How to Budget to Free Up Your Time
- July 24, 2020
- by Michael
In today’s busy world, many people find themselves declining invitations to fun events because they feel obligated to take care of things at home. You'll get an answer like "I would like to hang out but I don't have time." There is too much crap to do in life, right?
Similar to a financial budget, we all have a hidden time budget (whether we know it or not). We budget for sleep, work, fun, TV, friends, self indulgences, self investment, and down time. The financial budget and the time budget are related, based on the old saying Time = Money. The less time you have due to a busy schedule, family, chores, etc the more you begin to realize how true that is.
One way to get your time back is to buy it back in the form of outsourcing. That is where your financial budget plays into freeing up your time.
What Should I Outsource?
Outsourcing is when you pay someone to do something for you so that you do not have to do it.
For example, many people pay someone else to clean their home. They will say it is because they don’t have the time to juggle work, social life, and household chores. It is also because they really hate cleaning the bathroom ;)
Time consuming chores are not the only thing to consider outsourcing. If it is emotionally difficult for you to do something, you can outsource that too. For example, if you know that putting together IKEA furniture is going to cause an argument at home, you may want to hire some help.
You may already be outsourcing and not realize it. Many people use curbside pickup for their groceries or have them delivered. This is an example of you spending a few extra dollars to have someone else complete a task for you. If something takes more time or emotional energy than they’re worth, you should consider outsourcing.
Soon, the question might not be how you can fit outsourcing into your budget, but how you ever lived without it.
How Do I Fit Outsourcing into My Budget?
The answer to this question might be easier than you think once you compare both options (continue to do it yourself, or outsource). If something is taking up a lot of your time, it might not be worth it for you to complete on your own, meaning your budget can be improved by making a change.
Here's an example - imagine a nasty stubborn spaghetti stain on the carpet. Yes you could rent a professional machine, set it up, refer to the instructions after setting it up wrong, do all the scrubbing work, clean the machine, and then return it to the store. Or you could book an appointment with a reputable carpet cleaning company, let them in when they arrive, and pay them. With the carpet cleaning company you know it will be done right. The question is, what is the hassle worth to you?
When you evaluate your time budget, you should consider your level of skill. If you know something will be difficult or you have no aptitude for it putting your time and energy into something else is a wise idea. If cleaning the bath tub makes your shoulder sore, then it is definitely time to outsource that.
What Activities Should I Outsource?
We often feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done that we need to. Here are some of the most common activities that people outsource.
If cleaning your home takes up a lot of your time, then you might consider having someone do it for you. This way, you can spend more time enjoying your lifestyle or doing additional work. The result will be less stress. Most apartment complexes will be able to recommend a cleaning team they trust, or you can shop around using Yelp, NextDoor, your neighbors may know someone good, etc.
Websites like Instacart and Farmstead will deliver your groceries to you. You can place an order on your lunch break, decide what time your groceries should be delivered in the evening, then simply be home when your groceries arrive. This is an easy way to cut out some of the most tedious parts of your evening commute, and typically only adds a few dollars to your grocery bill. Many grocery stores are offering curbside pickup for free or a nominal fee considering the time it takes to walk all the isles and wait in line for checkout.
There are few things more obnoxious than sending several emails back and forth to coordinate a meeting time. Instead, you can use a free tool such as Calendly to create a link that syncs with your calendar. Then, you can send people your scheduling link rather than discuss your schedules over several days. Personal assistants were all the rage in the early 2000’s and are still out there in force.
Dogs need walks every day. A dog walking service can be a good way to make sure your pet gets exercise when your schedule is too busy.
Retirement & Savings
You can automate your retirement savings to help you stay on track for retirement. By having your 401(k) contribution automatically deducted from your salary, you are automating your retirement savings. You can set up more automatic withdrawals with your financial advisor or on an app like Acorns to help streamline your retirement & savings process.
Mowing your lawn can eat up hours of your time each week, plus you’ll likely need to trim hedges and attend to the landscaping as well. If you find that you’re spending more time worrying about your lawn than you are enjoying time with your friends and family, then it might be time to have someone else help you out.
Owning a home comes with responsibility and upkeep. Peeling paint, sticking windows, clogged gutters, pests, plumbing issues (the list goes on) are all things homeowners either have learned about or will learn about soon. When it comes to DIY home maintenance, tackling your own repairs can save a lot of money. The flip side is it can lead to hours of extra work and headaches if your skill level is insufficient. Think carefully about what projects you can do safely within budget (including your time and energy). Otherwise call a licensed professional and consider it money well spent.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and boy is that true. Even stay at home parents need breaks on a regular basis. Either for sanity sake or a priceless opportunity to take a shower, getting help watching the kids is a huge relief. For babies and toddlers finding a nanny can be expensive. As the kids get older arranging for a regular a “baby sitter” or “mom’s helper” can be a huge load off. Speaking for experience, quality child care is money well spent. However this isn’t like finding a guy to mow your lawn. The upfront investment in lining up a good childcare provider is substantial.
The Bottom Line
When you consider your budget, remember to think not only of your dollars but of your time and goals as well. If something takes you several hours to complete that you could better spend earning money or spending time with the people you love, then it might be worth outsourcing or automating.