Thursday, April 23, 2015

Your Money or Your Life

How many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

~Bob Dylan

Airing my clean laundry
I recently skimmed the classic book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. I was doing some research for a writing project and I knew this little book was a must for me. Reading part of the book really made me think about how much of our lives are needlessly traded for money in order to pay for the things we don't have time to enjoy or do ourselves.

This week I really got a chance to take advantage of my new outdoor clothesline. Between my two wash days, I only had to put two loads in the clothes dryer and these were towels that didn't have time (or room) to dry outside. As I was hanging out my sheets this morning, I could hear in my head the naysayers who would protest that they don't have time for such nonsense. Yes, there is a value to your time. The problem is most of us trade our time for money that we then need to pay for the things we don't have time to do ourselves.

Think about it as you sit behind your desk or behind the piece of machinery (car or otherwise) that you operate in order to receive money. What do you do with that money? You pay others for the things you don't have time do to. Why? Because you're at work.

As you go about your daily life, consider the following:  Are you so busy working to pay for the things you own and their upkeep that you don't have time to actually enjoy them? Do you, as do many middle- and upper-middle-class Americans, have a part-time housekeeper or cleaner? Or someone to mow your yard? Are so busy paying a large mortgage or rent that you're seldom home to enjoy your personal space? Are you working overtime to feather the nest that you're never in? If so, maybe you need to rethink the value of your time. And then find alternatives to the "swapping your time to earn money to pay for the things you acquire that you don't have time to enjoy" treadmill.

By hanging my clothes to dry, I don't have to work a job for money to pay for the electricity. Instead, I can spend that time at home, quickly hanging out my laundry for the wind and the sun to do their thing. Meanwhile, I relax in my home office, sip delicious hot tea (this time a black tea/rose petal combo), and write a post about the value of time (as well as a host of other things).



EcoCatLady said...

LOVE this post! I'm a HUGE fan of YMOYL - read it back in the 1990's and it had a huge impact on me. I feel exactly the same way about the time equation - I would soooo rather spend my time doing things myself than locked away somewhere earning money so I can pay someone else to do them for me.

CatMan and I ride our bikes all over the city, and one of our regular routes takes us through a very posh area where people's garages are bigger than my entire house, and the houses themselves are like mansions. All of the homes have enormous beautifully landscaped yards and there are fancy playgrounds and decks, and play sets for the kids.

The thing is... the only people we ever see there are the workers hired to keep it all looking beautiful. For all the many times we've ridden there, I've never once seen a child enjoying any of that fancy playground equipment, or a family actually cooking on their fancy BBQ sets, or sitting around their fire pits, or enjoying the flowers, or ANYTHING!

Then I come back to my neighborhood and there are people everywhere! Kids are always outside playing in the streets or the drainage ditch, people sit outside on a few cheap lawn chairs or on their porches, kids walk to school, guys are outside working on their cars, people are busy tending their gardens or hanging laundry or fixing up their houses, and the few parks we have are always packed with people grilling out, playing tag & just enjoying life.

I dunno... it all makes me wonder who the "wealthy" ones really are!

April Michelle said...

I have been asked by family (and sometimes strangers upon first meeting) why I don't have a job outside the home. My answer is that I don't see a point in working just to pay child care when I can stay home with my kid. Why pay for something I don't need and can do myself? If I had already had an established career with plenty of benefits and that I enjoyed things might be different, but I'm glad I chose staying home with my kid rather than slaving away at a job to pay for his care. I have no problem with families that with two working parents, but that wasn't the path for us at this point in our lives. I don't think we would be this close to getting out of debt if not for me staying home with kiddo.

Phil and I have also discussed buying a trailer and some land or renting an apartment until we can afford/are settled enough to buy a home for ourselves. The housing we're living in now is nice, but it's over priced and way more than we need.

David said...

Cherie, there's so much truth in what you say in this post. I've been to marriage seminars that have actually analyzed the benefits of two parent incomes and just how much the second parent's income actually adds to the coffers of the family. The added expenses just being in the work force reduces the hourly wage to almost no added benefit unless the second person has a really high paying job. The dynamics of the family suffers greatly from two absent parents and even when they are at home, they are trying to catch up with home responsibilities. When scientifically analyzed the benefits of two working parent families just doesn't add up to a better life. Now that's not to say in some cases it's must for a time but to extend it beyond necessity just to have more stuff is a family tragedy.

One of the nice things about country living is the ability to do things like hanging laundry without any one seeing it. In the urban city not so true. I'm not sure I'd want to hang out the laundry to save electricity here.

Have a great choosing life over money day.

Cherie said...

EcoCatLady - in a previous life, I lived in one of those neighborhoods that was mainly populated by workers - nannies, housekeepers, lawn and pool maintenance workers, contractors, etc. There were a few of us who stayed at home but even we sometimes had workers to care for our things. My husband would work long hours at the office - an office where the parking garage was filled with luxury cars into late hours while those who owned moderately-priced cars were home with their families. Not a good way to live.

Cherie said...

April, I used to get glassy-eyed looks from people upon learning that I "just" stayed at home, taking care of the kids. They never made the connection between the jobs they paid nannies and daycare workers to do and the work I did. We decided early on that it didn't make sense for both of us to work when the expenses associated with a two-income family would essentially take all of my salary. I wish our society was structured so that pay was equal for men and women, benefits were more accessible, and that one or both parents could spend more time at home, even with both working part time, fulfilling jobs. We talk about family values and then end up spending very little time together as families.

Cherie said...

David, the expenses associated with both parents working do tend to cancel out the extra income received. I believe most - not all - families work to buy things they don't need, at the expense of family time and togetherness.

As far as hanging out your laundry, I've been hanging a lot of mine indoors for a while. I use one of those folding racks in my bathtub plus hand some clothes to dry on hangers in my laundry room. That way the neighbors don't see it. :) Heavy, thick fabrics don't dry well this way but most do. I also dried some items on my back deck, draping them over chairs and side rails, like they do in places like Europe and Brazil.

rhonda jean said...

I'm with you, Cherie. I'd rather be sipping tea and sleeping on sun-dryed sheets than working to pay for a dryer to do it. I hope your wise post is read by a wide audience because you sure do speak the truth from the heart.