Would you trade money for time or time for money? We say money isn’t everything, yet we chase it like it’s the end of the world…
There was a time in my life when I was miserable and exhausted all the time. I was a new mom, and I worked a full-time job that was about an hour away from home. At first, it was great. I was doing what I always wanted to do. But at the same time, I felt like I didn’t get enough quality time with our son and my husband on a regular basis.
I was heavily involved in church ministry, and sometimes I would go straight to church from work. I had SO many good things going on in my life, yet I felt SO empty.
Ernie worked a service job, where he would get called out at anytime. If he had to go offshore, we didn’t really know how long he would be gone. It could be one day or ten days. He did what he needed to do to provide for our family, and that’s really important.
We had a new home, a new baby, two nice vehicles, a motorcycle, and took nice vacations. It looked like we had it all together. We thought we did, too.
I became even more tired and exhausted each day that passed, and I was longing for the day that I could spend more time at home somehow. But I couldn’t. We had too many bills for me to be able to just quit my job. Plus, I did like my job. It’s what I went to school for, and I was excited about it.
But I was stuck. WE were stuck. It was something I never thought about ahead of time. Like, How will I manage the house and the kid while working an hour away? Will I still like this job driving an hour to and from work in a few years?
You see, we were still able to buy the house we had without my income. But, we accumulated some other things along the way that prevented us from being able to afford if I quit my job. It doesn’t mean that I couldn’t find another job, but the job that I had would be hard to find in our area.
Ernie and I were hardly able to spend time together, plus I was pretty much taking care of everything at the house by myself, all while working full-time an hour away. Some of you may be living this life right now, and you’re thinking, yeah I live that everyday.
Maybe you’re happy with it, or maybe you’re not.
Something just didn’t seem quite right about it either. I didn’t want to be another married couple statistic where everyone gets so caught up with work and bills that they forget why they got married in the first place, and they forget about the more important things in life. At one point, we felt like we were in two totally different worlds.
Everyone’s story is different. You may have something else going on that’s totally different.
I felt like I was simply trying to survive day in and day out, but I didn’t really have to if I didn’t really want to. I felt like we could do something about it if we would just get rid of some of those debts we accumulated. Long story short, I finally quit my job with the long commute and started doing freelancing as my own business.
I tell that story in greater detail here.
A few years passed, and after our second child, I really starting hating the feeling of Never having any money left over after our bills were paid. Yes, at least our bills were paid. I get that.
However, whenever you have no cushion, and no extra savings to cover emergencies, things come up and things happen, making it really stressful whenever you struggle to pay for those things year after year. We always thought we just didn’t make enough money, so we always chased that extra dollar, or that extra pay, or those extra hours to make more and more because we could never have enough.
There’s SO much that comes up, especially when you have kids, or if you’re involved in anything outside of the home. There’s always church stuff, family stuff, extra-curricular stuff, and then there’s broken stuff that needs fixing, too.
What if someone lost their job? Have you ever thought about that? It was something that weighed on my mind, and I knew that if Ernie lost his job, we wouldn’t be able to make it even two weeks without another paycheck!
That’s living paycheck to paycheck. And it’s no fun at all. Some people think that’s just how you live. Now I know you don’t have to if you really don’t want to.
Once we discovered how to budget every single dollar before we spent anything, we started to see a change in our finances. We were able to do so much more with our income.
It wasn’t until we totally shifted our mindset and then paid off all debt (except the mortgage) — that’s when we started to see the real meaning behind all this.
Little did we know then, our money habits were wearing us out and stealing our time.
How? First, our finances weren’t organized at all. We made sure our bills were paid and the checkbook was balanced, but we could never seem to save. If our bank account looked like we had enough money, we’d spend it. We weren’t frivolous with our spending, and we still didn’t eat out a lot. We accumulated a few things with debt, since we thought we could afford the payments. Oh, we have $300 leftover this month? We can afford a new car, or a new TV, or a new [whatever].
