The correct answer is “money.”
Even if your balance is $0. Or -$278,000.
Because money is replaceable, time is not.
So if you can use money to free up time, it’s often the wisest course of action.
BUT, before you can apply this principle strategically, you need to establish a value for your time.
In one sense, time is priceless. But for practical purposes, you need a figure which you will use in deciding whether to do something or hire it out.
The figure you choose could be your actual wage, your wage + benefits, or some higher or lower figure you’re comfortable with.
I currently use a figure about 50% higher than my current wage + benefits, but it’s a figure I know I could earn if I decided to do a different kind of work.
Here’s how this idea has played out for me:
- I no longer service my vehicle in any way.
- We no longer have a yard that we need to care for.
- I have outsourcers who do online projects for me, often things I could do, but things which they can do better, more quickly or at far less than my time value figure.
- I occasionally quash my compulsion to learn new things and hire someone to do something that only needs doing once or doing rarely, rather than learning to do it myself.
- I buy most of my clothes at thrift shops. This saves both time and money. Just yesterday Kristin and I went to a thrift shop and left an hour later with several pairs of pants and several nice shirts. Forty bucks versus several hundred. More money to buy time with.
Bottom line: I spend more money, have less money in the bank, but have more time to do what I believe is most important.
Caveat: If you enjoy an activity, even if it’s a $1/hour activity, do it! If you like yard work, do yard work; if you like working on your vehicle, work on it.
The point is not to do nothing or as little as possible, but to free up time for healthy, purposeful living.