The Tightwad Gazette: Saving Money When You Have No Time

I wanted to talk about an article I read in Amy’s book. Sometimes when time is tight in our lives, we rationalize that we are ‘too busy’ to bother with being frugal, and even go a step further and justify why we should be able to spend a lot of money on convenience items because we ‘have no time’.

There are a lot of frugal things that require a big time commitment. Buying a used car that requires a lot of weekend tinkering to keep it running, restoring old furniture,  making your own home decorations and countless other activities.  There are a few basic ways that you can maximize your savings, without having to invest a lot of time (that you don’t have). Don’t fall into the ‘spending because there is no time’ trap! Here are the highlights of her article:

  1. Get Organized. Things go on sale at certain times of the year – take advantage of these times to buy things you will need throughout the year. Buying items on deep discount after Christmas for future gifts takes the same time as buying them full price at other times of the year.
  2. Plan meals in advance. It actually saves time to take 10 minutes on the weekend, and plan your meals for the week. You have to grocery shop anyway – why not buy items according to what you will be making that week? This saves time (you don’t waste time worrying about what to have for dinner each day, and make unnecessary trips to the grocery store, or worse, order takeout each night).  Make use of your crock pot/Instant Pot/freezer to cook meals ahead of time/on the day.
  3. Scale down. Make do with what you have. Don’t rush out to buy something new before you ask yourself ‘do I really need this right now?’. If you simplify your life, you will have less to clean/dust/buy/organize and look after. Major time saver.
  4. Keep it simple. You can’t be Martha Stewart without a lot of time commitment. Keep dinners easy and basic, kids birthday parties non-extravagant, and home routines modest.
  5. Choose your frugal time investments wisely. Don’t walk away from all of the time-consuming frugal practices – pick those that will save you the most money. Amy uses an example of shopping around for the best deal on a car as an ideal way to get highest value for the amount of time spent. But keep in mind that a great return is not always about how much money you save – it can be the satisfaction factor as well. Hand making a thoughtful gift can be very rewarding, as can baking cookies with your kids, or spending time doing a free activity together (playing as a family in the park).
  6. Don’t work just to support your convenience. If you are eating out every night because there is no time to go home between your first job and your second job, figure out how much you are really earning with that second job if it means you have to outsource cooking, cleaning and other things you would normally have time to do.

Being busy doesn’t mean you have to abandon all of your thrifty ways. Thanks Amy, for the great advice – timeless as always!!