Time is scarce. We all get 24 hours to do whatever it is we decide to do and isn’t it fantastic to see the wide variety of ways people decide to spend their time! One component of how you spend your time is for your financial well being. Obviously, there’s the big stuff like your job and work on the earnings side, then all the myriad of daily choices on the spending side. For those who are intentional and pushing to get ahead financially one question becomes where to best apply your time for your financial growth.
Do I Focus on the Revenue Side or the Expense Side?
The revenue and expense sides bring different efforts, focus, and impacts so where do you best apply your time for your financial growth? As representations for each side I selected coupon cutting and side hustle. Coupon cutting to work on expense reductions and side hustle for the extra revenue generation. Let’s take a look at the two sides of the story.
Do you remember getting the Sunday newspaper back in the day? In case you don’t, they have a section or two of coupons from various product brands for clipping. Nowadays many people get coupons in the mail once a week, at various online sites, or on the grocery store apps. Is the time spent chasing the coupons down and shopping for that specific product worth the savings? Let’s figure the costs out by adding these items:
- Actual costs to get to the coupons – newspaper, paying online, other cost. (Actual costs)
- Time spent clipping, organizing, tossing expired coupons. (Your wage per hour times time spent.)
- Additional time to shop. Did you buy the right size, the right quantity, the right combination, the right brand? What about the extra time to sift through the coupons in the store? Does that causing your shopping to take even longer? (Your wage per hour times extra time spent.)
- What about the selection costs of buying that specific brand item versus the same item that’s a cheaper store brand or a different brand. (Cost difference between that specific coupon brand and another like one.)
Add up all those items and see what you get. Compare that to your store receipt with your savings from coupons. Hopefully you can walk out of the store with your head held high shouting “I just saved $28.57 with coupons today!”. When you get home you can figure out the real story. Perhaps that story is that you saved $28.57 but it “cost” you $37.65 in time and real money for a net loss of $9.08.
If it’s super straightforward and you aren’t stressing to manage your coupons, then it’s marginally worthwhile.
The fact is that there’s only so far you can go on the cost reduction side. Before long you will hit critical non-discretionary or fixed cost items like mortgage/rent, utilities, and groceries. Most of your monthly spending is likely in those areas leaving a smaller portion to impact with cost cutting. Definitely, it’s good to be mindful on those spending choices. Even more so, it’s important to make long term smart choices before committing to fixed costs, because once you’re locked in it’s hard to make quick changes. So be smart once before committing for the long haul.
Better saving options for your time and effort: Shop your insurance for auto and home before the renewal; “right size” your cable and internet service package and ask for a better deal; “right size” your cell phone bundle; stop any subscriptions that you don’t use anymore.
Side hustles have become a thing in the last several years and with good reason. With the gig economy and technology there are many ways to “monetize” your skills, efforts, and assets to provide extra income beyond your day job. As recent examples, look at Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Car2Go, and Turo. Other opportunities abound with building a website to provide product reviews, content creation like recipes, and knowledge courses. Eventually people monetize that with advertising and affiliate marketing to generate revenues.
In fact, there are no shortage of online resources for ideas on side hustles. Some of these are pretty straightforward – pet sitting, selling extra stuff, and working a part-time job. Here are a few sample websites you might find:
The nice thing about many “side hustles” are that they can be part time, on your time, and not involve lots of start-up costs. Basically, a chance to try something out before committing full time and at greater costs. In addition, the bonus is that eventually they can grow to something financially meaningful. As a result, that can open up the door to higher quality of life and improved financial health. Perhaps you can payoff debt, save for important goals, build an emergency fund, take different vacations, or start a whole new career direction.
Side hustles offer a wide range of opportunity to fit you and your lifestyle. Because you can leverage your interest areas, knowledge and experience, and assets, there are great upside possibilities not only in the short run but over time. This makes side hustles extremely attractive for creating improved financial health. Above all, it’s a matter of finding what works well for you and then the right balance for your needs and lifestyle.
The Winner for Where to Best Apply Your Time for Your Financial Growth
As discussed in Running Your Household as a Small Business, it’s important to focus on both the revenue growth and expense management. However, in the end I believe the best bang for your time, energy, and effort is the side hustle. You are investing in expanding your skills, knowledge, and experience, which will pay dividends as your work your side hustle as well as can be applicable back into your day job and future side hustle endeavors. You are moving down the learning curve, understanding yourself better, and making some extra income along the way. All good things!