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?