Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Counting the Cost of Elasticity.

Simple living, frugal living, saving, thrift, budget beating, economizing, penny-pinching, stretching resources...

To the great majority, these phrases are synonymous with cutting costs. Yes, but which costs?

Our resources are many, varied and specific to the individual. Money is a dominating one, perilous to ignore. Other resources are material goods, food, our gardens, homes, animals, vehicles, environment, faith, intellectual resources, knowledge, books, people even. The list could go on. But the slippery, unsympathetic resource that is critical to consider is TIME.

Cooking from scratch, a commendable practice, saves money and ensures excellent nutrition for our families, but it takes TIME. How far are you willing to go? Do you buy ready made pizza bases and make your own toppings, or do you make the dough too? How about the cheese? Do you grow the tomatoes used in the sauce? The comparison between take-away pizza delivered to your door and a fully hand made pizza is vast. Factors to consider are monetary cost (obviously), environmental cost - think of the transportation fumes, taste preferences, nutrition, and, now that we are aware of it, TIME. Does the satisfaction of eating homemade pizza warrant the time that it takes to make it from scratch? I cannot answer that question for you. Each and every one of us has different values and needs. Maybe it's near the end of the month and the basic pizza ingredients are in your pantry, but there is no more cash. That situation definitely warrants a home made pizza. Maybe you have been ill for a week and your husband is cooking for the family after a long day at work. That situation may very well warrant a take-away pizza. Which are you going to save, TIME or money?

I am privileged to live on a farm, educating my children from home. TIME is a resource that I have plenty of. So, often when it comes to stretching my resources, the one that is usually spent with more abandon than any other is my TIME.  Not too long ago, we lived at a slightly more frenzied pace in the city. Even then, I often spent my TIME in preference to money.

Saving money often costs time. 

Think of birthdays and holidays. A little girl's party is looming on the horizon. You can throw money at the problem and rush out to the nearest gift store for the latest cute kitty accessory, or  you can invest some love and TIME, and use up some spare yarn in knitting an even cuter beanie that takes a day to make. How are your sewing skills? I have sewn little soft toys for party gifts for children, made manicure kit holders and other nicknacks for Christmas presents. Would you rather give store bought chocolates, or a home made foodie gift like cookies or a jar of relish? For me there is no contest. Just last week I was given a delicious jar of apricot and ginger jam. Every time we taste it, we think of the giver with gratefulness.

Saving money usually costs time.

Sometimes it is the TIME needed to plan ahead that makes all the difference. A romantic evening for two need not cost a fortune, such as dinner out at an expensive restaurant. When pockets are pinched, how about a sunset picnic, a fireside massage, or a moonlit walk. Even babysitting need not cost anything at all. When our children were smaller, we had a once a month sleepover swop with friends of ours. We had their kiddo's for their date night,  and vice versa on our turn. The added bonus was the late, childless sleep-in the following morning. If grandparents or other relatives are nearby and willing, then allow them the precious time with your little ones while you strengthen your marriage.

TIME spent stretching resources, can be satisfying TIME, rewarding TIME, TIME shared with loved ones, rich TIME, creative TIME....

..... tick tock. Count the cost. Use it well.


  1. You are so right. Every time I buy some rather convience food from the supermarket I get angry with myself because I know I could have made it myself from scratch, but there are times when this is not possible and having time with family is more importance.

  2. Fantastic post and so very very true ! i make pizza from scratch it taste better and our youngest has food alergies so i cook from scratch so as i know what my family is getting!!
    but im also a stay at home mum so i have the time ..but this i guess is not always a option for everyone , i guess we can only do what we can with the time we have :-)

    enjoy your week!
    Heidi :-)