Whenever you ask people what they wish they had more of, they have two answers, time and money. We can show you 17 ways to save time and money.
More, More, More
Time is money as the old saying goes and most of us are pretty short on both. But when we find ourselves in that position, it’s sometimes not so much that we don’t have enough of them but that we aren’t using what we do have as efficiently as we could.
But once you learn to be more efficient, you’ll find time and money that you didn’t know you had. So let’s get to it because we’ve had enough of being out of time and out of money.
Time might be the great equalizer. No matter who we are we all have the same 24 hours in a day. But some people seem to be able to wring more time out of their 24 hours than the rest of us. How do they do it? Let’s count the ways.
1. Get Up Earlier
This one is not going to be popular. Most people hate getting up early and who can blame them when the bed is so cozy, and the outside world is often less inviting? But if you really want to get more time out of your day, this is the Number One way to do it. I have been an early riser for years, so I know it works.
There are a few reasons that getting up early in the morning is such an effective way to gain more time. There are fewer people around. Fewer people awake in your house to need things from you. Fewer people on the road commuting. Fewer colleagues in the office are bugging you. Fewer clients are calling you.
Getting up early also gives you the opportunity to exercise at the start of the day. How does this give you more time? It’s not so much that it gives you more time but it gives you more energy which is nearly the same thing. You might fully intend to work out when you get home from the office, but you’ve already had the whole day weighing on you, draining your energy and willpower.
So instead of hitting the gym, you hit the couch and don’t get up again. Exercise gives you energy, not just in the morning but for the whole of the day. More energy equals more time. Try it. For one week get up an hour earlier than you usually would and see if it makes you more productive.
2. Keep It Simple
Have you ever needed to stop at the grocery after work to get ingredients for dinner but you have no idea what you want to make? So you wander around aimlessly, and it takes forever. Have you ever stood in front of your closet and had no idea what to wear? Have you ever gone into a Greek diner in New York City and spent an hour looking at the menu because it’s 463 pages long?
Choice is a beautiful thing, we all want options, but sometimes we have so many choices that we’re overwhelmed and become paralyzed. We can’t decide between all these choices, and we waste time trying.
Narrow down your choices when you can. Come up with ten or fifteen meals that you like to cook and eat and rotate between them. Build a capsule wardrobe, a few essential pieces in the best quality that you can afford that all work together rather than a closet overflowing with clothes. A tip for the ladies, buy dresses! They’re like onesies for adults. You don’t have to put an outfit together; the dress is the outfit.
3. Block Those Sites
We all have our favorite time-wasting sites, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram. There is nothing wrong with wasting time on those sites so long as you have time to waste. But you’re reading this article, so I’m going to presume you don’t!
There are a variety of website blocking tools that can keep you off those sites when you should be doing something productive or sleeping (which can be a very productive way to spend time!).
4. Use Time Blocks
Most of us have to do things like reading and respond to emails and answer and return phone calls as a part of our jobs and as part of our personal lives. But if you read and respond to every email and every phone call as it comes in, you can’t get into a good productive rhythm that lets you take care of all the other things you need to do in a day.
Set aside specific blocks of time to take care of these tasks. Deal with your work-related calls and emails one to three times per day, in the morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon, depending on the volume you have. Of course, there will always be some calls or emails you have to deal with immediately. Your boss might not look very favorably on your new time blocking strategy, but not every call or email is urgent.
5. Be Strategic
Plan your day and your week so that you aren’t covering the same ground twice. If you need to get your oil changed across town from your office and pick up a prescription from a pharmacy near the oil change place, do those errands at the same time. Save yourself trips as much as you can.
6. Have It Delivered
In the past, only people that lived in large cities could have things delivered to them, but with online shopping, all of us can do it no matter where we live.
There are lots of grocery delivery services, but I understand the pleasure some people find in doing their own food shopping. I love going to the grocery store, and I want to squeeze the avocados and smell the tomatoes for myself, so I consider time spent food shopping to be time well spent.
But I don’t need to squeeze the Charmin or smell the laundry detergent. I like what I like and always buy the same thing. Those things can be delivered right to your door. And if like me, you don’t drive, you don’t have to lug home 48 rolls of toilet paper or five-gallon containers of laundry detergent. I order that stuff from Amazon, and it shows up at my door.
7. No Is A Complete Sentence
If someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do, just say “No” and then stop talking! If the tip about getting up early is the most effective thing on this list, this one is the most liberating. When you learn to say “No” you liberate your time and your agency.
Of course, there are things we can’t say “No” to, but we say “Yes” way more than we have to. We usually do it to please others but what about pleasing yourself? Isn’t that important and worthwhile too? It is, and when you start doing it, you will not only have more time, you’ll be happier.
Your “No” doesn’t require a reason. The more you explain, the more likely you are to cave. Say “No,” mean it and shut up! Now you don’t have to join the PTA or switch shifts with a co-worker who never switches with you or host Thanksgiving this year. Even if you’ve always done those things, it doesn’t mean you have to keep doing them.
Don’t “Yes” your life away to every person who asks.
8. Double Up
Every time you cook a meal, you should cook enough for a few more meals. Doing so doesn’t require any more dirty dishes, it doesn’t require any additional cooking time, and it often doesn’t require any additional prep time. If you don’t like to eat the same thing for a few meals in a row, then freeze the leftovers for another day.
