Saving Money vs. Saving Time

By Carlos Portocarrero

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M and I have gotten really good at planning our dinners for the week ahead of time and buying groceries on Sunday to have everything ready to make when we get home.

After work we get home, make dinner, clean up the dishes, and sit down to chill out/hang out. The problem is, some nights we aren’t “relaxing” until 7–8pm, which is kind of late considering we usually get to sleep around 10:30–11. Last week it got to me and I was feeling like I was getting home, making dinner, and going straight to bed.

I didn’t like the feeling—it was like I had a crazy job that was consuming my life.

Cooking your own meals every night is a great, frugal practice that saves a ton of money over the long run. It makes it easier to stay within your budget and gives you more money to either put towards your financial goals or spend on someone you love.

But making your own dinner means you are not being frugal with your time. Frugality doesn’t take into account that your time is also valuable. So when you order a pizza or thai food for dinner (which can cost you around $25 for two people with the delivery charge) you are spending more than you would if you prepared that pizza yourself, but you’re also saving precious time to talk to your significant other, do something else productive (like read or write), catch up with an old friend over the phone, watch your favorite show, and just basically live your life outside work.

I know dinners don’t need to take up a huge chunk of your time. And I know that cooking can be fun, especially if you’re doing it with someone else. And I know (yes, I know a lot) when I make dinner there is usually a lot left over for another night, which only needs to be heated up. I know—but I think eating out and ordering in has a place in the weekly budget too. I like to fit in there on a once-a-week basis just to get us out of the house or to spend a little more time talking and catching up with our friends, family, or each other.

Being frugal with our money is important, but I think sometimes we also need to be frugal with our time, even if it means spending a little more to do it.

4 Responses to “Saving Money vs. Saving Time”

  • Patrick Says:

    It’s all about balance. My wife and I like to cook our own meals, which we do most of the time. But we often make enough to have leftovers, which saves us time from preparing more meals. Those are the nights we get to spend more time with each other.

  • Living Off Dividends Says:

    I was frugal with my time.

    Now I need to be frugal with my waist ;-)

  • Cathryn Sykes Says:

    So don’t cook every night!
    When you cook, it rarely takes any longer to make triple batches of food: spaghetti, beef stoganoff, beef stew, etc. Freeze the extra! Buy some entree sized air-tight plastic containers — I recommend Glad because they seal well– and freeze two or three meals worth. DO NOT save the food by throwing a piece of foil over it and throwing it in the fridge…it’ll dry out and taste awful. Put it in the freezer and you have, in essence, created your own version of Lean Quisine or Stouffers. Very simple to do, takes three minutes to reheat, very frugal. Another way to save time? Precook meat. Cook a whole chicken, eat what you want, then when the rest cools, tear it apart, put in in air-tight containers–you now have chicken you can use to make barbequed sloppy joes, chicken for salads, marinade overnight for teriyaki chicken, or chunk for sandwiches or salads… cuts your cooking time in half. In the half-hour you’d wait to have $25 of pizza delivered, you can cook a meal…..and not spend twice as much as you can afford!

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