Time frugality

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Scott 2
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Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:45 pm

I've done a pretty good job of controlling expenses, for many years, and now I have money. Often, that control has come at the cost of time.

I'm interested in going the other way - using money or alternate lifestyle patterns to make my time expenditure frugal. I like the work I'm doing, my main complaint is the time constraints. A few things in doing to help:

Finally paying for cell data on my phone
Timing errands and travel for off peak windows
Working from home
Doing yoga at home instead of a class
Lifting at home 2 of 4 days per week
Housekeeper once every 4-6 weeks
Dirty house most of the time
Breaking work into productive sprints, spread through the day, focusing on output over hours

Grocery shopping, cooking, eating and dishes are big waste areas for me. So is hygiene, I have a hard time being sweaty and am finicky with dental stuff.

How do you conserve time?

Edit - not just time, but also energy. Running 3 miles instead of walking isn't a real win, since it still drains the finite pool of energy. Catching an Uber could be.

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Dragline
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Dragline » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:52 pm

Mostly by avoiding doing things when everyone else is doing them. Don't shop when others shop, don't commute when others commute, etc. If you get up early and take care of such things before others do, you'll save time. And buy things online whenever possible.

Use technology to pay your bills and automate payments and savings whenever it makes sense.

Combining activities is also useful, too. For example, I've enjoyed listening to a lot of podcasts in the past year, but they take up a lot of time. So I now speed up the playback and only listen when I am doing something else, such as commuting or exercising (or the ultimate combo of commuting, exercising and listening all at once). It makes me walk more which is good for me.

Agree with exercising at home. Also, you don't need to wash clothes, change towels or sheets nearly as much as most people do. Just don't be gross about it.

And if you live with another person or persons, there is no reason why everyone has to spend time shopping, cooking, doing dishes or any other particular chore. Divide and conquer. I've always thought one of the weirdest and most wasteful things I see families do is all go shopping together -- talk about indoctrinating your children with bad habits.

Avoid using TV as your information source or consuming any programs regularly. On the other hand, avoid attending large events involving crowds and lines when you can watch them on TV instead.

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FBeyer
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Re: Time frugality

Post by FBeyer » Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:55 pm

Dragline wrote:... I've always thought one of the weirdest and most wasteful things I see families do is all go shopping together -- talk about indoctrinating your children with bad habits...
I never thought buying lentils and cucumbers would somehow be indoctrination, I'm genuinely curious what harm you think I'm doing to my little daugther currently when we go grocery shopping together.

Or is shopping considered distinct from grocery shopping in this context?

Did
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Did » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:02 pm

Long been fan of quote that money without time is meaningless. Main way I freed up time was to stop working in the normal sense. I'm not wealthy but my time is worth more than the hundreds of thousands a year the market was offering to continue to work.

You need to be quite principled to do this prior to conventional (say, Mr MM) FU cash. Not in any superior way, but sticking to your principles.

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Dragline
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Dragline » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:16 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Dragline wrote:... I've always thought one of the weirdest and most wasteful things I see families do is all go shopping together -- talk about indoctrinating your children with bad habits...
I never thought buying lentils and cucumbers would somehow be indoctrination, I'm genuinely curious what harm you think I'm doing to my little daugther currently when we go grocery shopping together.

Or is shopping considered distinct from grocery shopping in this context?
I wasn't thinking so much about grocery shopping with a little one or teaching a useful skill in selecting the right foods. I was thinking more about entire families (mom, dad, kids and maybe grandparents) going to the mall or to Costco or something because they need one thing and then hanging out there and buying a bunch of crap and/or treats that they don't need as a form of entertainment. (These types are often obese as well.) The other one that gets DW's goat is the family that barely knows how to cook milling around a grocery store together before a holiday calling their friends and other family because they didn't make a list and don't know what to buy. BTW, bad/inefficient shoppers are way more prevalent in the afternoons than in the mornings.

sky
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Re: Time frugality

Post by sky » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:04 pm

Meal prepping means I can cook once, eat many times.

