My life as an ~adult~ has been in full swing for almost two months now, and I’ve been forced to realize the true value of time. As someone who in undergrad had a ripe total of five hours of class a week, going to a regular work schedule (and also trying to cook at home, go to the gym, maintain a social life, enrich myself by reading critically-acclaimed literature and watching documentaries, and generally maintaining a holistic, good life) has been hard. I am starved for time.
Multiply that by my severe lack of funds and, sugar, we are going down swinging.
I’ve become increasingly savvy with my $$$$ and time, as one does when they don’t have much to be savvy with, and I’ve come up with some ways to save on each one.
However, the Internet is saturated with listicles on how to save time and money, with useful, wholesome tips like meal-prepping, list-making, developing a monthly savings plan, etc. I’m not here to divulge information that a quick Google search could tell you. Instead, I’m going to drop the most original (and perhaps borderline insane) things I’ve done to stretch a couple bucks and save some minutes.
HOW TO SAVE TIME
Can’t believe this movie never won an Oscar.
Okay, so I lied in the title: time is not money. You can’t store time you think you shouldn’t use just to keep it for later. “Saving” time is a hilariously impossible notion, and people who say it generally just mean they’ve found a way to do a task more quickly or just refocused their attention on something that matters more to them.
That means using time is a relative concept, and very difficult to prescribe solutions for its saving; therefore, I’m going to offer a universal tip, and give a couple examples on how to do it.
Any task can take just about any amount of time you want it to (if you believe in yourself). The degree of how well it’s performed is really just the difference. I’ve mentally developed three-five different ways to do just about everything in my life, depending on how much time I have.
For example, here is how I can do my morning routine, depending on how much time I have left after irresponsibly snoozing my alarm multiple times, systematically cutting steps as needed:
1h 30 min:
- Wake up (refreshed)
- Scroll through social media
- Wash Face, moisturize, brush teeth
- Get Dressed in something ~trendy~ and ~cute~
- Do my hair (either curl or straighten)
- Do a full face of makeup
- Put on jewelry and watch
- Organize tote bag
- Pack gym clothes
- Pack lunch, carefully curating a balance of healthy snacks and a nutritious, protein-dense meal
- Eat Breakfast while scrolling through the news
- Leave Home
- Wake Up (with minor panic)
- Wash face, moisturize, brush teeth
- Get Dressed
- Hair in neat bun
- Do my makeup, but maybe cut out eyeliner
- Organize Tote Bag
- Pack Lunch
- Leave Home
- Wake up (with a lot of panic)
- Brush Teeth
- Dressed; outfit may not match
- Concealer for dark circles
- Leave home
The crazy thing is that the end effect isn’t even that different between all of these three. And the same can be said for a lot of things (i.e. what’s really the difference between a salad with fresh avocado and toasted almonds vs. a bowl of spring mix with some dressing?).
I practice what I preach.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY
This tip is for the truly desperate. For the lowest of low moments. I’m sad to say that I have done this more times than I am proud of. In order to preface, this tip does not technically save money. It just makes it more usable.
Disclaimer: this tactic is for Canadians only. Americans, get better money!!!!
STEP ONE: if you’re anything like me, you have a bunch of useless change. I’m talking nickels and dimes. The kind of change you slowly collect but never use because when would you ever use nickels and dimes? These coins only exist for the 1/85 chance you have the exact right amount of change. You’re never going to go to pay for something and think, I should throw this handful of metal at this tired, underpaid service worker.
Actually, one time I paid for coat check by giving the girl a ziploc full of $3 worth of dimes and nickels and I am deeply ashamed of that moment. Dear coat check girl, I am sincerely sorry.
STEP TWO: Collect all the rogue coins you own, and count them out. Make sure your coin count rounds up to a full dollar amount (preferably an even dollar amount).
STEP THREE: Scope out a vending machine. Preferably one in a secluded area so no one can watch you do this. Try a low-traffic hallway.
STEP FOUR: There are actually two ways to do this. I made an alignment chart so you can decide what approach fits your personal energy:
I personally align with chaotic evil.
To elaborate, you’re going to slide that useless change into the vending machine until you reach the $1.00 point. Then you’re going to hit the return coin button on that bad boy, and if this is a ~good machine~ it will spit a loonie out at you. If it’s a bad machine, it will either a) eat your money, which means you just have to commit and make a purchase, or b) spit your gross, garbage change back at you. If this is the case, keep testing machines until you find a good one.
Once you’ve found that good machine, load it up with trash change until you reach the $2.00 point, and then hit the coin return. A toonie — a useable piece of change — will come at you.
Bing bang boom PROFIT. You’re welcome.
If you’ve made it this far, I truly applaud you. Thank you. As a reward, here are some actual things I’ve done to save some money/time:
1. I learned how to do my own eyebrows, which means I no longer have to deal with a) booking eyebrow appointments and driving there and b) paying for it. Are my eyebrows ever perfect? No. Do I always look a little busted? Yes. Do I care about either of these things? Not even slightly.
2. I only get my hair cut once a year. Granted, I have hair that doesn’t split easily, and I don’t dye it, so I don’t have to go in for touch ups. Every year in the fall, I go snip off about 6-10 inches; this is a double-win because I only spend about $60 annually on hair care, AND I get to donate the locks.
3. I prepare food based on the limiting agent. I don’t meal prep in the “common” way, where I make three to five meals worth of food and segment them into specific meal containers. While this works for many people, I find that I get bored of eating the exact same thing for a whole week, it takes a long time to prepare that amount of food at once, and I also don’t own enough tupperware for this method.
Instead I cook enough of the one food that takes the longest (i.e. wild rice) to last a full week, and then prepare the rest of the food in 10-15 minutes on a day-to-day basis (i.e. cutting up the veggies and making the dressing for a salad).
4. I plan and order what my next item purchases will be. For example, the next three items I buy are going to be loafers, a new pair of workout leggings, and a table lamp (in that order). Planning prevents me from impulse buying items I don’t really need and lets me focus money spending on specific goals.
Living in a culture where everyone seems to be spending their time doing exciting things (i.e. going on spring break trips, spontaneously flying to Paris) and owning luxurious things, it’s easy to feel a inadequate with my lack of funds and time. As much as I want to be perfectly content with my current situation, I’m not ashamed to admit I wish I could catch a flight to Bali.
And that’s okay.
Comment the biggest hustle you’ve ever committed. One time I paid for a slushie at Mac’s with a bus ticket.
Coming up next: all of my friends have left me but at least i have a bicep now