Chef once concluded that couples fight about two things: time and money. In our case, that was true for a number of years. If he was working a lot, I’d be upset because I didn’t have enough time with him. If he wasn’t working much, I’d get nervous that we didn’t have enough money to make ends meet.
The poor guy couldn’t win.
Now that we’ve been married for over a decade, I’ve matured and have more reasonable expectations of a self-employed man. Plus, having a financial plan and sticking to a budget greatly reduces my worries about cash flow.
I still think a lot about the pull of time vs. money, though. There are a number of ways I think we could save money, but they require time I don’t always have. For example, I would love to bake all our own bread and sweets — cinnamon rolls, scones, English muffins — you name it. I’m pretty sure it would be less expensive (and probably healthier) than buying these items at the grocery store, but you have to devote hours to yeast breads. I’d like to do a better job of bargain shopping. I think that food staples like flour and milk are probably cheaper at Aldi (a discount food store) than at Meijer (a big supermarket), but Meijer is closer and I can get everything in one place. I want to shop sales and with coupons, but there’s a good deal of time and effort involved in that since we don’t subscribe to a newspaper and we don’t have internet at home. Cooking up lots of meals ahead of time and freezing them would reduce those (albeit rare) instances of deciding to go out to eat because we’re too tired to cook — but in the evenings we’re just trying to get ourselves fed for the night and on weekends we’re catching up on everything we didn’t get done during the week. I hope that this year we can do a lot more food preservation — canning and freezing — but those tasks take time as well.
It’s hard to quantify how much money we could save if I had time to take on all these tasks. I’m sure I would enjoy doing it if I felt I could spare the energy. And I know that some day, I will be doing it happily.
The question of timing comes to mind often. It’s no big secret that I don’t love my job. I’d really like to turn in my resignation as soon as we get that last credit card paid off. I’d even be okay with hanging on until our emergency fund is built up. But then it gets tricky. To pay off the house quickly, it would sure be nice to have the extra income. And then we want to save up for some land, and then build a house, paying cash all along the way. If I quit working, or even if I keep working but reduce my income by going part time, how much longer will it take to achieve those goals than if I just stuck it out in the job I’m in? If I work part time, I would have more time to take on those other cost-saving activities and perhaps even to pursue writing as a career. But would those things balance out the money I’m currently making?
It’s time vs. money… but we must also throw contentment into the equation. Like Paul, I have learned to be content whether I have much or little (okay, it’s still a process, but I’m getting there!) So it’s not the stuff that will make me happy. Part of me is in a big hurry to attain our goals of a little house on lots of land with a big garden and some chickens and rabbits and honeybees. But I keep reminding myself that Chef and I aren’t old yet, despite what our nieces and nephews might think. If it takes us ten years or more to get there, it won’t mean we’ll be too decrepit to enjoy what we’ve accomplished.
So the questions remain: how long do I keep working full time? If I have more time, will I be able to save us money comparable to what I earn working? And what will make Chef and me the happiest? Most importantly, of course, is what does God want for us to do?
I have my own ideas, but Chef and I have at least ten months to think and pray about it before we make a decision.
What would you do?