Time & Money: Earning VS. Saving

Time & Money: what's a better use of your precious time: Earning Money or Saving Money? ~ Our Cozy Den

There are 24 hours in a day. That’s an indisputable fact. Everyone has exactly 24 hours to allocate to various pursuits, and we all have priorities that shape our days.

I see so many people chasing another dollar “to make ends meet”, while at the same time maintaining a lifestyle full of expenses that are higher than they need to be.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the thought process that goes into my philosophy on money: that it is better to save than to earn.

Calculate your rate of earnings.

Minimum wage in the US is currently $7.25 an hour. If you take into consideration higher pay for skilled workers, the average hourly wage for a part-time worker in the US is $12.75 an hour. {these statistics come from the US Dept. of Labor, bls.gov} 

Let’s say a busy mom can set aside 15 hours a week to part-time work. At $12.75 an hour, she would make $191.25 — minus about 15% that goes to the government in the form of federal taxes, social security, and medicare — so that puts us at $153 a week, or $612 a month.

I don’t know about you, but $612 doesn’t seem like very much money for literally sixty hours of work!

Work from home jobs often pay even less. When I had toddlers, I would do surveys for money. Often times, I would spend 3-4 hours doing surveys, and at the end of it all I had made maybe $10. It felt worth it to me at the time, because $10 a day times 5 days a week: that’s $50 a week I didn’t have before! But as my family grew, I had less and less time to spend on the surveys, and it got to the point where I decided that the time investment wasn’t worth it.

Another factor with work-at-home jobs is the fact that most (not all, but most) of these jobs are considered self-employment income. This means you’ll get paid on a 1099-MISC, and it’s taxed at a higher rate than regular W2 income. This cuts into your earnings even more. I’ve been doing taxes for 8+ years now, and I’ve had several small business income streams. With one of them, on paper I “made” $14,000 one year. When I did the math on my taxes, we actually lost money by me having this job, because the extra income phased us out of several huge tax deductions! {I calculated what our return would have been without that income, and boy did that knowledge help me make the decision to quit! Why spend my precious time to lose money?!}

Calculate your rate of savings.

On the flip side, spending what little free time you have on implementing money saving strategies can put your family far more “in the green” than chasing earning potential.

I could write for days on all of the ways you can save money on household expenses {oh wait, I have… it’s this entire blog!}

I’m going to give you just a few examples of what I mean.

Laundry detergent

The leading laundry detergent in the US is Tide, by quite a large margin. Most people buy the liquid “original” kind, and most people do not use a coupon. The most popular place to buy this is Walmart. The cheapest-per-ounce option at Walmart is $11.31 for 64 loads. That’s 17.6¢ per load.

I do 10 loads of laundry per week. I know, it sounds like a lot, but I have 4 kids and 2 of them are bedwetters. I looked it up on Google, and it says the average American family does 8-10 loads per week, so we’ll use my number of 10 for this example.

10 loads per week x 52 weeks per year x 17.6¢ per load = $91.52 a year buying Tide.

Twice a year, I make a 3.5 gallon jug of homemade laundry detergent. The whole process takes about 10 minutes, and costs less than a penny per load! The whole cost is $4.14 for 448 loads, so for 520 loads (10 per week x 52 weeks), it would be $4.80 per year.

Now here’s how you do the cost comparison for your time.

  • 20 minutes of work = savings of $86.72 per year.
  • Multiply that by 3 to get your hourly rate, and your savings rate is $260.16 per hour.

Yes, you read that right: two hundred and sixty dollars an hour.

To put it another way, if you spent an hour making laundry detergent, it would put $260 in your family’s pocket over buying it in the store.

Here’s another example.

Homemade cream soup mix

This recipe costs me about 70¢ to make, and it takes less than 5 minutes. It yields 9 cans worth of mix, and I make it 3 times a year. 70¢ x 3 batches a year = $2.10/year.

To buy an equal amount of cream of chicken soup in the store, I would purchase 27 cans (9 cans in a batch x 3 batches) per year. They currently cost $1.98/can at Walmart, so that would be $53.46 per year.

  • By making my own from home, I save $51.36 per year.
  • For 5 minutes of work, my hourly rate is $616.32.

A third example:

Changing your cell phone plan

According to research done by JD Power & Associates, the average American spends $71 per person on their cell phone bills. Assuming you do not have any children with their own phones, we’re looking at two spouses. That’s $142 per month.

Let’s say you spend 30 minutes doing some research, choosing a plan, and signing up. You keep this plan for 2 and a half years, until you reevaluate. The plan you chose costs $40/month per line, so $80/month total. {The plan we use is RedPocket’s Unlimited Everything plan. Unlimited talk + text + data for $40/month. There are even cheaper options if you don’t need/want unlimited everything!}

  • This is a savings of $62/month.
  • Multiply that by 30 months and you get a savings of $1,860.
  • 30 minutes of work = $1,860 in your pocket, for an hourly rate of $3,720.

I could write dozens more examples, but you get the idea.


Consider the cost of a job.

Working is expensive. It comes with a whole slew of expenses that many people completely overlook. Gas + maintenance on your car. Increased spending on clothing. Food for eating out more. Office expenses, like pitching in for coworkers’ birthdays, baby showers, retirements, etc. And the average cost of childcare in the US is $5.61 an hour per child.

A few weeks ago, I was having a chat with one of my BFFs, and she was talking about quitting her part-time job. She told me that she liked the extra income, but it stressed her out so much to do it. I asked how much it pays her, and she told me $85/week.

Eighty-five dollars a week is a highly attainable goal to slash from your budget. Only a few small changes to your spending and habits can accomplish this! And she will save herself SO much stress by not having this burden on her shoulders.

Instead of spending 10 hours a week out working and earning income, you can spend one hour a week implementing new money-saving strategies and achieve the same financial result. Then you have 9 hours free to read a book, play with your kids, or do something you really love!

Time is precious. And money isn’t everything.

Time & Money: what's a better use of your precious time: Earning Money or Saving Money? ~ Our Cozy Den
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