9. A Little At a Time
The longer you let something go, the more time and effort it requires when you finally get around to it. Just do a little at a time. Set aside ten minutes before leaving for work in the morning and ten minutes before bed to do things like tidy the house, put things away, and put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
If you still hate the thought of it, here’s a great trick I learned years ago. It applies to any task you really dread. Put a timer on. Set a timer for ten minutes. When it goes off, you’re done even if the task you were working on isn’t. Even if it isn’t finished, it’s better than when you started.
I used to hate mopping the kitchen floor so used this trick. Turns out it didn’t take ten minutes to do it. It took about two. How much are you going to whine about something that only takes two minutes!?
10. Fill Those Spare Moments
Standing in front of the mirror brushing your teeth is the most boring way to spend four minutes a day I can think of. So rather than standing there being bored, I do little tasks like putting my coffee cup in the dishwasher, Swiffering (dusting) the living room surfaces, or picking out the clothes I’m going to wear that day.
Four minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time but if you cobble together all those minutes when you could be doing two things at once or when you’re waiting around, like for the water to boil for your pasta or your coffee to finish brewing and you could do a small chore like make the bed or load the washing machine, you will find you have more time. Even if it’s just an extra 15 minutes, that’s 15 minutes you have to yourself to do something more enjoyable than making the bed!
11. Pare Down
The more stuff you have, the more time it takes up. When you’re house, garage, or shed look like something out of Hoarders, you spend a lot of time searching for things when you need them. Lots of clutter also means it takes longer to clean your house. Or maybe you avoid cleaning it at all because of all the stuff until it gets so bad you have to spend an entire weekend cleaning it instead of an hour or two.
Get rid of all that stuff. Sell it, donate it, recycle it, throw it away. I pride myself on being relatively minimalist when it comes to belongings, but I did a major clean out recently and still got rid of three or four big black trash bags worth of stuff. Not only does cleaning things out save you time, but it also makes you feel lighter, physically and psychologically.
There is almost never such a thing as having too much money. If you do have too much, you can stop reading here. The rest of us can continue.
Did you notice something about some of the time savings idea above? A lot of them can save you money as well. Two birds with one stone!
12. Keep It Simple
When you keep things simple, it saves money. When you make the same dozen or so meals on rotation, you waste fewer ingredients. You know exactly how much you need and you don’t waste food either because you know you like eating those meals.
When you adopt a capsule wardrobe, you aren’t buying clothes that look good in the store but don’t actually go with any of the clothes you already own. You also buy fewer clothes which means you can afford better quality clothes. Better quality clothes last longer so you don’t have to replace them as often as cheap, poorly made clothes.
13. Block Those Sites
I recently had to block myself from Mango and Zara, two clothing sites. It was the end of summer, and both were having crazy good sales on sundresses which are what I wear pretty much anytime I’m not just home working. I wear jeans and a t-shirt for that. So I bought some sundresses, a lot of them.
In my defense, both those stores offer good quality clothing for affordable prices even when they aren’t having a sale. But you guys, they were having a sale! I finally had to block myself from going to either of those sites.
Online shopping just makes it too easy to spend money on things we don’t need. If you have “trigger” sites, block them. Better yet, have someone block them for you so you can’t unblock them yourself in a moment of weakness.
14. Have It Delivered
If you use Amazon to buy mundane but necessary things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, or anything else you buy on a regular basis, you can save money when you use the Subscribe and Save feature. I save $1.50 on my toilet paper and $1 on my laundry detergent. When you have these things delivered, it can also save you money on gas and wear and tear on your car.
15. No Is A Complete Sentence
When you say “No” to protect your time, you’re often saying “No” to something you didn’t want to do. But to protect your money, you’ll probably more often than not be saying “No” to fun things that you would like to do. “No” to going to dinner, “No” to attending a concert, “No” to going on vacation.
But if you can’t afford it, you have to say “No.” Sorry.
16. Double Up
When you cook in bulk, you can buy ingredients in bulk. When you buy larger quantities, per unit many of them are cheaper. The five pound bag of rice costs more in total than the one pound bag, but per ounce, the larger bag is cheaper meaning you get more for your money.
When you double (or triple or quadruple) your cooking, you have plenty of leftovers. Leftovers that you can take to work for lunch or leftovers you can eat for dinner when you’re too tired to cook or don’t have any fresh ingredients in the house. That means you don’t order take out or stop at the fast food place which of course means you’ll save money. It’s healthier too, and that’s a whole other way to save time and money!
17. Pare Down
When you clean out your house, something funny happens. You don’t want to fill it back up. You want it to remain in it’s pristine (at least more pristine) state. It suddenly gets easier to pass up on those Halloween decorations that were on sale at Target, and you don’t buy that cute set of coffee mugs because you finally have some extra room in your cabinets and you don’t want to fill it.
And of course, the less you buy, the more you save.
Some Things Are Finite
Time might be considered infinite if you want to get philosophical about it but your time is not, and neither is your money. None of the things on this list are hard to do, and none of them will really even feel like much of a sacrifice. But they are 17 great ways to save you time and money.