What is a Time Snob — and why should I be one?
I'm a Time Snob.
And that's exactly what it sounds like.
I initially wrote about this concept in another post about Charleston, and I’ve been wanting to dive in a little bit more ever since.
So, what does it look like to be a Time Snob? I can’t say with total certainty because I’m making up the rules as I go along, but here’s what it looks like for me: I'm stingy with my time. I like to spend my time with the people I want, doing things that I want — meaning they are productive, beneficial to me or positively impactful to others.
I have held off on writing this post because it’s hard to articulate an idea that seems so selfish at first glance. But guess what? I think that this concept masquerades around under the guise of ‘mindfulness’ because it sounds a lot prettier more in tune with our inner flower child.
But it’s the same basic idea — live with intention. Our lives are so completely inundated with noise, that we must actively work to identify what is meaningful to us and block out everything else.
RELATED READ: Are You Making the Most of Your Brain Space?
Does being a Time Snob make me a bad person? What about you? Does guarding your time make you selfish?
Being a time snob doesn’t mean that I am selfish.
It doesn't mean that I think I’m better than someone else, that I don't volunteer my time or that I’m not others-minded. It means I want to use my time in a way that capitalizes on my end goal — whatever that may be. Sometimes my end goal is to reconnect with friends. Sometimes my goal is to recharge my batteries. And others, it’s to nurture my marriage. In order to live a life that’s meaningful to me, I HAVE to direct my time. Otherwise, people will gladly tell me where it should go.
So what does this have to do with personal finance?
Is time money? Maybe. But it’s so much more than that. Time is our single most valuable asset.
Money has little intrinsic value, right? It’s extrinsic value lies in the freedom, peace of mind, flexibility, tacos and options that it provides.
I’m all about saving money, but there are instances where expenditures are investments in your time. Sometimes, especially in the personal finance blogging community, I feel a little guilty for the things I’ve paid for out of convenience. And I shouldn’t — convenience is often well worth the cost. Spending money on the forefront might free up time down the road.
It’s all about your return on investment (ROI).
ROI is a central concept to investments of all types, right? Get more out than what you put in. Simple.
This concept is applied to business all the time. Spend money on things that will maximize your time. Interns. Administrative help. Tailwind. Other tools that free up brain space.
So why don’t we seek a high ROI for our personal time?
Save money, yes, but save money so that you have the freedom to spend it on the things that matter to you. For me, that thing is time.
Time is a precious commodity. A limited resource. Like money, water or air, it is not to be wasted.
Guard it. Protect it. Be wary who you give it to.
RELATED READ: Are You Making the Most of Your Brain Space?
Sometimes Time Snobbing is saying yes.
One example of how I aggressively guard my time? Well, there’s the infamous Scotland flight. (Well, infamous in my household.)
We paid twice as much for our flights to go on our honeymoon to Scotland. There was literally an option that was almost exactly 50% less. So why didn’t we jump on that?
The cheaper flight was TWICE as long. It wasn’t worth our time. Quite frankly, the amount of money my husband could earn in those bonus 8 hours exceeds the money we would’ve saved with cheaper tickets. So, quite literally, it was not worth our time, on any level.
Saying ‘yes’ to higher costs was also saying ‘yes’ to comfort, convenience and potentially more money in the grand scheme of things.
Finding the freedom in saying ‘no.’
I am not ashamed to say I opted out of a baby’s first birthday party. For a little more context, know that I literally wouldn’t know anybody but the mother there, it was four hours away (one way) and I’d traveled on both of the weekends sandwiching that one. I’d met the baby briefly just after she’d been born, and the mother and I are friends, but we just don’t really keep in touch anymore. No hard feelings. It was so thoughtful for the family to think to include me, and I very much appreciated being invited, but I just couldn’t justify spending one of the two days off I get every week on 8 hours of travel to a baby’s birthday party that the baby wouldn’t remember and where I would know one person.
Does that make me a bad person?
I don’t think so.
I think it makes me a Time Snob. And I’m OK with that.
I didn’t go NOT because I think I’m too good for other people, or because I think I’m too good for a baby birthday party (children under age 12 laugh at all of my Celine Dion impressions and still think I’m cool, and therefore are my preferred company), but because we must create our own priorities at some point. Otherwise, our days and our lives will be squandered away doing things that aren’t in line with our goals.
I’ve said no to things closer to home, too. Brunches I didn’t want to get ready for. Headaches in the form of dance clubs. Even some side hustle opportunities that I thought were hardly worth the time spent driving there.
