How to Be Economical Without Wasting Time

A lot of people think thrift is about saving money at the expense of your time: you spend all day clipping coupons just to save a couple bucks on groceries . It’s not economical at all. Your time is precious – more valuable than money – and real frugality lies in the wise use of your time and money. Here’s how.

Choose the methods with the greatest impact

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Penny wise, pound foolish.” This means you have to go out of your way to save $ 5 on gas if you have a $ 500 car pay. Or buying nothing but ramen for a week when you mindlessly spend $ 300 on booze every month (not that I know anything about it). The point is, saving on pennies is a waste of time when you spend a lot of money as if it were nothing.

When you’re trying to cut your budget, you need to focus on the main thing: the categories with the greatest impact . These are usually the three most expensive categories in your budget:

  • Housing : Housing accounts for about 30 percent of the average American’s annual spending, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Food : is 12 percent
  • Transport : accounts for 17 percent.

Some economical solutions are simpler than others, but to get some general ideas, you can:

These are just examples. The point is, making the only economical decision in these expensive categories will get you the fastest and most bang for your buck.

Likewise, when you are trying to save on something else, keep an eye on the big picture – which tactics for saving money will bring you the most overall savings?

For example, let’s say you are planning an enjoyable, relaxing two-week vacation. There are many ways to cut costs: stay in the hostel , cook instead of going out , stay at home for someone in exchange for housing. These are all valid ways to save money, but you will save more if you focus on your biggest expenses like flights and accommodation. For example, you will save tons by simply arriving at the right time when travel is cheap. Here’s how the writer writes about money Libby Kane :

By choosing to travel six to eight weeks before or after high season, I save money on flights, accommodation, car rentals, and almost everything else by making one decision and never thinking about it again.

It seems obvious, but many don’t.

This is not the off season. I will not go in the rainy season or in the blizzard. In fact, the only difference is a few degrees – a light sweater or taking it off … Traveling in shoulder season rather than high season, I could consistently save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on incredible travel. making a choice in two minutes.

This does not mean that you should never try other ways to save money. This does not mean that you should only try to save on housing, food and transportation, either. Just watch out for the pounds when you are trying to throw pennies.

Use technology to automatically search for offers and coupons

Concentrate your energy on big things, then automate your savings anywhere else by downloading several browser extensions to find deals for you.

We all love good deals, but if it takes you two hours to find a new laptop that’s only $ 25 cheaper, that might not be the best use of your time. Fortunately, there are so many tools out there that will find the best price for you, so it wo n’t take you two hours to find a trade. PriceJump , for example, is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that automatically finds you the best price when you buy an item on Amazon. InvisibleHand (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) does the same , but works for any online shopping site, be it Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Ebay, or even airline sites like Southwest or Virgin Airlines. When you browse for products or tickets online, an extension pops up and tells you if you can get a better deal elsewhere.

You can also use a browser extension such as Honey (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera) or Coupons at Checkout (Chrome) to automatically find coupon codes when shopping online at thousands of popular participating retailers (Amazon, Target, Gap, and Best Buy to name a few). As you go through the online checkout process, the extension automatically fills in and enters these codes so you don’t have to search for them yourself.

Besides coupons, you can automate savings in other areas as well . Save on monthly electricity bills by installing a smart power strip that knows when to turn off all of your electronics . Or adjust the power settings on your TV, computer and other gadgets . Call your billing providers and discuss or find better rates for Internet, cable TV, cellular services, gym memberships, and car insurance. The latter option takes a little effort, but the bottom line is that you automatically save money every month without doing any extra steps.

Create rules for making smarter spending decisions

Unless you’re Warren Buffett, you probably can’t mindlessly spend $ 700 on a phone. This is a lot of money for most of us, and we want to make sure we spend it wisely. So while it’s important to think about your spending, hesitating about certain purchases can also be a huge waste of time (for example, I once spent a week thinking about whether to buy a pair of $ 30 sneakers). To combat this, set some rules for your spending decisions.

For example, I am incredibly hesitant about even the smallest of expenses, so I set the 10/10 rule for small purchases. If I’m considering buying something for $ 10 or less, I won’t spend more than 10 minutes thinking about it. This is convenient when I’m in a store or buying something on Amazon and I see some kind of “additional item” that I need. I thought for a bit, but if I don’t return it in ten minutes, which is less than ten dollars, I’ll just buy it. If it’s over ten dollars and I’ve spent ten minutes thinking, it goes back to the shelf. It’s a really simple rule of thumb, and it doesn’t work for all purchases, but it works pretty well for one-time impulse items.

Here’s a rule of thumb for large purchases: set the dollar amount at which you give yourself at least a week to consider buying. For example, a friend of mine has a rule to spend more than $ 100. If she is thinking about buying something that costs $ 100 or more, she gives herself a week to think about it. This is not to say that she will automatically buy everything he sees for $ 99 – this is not entirely true. The point is to give yourself enough time to make bigger decisions, but not spend too much time on smaller ones. Set the limit that suits your situation.

A few simple rules can help you find a balance between paying attention to your expenses and over-thinking them to the point that you are wasting your time.

Make sure every purchase is beneficial in the long run

When talking about the future, when you are trying to save your time and money, it is helpful to consider the long-term implications of your spending as well.

This is why it usually makes sense to buy quality instead of crap : cheap things are too expensive. If you buy cheap boots that need to be replaced every winter, you will be spending more time than buying quality boots that will last you a long time, even if they are expensive. Not only that, but also think about how much time you spend buying new boots every year. Buying quality means you buy once and you won’t have to waste time buying shoes for several more years. Of course, expensive quality does not equal quality, but your time is still valuable.

You also need to be sure that you are getting a lot of value from your purchase. The more you use it, the more it pays off over time. The $ 1 per use rule is useful for this . Make sure you get at least a dollar from every item you use. For example, if you buy a new computer for $ 800 and use it every day for five years, you are spending less than 0.50 cents per use. You don’t want to use this rule as an excuse to buy things you don’t want, but it’s a useful indicator for determining the long-term value of something. Likewise, it also helps to calculate the value of your time. This way, you assign an actual value to your time, which you can compare to your spending decision.

People often confuse frugality with cheapness and wasting time instead of money. Ultimately, however, lean is about getting the most out of your resources, including time. Real frugality doesn’t have to be hard.


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