Welcome back to our series on the Complete Tightwad Gazette!  Today we’re going to discuss the delicate balance between saving time and saving money.  Most families find it impossible to save both and simultaneously keep their sanity.  Yes, we could work full-time jobs while growing all our own food, but most people need to sleep.  This is why we invented grocery stores, thank you very much.

In her book, Amy Dacyczyn wrote about this very problem.  She and her husband solved the problem by coming up with a formula and a chart to determine if a chore was worth the time and money it saved.  I will let her explain in her own words:

I often time how many minutes a job requires to determine how many times I could, in theory, complete the job in an hour.  I then calculate how much money a job saves.  I multiply the times per hour by the savings per job to determine the hourly value.  For example:  A 10-minute task saves $2.  The task could be done six times an hour.  The hourly worth is $12 per hour (page 103).

She then took that hourly wage and added two other factors:  1) other values that add to the chore, like environmental impact or family time, and 2) personal enjoyment.  For example, I could keep a cow, and then make my own yogurt from the milk.  My daughter eats a ton of yogurt, so this could save me $4 a week.  Also, I’d be saving the environment by not buying yogurt in those plastic containers.

However, I have no idea of how long it takes to make yogurt when you start with an udder and a pail.  Days, I’m guessing.  And we can’t ignore the cost of keeping the cow; that’s not cheap.  And then we have to add in the fact that I hate taking care of animals, so my enjoyment factor would be about -10.  Added all up, that $4 a week for yogurt is becoming a bargain.

On the other hand, I do bake my own bread.  I love to do this, Eric loves to eat it, and I can churn out gourmet loaves of bread for about 50 cents each.  It takes a bit of time, but it’s totally worth it.

I rarely find it worth my time to run around town finding all the best deals.  I know other people who do this, coupons in hand, and make out like bandits.  This whole experience usually makes me so crabby that I am unfit company for the rest of the day, so I have given up.  But I do keep my eyes peeled for good deals, and I snap them up when I see them.  Today I found nuts on clearance at Wal-Mart for $1 a canister, so I grabbed four.  It took me about twenty seconds to save $12, and I think that was well worth my time.

If I use Amy’s formula, this gives me an hourly wage of $2,160.  And as I sit here typing this post with cashew-breath, my enjoyment of the experience is about a 10.  Win, win, win!

What are your favorite ways to save money, and how much time does it take each time you do it?

9 Comments on The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Money vs. Time

  1. Michelle Morgan
    August 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm (5 years ago)

    I can relate this to when Chuck and I refinished the hardwood floors in our house. If I had known that it was going to take us nearly 100 hours to finish it, factored in the enjoyment experience of -10 considering we did this project over Memorial Day weekend without A/C, and calculated how many OT hours it would take Chuck to earn enough $ to pay someone to do this I probably would have hired someone to do it. At least, Chuck would’ve been able to work in an A/C cooled room with maybe an enjoyment experience of 5.

  2. Jessie Clemence
    August 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm (5 years ago)

    Eric just sent his car to the mechanic to have it repaired. It cost us $500 in labor, and it was worth EVERY PENNY. Seriously, what a mess. He’s happily working the overtime to pay for it.

  3. memyselfandkids
    August 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm (5 years ago)

    I mow my own lawn. I dont particularly like it and it doesnt look great. I could get a service but dont for 2 reasons. $ & example. I want my children to see you can do things yourself & dont always have to call someone. The $ part might not past the test you described but I consider what I could to make the $ and for now would rather mow myself.

  4. Jessie Clemence
    August 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm (5 years ago)

    Exactly! I think it’s great when the kids see us doing this stuff. And I’ve started turning over as much as possible to them.

  5. memyselfandkids
    August 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm (5 years ago)

    I look forward to that day.

  6. Anthony Baker
    August 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm (5 years ago)

    I will never forget the advice my father gave me when I was younger. One day, when talking about the grease that would never completely wash out of the cracks in the skin on his hands, he said, “Son, if you can ever make enought money to other people work on your car, let them.” The point? Sometimes there are things that we CAN do, but it is SOOO worth having somebody else do it – IF you can afford it.

  7. Jessie Clemence
    August 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm (5 years ago)

    My husband and brother could not agree more!

  8. thecleverspender
    August 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm (5 years ago)

    Hooray for your great deal on the nuts! Didn’t that just make your day? I sometimes make my own yogurt. I bought a yogurt maker for about $25 at Bed Bath & Beyond a few years ago. It is really easy to make – but of course I buy the milk at the store. I’m not sure how much money I have saved, but it tastes really good and I’m guessing it might be healthier. I have also heard of making yogurt in the crock pot but have not tried that.

  9. Jessie Clemence
    August 21, 2012 at 7:25 am (5 years ago)

    Yes, that deal on nuts did make my whole day. :). Maybe my whole week!