What have you done and what would you do to save yourself a couple of extra bucks? Could these money saving tips actually be costing you more than you saved? And not just a bit, but a LOT more? I have to admit my spending habits are frugal and I love walking away from a purchase feeling I've won the battle of the price war.
However, the question I later reflect on is not whether the store still made money off me, or whether I could sell it on eBay and make a profit, but 'Were my savings worth it? Was the great deal I found the best use of my time and energy?'
How much is my time worth?
This is the catch 22... I can save money but it usually ends up costing me time and energy. The reality is: time is the one thing we lose forever. Once a minute or a day has passed, we can't reclaim those opportunities in the future and we've either used our time well or wasted it.
While money doesn't grow on trees and I don't have a lot of it, with what I do have I strive to be a good steward. Because of this mentality I am prepared to spend hours researching products and comparing prices. In hindsight however, my time spent securing the best deal on a purchase takes away from the time with my family, writing my blog or numerous other activities and I must assess how much is my time worth?
Is my time worth $20, $50 or $100 an hour? One could also argue there can't be any value placed on my time, when considering the opportunity to build relationships. If I do assign a value on my time, how much time can I spend shopping around in order to make it worth it?
I am totally for shopping around and trying to secure the best deal. I am also a big advocate for reviews and research into products, especially big purchases. However, not only am I called to be a steward of my money, but my time and I need to wrap my head around finding the balance these two.
Balancing time and money
What this balance may look like will likely be different for each person and purchase. For example, a large and long term purchase warrants a greater amount of time processing the decision, including prayer, reviews, research and price comparison. A small purchase will obviously decrease the amount of money you can actually save on the product and therefore should involve a shorter decision process.
An individual's priorities for family, sport and other activities, as well as their financial situation are also determining factors in where one's time should be spent. This includes the ability for someone to increase their cash flow, because if you can work an extra hour and earn $50, why spend an extra hour price comparing the same product to save only $40?
Who's to blame?
All things told I am a big supporter of using my time wisely. I have full time work, a wife and children I need (and want) to spend time with, a blog and other ministry commitments and relationships with friends and family to invest into. Needless to say, when it comes to finances I realise I have not yet comprehended the fact saving money shopping around could be costing me a lot more than I imagine.
I blame the World Wide Web for this misspent time, although really it could also be that finances are too much an idol in my life and I'm not convinced God can provide.
'No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.' (Matthew chapter 6, verse 24)
Ouch, that truth hurt.
In reality the Internet is more likely the tool, not the motive for shopping around, because it now allows a customer to research a product to the extreme and source goods from all parts of the globe. Gone are the days where shopping could ONLY be local (instead small businesses now have to promote this feature in an attempt to remain competitive and unique).
Deep down however, the heart issue remains. While it's easy to pass the buck (pun intended) by claiming a commitment to financial stewardship, I must assess why I'm really looking for the best deal and ensure I spend my time wisely, not just my finances.
Tim Wilsonis an Australian currently living in Canada with his wife (also a comment writer) and their three children. He is passionate about the Church living according to the Word of God and authors a blog to inspire and challenge men and women of faith.www.abrokenmanblog.com
Tim Wilson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-wilson.html