Time frugality

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Scott 2
Posts: 811
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:17 pm

With the exception of paying for expert instruction, I'm finding very few satisfactory opportunities to buy time.

My approach to frugality has always erred on the side of being happy with less, rather than enjoying luxuries by doing the expensive parts myself.

This means using more money requires doing new things, which just doesn't relieve the time constraints.

Even in the case of expert instruction - I'm using it to take areas of interest to a deeper level than otherwise time practical. I definitely enjoy the experience, but if anything, because of that, I'm spending even more time on it.

Assertively saying no to things I just don't want to do has yielded​ a much higher return than spending.

Posts: 2760
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Time frugality

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:27 am

Do you grow your own wheat? Make your own paper? Build your own bicycle? There are endless opportunities to head in the other direction no matter how simple your current lifestyle. However, it has been my experience that the society I live in is so terrifically affluent, it is usually less life-energy intensive to acquire almost anything for free through scavenge of discards or forage on the commons, rather than going down to baseline scratch production. Tool production is also a significant barrier. For instance, it's easy to whip out your own smoothies, but much more difficult to construct your own blender. Sometimes it even takes significantly less time than shopping to just go out to the alley and scavenge something.

Scott 2
Posts: 811
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:44 pm

Hah, you got me there, I am buying all sorts of time with my first $10k spent a year.

User avatar
Posts: 157
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Time frugality

Post by Fish » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:18 am

@Scott Have been following this thread and pleased that you are voting with your wallet and steering job creation in a more positive direction. I'm thinking if one were idealist about it, they would keep going until they were nearly moneyless. I don't know what's going on in the food or consumer goods and services supply chain and I'm not sure I want to find out. I like using the market too. :)

How interesting it is that your initial conditions were already close to your new equilibrium. And it's rather unfortunate that at the margin, time-money equivalence only works in one direction (exchanging time for more money, via paid work or increased DIY).(*) Getting more time as you noted requires a change in basic design. Either by eliminating things, increasing efficiency, or relocating yourself to reduce the need for transportation.

(*)Maybe someone more extreme in spending efficiency could correct me here. Employing professional services has a built-in time inefficiency due to not being collocated with the professional. One of us needs to travel. Consequently, spending money to solve a problem is rarely time-efficient unless there's a steep learning curve for DIY or huge volume of work to be performed. The first thing that comes to mind is yard work... which I do for entertainment and light exercise. Is this what we call boring-ness as an asset?

I was skimming a language-learning book over the weekend where the author, a polyglot, advocates making use of "hidden moments" to further the goal. Even if he only has five seconds at the supermarket checkout, he will still whip out the flash cards and learn a new word in his target language. Someone operating with such efficiency is bound to accomplish more. The point is to rethink free time and realize there are very few moments when your mind and body are entirely unfree. Even if you must be devoted to some other task, you might still be able to use your ears, eyes, or hands. Requiring absolute freedom before working on a goal is an inefficient use of time, and furthermore ideal conditions almost never present themselves. Being able to make effective use of minutes/seconds of downtime is key because these moments are everywhere in our lives.

Scott 2
Posts: 811
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:31 am

I think you're spot on about extreme spending enabling more time purchase. If I hire someone, I want them to do the job at least as well as I would. That means I still take the time to understand what they do, so I can recognize value. At a certain point, it's then faster to do it myself than deal with the search, hire, schedule problem.

If money was truly no object, I could just hire the top reputed company in my area every time, pay for even simple tasks, and not worry about it. I can see that quickly leading to a 5-10x spending multiplier. Not to mention the long term cost in resilience. Taking it even further, I could hire one trusted person to handle it all.

The only way I can afford this, at a level the meets my quality needs and budget constraints, is to have my wife not work. We tried this, and while it offered a great deal more free time, it was too hard on our relationship. Turns out she resents being obligated to help on my schedule, and I cannot help but view the expense with a 33x multiplier, extrapolating into the implicit loss of my FI status. My resulting expectations were very high, because I value the freedom and security so much, maybe impossibly high.

Strategically, if free time was the only goal, switching back to that arrangement and earning her FI as well would probably be optimal, but I couldn't handle it. We're​ talking annoyed at a $3 grocery store purchase levels​ of frustration. So if I would absorb a permanent 2.5x spending multiplier, money could buy the time.

I've tried the flash cards in the grocery store attitude in the past. It's a rough way to live, very irritating to everyone you interact with. More importantly, I found it confused being busy for being effective. For me at least, strategic insights happen during some of that apparent down time.

