Sunday, November 14, 2010

Living Richly In Retirement-Time Versus Money

Most things in life are a trade, time versus money. A very few people do everything themselves. A few people can afford to have someone else do everything that needs to be done. In between are the rest of us. When we are working, we often have have more disposable income and less time, so we pay to have other people do many of the things we could ( sometimes easily) do ourselves.

For many years, we were a fast moving, active family with a reasonable income. This meant that we spent money when we had less time. We spent on eating out, house cleaning, personal care and yard work, just to name a few. There were also some things we did ourselves as well (buying a 1940s brownstone duplex is a commitment to do it yourself weekends). All in all we were like many middle income families and couples with a certain amount of “disposable income.

Now that I am in "forced" early retirement,  the amount of available time has greatly increased. Meanwhile my income has dropped severely. What I have realized is that I like the free time part of this equation. Although there is absolutely no doubt that work or a business will be necessary to make ends meet, I am more than willing to cut expenses in order to work less hours. This means using my time, rather than spending money.

Most of my trade-offs have been enjoyable. Some have been learning experiences as well. A few have been downright challenging. For the most, I’ve had success. I’ve found that while I’ll probably never be the gourmet cook my husband was (and my brothers still are) that I enjoy the process most of the time. While I still enjoy the occasional gourmet meal every month or so, I don’t miss the weekly trips to the local restaurant. I’ve been able to cut my food budget and eat really good food, even when I am cooking for one. While I’ll never be able to cut my own hair, I much prefer spending time to do my own nails rather than spend the money at the local salon. While I still buy some gifts, I make a share for every occasion, rather than trek out to the store. There are probably fifty other ways I spend time instead of money. Most are worthy of their own blog entry (and probably will get one, eventually).

For me at least, spending time and saving money is not deprivation most of the time. Why do I consider saving money first whenever possible? I get to do most of those time intensive things in my own home. I get to choose when I do the things I do. Being a night owl, I can bake bread at nine in the evening if I wish. When I am cooking from scratch, I am still able to see the patio out the window, listen to my music or watch the news, and talk to the dog. Not only that, but many of these so called time intensive things actually have lots of down time, allowing me to pursue more than one thing in the same time period. There are costs to earning money, even from a home based business. When I go out for my errand business, I have to wear a certain outfit. I have work expenses. I also have to pay taxes on earned income, while money saved is all mine to use on things that I am passionate about.

What’s important is that I don’t feel deprived by having to spend my time to do these things. I’m learning new things, using my creativity, and freeing up my limited income. I’ve said before that living richly on a fixed income requires cutting expenses, adding some income, and finding cheaper ways to do those things I


  1. I love your attitude...


    Leave a comment when you come by with you blog address in the comment someplace. We can all drive traffic to each other in that way. Take care!

  2. Hi, Barb... I certainly identify with your "liking the free time part of the equation." Every once in a while, I do a consulting assignment for that occasional client. But whenever I do, it's a tradeoff. The assignment offers a nice change of pace and the income certainly helps... but I miss the free time. Bill

  3. I'm with Bill. In January I will go to full time for three months. The money will be nice- but the lack of freedom...oh lala!

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  5. I have found that I'd much rather do something myself or skip it entirely rather than hire someone to do it. Obviously there are times this doesn't work. I can't fix my AC or my car. But, for much of what I paid for when I was working and on the road 200 days a year, I have decided I don't need it, or I will do it myself as best I can.

    I'm not doing this just to save money, but because I want to learn new things and be more independent. Time gives me the chance to save money and keep myself active.

  6. I'm with you. Today I spent a couple of hours cleaning the house. I hate cleaning the house but I LOVE having a clean house. I'm in such a better mood this evening looking around at all this lovely, clean house.

    I picked up a part-time consulting gig recently, so could actually afford to have the house cleaned professionally again. But I want the freedom to ditch the consulting gig whenever I feel like it. I don't ever want to feel like I have to work to support my lifestyle. So, I'd rather clean it myself and pick whatever lifestyle I want, in case it includes no work down the road.

    I want to insure the luxury of choosing time over money as I feel so inclined.

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