It’s not always debt that gets you either. There were times where we’ve gotten some extra cash, and without thinking about more important things, we just spent it. Then, we’d justify our spending by saying things like, “Well it’s something I’ve really been wanting, and I got some extra money, soo…”
We had all these things, yet we had nothing. Again, we thought we needed more money.
A while back, I posted a poll on Facebook asking the question, “If you could choose more money or more time, what would you choose?” The majority chose exactly what I thought they would choose:
It was very interesting to see some of the comments, knowing that they really didn’t understand why I was asking this.
You see, most of us want more time at the end of the day.
What would someone say on their death bed?
“I wish I had more money.” Of course not!
It would almost always be, “I wish I had more time.”
So why do we spend so much of our time trying so hard to make so much money and never feeling like it’s enough?
Am I saying that we shouldn’t work hard? Not at all.
Let’s imagine two scenarios:
Here’s the Boudreaux family,
They make about $140,000 a year. They have a pretty nice house (and a pretty nice-sized mortgage, too). Mom and dad both work full-time, they have 2 kids, seven and thirteen. They have a nice boat and two fairly-new vehicles with payments, and a few credit cards to keep their credit score up. Both kids are involved in extra activities, so they spend quite a bit of fuel during the week. They eat out about three times per week because no one has time to cook since no one is home half the time. From the outside, it looks like they have it all together, but what people don’t know is the amount of stress they face on a daily basis.
They live paycheck to paycheck and barely have any money leftover for savings. Mom and dad hardly get to spend any quality time together since dad has to keep working over 60 hours a week to keep those bills paid. And since dad has to work all the extra hours that he can, he misses quite a few things in their life — holidays, birthdays, other events, etc. But they just chalk it up to “Dad providing for our family.” They go to Disney every year and post all those fun pics on Instagram, so they do look really happy. Deep down inside, they wish they had more time with each other, but like most people, they’re running the rat race. They have a little savings, but if something were to happen to one paycheck, they’d be freaking out. They don’t always know where the money is going because they don’t use a budget. They just don’t even have time. They buy whatever they need, whenever they need it.
Here’s the Thibodaux family:
They make about $100,000 per year. They have 2 kids who are also in extra activities, but they waited until they were financially stable to do so. They have a modest home with a smaller mortgage. They drive older vehicles without payments. Dad works full-time and Mom works part-time. They decided years ago that they would pay off all of their debt and never go into debt again because they were tired of the weight and stress that came with it. They sacrificed things like newer cars, expensive vacations, a nicer boat, etc. so they could do just that. They could afford to finance nicer things, but they’d rather have extra money leftover after payday to put towards more important things in life.
Their life used to be just as chaotic as the Boudreaux family, but they decided to change all that. They started using a budget and stuck to it month after month.
Dad gets to be there for just about everything in his kids’ life. He’s not working a million hours a week to pay bills because they spent a few years working hard to pay off their debt. They’re able to be more flexible with their lifestyle. Mom and Dad get to spend a lot more time together than they used to because they don’t have to spend most of their time at work anymore. Every now and then, Dad has to stay late at work, but it’s not every week. They have an emergency savings account, so if something happens and a few paychecks don’t come in, they’ll be okay for a little while — meaning, their stuff won’t get repossessed if they don’t get paid for 3 months. Nobody’s worried about any of that anyways, because they already live on less than they make. Now, they get to take those vacations they didn’t take before. And it’s definitely not paid with a credit card.
In the Boudreaux family scenario, the Mom is usually the one who gets the brunt of all the family stress. Dad is gone most of the time to make those extra hours to pay for their lifestyle, so mom has to do most of life by herself with the kids. Dad really wants to be home more with his family, but he knows that he can’t afford to lose a few extra hours a week because they need that extra money to pay for eating out, expensive vacations, and the bigger house they just bought five years ago. He misses out on a lot of things with his family that he knows he won’t ever get back. He’ll have to continue to work like that until he can retire one day, if he ever really can. He just wishes there was more time. God forbid he gets an illness or gets hurt at work, because they might have to sell everything they have, or lose it.
