This is about the little annoyances in life. We all have them. My minivan’s liftgate was stuck for months, since sometime this last winter. My husband and I didn’t take it in to get repaired because of the feared financial bite. The back of the van had some serious dents, and we thought the liftgate might need to be replaced instead of being repaired. We thought it would be expensive either way. We never had any wiggle room in the budget, so . . . we just made do by putting everything in through the side doors.
When my kids and I moved into a new place, it wasn’t easy to haul home a household full of furniture, but we managed. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, right? Just one of those little annoyances in life. I’ll tell you my thought on that at the end of this post.
Fast forward to last week.
My turn signal bulb blew out. I was told that in order to change it, a person would need to open the liftgate. So I would have to take it to an auto body shop and have it fixed or replaced whether I wanted to or not, because every time my son or I drove it, we were risking being ticketed. So I called the auto body shop that had done a minor repair on my vehicle in the past.
Yesterday, I called the shop. We set up a time to bring it in just to see what we were dealing with, how long it would take, how much it would cost, and when they could schedule the work. But when my son took it in, they fixed it on the spot. Color me floored. Not only did they fix it right then, but it only cost twenty-five dollars. Holy Hannah. We could have done that the very day it got stuck, and avoided half a year of inconvenience!
Penny Wise and Time Foolish
We can waste so much time in the pursuit of saving money, when a few small purchases would eliminate those little annoyances for us. I remember the days of washing plastic baggies and aluminum foil. I had so many money-saving ways, and I loved Amy Dacyzyn’s Tightwad Gazette books. Click the image to check it out (it has some great material, including an amazing template for making a variety of muffins—oh, how I miss those).
Some frugal techniques will always be part of my life, but some things, such as washing baggies and foil, are gone. Sure, it saved a few pennies, but it took time. For someone whose time isn’t worth much, it may be a good idea to use time to save money. Back then, my time wasn’t worth much. That has changed. Some of my time is now worth hundreds of dollars per hour. It would be foolish for me to waste time washing baggies or foil now.
This morning, my daughter went to do the shopping. One of the items on the list was a kitchen trash can for the recycling. I was tired of not having a good place to store the items. She came home with a gallon bucket one would use for cleaning. I asked her about it (knowing what she had done and why). She said, “The one on the list would cost like twenty bucks. This was a dollar.”
I put my hands on her shoulders, tilted my head to the side and down, and smiled. Then I said, “I understand that, and I don’t care. I want a full-size can. So you can just pick up one the next time you go out. No big deal. Put the bucket under the kitchen sink, and use it for cleaning.” She knew that I wasn’t upset with her and that all was well.
Something similar happened right after that, and she said, “Wow, Mom, now that you have more money, you sure are quick to [flails her arms around]. I always think about how to save every penny, go with the cheapest option no matter what, et cetera.” I had taught her that was the way to be a good steward. Although it was what we needed to do at the time, my knowledge had been incomplete.
I told her, “That is my fault; I raised you that way because that’s what I always had to do or always felt like I had to do, but we don’t have to do that anymore. My focus has changed to what is the best use of time and money, with much more emphasis on the best use of my time than I ever exercised before.”
The No BS Guide to Time Management for Entrepreneurs drills on the fact that if a person’s time is worth $400 an hour, it makes no sense at all for that person to be doing a job that’s worth $10 an hour. We had recently read that book, so she knew what I was talking about. I said, “Sometimes, it’s better to just buy a full-sized trash can rather than buy a tiny one and have to dump it ten times a day or rather than spend time trying to make one out of flour paste and cardboard you have lying around. God didn’t just make us stewards of pennies and dollars, but of minutes and hours, too.”
She smiled a wan smile and nodded a bit. I told her she’ll get used to it.
Little Annoyances Are a Big Problem
We might think that little annoyances are no big deal. Well, actually, a person should repair, replace, or otherwise evict all of the “little annoyances” in life, because as it turns out, the “little things” aren’t little. They take a lot of our time and attention—far more than they could ever deserve. Just kick the little turkeys out of your life the moment you spot them. They will gobble up your time and energy if you let them stick around.
According to Talane Miedaner in her book, Coach Yourself to Success, the little annoyances in life slow us down so much it is worth getting rid of them even if it means hiring someone to take care of those things for us.
Are you making the best use of your time as well as your money?