When I started this blog (can you believe it will have been EIGHT YEARS AGO next month?), one of my highest values was saving money. But over the past few years, something has shifted. I tend to value my time more. Sure, it’s great to save a buck here or there, but I’ve discovered it can be an even bigger challenge to save an hour here or there. As I watch my kids grow and am keenly aware of my fleeting youth, I’ve made a bigger effort to be intentional about how I spend and save time.
I considered some of the changes I’ve implemented in recent years that reflect this shift, and I thought I’d share them with you. (I honestly could list others, but I’ll keep my list to four today!) Perhaps it will spark something as you consider your New Year’s Resolutions or how you’d like to approach the next season of your life.
Change 1: I outsource more readily.
My blog started as a one-man show. Part of this was because I can be a bit of a control-freak, but the other part is I can be cheap. How could I afford to pay anyone to help me, when the blog was barely earning enough to cover hosting costs?
At some point, I got frustrated enough with doing everything myself that I decided to give it a try. I wish I had sooner! It’s such a relief when pressed with a tech problem to be able to reach out to an experienced tech guy than waste a couple hours of my life trying to solve it. I also just made a down payment to a talented graphic designer to give my blog a facelift this spring. I outsource an awesome team to manage my Pinterest account for me. And I wouldn’t be anywhere if it weren’t for my wonderful web editor, Laura. She corrects my typos, tells me when a post is getting traffic and I need to update it, and suggests winning content ideas. The funny thing is – the blog is more profitable and less stressful now than it was eight years ago. It’s better because of all these people who contribute. Go figure.
This change may be more specific to those of you reading who are small business owners, but I feel it’s worth mentioning because it’s made a tremendous impact in my day-to-day life.
Change 2: I pay for housekeeping and grocery services.
Last fall, I got rather ill and struggled with the energy I needed to keep up with work, kids, and my house. After chatting with my husband, we decided to pay for a twice-monthly housekeeper. Guys, this has been the best decision ever. Even though I’m mostly better now, I have no intention of going back!
The housekeeper I found is just amazing. She is willing to do anything I have for her – laundry, bathrooms, dishes, general pickup, organization. Her rates are reasonable, and I’m happy to pay her. I tend to give her the tasks that I dread doing the most. It’s greatly reduced my stress and worth every penny. Bonus: I get to support a fellow small business owner. Win-win.
This year, I also wrote about Clicklist – Fred Meyer’s online grocery ordering service available in select areas (including mine!). I quickly used up my first 3 free orders, but still happily use it and pay the $4.95 per-order fee. In fact, I placed an order for pickup just a day before Christmas Eve. Talk about a stress reducer! Instead of spending over an hour fighting busy shopping crowds and lines, my kids and I had our order brought out to the parking lot. (And my son caught a rare Pokémon while waiting, too. Snorlax, in case there are any Pokémon players out there!)
What routine tasks do you have that you wish you could eliminate? Maybe it’s yard care, housework, or grooming your dog. Sometimes it’s worth making a budget cut somewhere else so you can free up that time and cross that item off your list! What could you spend that hour or two doing instead?
Change 3: I’ve decided to be content with our income.
As I sat down to look at our income for the past year, I realized something miraculous: I’m content. Could we earn more? Yeah, sure – who couldn’t? But earning more will undoubtedly cost me something else: time! Instead of spinning our wheels this year trying to earn more money, I had a radical thought: what if we decided to simply be smarter with the income we’re already earning?
Some of these things might include continuing to save money, pay off debt, eating out less, and budgeting more. I’d rather focus on those things than working more hours in 2017.
Are there ways you could be creative with the income or resources you already have instead of spending hours striving for more? Maybe it’s about striving for less in 2017.
Change 4: I set reasonable expectations for my to-do lists.
A few years ago, I wrote about something I implemented that was a game changer for me. Every day, I’d highlight the three most important things I’d like to achieve on that day. This practice did two things for me. First, it caused me to focus on what really mattered and prioritize my tasks better. Second, it taught me how to set reasonable expectations for what I could and couldn’t get done in a day.
Before I adopted this practice, my to-do lists were often miles long and I’d end the days feeling frustrated, feeling like I’d failed. Or, on days I’d actually manage to complete the list, I’d fall into bed exhausted.
Focusing on three important things helps propel my goals forward, while also giving me permission to enjoy down time or fun activities once they’ve been completed. If you’re interested to learn more about this philosophy, please see my post on three most important things.
What’s the value of your time? Are you so bent on saving every penny that you feel exhausted or under-valued? Friend, that’s no way to live. I know many of us live with tight budgets, but I really encourage you to find ways to value your time in the new year (and beyond). It’s possible that doing so may actually encourage you to be more productive and prosperous than you would’ve imagined.
Now it’s your turn: I’d love to hear how you place value on your time. Do you pay someone to clean your home, have you cut back on work hours, cancelled meaningless commitments, or made other life shifts? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below!