Saving Money vs Saving Time: Lessons from the Great Recession

Having grown up with post-Depression (i.e. Great Depression) parents, I learned early the value of saving a dollar. Or a cent, or a piece of used foil. Saving anything was the goal.

Now that I’m in business for myself, the goal is much more geared toward creating. Making something happen. That means, at times, that I have the Great Dilemma: do I try to save money, or make money grow? This is a large difference between the Great Depression (1930’s) and the Great Recession (2008 to present).

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And yes, I do believe that Dr. Laura Schlesinger has a lot of wisdom to share.

Saving Money

The process of saving is to get as much as possible for the least amount possible. You can either do this by expending energy and existing resources on fixing up something that’s become dirty or broken, or scouring the ‘Net for the coupon codes that will make all of your expended time worthwhile.

For example, now that I’m studying for my paralegal certification, I’ve gotten shocked all over again at college textbook prices.

CP Review Manual

This lovely 600-page tome by Virginia Koerselman Newman can cost between $80 to $200, from Amazon to Abebooks to Valore (Cengage the publisher costs the most). You can rent it for $40 or so, and give it back after just a semester’s perusal. However, I object to paying more than $50 for a textbook that I need to past a test (another $250), even if the test will allow me to make three to five times what I’m making now. There are Savers’ Principles at stake.

So I took a week to do three things to Save Money:

  • Scour the Internet for deals (eBay had nothing)
  • Sign up for InterLibraryLoan to see if I could borrow the book from another state
  • Asked paralegal co-workers if I could buy their book

I actually thought I’d broken the system when AbeBooks posted a copy for $1 plus shipping. Later, they told me it was a system error, so I got a 20% off coupon! Yes! Money was saved!!

Making Short-Term Money

Growing (producing) money is sometimes a short-term process, if you’re just looking for cash in hand. There are legal and illegal ways to do this. However, it is possible to go knocking on doors in Phoenix in the summer, dredge up a few clients, and make a few hundred dollars after 7 to 10 days by renting out your lawn mower and the sweat of your back. (Note: this method is somewhat outdated now, because people often have desert landscaped lawns.) If you have kids, you know the value of toting them from house to house with Girl Scout cookies or coupon programs, because their cute little hopeful faces will sell just about anything.

Making Long-Term Money

Making money that lasts, that actually pays bills, is another story. This money requires focus on a one-year to five-year goal with complex requirements: skill certifications (past or present), ongoing education, approval of third parties, approval of clients, networking skills, soft people skills, sacrifice, and moxy (i.e. your ‘hustle’).

To go back to the Saving Money idea, there are three ways that I could recoup my losses of buying the Certified Paralegal textbook:

  • Find a way to Rent the textbook online;
  • Sell the book for a much higher price, after passing the test; or
  • Use that knowledge to write content and drive traffic to my site.

Of course, with the help of the book, I’m assuming that that increased knowledge will help me to increase my earnings. But this is the whole reason why I’m engaging in a cost, to drive profit down the road. It’s a given.

Time versus Money

While most people know that it takes time to make money, they often don’t think that hard about how to strategically spend their time. If Time = Money, then putting your time in the right place is really really important for making long-term money.

My mother pointed out that I could start an entire business by renting out textbooks, making some money on the side…but since I have one business already, and I’m working on a second side business, perhaps it’s not the best use of my time.

Could I figure out some break in the wormhole of small-time moneymaking that would help me to rent out the textbook, over and over, for $40 increments? I could. Would that take away time and energy from building my client base, finishing my coursework, and eventually being able to charge much more for my services? You bet it would.

Money is a renewable resource.

You can make it or find it in the oddest places. Time is something that everyone thinks they have a lot of, only to find out that it keeps on leaking out of the dams that we build in the most alarming fashion. I’m trying to keep my leaks from becoming a broken levee and sad Hurricane Katrine If Only stories.

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