Time and Money, Circa 2013

http://www.smpswisconsin.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/saves_time_money.jpgI finished my taxes earlier this month - but won't be mailing them in for another couple of weeks; since I owe instead of being owed, I'll take my sweet time in giving Uncle Sam my money, thank you very much.  I also use this time of the year to generate summary financial statements for myself - a balance sheet to check on my assets and liabilities and make sure everything's good there, and an income statement to see if our family's budget makes sense. 

Which is why, around this time of the year, I'm in a pretty good position to comment on our allocation of money across various expenditure categories.  So I do, every other year - see 2011 and 2009 and 2007.  Here's how 2013 looks, roughly:

Taxes 30% (up from 20% last time)
Savings (retirement, college) 20%
Giving (church, charities) 10%
Mortgage/transportation 10%
Utilities (house, phone) 5%
School/camps 5% (down from 10% last time)
Groceries, personal care 7.5% (down from 10% last time)
Home furnishing/maintenance 2.5% (down from 5% last time)
Health care 5%
Leisure, discretionary 5%

Thankfully, Amy and I both make more money now than two years ago.  It's interesting to see what expenses go up proportionate to our higher earnings, and what expenses stay flat and therefore decrease as a proportion of our earnings (savings and leisure being among the former, groceries and home stuff being among the latter).  The bigger tax bite largely represents going from getting a big refund to writing a big check around April 15.  And the smaller school/camp bite is because both our kids are in public school (vs. two years ago, Aaron was still in private preschool).

As for time, here's how I look (just to clarify, the money numbers above are for Amy and my salary combined, while the time numbers below are for just my time):

Sleep 30%
Work 35% (up from 30% last time)
Kid errands (bedtime, meals, shuttling) 10%
Religious (personal prayer, church meetings) 5%
Adult errands (paperwork, chores, house) 7.5% (down from 10% last time)
Adult fun (dates, leisure, exercise) 7.5% (down from 10% last time)
Family fun (zoo, play dates, horseplay) 5%

Of course, I have exactly the same amount of time now as two years ago.  (Still haven't figured out how to manufacture an eighth day in each week.  Still could use it.)  Work takes up slightly more time (actually, 5% is about 8 1/2 hours, so that's a pretty good chunk).  Where has that time come from?  A little bit less adult fun, and a little bit less adult errands - the former means less grown-up leisure, the latter means nothing except that we're doing less house projects than we were in 2011.  I would've assumed kid errands would have declined, except that (1) there always seems to be a doctor's appointment or a school thing, and (2) with Amy being busier I do a slightly higher share of stuff like this than two years ago. 

One last word about time and money.  Of course, we trade between the two all the time.  One way we trade money for time is buying food for the family on the weekend; a bunch of sandwiches and platters at the local  Middle Eastern halal restaurant or pizza joint makes everyone's bellies happy and reduces the amount of cooking that needs to be done, at a financial cost of 35 bucks or less.

Conversely, one way we don't (yet) trade money for time is hiring people to do some of the kid errands I mentioned above.  It's not for lack of cheap options - we live in a place with lots of college kids and young people.  I guess it's partly thriftiness, and partly wanting to be the people that take our kids to ballet and baseball rather than outsource that to someone else.  But I imagine that, when I do this two years from now, this will be one area where we trade money for time.  Most of our kids' friends' parents do this all the time, and their kids seem fine; in fact, if it means they can get to more fun stuff than if they had to depend on their parents to get them there, it's actually a preferred option and not a necessary Plan B. 

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