Trading money for time

Jacob Allred

A common phrase used by advocates of passive income is “trading time for money”. This generally refers to working for an hourly wage or a salary. The company you work for has something you want: money. You have something they want: your time. So you trade. You give them your time, they give you their money. Sounds like a fair trade, no?

But sometimes you end up on the other side of the equation: you have enough money but what you really want is time. This is where I find myself. My business is earning enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table, but I’d still like more time to spend with my family.

Luckily, I found a few great opportunities to trade my money for time:

Tax preparation. My taxes are a bit complicated. I have two W-2’s, a handful of 1099-MISC/-DIV/-B/-INT/-G, and a 1098-T. I have business income and expenses. I have a handful of charitable gifts, a new daughter, quarterly payments, and education expenses. I really didn’t want to do my taxes on my own. I spent a few minutes calling around and found a great guy that has prepared my tax return for just a few hundred dollars. Totally worth it.

Maid service. I feel like I keep a fairly clean house, but I’m sure our maid service wouldn’t agree. We just started with The Maids and they had a team of four professionals spend four hours getting my tiny apartment to an acceptable level of cleanliness. They mop, scrub, vacuum, dust, and more for a very affordable rate. I’ve got hours and hours of my life back, my apartment is more comfortable to live in, and I’m not worried about my baby crawling on our kitchen floor anymore. Totally worth it.

Living close to work. When I lived in Virginia I had a 1+ hour commute to and from work. It was awful. When we moved to Connecticut we made a conscious decision to live close to where Becca would be going to school (I was telecommuting). It cost us more (a lot more) than living just a few more minutes outside of town, but we feel it is totally worth it. She saves 10-30 minutes a day in travel time. That is as much as 10 hours a month of her life that she isn’t stuck traveling to or from school.

Community supported agriculture. We are in the process of trying to join a CSA. Basically, we pay up front for a share of the harvest from a local farm. Each week the farm bundles up some fruits and veggies and delivers them to a central location near our house, and we drive by and pick it up. We save time by getting a wide variety of ultra fresh food each week. We don’t have to drive store to store trying to find decent produce, or waste time selecting produce. If we get in the CSA we selected, our pickup is only about 2 miles from our house, which is about as close as our nearest grocery store. We are pretty sure this will be worth the expense.

Amazon Prime membership. I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon, even if it costs a pinch more than a competitor. A Prime membership makes it even better. If I need a stapler, I go on Amazon and BAM! It shows up in a day or two. If I order early in the day then my stuff almost always arrives the next day. We do this for tons of stuff: diapers, dish washer detergent, crayons, envelopes, screws/nails, toilet paper, kitchen pans/gadgets, and anything else we want fairly quickly. Sometimes stuff is cheaper than Walmart, sometimes it isn’t. Either way, we’ve found the Prime membership to be worth every penny.