If time is money, am I really making a saving?

I can spend hours finding the best deal and getting the best value I can – whether it’s an online supermarket shop, switching my broadband or buying a fridge. But I’m starting to wonder if the time it takes could be better spent.

How much do you earn an hour? I bet you’ve never actually worked it out. Once you know the figure, you’ve got an idea of what your time is worth.

You’ll be able to work out how long you need to work to buy a couple of pints, or how many days to afford a holiday.

But when you do things out of the office, you don’t get paid – and that includes money saving.

Lots of effort, little reward

I spent near to an hour the other night looking through Amazon. I had to use a £10 voucher and I also wanted to avoid a delivery charge.

I struggled to find something I needed, and even though I got £24 of goods for £10, I’m not sure it was worth it.

This wasn’t an isolated incident.

I’d normally argue it’s important to check reviews for reliability and shop around for the best price but I’ve been known to take hours working out the best price for something that costs under £50.

In the past I’ve even spent ten minutes weighing up if I want to buy something that’s costs just 50p. Total waste of time!

It’s not to say you shouldn’t shop around. There are times researching the best products and prices does pay off.

Research can pay

Some research only takes two minutes. A nice looking Mexican restaurant deal on Groupon today would have cost me £25 for two people. But a quick Google showed the restaurant had pretty poor reviews. You could say that five minutes saved me £25. At an hourly rate that works out as £300!

I’m looking right now to switch my mobile network. The easiest thing would be to just upgrade with O2. I’d be able to get an iPhone 6S but over two years it would cost at least £1,100.

The thing is I don’t need a new phone, so a quick look at O2’S SIM only contract deals show I’d be paying around £17 a month. That’s £408 over two years.

Me being me, I need to research other SIM only tariffs. It should take me about an hour to properly check out all the different deals and work out which is best for me. However a quick look shows I’ll probably end up paying around £12 a month – that’s £120 less over two years.

Once I’ve checked cashback and other offers I think I can get that down even more. The total saving could be as much as £900! Not bad work for a hour every year or so.

Knowing when time could be better spent

I can’t remember when I last read a book (I think February). That’s really poor form as I do love reading. And that box set of the Sopranos is still sitting there…

I’m busy with work, the blog and planning my wedding – combined these don’t leave a huge amount of free time. You’ll have your own commitments I’m sure.

So I’ve decided I need to be a little more disciplined as to when I do spend time looking for the best price. To help I’ve come up with these three rules to see whether the saving is worth the time

1. Know your cost per hour

Work out how much you earn an hour. For most people (working eight hour days with 25 days holiday and bank holidays each year), multiply your monthly take home pay by 12, then divide by 1,840.

Can you save more than this figure in a hour? If not, it’s probably not worth it.

2. Weigh up the time and effort vs the cost

How much are you spending? The more something costs, the more likely you’ll be able to make a decent saving and it’s probably worth researching the best product or shopping around for the best deal.

But if something costs under £20, spend no more than five minutes looking for a saving.

3. Know when a price or product is good enough

Perfection is… well perfect. But most of the time I don’t need the absolute best price, or absolute best item. If I’m happy to pay the price available and there’s nothing obviously better or cheaper, I won’t keep looking.

4. Don’t waste time

If I have to think about whether I need, want or can afford something, I’m going to cut to the chase and simply say no.

Really I know at heart I shouldn’t get it, even if there is a fantastic saving to be had. I’m just trying to convince myself otherwise.


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