Where does it all go? That’s a question I’m often asking myself.
When I think about spending habits, I’m certain to first think of money. Maybe I’m more of a consumer than I should be but, let’s face it, raising a growing family puts a little bit of a dent in your bank account. I think it’s safe to say most of us try to be cognizant of our spending habits when it comes to money. But what about other expenditures?
Where does time go? Yesterday my baby was swaddled in my lap, pink skin touching mine as he nursed. Today he’s days away from taking his first steps. Time flies.
Lately I’ve been thinking about whether or not I’m a “good spender”– of both my time and my money. I think I’m pretty fiscally responsible. I can budget with the best of them. But budgeting my money isn’t just about pinching every single penny to get the most monetary value out of it. It’s also about pinching every penny to get the most life value out of it.
If I were so concerned about stretching every single dollar to the fullest monetarily, I would never eat at a restaurant again (because, of course, it’s way cheaper to cook your own food); I would walk to my neighbors instead of take my van (because, of course, gas costs money and, well, walking doesn’t); I’d never buy portioned, pureed applesauce pouches for my kids (because, of course, whole apples are cheaper).
But sometimes in life it’s not purely about monetary value. It’s also about life value.
Last year my husband and I committed to once a week at-home date nights. He was working long hours and time was just so limited. Even though his paycheck had not increased, we decided that we would make $25 takeout a priority. And, you know what, God saw us through. We did not find ourselves in want or lacking anything last year. Quite the contrary, we found ourselves full, our marriage full, from that one, small expense.
Over 10 years ago when I was expecting my first child, we needed a new mattress. We could have gotten by with the cheapest one on the market but, instead, we decided to purchase a Sleep Number bed with the rationalization that it would help us both have better-quality sleep. We also knew that this was just the beginning of my childbearing years and very likely I would find myself pregnant again (4 more times to date!) and a good mattress would be helpful. And, indeed, has it been helpful! Something as simple as a mattress, has incredible life value to us.
Lately I’ve been thinking about taking my kids to the park more often. It’s something we all enjoy so much but the problem is that we don’t have a park super-close by. Meaning that every park is about 10 miles away. However, I thought about date night and where we were at just a year ago– hardly ever enjoying a date together– and where we are today and I think, the 20 miles round trip to the park will be so worth it. Yes, it will cost some gas money but I believe it will be a small price to pay. How soon it will be that my kids are all grown and too big for monkey bars and jungle jims and tires swings! Am I really going to forgo this aspiration just because it’s going to set me back a couple of bucks?
This same principle can be applied to the spending of time.
My husband and I agreed about a year ago that one thing we wanted to impress upon our children was how to spend time wisely and be productive in life. Do we always set the best example? Of course not! But what a great motivation to try harder, knowing little eyes are watching!
So, when I look at my average day, I try to question myself: Am I spending my time well? For our family the majority of my time goes into taking care of my family and training my children. What an incredible responsibility! And time well spent for sure. Some other ways I choose to spend my time are reading God’s word daily, growing a business from home and having evening alone hours after everyone is in bed. There are, of course, other ways I spend my time but these are my priorities right now.
Just like with money, some things take more time but have greater life value. Examples being: taking a road trip rather than traveling by plane to get somewhere, baking bread with the kids instead of buying it, using your God-given gifts to help others instead of watching TV, preparing your family’s favorite meal instead of making boxed macaroni & cheese as an afterthought. How we spend our time really, truly matters. How terrifying and liberating at the same time!
For me, it’s been so helpful to just spell it all out. Just like it’s helpful to have a budget on paper with numbers and guidelines and goals, it’s the same way with our time. Knowing where we want to spend our time can actually help us to get there. It can help us say no to the things that we need to say no to and allow room to say yes to the things we need to say yes to.
As a recovering fearful spender, I say to you–don’t ever be afraid of spending, be it time or money. When your days are up and God calls you home, time and money will be of no good to you. Do your best to be a good steward of all He has given to you. Don’t be frivolous with it, don’t waste it, don’t take it for granted. Strive to have a well-spent life.
With a light wallet & a full heart,