Before you start goin’ all Kanye and wondering how I could be so heartless, know that my husband and I drove 2 hours each way a few weeks ago to attend our annual family lake day. Four hours in the car is a lot for a precious day off. But it was well worth it to us, because we genuinely wanted to go! The subsequent happiness, time with family and -- ok, fine -- awesome jet ski riding offered huge returns on that time investment.
The amount of time we’ve spent traveling to and from weddings is comical. The same goes for helping friends move, doing airport pick-ups and drop-offs, and dog-sitting. Not sure what you’d call that kind of ROI other than being a nice human. And that’s time well spent.
There’s a balance.
Sometimes you do things you don’t want to do because it makes your spouse happy. Sometimes it’s just plain rude to not go to something. But sometimes, we fall into this pit of people-pleasing and need to be a little bit more picky and intentional with how we spend our time.
GUARD IT. And don’t feel guilty.
So where does volunteering play into all of this? Volunteering certainly doesn’t offer comfort, convenience or more money. In fact, volunteers are often overused, underappreciated and not valued for their time. That’s why we don’t do more of it.
Saying no to things that you really don’t want to do or that don’t add value to your life opens a window for you to freely give time where you want. And to me, it’s BECAUSE I often say no to things, and BECAUSE I am so keenly aware of the value of time that volunteering is even more special. It’s the ultimate gift, right?
Because you can make more money. You can’t make more time. So giving it away should be meaningful.
Other instances where I think being a time snob (literally) pays off:
Being a Time Snob can offer high returns in the form of freedom, comfort and, yes, money. Here are a few examples:
1.) Gym memberships.
Sure, I could do burpees in the parking lot of my condo complex. But … really?
Like most of y’all, I only have a limited amount of time each day to dedicate to working out. I need reliable, consistent, effective 50 mins, and that’s what I get at my barre studio!
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My physical health is closely linked with my mental health, happiness and marriage. I’ve mentioned it here before, but we’re currently in a one-bedroom condo. Quite frankly, it’s incredibly valuable for my husband and me to have a “third place” where we aren’t on top of each other. He’s large. The condo’s small. It’s worth it.
So an investment that contributes to mental health, happiness and a great marriage? Yeah, I’d say that has a high ROI.
Besides, when I work out, I sleep better. And when I sleep better, I am much more productive during the day. And when I am much more productive during the day, I can make more money. It’s the ciiiiiiirrcllle of ROI.
2.) Occasional eating out.
On the whole, we grocery shop and eat our meals at home. It’s healthier and cheaper pretty much no matter how you slice it. BUT, eating out every once in a while is worth it to me. I could even argue that it offers high ROI. Because I am not in the habit of eating out all the time, the occasional meal out offers:
breaks up the routine
gets us off our feet
less time mentally preparing, shopping, cooking, and cleaning.
This may seem like a stretch of justification for some of you, but hear me out. It’s an investment in myself. In this blog. Giving myself the wiggle room to not have a beautiful meal hot and ready on the dinner table every single night gives me more time to write. That in itself is reason enough. And, because it’s such a rare event, we always truly savor a meal out. We treasure the time together, and revel in the glory of not doing dishes.
RELATED READ: 3 Non-Essentials I’m Eliminating to Save My Budget
3.) Reading financial blogs.
This costs me nothing but my time, and so I consider the knowledge, connectivity and motivation I walk away with to be a healthy ROI. Can you even quantify the amount of time AND money you’ve saved by reading Making Sense of Cents? Can you name exactly which stupid mistakes you’ve avoided thanks to Michelle, or your favorite blogger? Or, even more dangerously, would you have made the bigger mistake of doing nothing at all about starting a 401(K), adjusting your withholding or getting a more valuable cell phone plan?
Education and research take time, but they offer an immeasurable ROI. It’s worth every second.
So, now that you’ve read through my arguments, high-five for still being here. That was … a lot. What do you think — are you a Time Snob?
At the very least, be mindful.
Start questioning your daily habits, and second-guessing how you spend your time.
Are you zoning out in front of Netflix because wow, it’s 11 p.m. and where did the evening go? Or, is it because you needed a mental zone-out or a cuddle sesh with your dog?
Are you going to brunch because biscuits are DELICIOUS and you think it’s worth the wait and the cost? Or are you going because there was a group chat about it and you have this lingering feeling of guilt for wanting to stay home.
I’m giving you permission to say no. But that doesn’t matter. Give yourself the permission to say no. That way, you’ll have time to say yes to the things that truly matter to you.
I’m a Time Snob.
And hey, I don’t claim to have all of the answers here (I think that’s in my disclaimer somewhere…) but it’s just something to think about.
Be intentional with your time and your money. Because if you don’t, I promise you that you will look up and it will be gone.
Do you think you give away too much of your time? What steps do you take to guard your time off? Let me know in the comments below!