In most cases, you have to choose: Time or money?
Takeout is a good example: Sure, you get your food in a jiffy, and you don't have to do dishes after eating - but you pay a lot more than when you prepare food at home. When you bike to work, you save on gas, but it also takes you four times longer than a car commute.
Is it possible to save time and money? Sure, as long as you're willing to get creative. Here are five ways to do it:
1. Save While You Shop
Clipping coupons from the Sunday paper before a big shopping trip saves money, but it takes time. Even if you're good with scissors, you'll spend hours to save a few bucks.
The better choice is to use sites like RetailMeNot, which suggest deals and let you snag discounts with a click. Another good option is browser extensions like Honey, which proactively applies promo codes to your cart when you shop online.
2. Automate Your Finances
We may not have flying cars, but we do live in the age of automation. Why not let bots manage your money?
Start with payments: Unless you're on top of your game, it's easy to forget to pay bills like utilities and subscriptions. If you do, you'll either incur fees or lose the service altogether.
Instead, set up auto-pay. Money will be withdrawn from your linked checking account automatically when your bill comes due.
Savings should be a second area of focus. It's good to set aside some money each month, but you shouldn't have to rely on your memory in order to do so. Look for banking opportunities that make saving seamless. With the right debit card, you can shift a little money from your checking to your savings with every swipe.
3. Hone Your DIY Skills
Yes, a lot of do-it-yourself projects take time. In some cases, they're actually more expensive than if you'd called in a professional. But when it comes to car maintenance and home repairs, there's a lot you can do yourself to save time and money.
You may not have the skills to build a new deck or replace your car's brakes, but you'd be surprised how far YouTube can take you. With the help of a video tutorial, it isn't that tough to unclog your drain, swap out your light fixture, or replace a headlight bulb. Each of those projects takes less than an hour and can save you $100 or more.
4. Sweat at Home
Who says you need a gym membership to get fit? Not only does the average gym membership cost around $60 per month, but it takes time to commute to the gym.
With calisthenics, yoga, and running, you don't need any equipment to get enough exercise. Download a free fitness app, or follow one of the thousands of exercise plans available online. Take it to the next level by incorporating household chores: Things like vacuuming, gardening, and mowing the yard let you get physical while also accomplishing things around the house.
5. Learn to Cook
Eating out is fun and delicious, but it's also time-consuming and expensive. The average American spends thousands of dollars per year dining out, with the typical dining experience taking an hour or more.
An hour is enough time to cook a meal for yourself, eat it, and put it away. Plus, you can save the money you would've spent eating out on fresh foods and preparing the occasional treat for yourself.
When cooking at home, there are a few tricks you can use to make your wallet happier and schedule simpler:
Prepare Larger Portions
If you're already buying the ingredients to prepare one recipe, why not double down? Make a bigger batch, and stick it in the fridge. During the week, you can eat off it to minimize the amount of time you spend cooking.
Invest in a Pressure Cooker
There's a reason the Instant Pot is so popular: Just stick a handful of veggies, a chicken breast, and some broth in the cooker; press the button; and wait for dinner to be ready.
What's wrong with an old-fashioned slow cooker? They work, but they won't prepare your food quickly. Many pressure cookers have a "warmer" mode that functions the same way as a Crock-Pot.
Choose No-Cook Recipes
Everything from salads to cold soups to cheesecakes can be made without ever turning on the oven. Not only does cooking take time, but it also costs you energy and heats up your house. Especially in summer, focus on recipes that can be made with just a cutting board.
6. Find Free Ways to Have Fun
Who says you have to go to a movie theater or amusement park to have fun? Tickets to those sorts of attractions can be expensive, not to mention the time you have to spend corralling the kids and driving there.
There are all sorts of ways to have fun at home. Break out a board game. Ride bicycles as a family. Go on a hike. Take up a hobby that requires relatively few materials, like sketching or writing.
7. Mend Your Clothes
Department stores aren't cheap, nor are they quick to navigate. If it's time for some new clothes, ask yourself whether you can simply mend your old ones.
In many cases, minor repairs can be done in minutes. If your favorite pair of jeans gets a hole in it, for instance, all you have to do is iron on a patch. If you lose weight and need some new shorts, could you simply sew in the waistband?
What if clothes are beyond repair? Repurpose them: You could always use another rag for wiping up spills. Old t-shirts can be quilted into the perfect lightweight summer blanket.
Despite the "time is money" mantra, you don't always need to sacrifice one for the other. It's all about being efficient: With a little creativity, it's possible to have more minutes and money to enjoy as you please.