Is it better to save time or to save money? I notice that I value both time and money but sometimes that complicates my life because one comes at the cost of the other. For example:

Eating Out vs. Eating at Home: Eating out saves preparation time (if you don’t count travel time). Still, it can be a welcome respite from the chore of fixing dinner, it can be a time to reconnect with friends, and sometimes it’s necessary because of travel. I notice that now that our kids are grown we eat out a bit more than we did when they were all home. This mostly was because of cost since it coincided with our lower family income. In order for eating out not to become a function of creature comfort creep, I try to think of it as a treat. A “treat” loses its power if it is done too often. Yes, we eat out, but try not to make it the go to frequent option.

Exercise – Gym vs Homemade: Exercise is good for you. Paying for a gym membership can be a motivator, especially if you have a regular daily or weekly routine. I know people who find that having a place to go and special equipment, and maybe even a trainer keeps them committed to exercise. My frugal self says, “Hey I can do sit-ups and planks at home and take a walk or a bike ride. It’s free. It saves travel time. What a deal.” I like this approach but who am I to judge. Besides bikes cost money plus we recently bought a bike rack (so we could drive to level bike paths 😕). Similarly, one of my husband’s favorite sports is golf. It takes both a fair amount of time and money.

Hiring a Cleaning Person vs Cleaning Your Own Home: This has been a bone of contention between my husband and me. We also have different standards of what constitutes clean enough. One side says, “Why should we pay someone to do something that we’re perfectly capable of doing ourselves. It feels too elite.” The other side says, “But it would free some of our time to do other worthy work and/or volunteer our time. Besides it provides income for someone who needs the money.” Guess which side I’m on.

The point to these examples is not that one is right and the other wrong. None are necessarily immoral, but it is these competing values that make living lightly complicated. Some things to consider are:

  • All things in moderation.
  • Make your own best choice and don’t judge others.
  • What would Jesus do?
  • Be mindful and generous – with yourself and others.
  • Or, as one of our sons is fond of saying, “Time IS Money.”
  • ________ What’s your criteria? What would you add to this list?

When have you tried to decide between something that saved time vs saved money? How did you decide?