Time is Money, and Money is Time

“I don’t understand why you think making dinner at home is going to save much money,” said my son as we stood in the kitchen. “Time is money, and money is time.”

I told him that we’re going to pay off the mortgage, and then money really will be time. That’s because getting the mortgage paid off will make it possible for us to live on very little. When your expenses are very low, you don’t need a large income — which means it would be possible to work fewer hours. And doing that would sure free up hours each week where we can do whatever we want.

But my son wasn’t convinced that we couldn’t do something more useful with that those 30 minutes than make supper. Nevertheless, that’s what we’re going to do.

(Says the person who regularly spends $200-$300 a month eating out 4-5+ times per week.)

But thanks to some recent clarity of purpose, I’m committed.

We’ve made dinner at home (or eaten leftovers from the previous day) for a huge number of meals since we’ve gotten back from New Zealand.

We are still doing a little bit of eating out, but it’s planned in advance and not the default or go-to option.

I feel really good about the change, and we’ve already been able to send extra money from our joint account to our mortgage — money that we would previously have just wasted.

Of course, my son is right that time is money, and money is time. I’ve spent a whole lot less time driving to restaurants and eating than it’s “cost” us to prepare some meals. And that’s a few hundred bucks less that I have to earn each month to put toward the mortgage.

What could you do with extra hours and cash each month? Are there areas where you could easily gain some of each? Maybe by implementing some passive income ideas?


  • Time is invaluable in one sense and of little value if you are not pressed for time.

    Take a person who is retired and is alone and not involved in some sense. How valuable is time to that person as they count the hours until they can go to sleep?

    You have hit on a very inportant point when you talk about how little a person could live on if they are mortgage-free. The three largest expenses that we face are housing, taxes, and transportation. A family of three might spend $300 or $400 a month on groceries but $500 or $600 a month on car payments, gas, and auto insurance.

    So, yes, you can save some money by eating more meals at home but that is only one reason to do so and not the best of them: You can eat better at home, it can be quality time if you make meal preparation a family effort, and sitting down to eat together as a family at home is good for the ties that bind.

    • Excellent points. If you have plenty of time but nothing to fill it with, it’s not going to be very valuable to you. Eating better by eating at home is a good side benefit, especially if the alternative is fast food.

  • I’ve been looking for ways to cut expenses ever since I decided to pay off my car note in 1 more year as opposed to 2 more years. I realized that going out on just Saturday instead of Friday and Saturday saved me an extra 50 bucks a month. Over a year that’s 600 bucks! Once I pay off the car, it’s on to the unsecured debt and saving for a house.

    • It’s funny how even just one little change can make a big difference, isn’t it? And there are usually plenty of other areas to reduce expenses in too, often without really noticing a difference in the value you receive.

  • If I had both extra time and extra cash I think I’d spend it on reconnecting with friends. I’ve been a little out of the loop lately and need to get back on track with some people.

    • That sounds like a great thing to do with extra time and extra cash. I think I’d spend it on traveling and doing more painting.

  • Sounds like a good teaching moment for your son. Don’t know what you were making, but take something that he might understand. For us, it is taco salad vs Taco Bell. Figure out the cost of the ingredients and time to brown the hamburger vs cost of Taco Bell. For 3 pounds of hamburger, taco seasoning, a couple bags of Doritos, head of lettuce, a couple Roma tomatoes, one onion, sour cream, and 12 cans of pop, the cost is roughly $20. To eat at Taco Bell, 8 combo meals at $4 average (I get the Mexican pizza and taco supreme so it is more like $6) plus tax at 9% (no sales tax on groceries) the cost is about $35.

    Thirty minutes of prep time for home cooking and the “wage” is equivalent to $30 per hour. Not bad money for your time!

    • That’s a good idea. He was making hamburgers, beans, and chips, so I think we spent about $10 on that. Then I used the leftover buns (there are only 3 of us) and made pulled chicken sandwiches the next day to have with leftover beans & chips. So the second meal cost us maybe another $4. And I had leftovers of *that* for a couple of days. So, lots of meals for very little time and cost compared to eating even the same meals out.

  • Sometimes I find it cheaper to pick up take-out than cook at home. Of course, that’s when we’re using buy one get one free coupons.

    I’m cooking less now that our nest is empty.