Many of us find ourselves pressed for time and/or money, at least some of the time. And while it’s true that life can be harrying with it’s demands of cooking, cleaning, work, childcare, and maintenance chores, it’s also true that we bring some of those demands upon ourselves by doing way more than we need to do. Whether it’s because our mothers did it that way, or because it fits into society’s image of what a certain person is supposed to do, we sometimes take on things that are unnecessary and incur a lot more stress and expense as a result.
Here’s one example: I have a neighbor who washes and folds her family of five’s bath towels, washcloths, and sheets every day. Every single day. She says she hates doing it, but she believes that sheets and towels aren’t clean enough for more than one use. Her mother did it that way, so now my neighbor does, too. In addition to the time it takes to do this chore daily, it’s also costing her money in electric and water bills, detergent, and increased wear and tear on the linens. She’s always complaining about being stretched for time and low on money and I can only think to myself, “Try washing your stuff just once or twice a week.” Unless the people in the house are absolutely filthy or sick, sheets and towels are good for several days before they need washing.
I have another friend who must clean her bathrooms every day, all three of them. And not just a quick wipe down, either. She fully cleans the toilets, sinks, tubs and floors every day. Again, this is a waste of time and money unless you live with pigs or someone is sick. Think of the money she’s spending on cleaning supplies every year, not to mention the time involved. A quick wipe down of the most frequently used surfaces would suffice, and even that is overkill in most homes. A bathroom really only needs to be thoroughly cleaned once, maybe twice, per week. This is another person who regularly complains of having no free time and little money. She’d free up at least an hour a day if she let the bathrooms go.
There are other things we do, as well, that we don’t really need to do so often.
- Oil changes every 3,000 miles: Most cars can make it 5,000, so unless your car has specific requirements, waiting that extra 2,000 miles can save you money and time spent at the lube shop.
- Driving kids all over town: I know people who seem to do nothing but drive their kids around all day. They drive them to and from school, then to activities all afternoon and into the evening. Yet the school offers a bus and two other people on their street are going to the same activities. Save time and money by putting the kids on the school bus and organizing a carpool for activities, or cut down the number of activities your kids participate in.
- Mowing your grass every week: In many places in the country, there are only a few “peak” lawn weeks per year when the lawn grows at a crazy pace. In the spring and fall or during a drought the grass grows much slower. Yet I see many people out every weekend mowing their hearts out, whether the grass needs it or not. If the grass isn’t out of control, let it go for two weeks and save the time and the gas money.
- Going to the grocery store multiple times per week: A lady I work with stops by the grocery store every afternoon after work to pick up food for that night’s dinner. While I applaud her for not eating out, I shake my head at the time and money she’s wasting. Every trip to the store is at least thirty minutes. And we all know, the more time you spend in the store the more you’re likely to spend on impulse buys. I suspect that these trips are eating up much more money that she realizes or plans for. If she sat down and planned some meals, only shopped every other week, and bought a lot of sale items, she’d save money and time.
- Going to the salon every week: I know many women who go to the hair salon every week or every two weeks. Yet they could probably stretch it to three weeks, or even a month without much difference and pocket the savings of time and money. If your style is that demanding, maybe you’d be better served by a simpler ‘do.
- Volunteering for every activity: Do you volunteer to host or organize every school or church event, at your own expense of time and money? Maybe you feel it’s expected of you or you feel like no one else can do it right. Whatever the reason, think about saying no. Volunteer for one or two things a year and let someone else pick up the rest. If it doesn’t get done or done well, so be it. You’ll enjoy a huge savings of time and money.
If you find yourself pressed for time and money and feeling stressed out, ask yourself how much of that you’re bringing on yourself. What tasks do you find yourself doing that may be unnecessary and waste time and money that could be better spent elsewhere? What things are you doing out of habit or expectation and not because they really need doing? Think about your day to day routine and identify the things that you can change or do differently to free up some time and money for more useful, fun things.