One of the hardest things to learn is that time is our most valuable commodity. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” For busy professionals, entrepreneurs and stay-at-home parents, it’s often worth spending money to get time-consuming tasks done for you, in favor of putting your energy into something more important, like the last day of a huge project.
The key is knowing when paying for the convenience is within your budget, and when to grin and bear it yourself. Here are a few tips for determining the difference, allowing you to find a balance between spending money and saving time.
Spend: When It’s Something Someone Else Can Do Better
You have many talents, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can fix your broken sink or repair your front bumper. It’s times like these when paying someone else to do it better may be to your benefit. In many cases, if you try to do it yourself, you’ll end up making a mistake, which will could cost more money and time down the road, anyway.
Instead, hire a professional and get it done right the first time, and find a business or person who will in fact do it well and within your budget. The best way to ensure quality of service is through referrals from friends and family. Text a few people or post on social media asking for recommendations. Facebook even has a built in feature for this. You can also check out sites like Angie’s List and Thumbtack to further vet your options.
Save: When You Could Learn Something in the Process
Yes, hanging an entire picture wall is a pain. Not only does it take forever, but you may end up with a few crooked photos that you just don’t care to fix. While it would be nice to pay someone to do this, it’s a task you can definitely tackle yourself with a little extra effort. After watching a few YouTube videos, and preparing yourself for an evening of practicing patience, you’ll be ready for the challenge.
A few other instances when you could learn something—even begrudgingly—rather than paying someone to do it, includes:
- DIY-ing a small furniture restoration
- Hanging shelves
- Refilling a flat tire
- Doing basic car repairs (changing your oil or installing new windshield wipers)
If you don’t know how to do it yet, ask a friend to help. Not only will you get quality time together, but learning how to do something you couldn’t before will likely save you time (and money) in the future as well.
Spend: When It’s Cheaper to Outsource Than Do Yourself
It’s often cheaper to outsource when you consider what you could be doing in the time you’re losing. For example, if you spend an hour waiting in line you lose a billable hour for your business.
You may be surprised to learn the various jobs you can hire someone to do. Cheap Money’s Strangest (And Coolest) Jobs People Agreed to Do on TaskRabbit includes hiring someone to impersonate them at a birthday party and paying someone to spend hours playing with a needy dog. The app also lists dozens of tasks users are willing to do, including:
- Event planning
- Furniture assembly
- Heavy lifting
- Packing and shipping
Save: When You Can Get it For Free
Yes, it may be convenient to buy coffee on the go because you’d rather sleep in. But, is it necessary? Probably not. Not only are coffee makers inexpensive, but it likely takes less than five minutes to brew a cup while you get ready. Before you walk out the door, just pour it into your to-go mug and enjoy. In the end, you could be saving up to $1,000 each month.
There are plenty of other small conveniences that you can find a free or cheap alternative option for, like using the lite version of your favorite app or bringing lunch to work. Ask yourself, “what are some ways that I can cut back on spending without losing a lot of extra time?”
Spend: When It’s a Double-Whammy
Consider this scenario: It’s the middle of a stressful work week, you’re still negotiating this year’s raise, and not saving quite as much as you’d like. Suddenly, your washer breaks. If you’re renting, you’re in luck; your landlord will likely replace it. If you own your home, however, the financial burden falls on your shoulders—and as that dawns on you, your first thought is: I just don’t have the time or money to deal with this right now.
In this scenario, the best decision may simply be to spend on a wash and fold service, which will be cheaper than replacing the washer temporarily. The best part: you’ll get a few extra hours back in your week too. According to, Do It Yourself or Wash and Fold Laundry, it takes 100 minutes to do one load of laundry. And that’s just one load. Multiply that by 3 and you’ve spent five hours of your week doing laundry.
When the time comes to invest in a new washer, it may also be wise to spend a little extra on a newer model, using a personal loan to finance the purchase. While purchasing a used model will be cheaper in the short-term, personal loans have a fixed rate and term, typically 3 to 5 years, giving you a line of site for your pay-off date. Spending more up-front also means you’ll likely save time and money later when you’re not finding someone to fix another broken washer in the middle of a stressful week.
This is Your Balance to Find
At the end of the day, you know what your time is worth. That’s what determines what you pay for and what you do yourself. Make a list of tasks that are taking up a lot of time, and consider how you could outsource them to someone else. Now, research pricing, and decide what’s worth the cost and what isn’t. It may take some time, but eventually you’ll strike a balance between spending money and saving your most precious commodity: time.
This article was contributed by Jessica Thiefels, a full-time writer, consultant and business owner. Jessica and her husband recently paid off $20K in debt in just one year, and her work as been featured in financial publications like Market Watch . Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect LinkedIn.