Time vs. Money – How Do YOU Decide?

How Do You Prioritize Your Time vs. Money?

For all of us who have even a few cents of disposable income, there is an ongoing battle:  when should you trade your time for money, and when should you trade your money for time?

Time Into Money

The time for money half of the equation generally means work:  you give your employer your time (and hopefully your energy), and in return they pay you money.  The same is true for small business owners:  their time and effort converts into income.

The biggest question for most people is how much time do they want to give up for money?  A rare few people are lucky enough to do something that they feel passionate about, something that they would do even if they didn’t get paid.  For the rest of us, even if we like our job, there is still some level of sacrifice in going to work each day.  It’s time that you aren’t spending on yourself, or your spouse, or your kids, or your parents, or your friends.

The question becomes even more difficult once you move beyond one job…does your family want to have both parents in the workforce, or should you pick up a second job?  Turning time into money is effective, but how do you decide how much of your time is worth trading?

Money Into Time

On the flip side, we all have the option of turning money into time.  My husband has his work shirts pressed at the dry cleaner.  Not only does it save the time of actually pressing the shirts, it also saves the time of wondering whether there are any shirts ready in the morning.  Plus they do a much better job.  (That’s my justification for allowing what is obviously wastefulness.)

Many families enjoy some sort of services that involve trading their money for time, whether it is buying prepared foods, having someone cut their lawn, using car washes, dog walking services, shopping at convenient stores vs. inexpensive ones, having their oil changed at the shop.  There’s nothing wrong with it, as long as it is in balance with your financial situation and your values.  Every person and family has their own line.  The problem comes when the line isn’t right for your financial situation and values – trading money for time can send your budget out of whack.

We’re all different.  As I said, we send my husband’s shirts to the dry cleaner, but I shop several stores to get the best deals.  He works one very-full-time job and I work one part-time job plus run my own business.  However, the only thing that keeps me from getting another part-time job is that I just don’t think our family can sacrifice that time.  I like to work, but we’re stretched  and we don’t need the money.  We hire a yard service when my husband is deployed or working at a job with long hours, but do the yard ourselves when it is possible.  I’m curious what choices you make, where you choose to spend and where you choose to save, and how you make your decisions.  It’s fascinating how many options are available.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.