If I was willing to live from eating three burritos per day, I could meal prep six times a month, sixteen burritos at a time and have all cooking done with.

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BRUTE
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Re: Time frugality

Post by BRUTE » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:22 pm

intermittent fasting => eat 1x/day
meal prep => prepare 5+ meals in <1h
combination => cook 1x for 5+ days of meals

trying to lose fat? add several complete fast days per week and eat body fat. saves money and time.

edit: more ideas

IF also means lunch break @ work can be used to relax, read, work on side projects, run errands
commute with public transport means listening to podcasts/doing productive things/reading vs. having to drive

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FBeyer
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Re: Time frugality

Post by FBeyer » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:39 am

Dragline wrote:
FBeyer wrote:Or is shopping considered distinct from grocery shopping in this context?
I wasn't thinking so much about grocery shopping with a little one or teaching a useful skill in selecting the right foods. I was thinking more about entire families (mom, dad, kids and maybe grandparents) going to the mall or to Costco or something...
Ah, English-as-a-second-language-misunderstandings then.



Time frugality: Cut down on cleaning time by owning only what you need. Store as few things on the floor as possible, store things inside a closet with doors where your stuff won't collect dust. Hanging things on the wall collects dust as well. Every loud speaker, lamp, flower pot, chair, bean bag, stack of kettlebells, every decorative picture, every little knick knack, every small box, everything that rests on the floor with a small non-square flush footprint takes a lot of time to dust/vacuum around.

Edit: Too long didn't read: Save money on house keeping by storing ALL your stuff inside closets. That also saves you time to clean.

Scott 2
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:52 am

Revisiting this, I've realized it's actually worth paying above my going hourly wage to get time back, since it lets me keep my full time job, and do the stuff I want.

I've done some previously unheard of things. Most recently:

Paid $75 for a 40 minute cab ride, instead of driving in the city or dealing with mass transit

Paid to replace my furnace after a single quote

Started doing peapod for my groceries. This was the natural conclusion of the initial change to whatever store was on way.

Ate out multiple times in a single day, when traveling for work, instead of packing meals.

Over tipping on a regular weekly cab ride, so the same driver always shows, early.

Skipping the return on a few bad purchases around $20.

As discrete events, they directly contradict my prior experience and frugal values. As tools to make the full time work sustainable, they are smart choices with very high returns.

PA Hiker
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Re: Time frugality

Post by PA Hiker » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:37 am

Two things that spring to mind immediately are car maintenance and yard work.

I used to do my own oil change, filters, brakes, spark plugs, tire rotations etc.
Saved some money, but once these simple tasks were mastered they quickly became drudgery.

I enjoy yard work, but it too can be drudgery, especially when it was one of a long list of chores that needs done on the weekends or evenings after work.

It is pretty easy to outsource these two chores fairly cheaply.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Time frugality

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:24 pm

I think this is only of utility if/when you are fully self-aware about the extent to which you are sacrificing resilience for efficiency. That said, I have lately found myself often choosing to be "retired' from cooking after decades of performing this task for myself and multiple others for most meals. However, it does give me the same icky feeling, which might be manifested by shaking my head and muttering "Koyaanisqatsi" to myself, that I get if I don't bother to squat down and pick a nickel up off the sidewalk.

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Fish
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Fish » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:00 pm

@Scott 2: Interesting. As someone whose time is gobbled up by the demands of career and children, I can definitely understand the logic and appeal of this approach. Do you treat this as a cost/perk of full-time employment or are you going to accumulate to maintain these treats when you FIRE?

My goal is to make pre- and post-FIRE life as similar as possible. To me, paying someone to clean the house to enable a more desirable activity means I've failed and have more house than I am willing to maintain. IOW, I would prefer to confront the source of the problem(*) rather than addressing the symptoms.

(*)In theory, however in practice it usually means living with inefficiencies until things reach a breaking point.

This being said, if you've already saved a significant amount towards FIRE, there's no reason you can't shower yourself with treats. You can even live paycheck to paycheck. What matters is not low spending but high adaptability. Scaling needs and wants to match income can also be a valuable skill.