I am taking the steps to improve my home gym, eliminating a twice weekly drive to the local globo gym. More importantly, I'll be able to choose audio and video content for those workouts. This isn't strictly spending more though, since there's a 3 year payback period, and it eases the time pressure of my wife and I sharing a car. I suppose it is more an up front investment of time, to save time later.

The strongman also agreed to work with me at my house, which saves my twice monthly drive to see him, and cuts the third party (gym) from our deal.

I did drop $100 to eliminate a two hour trip to get 3 stall mats - about 300lbs of gym flooring. It made me a little mentally uncomfortable (it doubled the flooring expense), but saved a significant time and energy cost, on a work day even.

Wrestling the 4x6 100lb stall mats in and out of my car would have been exhausting. I'm a little sore just from unloading the pallet and laying them out to air.

Again here, add another 2-3x multiplier, I could have bought installed flooring that doesn't off gas. Instead I'll be scrubbing these down outside on Friday, flipping them a couple times over the next month, then hauling then down the basement stairs myself.

My biggest recent return though, came from saying no to a work day trip, for a two hour meeting. I was the only remote person of sixteen. Worth it.

Scott 2
Posts: 811
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:14 am

Hired a plumber to fix a couple leaky toilets and a faucet. I might have recaptured a couple hours, but I paid for it.

Tried getting him to address a window well that's filling with water. That ended in an overpriced well cover that didn't work. Tried getting my condo association to deal with it. They noticed a gutter broke and is dumping water near the window, and will send someone to fix it and run a pipe. But they also pushed cleaning out the dirt and replacing it with gravel back on me. I don't think there's any chance I can hire that out in less time than it'll take to do, and I'm probably at a wash on time spent with the association and plumber vs. DIY.

The smarter time answer would be to rent. I'm not prepared to eat the cost of changing my living situation at this point, but it's a time burden for sure. Windows are squeaky, tracks need to be cleaned and lubed, for instance. At least the association deals with most external upkeep.

Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:22 am
Location: Under the Great White North

Re: Time frugality

Post by Jake9870 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:55 am

I'm finding a great deal of satisfaction renting my apartment right now. My rent is considerably cheaper than most. Living out of an RV with hookups would actually be considerably more expensive. The property management company takes care of everything we need done free of cost. Life is good :)

The place is small: cleaning/maintenance does not take much time.

I'm actually thinking of cutting the car out of the equation as well. It seems to me the less things to take care of the more care we can put into ourselves, the things we want to do, and the people around us.

Scott 2
Posts: 811
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: Time frugality

Post by Scott 2 » Sat May 20, 2017 5:46 pm

I envy renters. My townhome isn't even high maintenance, but I always resent the work.

With the window well, I ultimately had to crawl under the deck to spread pea gravel, as well as dig out accumulated debris from the well, and replace that with pea gravel. I hated it, but that was my end of the deal with the association. IMO it was pointless, as was the window well cover. When the gutter extension got fixed, the well stopped flooding. It definitely would have been faster to just deal with the full problem myself, starting with a gutter extension.

I also had to spend time taking apart, cleaning, and lubing windows. Yuck.

I find the car gives a lot of freedom for the cost, but I've optimized a lot of things around it - bought used 10 years ago, share with my wife, drive only a couple thousand miles a year, keep it in my garage, have a local independent mechanic, etc.

I'm finding time gains in buying ridiculously overpriced convenience foods - canned soups, string cheese, individual serve yogurts, frozen fruit, bread, meat substitutes, etc. The pattern was so foreign, it didn't occur to me until now, but it's great time payback for the money spent. Dropping $2-3 on a single bowl of black bean chili does offend my sensibilities little.

Investing in the home gym to cancel the globo gym didn't work out. It turns out I am impossibly lazy, and I will just sit there watching Netflix, instead of taking my set. This is mostly a problem on the weekends, when I have few time constraints, and might take 3-4 hours to get my lifting done. So now I have a sweet home gym and a globo gym membership. I do see the gym membership as far more valuable now. There's a bunch of stuff I like doing that just is not cost practical at home. I had no idea how expensive some of the stuff was. A decent lat pulldown is $1000, I get by with a pulley and a rope...

Paying for expert instruction remains the biggest success. The strongman has changed my lifting in ways I never would have discovered on my own. My joints feel healthier, my gains are better, and I continue learning new stuff. If there's anywhere my frugality really shorted me in the past, this is it. Admittedly, rather than buying time, money is giving experiences I could not create on my own.

Post Reply