While it might seem counterintuitive for a Financial Coach to tell you not to DIY everything. The fact is doing everything yourself is limiting. Your time and energy is finite. So using your time wisely is the most lucrative thing you can do. In fact, think of buying back your time as an investment in yourself and an opportunity to help improve your life so you can level-up.
What Does it Mean to “Buy Back Time”?
Buying back your time is when you pay for services that save you time. Buying back your time allows you to focus more on the things that are “in your zone of genius” or help you avoid burnout!
Not only that, but buying back your time helps put money into your local economy. Supporting local service providers and business owners, helping both them and you!
Buying Back Time for Convenience
Before we continue, we need to say that buying your time back is great, but there is a line to toe.
Convenience itself brings its own set of problems. Defined as “the state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty” Too much convenience can have an impact on your ability to accomplish tasks or overcome challenging obstacles.
While it is human nature to prefer the path of least resistance, too much convenience can make us down right lazy. But investing in the right places can help you grow.
Buying Back Time for Productivity
Americans are addicted to productivity, or at least the illusion of it. We wear the badge of being “busy” with pride. We try to fill our time with tasks and to-dos.
We put pressure on ourselves to be productive and pay large amounts of money to learn how to increase productivity. We’ll buy books, take courses, planners, organizers etc. all for the sake of being able to accomplish more tasks every day!
But is being more productive really what we need? Is it really what you’re looking for?
Making the Most of Your Time
When considering ways to buy back your time, remember to intentionally use the time that you get back in a way that brings value to your life. Not filling it with vices or pastimes that take more than they give, rather using the time to improve your life.
As mentioned earlier, to many this may seem like the most effective thing to do with saved time is work. While in fact that time may be best used for rest.
But even resting must be done intentionally. In this modern era we constantly fill our time with mindless doom scrolling, binging netflix or even video games. These tasks, while not exactly productive, do demand a lot of mental energy and leave us feeling drained.
If you have ever caught yourself mindlessly scrolling for an hour or more on TikTok or YouTube you know what I’m talking about. That uncomfortable feeling you get after the heavy mental stimulation has been turned off. Somehow you feel mentally and even emotionally depleted, and yet you accomplished nothing.
So if you’re looking for ways to buy your time back – you should start with buying back your attention!
Here are some of the best ways we have found to do that…
The Cheapest Ways to Buy Back Time
The cheapest way to buy back your time is to buy back your attention from addictive smartphones and streaming devices.
How many hours do you spend on social media? How many times a day do you open your email? Now, is any of that adding value to your life?
Let’s be honest. These things are entertaining and even rewarding – at least in the form of dopamine. But it’s not adding value to your lives. So if you’re looking for more time, this is a great place to start!
From my personal experience, it was difficult for me to maintain healthy digital habits while running a business from a smartphone. I never reached the point of a phone addiction – I could leave my phone at home or keep it off all day. But I did get to the point where I was on my phone for more time than I wanted.
This led me down the path of habit change, yet again. But this time instead of financial habits, exercise or diet – it was to improve habits around my digital wellbeing.
Here is the best, and cheapest (free) way I found to help me change my digital habit. So I could gradually get my time back.
Use Your Phones Built In Digital Wellbeing Features
Did you know your smartphone has its own built-in digital health features? While different phone features vary, most smartphones have built-in digital wellbeing features.
Even my 5-year old Samsung has built in features that help me reduce the time I spend on my phone. So no excuses!
Do Not Disturb
Do not disturb will mute all calls and alerts, except for custom set exceptions. Exceptions can be for calls, messages, conversations, or specific apps. There is even an option to hide all notifications. The do not disturb feature can be turned on manually or even set a schedule.
I will often turn this feature on when I am working on a project – like writing this blog!
Focus mode helps limit distractions so you can focus and be more present. This feature gives greater insights about your digital wellbeing. Focus Mode allows you to track the time you spend using various apps. You can set time limits, screen time goals and app timers.
