Even before my divorce, I always took an interest in tracking my spending habits and how best to live on the budget I created for myself and my family. My goal was to spend less and save more. Makes sense, right?
Yes. But also no.
You see, after becoming a single parent and finding I had even less time during the day to balance all the tasks I needed to, which included caring for my children, my home, and working, I began seeing how my time was, before all else, the most valuable resource I had. And if I didn’t spend my time wisely, no matter how much money I saved on the purchases I made, I was, in reality, losing more money!
I eventually concluded that sometimes it’s more advantageous for me to spend in specific areas than save because of the time I create for myself as a result. I can then use that time to explore other opportunities which ultimately allow me to earn more or create an environment that is conducive for me to do so. Here are a few of my so-called splurges and how they better my bottom line, and my life.
If I wanted to (and I don’t), I could spend an entire day cleaning my house from top to bottom. If I did, I also can pretty much guarantee I’d do a more thorough job than just about anyone I hired because it’s my home and I care the most about it. The thing is, for me to clean my house myself, I would give up time I could otherwise spend working and growing my business. Both are worth more to me than the money I could save by doing the heavy cleaning myself.
The same holds for laundry. It takes a long time to wash, fold, and put away clothes, especially if you’re doing it for others in your family besides yourself. What could you be doing instead? If the answer is watching TV, then fold away! But if the answer is working more hours, getting more clients, returning to school for training or expanding your education, ask yourself if you’re spending your time currently in the best way possible. Chances are, it won’t be by sitting hunched over a laundry basket. Laundry services that charge by the pound may be precisely the timesaver you need.
We all know childcare isn’t cheap, and I’ve heard people rationalize that it doesn’t pay for them to work outside the home because of what they would spend on childcare to do so. And that may be true based solely on this single analysis. However, it’s not the only analysis nor is it a permanent one. Kids grow up. They won’t always need supervision the way they do when they’re young. What happens is, by staying out of the workplace to save a little, you end up losing a lot because of the years of experience you miss in the interim. Going back to work, especially after being at home for a while, presents its challenges. If you’re doing this calculation, consider what you’re potentially losing long-term.
For me, going to the grocery store is like entering a black hole. As fast as I think I move, I spend time comparing prices, forget where things are necessitating I backtrack, and buy items I don’t need. The drive to and from, long lines, and unloading bags from my car represent a chunk of time during my day when I could be doing something else. Grocery delivery services don’t always offer the best prices across the board (although there are sales), and they often charge a delivery fee. Still, the hours, and yes, it can be hours, you’ll save each week by ordering groceries are potentially worth more. Plus, when you shop online from the same master list, picking and choosing what you need, you’re less likely to make impulse purchases, saving you money right now.
READ MORE: Dear Women, You Are Good With Money
It costs money to travel, even for the most frugal. However, the benefits that come from traveling can not only be life-enhancing, but they can also be life-changing. We all need to recharge our battery, and getting away is one of the most effective, not to mention fun, ways to do it. It’s also one of the expenditures people frequently cut from their budget first. Even if you go away for a short period and don’t go far, the change of scenery can provide a much-needed break from the day-to-day-drudgery while inspiring you to look at life from a different perspective. Happy, rested people are productive people. Productive people tend to be more successful and, of course, one way to measure success is by reaching your earning potential.
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Similar to travel, I allocate money in my budget for some form of self-care. Whether it’s for clothing, accessories, exercise, a mani/pedi, haircare, etc., I direct money regularly to some activity, purchase, or treatment that specifically and directly benefits only me, one that makes me feel good when I look in the mirror and increases my confidence. Investing in your health and well-being is by far the best investment you can ever make because how well (or not well) you feel affects every other aspect of your life, including your ability to, you guessed it, make money. And if you don’t feel you’re worth the investment, why should anyone else?
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