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Would you rather have time or money? There are many ways in which this question can be interpreted.

This question has been on the back of my mind recently.

There are many ways in which this question can be interpreted.  We probably make this decision every day on a basic level.  Do I walk to work or do I take the car?  The car would cost more but I would get there faster.  Do I buy take out because it saves time or do I cook a home-cooked meal?  Do I turn the dishwasher on because I only have one cup left in the cupboard that’s clean even though the dishwasher doesn’t have a full load?  Do I hire someone to help clean my place? (Don’t worry I’m not really thinking of this question!)

The way that I have been thinking about this question is how it relates to work, how much we are paid, and how much time we spend at work.

Running on… Empty?

I started a new job recently that I am compensated more financially, but at the same time, I am spending an extra 1-3 hours per day on work.  An extra hour of work per day is fine with me, I don’t think it really affects a person’s lifestyle, but an extra 3 hours is a bit much, in my opinion.  With the lack of time, I have resorted to putting my dishes in the dish washer (I used to wash my dishes by hand, haha- there’s not many dishes when you live on your lonesome), had to cut out things that I enjoy doing (like reading, or writing on this blog), began to eat quite poorly, and neglect my friends and family.  Canned and boxed soup, salads (that isn’t so poor but it is definitely quick to make- less than 2 minutes to prepare), and sometimes just whatever is in the fridge.  I was too exhausted to cook (and let’s be honest, it is so time consuming have to prepare your meals every night and clean up after yourself- there goes at least 1-1.5 hours down the drain).  I was getting so run down that I caught a cold and was beginning to feel the stress.  Oh, and I won’t even mention the mess my place was in.

My boyfriend could see how terrible I was becoming at taking care of myself and came over to cook for me, clean (yes he vacuumed a bit), and pack me some meals to freeze.  I also began to think strategically and started cooking batch meals on the weekend, when I have more energy (as I assume 79.9% of North Americans do) so that has helped the stress a bit.

To Be or Not to Be…What I Think

I think that everyone varies, but I guess for some there is no choice.  For others, some choose to enjoy life, spend time with your loved ones (because you will never get that time back).  Personally, I don’t think I could work an extra 1-3 hours a day if I had a family (for example 45 to 60 hours a week).  It would be too much for me.  I would probably feel pulled in too many different directions.

I suppose that’s why many people work so hard to achieve financial independence.  We want to be able to spend that time how we want to.  But does it justify working so hard in the beginning (e.g. from your 20-40’s)?  Or does it make more sense to pace it out, enjoy the ride (if you can call working 9-5 an enjoyable ride), and retire a little later?

Or maybe it’s variety we want.  Working on different things provides for variety and I am a big advocate for this.  When you get bored of one thing (or more so, frustrated) you can focus on the other.  And vice versa.  That’s why I think a side hustle is good for you.

I wonder if my way of thinking is characteristic of Generation Y or the Millennials, where we abide by “working smarter, not harder” and where we value lifestyle over money.  Or maybe we value lifestyle AND money (haha- you know it’s true even a survey on Forbes agrees).

Readers, what would you choose?  Would you rather make a little more money but be busy, or would you rather make a little less and have work life balance?

Article comments

Stephen says:

This is a really easy one for me, I’d rather have the time. Right now I’m so busy with 2 kids, a full time job that has been swamped, and basically a second full time job running my online business that I don’t even have time to watch a good movie once a month!

The only way I have time to even do my blog is by paying people a bunch of money to buy time. People to clean my house. Please to mow my yard. People to fix all my stuff that breaks. It’s crazy!

I’m working hard now to hopefully be able to have more time in the future and find a better balance because I definitely can’t keep this up forever. It’s exhausting AND expensive!

When I was younger I used to be all about the money but after being in the work force for 12 years and being married for 4 I realize that my time is way more important.

I work in media so I work odd hours, if I was offered a job with lower pay but better hours I would seriously consider it. That being said it would be hard to leave for another company that doesn’t have a DB pension.

