In this fast-paced world, often we all deal with this almost on a daily basis. The constant dilemma choosing over time or money.
When I was a teenager, the choice was straightforward. Young and single: a lot of time to spare but no money. I had no qualms choosing to save more money and think very rarely about the cost of my time.
But as I enter adulthood, working and raising family with children, the table has turned: less time, more money. I tend to slightly gravitate to spending more money to save more time and convenience.
In fact you will almost always hear that you can accumulate more money, but you can’t make more time. There’s always only 24 hours in a day for you to fill those blocks of time wisely.
That being said, I am neither a strictly time-saver nor am I a money-saver kinda person now. I can still be kinda lax about what my time cost is. In fact, what is anyone’s time cost? Can I peg a cost to my time, and at what rate?
I don’t know about you, but I make the time vs money calls every day. Which ones are the right call? It might be a hit or miss. Both are precious commodities and we never seem to have enough of either.
I thought it might be interesting to ponder on how I fared in this time vs money battle. Let’s see…
Scenario 1 – House Cleaning
Time Saved? No
Money Saved? Yes
What Else I Get In Return? Exercise. Serious sweat!
I own a short-term rental house. In Malaysian lingo, it’s called homestay. ‘Mat salleh’ calls it Airbnb. Sometimes guests spend only one night; we could also get bookings for multiple nights or up to a month. Getting maids for house cleaning everytime any guest checks out can be a pretty expensive affair, especially when I am trying to keep my operating costs low so I don’t end up in a cash-negative situation.
If you are familiar with part-time maids service in Malaysia, it would typically consist of minimum 4 hours for 1 maid. Some companies offer 2 maids for minimum 2 hours. If I were to get their service, especially for guests with long stay, I would have them enter my property well in advance so I could arrive just in time to make payment (or slightly early to make fuss over their subpar cleaning! Haha), therefore I don’t have to waste much waiting time.
But for me, it just doesn’t make sense having to employ them every single time. It hurts my operational costs big time. And if the guests only stay for one night, what’s there much to scrub?
Say, I have guests checking-in and out for a total of 8 times in a month, and I spend approximately 1 hour for each self-cleaning session, that adds up to 8 hours per month.
Compare that to the money cost of hiring a part-time cleaner: RM 70 per session x 8 times = RM 560.
Would I spend that extra RM 560 and most definitely be in a negative cash flow situation (paying home instalment minus all operating costs) or would I spend that 8 hours / month exercising and sweating it out, considering I don’t do gyms anymore now too? I think I choose the latter.
Now I am choosier picking my guests. I usually no longer take a one-nighter especially on weekends (less interrupted weekends, thank you very much). Try to make a booking in airbnb. One will see many hosts tend to have their house only available for minimum 2 nights. Cleaning for a one-nighter is a time-sucker!
Scenario 2 – From empty condo to fully-furnished home
Time Saved? No
Money Saved? Maybe?
What Else I Get In Return? Experience, knowledge of half-Doing-It-Myself?
Our condo just got VP-ed (vacant possession). We plan to rent it out. Consider this timeline:
March 2018 : Started paying condo full installment
March 2018: Condo’s VP
10th Apr: Dragged my feet to pay associated fees (TNB, maintenance fee yada yada) so I could start with key collection and reno
Mid Apr: Contacted home makeover company for fully-furnished reno package
Between mid Apr – late May: Twice visit for defect checks, contemplating to hire which makeover company out of the two that I found out
Late May – late June: Defect check submission and rectification
Early July: Signed off defect rectification completion form and started reno process with my chosen makeover company
Mid Aug: Fully-furnished reno expect to be completed (update: My reno completed on 22nd Sept instead!! Hmpphhhh)
A lot of home property investors (and I’m not definitely not one to be called with that title) will vouch that ‘time is money’. Completing their homes as fast as possible and getting the property rented out is very crucial. Unfortunately I have been slow at this. I spent waaay too much time in mid Apr for defect checks and where the analytical side of me tend to analyze which of the 2 makeover contractors bring out the best deal. That period itself cost me almost 2 months.