Even though the Thibodeaux family doesn’t make near as much money per year as the Boudreaux family, they do have extra money whenever a need arises. They’re not in fear of losing their home or their vehicle if something happens to Dad’s job or if they cut his hours at work. They’re already used to living on less than they make, so it won’t be that difficult if things change here and there. They’re able to go to church as a family most of the time because Dad is able to be home more. He’s able to help out with the kids and with their extra activities and be more involved.
Which family sounds more stressful to be in?
You would think that making more money would be a less-stressful scenario, but that’s not always the case. With 7 out of 10 Americans living paycheck to paycheck, more money doesn’t necessarily fix the problem, because all that extra money is usually spent before the next paycheck. They’re living the high life. The Disney and Cruise Ship life.
Look down your street. That’s 7 out of 10 houses. That’s 7 out of 10 family members. Okay, that just got real.
The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.
There’s nothing wrong with a Disney and cruise ship life, but let’s take a peek at our family stress level first. Let’s take care of the more important things first, and not lose sight of what’s really at stake here.
We say we want more time, but what are we doing to get that? Do we really think that bigger, nicer houses and newer cars and boats will do that for us? First of all, if we’re financing everything in sight, we’ll have payments to make every month.
If we want more money, don’t we have to work more to get that? Then, if we work more, we’ll be using up more time.
So how do we win this?
There’s no winning. It’s whatever works for you and your family. If everyone is thriving and happy, do what works.
There’s no one-fits-all scenario.
The bottom line – What does God want us to do?
Should we really be living under constant stress about money?
What good is it to work 60-70 hours a week, only to spend $200 a week on eating out? That’s basically working extra hours to pay for restaurant food. I’m not saying restaurant food is always a bad thing, but if we’re trying to make sense here, that doesn’t.
What good is it to make an extra $20,000 a year to be gone from your family half the year, only to spend that extra $20,000 on unhealthy fast food and a boat payment for a boat you never have time to use because you’re never home. Your kids miss you. They have roughly 18 years under your roof, so is it worth what you’re missing?
Workaholism is a real thing. We must ask ourselves, “Do I like to spend more time at work than with my family?” Especially where we live here in oilfield country, it’s easy to get sucked into working more and more to make more and more money, and then chalk it up to “providing.” Is all that providing worth missing out on more important things, just so you can have a bigger house or bigger boat than your neighbor? Who are we trying to impress here?
On the other hand, what good is it to have more time and less money if the time spent has no quality?
This is how money habits can cost our precious time. Most of the time, too many bills (or too much overspending) add up to too much time at work. What if we had less bills and less time at work? I’m not talking about being a bum here. I’m just talking about having a happy, thriving, and less-stressful family life. It’s really whatever works, but from the conversations I have, people are stressed.
They go, go, go, and they’re exhausted. They’re exactly where I used to be.
We must decide for ourselves if the trade-off is worth it in the end. No one can decide that for us, but us.
It also depends on the type of job you have. The type of job Ernie had in the past is different from the type of job he has now. It’s still the same line of work, but it’s a different type of job. It doesn’t require him to work as many hours, but let me make this clear: He would’ve never been able to take that job if we hadn’t made the sacrifices we’ve made to get out of debt so we wouldn’t have all those payments anymore.
Think about it – If I don’t have an extra $800 in debt payments every month, I don’t need to make an extra $800 a month if I don’t want to.
Get my drift?
I know people look at us now, and it appears as though we have all this money laying around and all this extra family time. Yes, we do have more family time, but it’s the result of many years of discipline beforehand.
We know from experience, more money doesn’t always fix financial problems! There was a time when we made more money, yet we were still struggling!
We must stop chasing an endless hope to completely rid ourselves of discontentment by indulging in the things of this world, no matter what it may be, including more stuff or more money. They’ll only provide more stress and more work than necessary, and ultimately steal more time than necessary.
Did I say anything was wrong with making more money? No. But when it steals your precious time more than you’re happy with, that could become a problem. Isn’t our well-being more important than that?
What if I told you that you could have BOTH?
More time and more money leftover. It’s all about choices, self-control, and contentment.
11 I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with[c] whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. 13 Christ gives me the strength to face anything.
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