Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Frugal With Your Time

Image credit:  www.sxc.hu - free image

In my world I am frugal with both my money and my time.  And these days time is more scarce than money is.  There are only 24 hours in a day, of which I should devote 8 to sleeping.  Without adequate sleep my energy levels fall and modern conveniences of the world sneak into my life.  Generally those are not good for my pocket book, health, or the planet I call home (i.e think take-out).  That leaves me with 16 hours a day to run my legal practice, nurture my marriage, raise my children, practice self-care, maintain a household, and if possible, work in some fun.  Here are a few strategies I use or have recently adopted.  They work for me, and may work for you to get the most out of your 16 hours:
  • outsource things you do not love.  For me this means asking the babysitter to wash, fold, and put away the children's laundry as well as the household towels.  When my mother fell ill and was admitted to the hospital, I hired a pet sitter because her cat needs insulin shots twice a day --doing this myself was not an option;
  • focus your energy on skills that pay you the most.  For me this translates into getting as many hours as possible in at my law practice (my goal is 20 - 25 a week).  While the idea of posting the numerous baby gadgets we have on Craigslist or having a garage sale is tempting, I know it won't yield the same amount of money if I took that time and focused on client matters.  So, I have given it away to various friends and charities.  It is far easier, nurtures relationships with friends and community, and makes me feel good.  The hassle factor associated with selling used items is non-existent;
  • assign tasks to a day of the week, and don't do more than two "errands" a day.  For me this translates into Target on Monday afternoons, Trader Joe's on Wednesday mornings, the neighborhood grocery on Friday afternoons, the library on Saturday afternoons, etc.  I keep a running list to note things I need.  If it is not the day for me to go to Target, I don't go, I make do with what I have.  I've cut down on car trips and dashing off here and there for this and that;
  • put your meals on a schedule, it will make shopping much easier.  While I work in my home office on Monday mornings, I have a chicken baking for dinner.  Meals throughout the rest of the week will feature left over chicken as well -- we have a meal plan and food purchased or on the list to be purchased;
  • allot 30 minutes at the beginning of your day and again at the end of your day for household chores.  To a little bit every day and the chaos doesn't get out of hand;
  • stick with the schedule even if the calendar declares it is a holiday.  We did this over Labor Day weekend and my Tuesday was far more relaxed than after prior long weekends.....we stuck to your routine; and
  • don't forget to have some fun times marked off.  After our Monday Target runs we either meet up with friends or head to the nearby beach to dig in the sand.  After our run to Trader Joe's on Wednesdays we stop at the park to swing before coming home to put groceries away.
When you feel tempted to squeeze a dollar out of an item for resale, ask yourself what you have to "spend" to get that dollar.  Will it distract you from your career related work?  Does is it take a lot of effort, leaving your too tired to make a homemade meal?  The key to frugal living can be found in analysis.  What do I have to spend, and what will I get?  Pause, ask yourself this question, and no matter the situation, you'll be in the land of the frugal.

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