Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Money Vs. Time Equation

I've always been one of those 'why would I pay someone if I don't have to?" kind of people. I want the inexpensive option. And I'd rather spend the time - to make dinner, to wash my own car, and so on - than spend money for the same thing. For me, the time vs. money equation was always summed up as spend the time, save the money.

But sometimes I realize I can't spend the time. And whatever it is that I don't have time for is just as valuable to me as the money it will cost to pay for it. And so then my time vs. money equation reverses to spend the money, save the time.

On one level, I really hate it when that happens. Because it inevitably involves some kind of upscaling of our lifestyle, and a larger proportion of our income becoming outgo.

But I try to recognize that sometimes there's no good option but to shell out. So this month, we took two big plunges - a parking spot for me in Downtown Boston, around the corner from where I work, and a twice-monthly housekeeper. Neither are cheap. In the event of need, both could be done away with (okay, so I wouldn't literally do away with my housekeeper, she's actually very nice). But both grant me tremendous quality of life.

A few weeks ago, our house was complete chaos. Piles of stuff and paper had bred in the dark corners of the various rooms. Laundry hadn't been put away in quite some time, making getting dressed in the morning a unique challenge if, say, my husband needed some socks. And we were spending the weekends trying to stay on top of it.

So in comes Nicole, our housekeeper/magician. She started last Thursday. Our house gleamed after her arrival. I practically danced with glee. Good spend? Oh, yes. Going throug my head was: "Why didn't I do this years ago?" I don't know..something vague about saving money and using it on more practical items. Who knows what I meant by that.

The parking space came about after I realized that I couldn't keep up my previous commute that included: driving to a parking spot(15 min), walking to the train station (15 min) and taking a train (34 minutes), then a subway line(10-30 minutes). All that commuting, plus wait times took it's toll on me even before I had a child. Now that I have a baby to pick up, and no direct way to work on public transportation, I drive. Is it the environmental choice? No. Nor is it the frugal choice. But for now, it's the best choice.

I don't love shelling out the money for these luxuries each month. But until our lives shift to a point where time and sleep aren't at a premium, they'll stay.

And I'm going to enjoy my nice clean bathrooms immensely, thank you very much.


Anonymous said...

I agree - sometimes spending time with your family is worth a little money. In the long run we'll see that the expenses were worth it.

Anonymous said...

i can totally relate to this... we recently just got someone to clean our house once a month... and that alone is a huge relief and time saver for us...