The downside to Focus Mode and Do Not Disturb is it’s easy ways to work around it. Simply turn the feature off and you’re back to your doom scroll. That is why I found Digitox helpful.
Using Digitox or a similar app is a great way to dial back the time you spend using your smartphone.
With Digitox you can set time limits for each app and access is blocked once you hit the set time limit.
Uninstalling or Disabling apps
Another option is to uninstall or disable unproductive apps. This is a big step towards healthier digital habits. While it is easy to simply re-install the app, by deleting it initially you create more friction. This friction causes you to pause and intentionally decide if you really want to open instagram again.
Using these features or digital wellbeing apps like Digitox help you gain back time you already had and to be more intentional with your digital habits. Habits that when left unchecked can waste your time and leave you feeling empty and drained.
The Best Ways to Buy Back Time
Saving and Investing
If you really want to buy time, saving and investing is your best route!
Whether you’re saving up for an Adult Gap Year or investing for Retirement. Setting money aside for the future means less work you have to do later. By saving money for the future and eventually reaching a comfortable level of financial success, you can use your time however you want!
For us that meant saving 2-years of living expenses, quitting our jobs to travel and start this business.
Automating Your Savings/Payments
One of the easiest ways to save time managing your finances is to automate your savings and payments. This way you don’t have to sit down every week or month to transfer money over manually.
A word of caution. Setting up automations can add more time if you don’t know your numbers. This is where mastering your Cash Flow is so important. You need to know how much money you can transfer to savings or investments without having to go back and pull money out of your savings. If you don’t know your numbers, you will waste your time moving money back and forth multiple times a month.
Use Auto-ship for Household staples
Running a household is a full time job! Which is why we’re big fans of subscriptions or auto-ship – at least for household staples.
Why use the brain power or take the time to shop for it when you don’t have to? If you know these expenses come up every month for toilet paper and dog food, have it sent to you once a month. It’s that simple!
We use Chewy to get pet supplies for our dog Clyde. We also love ThriveMarket for supplements and other items that we buy on a regular basis. Not only can it save you time, but subscriptions can save you between 5-10%!
As a one car household, we love Instacart! This service is an easy and rather low cost way to save time going to the grocery store. While tips and fees do add up, so does spending an hour a week grocery shopping.
We add items to our list throughout the week, and finalize our order after we build our weekly meal plan. Then while we focus on other things, someone else does the shopping for us!
HelloFresh (or other meal subscription service)
Dylan and I both love to cook a homemade meal. But when we started our business we were just too mentally exhausted at the end of the day to plan meals and grocery shop etc. We noticed we started eating a few too many frozen pizzas and wanted to find a middle ground. Something healthier, but without all the planning.
So we decided to try various meal subscription boxes and they were a lifesaver! During a season when we were not passionate about cooking, we were able to eat the way we wanted. Without all the extra mental load and time necessary to plan, shop and cook.
The best part is this is a lot cheaper than eating out! Especially if you use a lot of ubereats, doordash or that sort of thing.
Send out Laundry
We recently moved to a place where there was a local laundry service that fit within our budget, and it has been a godsend! No more washing, drying or folding. We get to save so much time and have one less thing on our to-do list.
Hiring a professional cleaning service to help with household chores. We don’t currently use a cleaning service. But it is one that can free up the most time and mental space.
Consider this – we recently had a client who said in their market it cost $200 once a month for their 2,000 sq ft house to get a deep clean. Bathrooms, Kitchen, dusting, floors, the works. Now how much time did that save them? Hours! Time that may have been better spent doing other things that allow them to increase their earning potential. Whether by working more, or just taking a break.
How to Use the Time You Save
However you save or buy back time, the most important thing is to use that time on what is most important to you.
For me, I traded social media for spending time learning Spanish using Duolingo. Other times I work on a hobby or take time to rest.
But maybe you decide to spend the extra time to get your workout in and keep your mind and body healthy! Maybe it just gives you an extra 30 minutes of undistracted time with your kids. Obviously the choice is yours, but make it worth it and use the time wisely.