze Ormand or Dave Ramsey, and I do understand that very few of us can do EVERY frugal thing. I also understand that we all make choices in our lives.

That said, it seems to this average blogger that a few things are true:
  • These statements are true only if you COULD work and if you WOULD work. Salaried people are not able to go into work a few extra hours and come out with more money. Those who work forty hours a week often do not have the opportunity to ask for extra hours. If you're talking a second or part time job, you're almost always talking about a lower salary than the one at your "real job" and that has to be figured in.
  • In general, saving money at home has none of the additional expenses that working out of the house has, so you need to do the right math. You drive to work, you have taxes, you may have additional child care expenses.
  • When you save money at home, you are rarely do just one thing. This means that figuring out the hourly wage is more difficult. You need to figure in ALL of the things you do. If you re part of a family, within a two hour after work period you have probably cooked a meal from scratch, tutored a child, washed a load of laundry and perhaps surfed online or done your check book. To dedicate that two hour time period as only "cooking from scratch" would be unfair. On a Saturday afternoon, I may be cooking a crock pot meal from scratch, baking cookies for the week, washing and hanging laundry all at the same time. In between loads and checking on the food I may be reading a book on the patio or visiting with family.
  • Even time/labor intensive activities have their down times,and you can generally schedule these tasks at your own convenience. And if you want to take a break, you just do it. You can wash four windows, take a break with a glass of iced tea and cookies and get back to the windows in your own sweet time.
  • Going off to work means leaving family , friends, and pets. Doing money saving activities at home, even labor intensive ones, allow you to be near, and generally often with your family. Going to work more often means seeing children, family, friends and pets less.
  • Lastly, there is a certain message sent to kids. While it may be nice to show children that it's enterprising to go out and get a job when things are nice, the opposite is equally valuable. Showing kids that by saving money and living on less than is coming in teaches resourcefulness, among other things.

Alternatively, there is the "Barbara" method of figuring the worth of activities:

First I figure my hourly rate after taxes. I use this to figure out how much I (or my husband) would have to work to get,say, two delivery pizzas, large size.Then, I figure my money savings as my "salary". With my pizzas from scratch, I figure the cost of the well as the time used in the process. Lets say that I can make two large homemade pizzas for seven bucks, and my actual labor time is a half an hour (not including baking time). Two large dominoes pizzas are twenty five dollars. I saved eighteen dollars for a half hours work. So I made eighteen dollars a half hour or thirty six dollars an hour.

I don't do this any more, but in past years I have taken this difference and put it into a pot. I just kept a weekly journal. Also, the journal made me realize that was accomplishing something for our family. Now, that I live on a pension and there is no "salary" I look at that as retirement funds that do not have to be used. I may start putting that money into a vacation fund.

That's my thought for the day...........

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