Scott 2
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:34 am

In the event I stop working, I would expect to cut the more expensive items, that I don't mind doing.

Food shopping is fun, when I can meander, go at a slow time, pick out new things to cook, etc. Racing through the store on a Saturday afternoon, sucks. My schedule constraints make Peapod is as much about saving energy and tolerance for others, as it is about saving time. Remove the schedule constraints and the cost probably isn't worth it.

I intend to never ride another public bus. I'll happily build cab money or reduced travel frequency into my schedule to avoid that mess. Trains are just fine, if I have time. Great chance to read a book.

House cleaning, lawn work, car care - I have others doing that in my minimal FI budget. I'd rather work longer than scrub a toilet or mow a lawn.

I think having a couple luxuries in the budget is a reasonable buffer against a failed plan too. If things get tight, there is space to cut.

What's new about this for me, is coming around to the idea that it's OK to "over" pay, as a form of interdependence, or even to be under compensated, to keep crap out of my schedule. If others can take the junk time out of my life, and I use it to work an interesting job, but still get to have my fun, everyone comes out ahead. My prior perspective was to challenge everything - the mechanic is trying to take advantage of me, the grocery store overcharges, better threaten to cancel internet for a deal again, I need to work harder for the best performance review for the biggest possible raise, etc.

The fact that I'm currently in the best job of my life and have resources surely influences this shift. I do wonder if it was a mistake not adopting it sooner

classical_Liberal
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Re: Time frugality

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:10 pm

I certainly understand where @scott 2 is coming from. When time is scarce, one is willing to pay premium for more. I tend to agree with @7W5 that it costs more than the money, also resilience and @fish that time scarcity tends to be a symptom of an underlying issue. As a person who has lived both ways, I would fear that the premium expenditures for time will become ubiquitous in lifestyle.

An analogy, once I spend the effort to become physically fit I can tell myself it's OK to occasionally eat pizza and skip workouts. This is fine as long as balance is maintained. Personally, I find this behavior generally begets further behavior and soon enough I am overweight again. Sure, I can tell myself "I can get in shape again, I've done it before", but taking the required action gets more difficult with each successive attempt.

Re-achieving old goals becomes boring and repetitive, whereas setting new goals from a previously achieved baseline provides more satisfaction. It's important not to set oneself back so far that reclaiming the previously achieved baseline becomes an arduous, time consuming task in itself.

Bill
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Bill » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:30 pm

How I have a lot of free time?

1) I use my frugality to work maybe 40% the amount most people do and can still make some savings. (Flexible job)

2) whenever I cycle into town I try and do a few jobs rather than just one. Common sense really. Means I only need to go in one or twice a week rather than 3 or 4 times.

3) hardly ever cook. My diet is mostly fresh fruit, mixed nuts and seeds, milk, tins of sardines on crackers or cheese and crackers. Tried adding hard boiled eggs for a while now trying raw eggs+milk in the mornings as a shake. Just super simple stuff. No washing up, no prep. Peanut butter on apples is a recent addition. I feel healthy. Quick to get in the shops as well. Tried a couple of the European soylents too but unsure if I will continue with them. Leaning more towards simple diy soylent.

4) keep the house as minimal as possible. Just easier to keep tidy and organised. If I tidy up while listening to music or a podcast or something it's an enjoyable job.

5) say no to stuff I don't want to do. I guess I've never joined a weekly meeting club or anything because I value flexibility and freedom.

Scott 2
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:49 pm

My preference is to arrange life to eliminate the obligations I dislike. The cost of change is a barrier.

Let's say I can get into a smaller home with $3k less carrying costs a year, and less to do, but it costs $20k in real estate commissions, staging costs, and moving expenses. Plus all the up front time headaches. Pulling the trigger on that is tough to justify. The payback period is pretty long.

I do wonder about hedonic adaptation with these time luxuries. So far they still trouble my core values a bit, but that's likely to get easier. I like to think I'll adapt to changing circumstances pretty readily. Practically speaking, continuing to work is bumping my net worth by a few percent a month, so they quickly become affordable long term.

