Following the theme of time-management in previous posts about paying myself first with my time, I wanted to discuss something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:
Are some of the things we do to save money… really just wasting our time?
Here’s a simple example – something I did one time when I was also doing a time log.
For a couple months I wrote down how long it took to fill up my car at two different gas stations – and today, I want to show you my results.
Gas Prices Versus Extra Time
I tracked how long it took me to fill up my car at
- Costco: where gas is relatively cheap, but often has a line.
- Chevron: where gas is more expensive, but I’ve never had to wait.
I also tracked how much the gas costs, and the difference is pretty consistently about 4% (exact numbers below)
Here is what I found:
Data and Calculations:
- Costco Price: $3.849 per gallon = $3.74 after Amex 3% off
- Chevron price: $4.079 per gallon = $3.96 after Amex 3% off
- 12.72 gallons filled
- At Costco: 15 Minutes of waiting to use the pump.
- $0.22 difference in price per gallon
- Total Savings at Costco: $2.84
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Is It Worth The Time?
Let’s assume that the only extra time is the time spent waiting in line. Since I am paying with post-tax dollars, I will consider the amount of pre-tax dollars I need to earn for the difference in price as well. I’ll go with a marginal tax rate of about 30%. For $2.84 saved per trip:
- I spend an extra 15 minutes
- I save about $11.35 per hour.
- This is the equivalent of earning about $16 per hour
How about those with SUVs and Minivans?
SUVs and Minivans:
- About 21 gallon tanks
- They are likely saving as much as $4.69 per fillup
- This works out to saving about $18.74 per hour
- This is the equivalent of earning about $25 an hour.
Depending on who you are, it may or may not be worth it.
In my case, I’m not really saving any money – if I sit in a long line to save a few cents on gas, I’m just wasting my time.
This About More Than Gas
Now, I’ve used gas in this article as an example – but the truth is, this is more than just about gas.
This is about a mindset of analyzing where your time really goes. I no longer worry about saving money on gas, because I’m looking at how much it costs me in time.
Once I started thinking like this, it’s what led me to some other interesting experiments in my life where I began trading money for more time.
And if you haven’t started it already, I encourage you to see where your time goes – do a time log.
Track everything – and maybe you’ll find your own example of something where saving money is more expensive than you think!
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