Watch the money value of time when bargain hunting

Time and money aren’t the same thing.  Time is much more valuable than money.  We only get so much time to prepare our legacy.  “They aren’t making any more,” the saying goes.

A person with plenty of money wants to spend less time doing routine tasks, and can afford to pay to spend less time.  A person that’s a bit tight on money will be willing to spend time in order to spend less money.  In extreme cases, a person may be forced to spend a lot of time.

My wife and daughter went to a secondhand clothing store last week.  They both needed some different clothes, because my daughter is growing and my wife is shrinking.  They ended up spending $30 for seven pieces of clothing: four pairs of pants for $6 each, and three shirts for $2 each for my daughter.

This was a good deal.  One of the pairs of pants that my wife got was in the neighborhood of $30 pair, new.  She got all seven pieces of clothing for that price in the secondhand store.

As good as that deal was, though, she might have paid even less for a similar set of clothes.  This store had an interesting way to sell some of the clothes that hadn’t moved in a while: one dollar per pound.  The clothes she got might have been about $5 at that price.

There was a catch, though.  (Isn’t there always a catch?)  The clothes-by-the-pound items were strewn all over a table, and jumbled up.  There was little order to styling, type of clothing, color, material, or size.  It was the clothing version of a Walmart DVD bargain bin.

She took a look at that, and said, “I don’t have time for this.”  She was in a hurry to get somewhere else, so that was a true statement.

In the broader sense, though, she likely would be wasting time digging through all of those clothes.  First there’s piling through the clothes to find things that *might* fit, and then trying them on.  Since the clothes had no order, she’d need to either look at the size on each tag, or guesstimate the size by wrapping the waistband around her jeans as a rough gauge.

She could easily have spent a couple of hours doing that.  She might have found a bunch of clothes that worked.  She might have found a few.  She might have found none.  The payoff for the time spent was questionable.

Effective bargain hunting isn’t just about spending as little as possible.  There’s always a context, and the time spent finding the bargain is an important context.  The more valuable your time, the less time that should be spent saving money.  If minimizing the money spent needs to be the goal, expect to spend more time doing it.

Finding the best value for the time spent is what you want to strive for.  Don’t let the money value of time get away from you.

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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  1. says

    For me, it would be a DIY project. I am just not good at and I would waste a lot of time geting help and my time would be better spent hiring an inexpensive workman. In fact that is what I do. Although I do very little shopping, I do a loty of it online because I can use a shopping bot to find the lowest price. It is very effective and save stime.

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