I don't buy that mowing my own lawn, cleaning my own toilets, or shopping for my own groceries increases my resilience. Stuff I've never done before, sure, but that other stuff is just work.

Another side of this, is paying for expert instruction. I'm finding that fast tracks development of new skills, makes hobbies more fun, and increases resilience. It's really hard for me to cede that someone else is superior, or deserves my money to teach me, but the benefits are compelling.

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Fish
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Fish » Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:19 am

Interdependence is a viable strategy with its own set of rewards and drawbacks. It's great that you found a new way to spend money and get value from it. I sense the appreciation and that's the right way to go about it.

The common perception of frugality is backwards. It shouldn't be (all) about money. Eliminating inefficiencies should be the tactical objective with reduced spending as deliberate side-effect. So if you choose to live with inefficiencies, it's perfectly reasonable to mitigate the consequences with money. Just watch out for the higher order effects.

Here's something else to consider, though you are welcome to disagree. As a matter of principle I try very hard not to outsource work that others would not find enjoyable. I want my spending to create good jobs. The outsourcing examples you provided are not particularly egregious (only an hour here and there), but I assume hired help doesn't enjoy having my junk time offloaded to them. It's not something they would be doing if the financial incentive were removed. I'm not saying you're a bad person but it's another perspective on outsourcing.

P.S. About the house, I recall reading you live in a single-digit walkscore area. Although the financial payback period might be long, have you accounted for the potential time benefit of optimizing your location?

Scott 2
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:25 am

My preference is to totally eliminate the work. To some extent I've limited it. One car, town house, infrequent house cleaning, etc.

I do have a problem with the way people doing outsourced labor are valued. It's crap that my wage for sitting at a computer might be 2-10x what a manual worker is getting.

Over spending relative to what the market would bear is a way to address it. It's localized, but doesn't cost much to give significantly more to the person doing the work. That's part of what makes it easier to reconcile the spending with my values. Admittedly, living in the townhouse, I cannot do this with the lawn care or snow removal.

I would assume paying extra comes with improved work quality, but that has not been my observation in practice. I've had the best results there remaining loyal to individuals that do a great job, being an easy customer, and expressing my appreciation every time they help me. Your money or your life helped me understand that people work for more than just money, so that's what I try to provide.

My observation is there is a lot of supply for the outsourced work, and while the people doing it might prefer something else, it's what they know how to get. I talked to an Uber driver who was clearing $7/hr driving in the city. Yet she kept going. Yikes.

Good memory on the poor walk score! Practically speaking the car mitigates most of the time constraints, especially with me working from home. I'd be surprised if my annual cost for a car is over $1k a year. I find the argument for going carless the Midwest tough. I did it for about five years.

I do think it's possible there is a "better" location for me, but I'm stuck in a local minimum, that makes changing to find it look overly costly. My wife and I were talking about that last night. There are some hobby locations we'd like to be closer to, we'd prefer to be in a smaller place, further from traffic, etc. Most of that though, I think could lead to a different life we like better, not having impact on total time or expense. The up front transaction cost is high in both time and money, and it's intimidating as a result. It amplifies the risk a new location is worse.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Time frugality

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:37 am

Fish said: As a matter of principle I try very hard not to outsource work that others would not find enjoyable.
Well, it is possible to buy a solar powered lawn mowing robot for approximately $2500. $2500 X .03 = $75 = only 7.5 hours manual labor at $10/hr, so obviously it is already much less expensive to buy a robot to do manual labor that you don't enjoy rather than hire a relatively unskilled human to perform the task. If the trend continues in this direction, it will be virtually impossible to not have to come to some sort of consensus about how many lazy humans the planet should support.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Time frugality

