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Time Value: Your Time vs. Your Money

They say that time is money, and wasted time can cost you.  Likewise, there are plenty of savings opportunities out there but most of them require time and effort.  So is it worth it for you to make that effort?

Coupon clipping is a great way to save on groceries and household items, but it takes some time.  Maybe you can save 50 cents when you buy 2 bags of frozen broccoli, but what if it takes you a half hour to find that coupon?  Is it worth your time?  This is the question everyone needs to ask themselves.

What if your car needs gas and you’re close to an average-priced gas station?  You can go get your gas, pay an average price, and be done with it.  Or, you can drive 3 miles out of the way to save 5 cents per gallon.  What would you do?  If you need 15 gallons of gas, that would be 75 cents saved.  It’s the same as driving 3 miles out of the way to pick up 3 quarters off the ground.  You could also take into account the gas you’ll use by driving the extra distance.  Then there’s the time you spend.  Maybe that gas station has more cars waiting because more people doing the same as you.  Is it worth the trip?  Again, this is a personal decision.  Would you rather save 75 cents, or get home sooner with less hassle?

These decisions depend on each individual’s situation.  Your time vs. saving money.  If you could be working or making better use of your time, then these extra efforts may not be worth it.  However, if you plan for these efforts – sitting down to clip coupons once a week, shopping around for lower prices, finding the least expensive gas station – then they can be worth it.  It’s all about how you manage your time.  If you find $15.00 worth of savings in a half hour session of coupon clipping, that’s pretty good.  If you plan your route when out shopping, you can make sure you hit all the stores with the deals you want, and even include a trip to the “cheap” gas station.  If you don’t plan for these things, then they may wind up being a waste of your time, and thus not actually a deal.

If you are able to schedule time for the types of bargain hunting mentioned above, here are some tips and resources to help you:

  • Create a price book. Find some help on Talking Cents Blog.
  • Clip coupons from your newspaper and weekly circulars in the mail.
  • Use online coupon sites such as coupons.com and couponcabin.com.
  • Look for low gas prices in your area, and check gasbuddy.com.
  • Compare in-store prices to those online using a simple Google search.
  • Sign up to receive email coupons/deals from stores that you frequent.

So, from the examples above, what’s worth it to you?  Where do you draw the line on saving vs time invested?

ABOUT AUTHOR / Andi

Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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