Young says:

@Barry- Hey Barry thanks for stopping by! You look so young! Lol Yeah I am starting to realize time is more important too. Life is short!

Paul @paul_gagliardi says:

Great post! I have been thinking about this a lot the last couple of weeks and I am leaning more towards making less and having more time. It’s really about striking a balance that’s right for you. You want to be making a life not just making a living.

Dayle says:

I think it’s possible to have it all. A little bit of both, a balance so to speak. I like to be busy… I think I’m good at prioritizing, balancing work, and even multi-tasking. I would much rather be busy than bored.

My situation is such that I work 35 hours per week (base) and often betwee 5-15 hours of week per OT. But it’s sometimes an extra two hours on a weekday, or 5 hours on a weekend, it varies. I have a VERY hard time saying no to the extra money (it’s double time!!). As a rule, if I have other plans I try not to cancel plans to work, but if I am available, I don’t say no. I don’t have kids yet so I am able to spend more time on working I guess than people who have families. If I have kids I think I will be a lot more likely to say no to the extra, but I will always be a full time working mom (35 hours per week).

My parents taught me two conflicting cliches, and as I get older, the first one applies more. They are:
“make hay while the sun shines”
and “you have your whole life to work”


WonderfulRush says:

Definitely time. I’m a shut-in with a couple friends, so if I had a job, I could (if I wanted to) put in a few hours more into work. Regardless, I’d rather have time over money.

I’ve worked full-time once during summer in high-school with some overtime, and at first it was great because it was my first experience earning money. After a month, though, I started to hate it. The friends I have who’ve graduated from university and landed a job felt the same way.

Every hour at work is one hour of your life wasted unless you truly, from the bottom of your heart, enjoy your job. Waiting until you’re old to enjoy life is dumb, in my opinion.

Nelson says:

I used to be like you. Sure, I would say, I’ll work an extra hour in exchange for more money. I had no problem working overtime. I was the ambitious guy who wanted to get promoted.

Now? I work about 35 hours a week, have a minimal commute, and have plenty of time to pursue my own interests. There came a point where I said “meh. That’s enough.” I’m still ambitious to an extent, but I learned that having interesting work without a whole lot of pressure is much better than an extra $10k a year for the boss’s job. I’m not sure you could pay me enough to work 60 hours per week again. My energy gets spent finding the next obscure small cap stock that is mispriced.

You’re worth, what, $300k? If you just left that to compound and earned 7% on it, you’ll end up with $4.7 million in 40 years. And you did that on your own, albeit while sharing expenses. If you and this new guy are on the same page, you can really save like demons.

But what what point do you say “okay, it’s time to slow down and spend more time to smell the roses?” For me, that time starts now. I’d say you should do the same. You have such a huge head start that all you need to do is not squander things and you’ll end up in the 1%. Why work even harder to end up in the 0.1%?

Most people aren’t serious about this. They want the independence without the hard work to get there, the years of saving 50-80% of your salary, and learning about investing so they can generate cash flow while not working. They want their cake and to eat it too. Why do you think so many people want to blog for a living?

Anyway, I’d say slow down a little. I did, and I’m much happier for it.

Young says:

@FU- Awe thanks for your long thoughtful comment! Yeah it’s definitely food for thought for me. Haha uhhhhh good question about the new guy. Things are not going as well as I had hoped. He is in debt and I think we have different financial viewpoints. Le sigh.

I think once I have kids I will definitely settle down a bit, probably work part time only. Glad to hear you are enjoying it- smelling the roses!

I am going to slow down and not work so hard at work- I’m too old for the crazy work week lol. I ain’t “YOUNG” anymore… but still thrifty! Lol.

Phil says:

Great advice! Work hard while you are young and with few commitments, and as the commitments are added, back away from the work load and enjoy a happy balanced life, knowing you planned for it years earlier – Cheers