Since my house is not tenanted yet, I estimated what would have probably been a fast 3-or 4-month turnover from VP to tenancy had I been more nimble, I have been dragging it to its 5th month now as of writing, and my house reno is still not completed yet let alone tenancy waiting period!
So..was it a foolish move, trying to save renovation costs and getting electrical items at different vendors offering cheapest deals, but at the expense of my time? Or did my move pay off cost-wise? I would probably know after I get to secure first tenants, but I estimated that I could probably still be able to save about RM 4k with this move, considering the longer installment periods I have to pay but the associated savings that I gain, versus a fast turnover but with more CAPEX spent.
Scenario 3 – Outsourcing housework
Time Saved? Yes!
Money Saved? No
Laura Vanderkam, in her book 168 Hours: You Have More Hours Than You Think advises to spend your blocks of time focusing on ‘core competencies’, a principle of which she defined as
“what you love and do best, that other people cannot do nearly as well”.
And she also quoted
“For most of us, housework is not one of these core competencies. Chances are, somebody else can do these tasks more than you can”
I am also inspired by my group of colleagues some of which are big fans of outsourcing housework, those that does not require as ‘personal touch’ as cooking for the family, such as laundry and ironing.
Outsourcing a launderette to pick up, iron and deliver our work clothings was perhaps one of the best decisions I have made. With estimated RM 20 per week for ironing x 4 weeks = RM 80 per month if I were to outsource, versus 10 mins daily x 22 working days = 220 minutes = 3.5 hours spent if I were to do my own ironing, it felt so good having been able to reclaim that 3.5 hours / month back. I would perhaps outsource laundry too one day.
Scenario 4 – My ‘comping’ hobby
Time Saved? No
Money Saved? No
What Else I Get In Return? Won approximately RM 50k in value in the past 5 years – consisting of travel/ shopping vouchers, experiences, products, cash
Often when you have a particular hobby, you tend to indulge over it for a considerable amount of time. Your returns from the hobby varies, whether they are tangible or intangible forms.
My particular hobby, if not done right, could be a major time-sucker. But if done correctly, it could bring thrills, joy & satisfaction as well as material rewards.
I find pleasure searching and joining contests. You know those promotions you find in the aisles of your grocery stores, and in those radio advertisements or in the posts of the favourite brands you follow in Instagram. I am acutely aware that this pursuit uses up a lot of time in return of a mere possibility of gaining rewards that the contest is offering.
A successful comper from UK (‘comper’ is a lingo for somebody who actively joins competitions) once quoted:
“You’d be amazed at the prizes I’ve won, but if I told you how many I’ve entered and lost, you’d wonder why I bothered’.
In Richard Wiseman’s book The Luck Factor, he described the lifestyles of 3 people whose hobbies are entering competitions, and described that
“..they all enter a very large amount of competitions – between 50 to 60 each week. Their chances of winning will increase with each and every entry they entered” and also quoted “they usually win about 3 prizes per week”
The amount of time and money spent is usually always directly proportionate for each competition entry one enters. While one can choose to a huge amount of lucky draw competitions hoping to increase the chances of winning over a saturated competition scene (easy to join; hard to win), the money having to spend to join these promotions would be very substantial – a lot of Malaysian contests are ‘purchase-necessary’ contests.
For a full-time working mum, I choose to think over my probability of winning differently than having to spend a considerable amount of time entering a ‘very large amount of competitions’:
- How many prizes are offered – if there are a large number of prizes offered, then your probability of winning is higher than those otherwise
- Whether they are advertised in TV or radio – I typically stay away from these
- Choose local competitions over national ones – if I have to choose due to lack of time, I will choose local competitions in the nearby area, example in the local malls
- Choose creative-based competitions over lucky draws
- Consider entering competitions at supermarkets with lesser outlets – it would typically save me more money and time having to buy lesser products. Lesser outlets would typically mean lesser patronage = lesser people joining the same competition. Try looking at supermarkets that only exist in Klang Valley, even better 🙂
These strategies ain’t gonna win me prizes every week like some compers do, but there’s always 24 hours in a day and I can’t allocate too much of my money and time for contests these days.
How do you make decisions on your time vs money? When you choose to prioritize time over money, do you feel you’re making the right choice? Or vice versa if you prioritize money over time. Do share 🙂