Time Is Money: Budget Them Both Out

By Carlos Portocarrero on 30 April 2009 (Updated 4 May 2009) 8 comments

Everyone always says Time is Money—but how many of us really treat our time the same way we treat (or are supposed to treat) our money? Most of us have no problem throwing time away in ways we would never do with our money.

This is something I've been thinking about for a while now. I recently bought Fallout 3 for the new computer I just saved up for, and I noticed it just sat in its box for a few days before I even got a chance to install it.

When I was young, the whole world froze when I bought a new game—I didn't need food and I didn't need anything other than to play my brand-new game. But times change. You get a job, you get married, and your time starts to get filled for you—there isn't a whole of down time. In order to play my game, I had to find a place in my schedule for it.

"Let's pencil Fallout for Saturday, Susie"

I know it sounds weird, but that's what needed to be done because I wasn't finding any free time. Think about it: when was the last time you were sitting on the couch asking yourself what you should do next? Remember how often that happened when you were a kid? Now there's always something: work, TV, blogging, exercising, etc. Before you know it, it's time to go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow.

In order to get anything done, we have to budget our time the same way we budget our money. Which most of us probably do already when we have to get something done for work or pay a bill—but that stuff is no fun. I'm talking about your equivalent of playing a brand-new videogame. Your Fallout time.

You don't just spend all your money as you make it, do you? We have to think ahead to the things we want to get done and make sure we have time scheduled for it—just like budgeting for a new computer. That doesn't mean playing a videogame is a waste of time any more than spending money on a videogame is a waste of money. You're spending "play money" so you should have some "play time" too.

If we think of our time this way, it's easy to break down the two categories of time and make sure we budget for them:

Needs

That's right: this is where most of the stuff is going to go. Time for work, time to eat, time to hang out with family, etc. These are the things you have to do. Just like we have to spend money on rent, electricity, and all our other bills—there is time that has to be filled with certain things. I don't think most of us will have a problem with this because needs often force themselves on our schedule. When was the last time you had to "fit" work into your schedule? It's more likely you had to adjust everything else to fit into your work schedule.

I know—I wish it wasn't that way either.

Wants

This is the fun stuff. It may sound like a waste of time to some people, but here is where you cordon off a couple of hours to play Fallout 3, to read a book, to go for a walk outside, to work out, or to just take a nap if you've had a long day. Don't feel guilty about spending your time doing what you want just because it doesn't sound productive. Just like you can't spend ALL your money on bills every month (don't forget about your "play money"), you can't expect yourself to spend every minute of every day doing something "productive." 

You need to blow some steam off, and guess what the perfect way to do that is? Fallout 3.

OK, I gotta get back to my game...these feral dogs are starting to really get to me.

This post was included in the Carnival of Personal Development

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Guest's picture
sam

I think it is important to have balance and make sure you have money for fun and money for bills. If you run short on money cut back in places or try to make money from home to increase your income.

Guest's picture

Since I have started working at home a lot doing freelancing, I have found this need to budget my time to be even more important. I'll find myself sitting down to write an article and drifting into reading blogs; or I'll find myself watching a TV show and getting sucked into writing an article during the commercial. While I love the freedom of being able to work when I want, if I don't carefully budget my time I find that home drifts into work and vice versa and it ends up taking much longer than necessary to get things done.

Guest's picture

Great article! I think as we all start "growing up", we really do have to think more and more about budgeting our time. I actually wrote a post recently about tools people can use to manage their time: http://independentbeginnings.com/2009/04/three-time-management-tools-for...
The article is directed towards college students, but the tools can be used by everyone! They are a great way to get started with time budgeting.

Guest's picture
NGiehl

I think about the balance between time and money constantly. This piece is timely because right now there are so many articles about saving money by selling your things, cooking more, gardening, etc. In my business, I help people downsize and organize before moving and one area where people spend hours and hours is trying to sell things that aren't worth very much.

Thank for you reminding people about the value and importance of their time!

Guest's picture

I like the old saying: You can make always make more money, but you can't make more time. I try to get as much bang for the buck as I can, especially on the weekends. I find that if I don't plan my day out, I wind up wasting it.

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

Totally agree with you. As we get older, it's time that becomes more and more valuable and should treat it accordingly.

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Guest's picture

I would advise more care be taken with time . . .

Time is more valuable than money-- you can make more money. You cannot make more time.

Guest's picture

I love what you stated here Carlos about not feeling guilty about spending your time doing what you want just because it doesn't sound productive. For I usually found myself guilty of this and I hate the feeling. Maybe I have just got used in living my everyday life as productive as I could that's why I am uncomfortable. But having read your article somewhat enlightened me. I hope to share this to others whom I thought may be just like me also. Thanks for the inspiration Carlos!