The Hidden Cost of Convenience

Traffic.  Long lines.  Slow internet connections.

It’s easy to get annoyed at these things.  The stress you feel on your daily commute isn’t imaginary.

The walls are down.  There’s a reason people say “work-life balance” and not “life-work balance”.  We do part of and sometimes our entire jobs from home, with work and life intertwined.  Your breakfast and your commute are the same thing.

Exercise is classified as a “leisure activity”, in the same category as watching TV.  What are leisure activities for?  For undoing the stress, fatigue, and damage done by the workday.  We have to exercise to slow the damage done by sitting – in traffic, in the drive thru, in the office, back in the car, in front of the TV reversing the mental and emotional damage.

Which would you rather have?  A job that’s physically demanding (but keeps you active) or a job that’s sedentary but pays a little bit more (but requires 5-10 hours a week at the gym to reverse the effects)?

If you’ve read any of this blog, you know that I feel strongly about the connection between time and money – the exchange that we make for one or the other.  Convenience is presented as spending more money to make your life easier, to have things done quicker, to not be as busy.  We pay a premium, a markup just to “save time”.

Except what are we saving?  Did you realize that REAL free time is on sale, except it’s not being advertised?  (Convenience = FAKE free time.  It seems real but actually costs you MORE time!)

That’s because money is easy to measure – it takes 10 seconds to look at your bank account.  But we’re terrible at measuring time.  We wonder how the years went by so quickly but consider old age to be a distant worry.

Our lives seem busier – we’re always connected, to work and to people, we’re always aware of what’s going on on social media, the internet churns out content so fast we’ll never read even a fraction of a percent of it all.*  We NEED more convenience – saving time is smart and savvy.  Increasing our leisure time is beneficial.

If you want to make someone have an epiphany, explain to them the relationship between time and money.  Tell them that when they buy something, they’re actually buying it with time.  The only reason money is involved is so that we don’t have to haggle and bid and trade.

Time decisions are money decisions.  Unfortunately, saving time usually doesn’t translate into saving money in an obvious way.  The morning coffee from the drive thru might only take a few minutes, but it’s more expensive than making coffee at home, so that’s more time you have to work to afford that “convenience”.  Go ahead and add in the cost of the extra gas burned idling in your car too.  Maybe it’s only a few cents or a dollar.  Then let me ask you two things:

  1. What is the most inconvenient part of your life?  If it’s work or work-related, why would you knowingly add in more inconvenience?
  2. What would your response be to someone telling you that by DIYing any number of things you could expand your free time (not inconvenienced by work) by 10%?  15%?  20%?  How did you feel the last time you bought something on sale for 20% off?

*To read every page on the internet it would take you something like almost 60,000 years, excluding things like tweets and facebook statuses.  :/

 

4 Comments

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  1. I so agree. In fact all investments in your future are essentially investments in the maximization of your time. How you use it is obviously a deeply personal thing, but money is essentially buying the option to utilize time how you choose.

  2. “Convenience is fake free time” – whoa, never thought of it like that! But it’s true – no one (myself included) really things of the relationship between time and money.

    • It’s funny, I’m sure everyone has probably heard the saying “time is money” but nobody really gives it much thought – it’s just a saying. It was for me until I think it was Your Money Or Your Life that really made me connect the dots – a long long time after I heard the saying in the first place.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. For me, my biggest inconvenient is work computers. the systems are unintuitive and slow and it can just drive you nuts!

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