Post by EdithKeeler » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:08 pm

Well, it is possible to buy a solar powered lawn mowing robot for approximately $2500. $2500 X .03 = $75 = only 7.5 hours manual labor at $10/hr, so obviously it is already much less expensive to buy a robot to do manual labor that you don't enjoy rather than hire a relatively unskilled human to perform the task. If the trend continues in this direction, it will be virtually impossible to not have to come to some sort of consensus about how many lazy humans the planet should support.
My neighbor has some kind of robot lawn mower. I think it's more like a radio controlled thing, and it doesn't look brand new. I watch him when he "mows his lawn." He spends about 20 minutes going around the yard picking up every twig and branch he can find. Then he sits in a lawn chair and watches the robot--very carefully. Periodically the mower will hit a thick patch of grass, or an unseen twig, or a tree root and either stop in its tracks or flip over and he has to run over and right it and pull crap from the blades or whatever. (Every time I watch him do the yard I think of that "BattleBots" show I've seen a couple times on TV, where people build these robots and then try to ruin each other's hand crafted robot). Anyway, I think it takes the guy about 2 hours to do his lawn, plus he still has to trim.

I happily pay my yard guy $50 about every 10 days or so in the summer to do my yard. Beats spending my whole Saturday doing it (he has a crew of 5 people and it takes them longer to unload and load the equipment than it does for them to do my yard).

I might get a lawn-mowing robot if it would just do its thing without me. MIght be cool to have a humanoid robot pushing the lawnmower... but I suspect we'll likely have humanoid BattleBots first, where they beat the shit out of each other.....
Last edited by EdithKeeler on Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Dragline
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Dragline » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:36 pm

@EK -- that's really funny, actually. :lol:

Scott 2
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:39 am

I've run into they very problem Fish alluded to - how the people doing the work are treated.

Peapod has two strikes against it. If the online reviews of working conditions are honest, they suck. It's a far cry from my friend who was picking groceries at local store when I was in high school. The second is they are sending produce that is much worse than what I pick at Aldi, at twice the price. Likely a product of the working conditions.

Now the Uber's got the sexually abusive environment. I think women in tech is important, for a variety of reasons. This is on top of the poor driver pay.

Not sure what I'm going to do yet. It's not like other business don't have problems like these.

halfmoon
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Re: Time frugality

Post by halfmoon » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:48 am

This free Roomba may still be available to do your vacuuming:

https://www.craigslist.org/about/best/o ... 00681.html

:lol:

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vezkor
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Re: Time frugality

Post by vezkor » Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:28 am

I try to focus on being very efficient with my tasks to combine as many into one activity as possible. One of my favorites was mentioned above by @dragline " the ultimate combo of commuting, exercising and listening all at once). It makes me walk more which is good for me."

I do my best to build these 2x-3x multipliers into my hours. Whenever I exercise, vacuum the apartment, do the dishes (regular chores in general that don't require critical thinking) or when I lived with my parents and mowed the lawn: I have some sort of audiobook/podcast/music going that I want to listen to... This way I'm making progress towards multiple goals at once and it always feels like I get more hours out of each day.

As for outsourcing, I may see things your way @Scott 2 once I have a much higher income. As it stands currently I have much more time than money so I still actively look for ways to insource and cut expenses. My dad is in the opposite situation and I see him do many similar (outsourcing) things. To each their own!

Scott 2
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Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:08 am

I went back to buying my own food at Aldi. Other than the time, the experience is just better.

I've been coordinating my weekly Uber ride so my wife gets me instead. Again, other than an extra 20 minutes of time, the experience is better.

My wife made an offhand comment about the housekeeper - "oh she looked tired, she doesn't really like to come on this day of the week, because she works at the factory all day. She just cut all her hair short, because she's been dying the grey out for a long time, and it was damaged."

Meanwhile I've been insisting on that day, because I've got a meeting outside the house, so I don't have to be around for the noise or interaction. Instead I'm using money to make a woman over 40, with kids, clean my house after working at the factory all day. Fail. I think she'll be happier, and probably do a better job, if we just ask when she wants to work. Gonna change that and get over it. I should treat her well enough that I'm happy to see her.

I stumbled across a YouTube video that suggests as your means increase, your methods of personal development should change. Essentially, use money to work with the best people you can, the return is there. It aligns with my almost total renunciation of books, and hiring of a national level strongman competitor to help me lift weights better. They were more focused on building a business, but I like the idea.

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