Money v Time ~ A guest post by Andréia

I have always had a funny relationship with money: I never have it! (just kidding! A little light humour there!) Money is the centre of our society these days. All we do and have revolve around how much money we make and how much work we put towards having that money, so we can buy and have more stuff and do more things.

But what is it really we need to buy and do? As a mother of 2 children I have seen enough to tell you some of the things we don’t need to do.

Back when my older child was born I was concerned because someone told me I should put him in music class as soon as he was 8 months old. There were also the swimming lessons. And if or how soon should he begin soccer training? And martial arts? Foreign languages course? I had to think about all that because I could be depriving my kid of precious opportunities by not having a full curriculum. And of course, all the toys and travels and everything that had to be done to culturally enhance a child’s life.

Boy, I was exhausted just hearing about all that, let alone putting my child through it. As I work from home, don’t have a full time nanny because I have no money for it and our budget was tight to the point of suffocating, I let all those ideas go. I recognised that my kids would just have to be those who would not do all those activities. Still, they like to draw. Always have. So I provided pencils and papers and they draw a lot (loads of created “gifts” in my desk drawers!). One loves planets, so we watch universe related things on the internet. The other likes to sing and dance, so I put videos on the internet for him. They likes dinosaurs, so we bought a nice inexpensive book, in English, about dinosaurs. I set playdates. I encourage them to play with their huge amount of toys (it seems grandparents, aunts and godparents don’t suffer the same tight budget as we do). We planted a garden at our house. We encourage them to have activities we can afford and they can enjoy. Without a schedule fuller than a full grown adult and my bank account suffering for something I could ill afford.

So what does any of it have to do with decluttering? Well people work so very hard to have their hard earned cash, we forget that we spend a lot of time working  towards acquiring stuff when we could be enjoying ourselves and living life. We have to work, no question in that, because, no work, no money, no food, no house. But we spend far more hours than we should be working just to get extra cash that we don’t necessarily need. Just to buy more stuff. Just to put our kids in more payed activities. Buy them more toys and so on. We waste something we can never get back and that is time with our loved ones.

So, the next time you have to do extra hours at your job, ask yourself if you are doing it because you need to, or because you want more money to buy something that you want. Your time is very precious, dole it out carefully and don’t waste it on stuff.

Todav’s Mini Mission

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Eco Tip for the Day

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Great perspective on money, Andreia! Have you ever heard of or read the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin? It’s an excellent discussion of choosing less because the value of everything we buy/own should be measured by the time it took to earn the money to buy it. Truly, time = money. I’d rather have time!
    Colleen, we are moving this week and should be in our new place over the weekend. I’ve already begun putting giveaway stuff in the large box in the new house. We also plan on selling 2-3 rugs, a microwave and many other items. Anyone in So Cal need an almost new microwave? 🙂

    • Hi Willow! I never heard of this book, but it sounds very interesting! I also rather have time, that is why I have been trying to teach my children the value of time. I would love to have your microwave because my godmother’s just broke, but I think So Cal is a bit too far way from my hometown lol. Good luck in your moving!

    • That is great Willow, I hope the move goes very smoothly for you. A new home is always so exciting so enjoy!

      • Thanks for the good wishes, Colleen. This afternooon I tossed three sweaters that ‘didn’t make the cut’ into that give away box. I was rather pleased to see that we had only ONE box of items for both bathrooms (minus the towels)

    • Willow – interesting sounding book – I encountered a reverse situation recently whereby it was better value to spend money rather than the amount of time that would have been required. Its not usual that things work that way around but in this case I had to work an extra hour to cover the difference in cost but saved myself 5-6 hours work, so it was a no-brainer. ‘False economy’ is something I need to keep an eye on. On the other hand, unnecessary expenditure also equals money going thru the shredder. Good luck with the shift!

    • Willow,
      Your money or your life is an excellent read. I first read it when it was published in, I believe, the late 1970’s? Omg…I really am an oldster, haha! Reading this book also helps in changing your mindset so you don’t randomly purchase things that will eventually become clutter.

  2. Andreia, this is a good post. I so agree with you. When I was growing up we had few toys, didn’t do a lot of things that had to be paid for and didn’t miss it. We also didn’t suffer because of it. We learned to entertain ourselves, think outside of the box, and be creative.

    • Hi Deb J! I have chosen this path for my children because I think being dependent on stuff to amuse oneself or on the latest gadget/toy can be very frustrating. I’d rather do as we did when children, pretend, use our imagination, even though I was fortunate enough to have a lot of toys.

  3. What a great post! And a great reminder when we are in the middle of the biggest gift giving time of the year. I have one dear dear dear friend that we have vowed to not get each gifts ever but instead we will go out for lunch or for dessert for Christmas and for our birthdays. I look forward to that time with her so much.

    • Hi Raesha! I think it is a great way to value a friendship by spending time with a friend. That is the greatest gift ever! I love spending time with my friends and I find that so much more rewarding than any gift giving!

  4. Love this post!

  5. Andreia- I love that you are living your convictions with regard to your children! Helping them discover their interests and encouraging them gives them current enjoyment but trains them for the long run to seek out knowledge and develop skills. Kudos!

    • Hi Vicki K! Thanks for your comment! At first, I have to be honest with you here, I have to say I was feeling very guilty and lousy for not being able to provide my child with every available activity (music, swimming lessons, baby gym and whatever was the “it”activity of the moment) that other babies and toddlers seemed to be doing. As the oldest grew up and another one was born I realized that it wasn’t about the activities but letting them grow as they would, with their own interests. It was not a competition, they had to learn on their own time out of their own volition. For example, my oldest son insists that he wants to take swimming lessons, because so and so said it was good. There is just one tiny little problem: he is terrified of swimming pools! He always chooses the shallow end of any swimming pool. So I will give him some more time!

  6. Excellent post. I can remember that panicky feeling that I was depriving my child because they weren’t doing whatever it was that well-rounded toddlers were doing back then. All those toddlers are now young adults and you can’t pick who went to baby-gym or baby-music.

    • Hi Moni! It is very good to read your comment! Makes me feel less guilty, lol. The thing about baby and young children activities is that the places that offer them are “selling” to us, mother of young children, that we are depriving our child of something if we don’t enroll them in soccer practice, dance or whatever. Your comment just shows me that they are liars and just want my money 😀 😀 😀 . I am all for enrolling a child in extracurricular activities when they are older and interested (like your girls with dance), or if they have some especial condition that needs and extra care, but with healthy children up to a certain age, it is a waste of money and it is very tiresome and annoying for the child. I have seen this from watching other children and from hearing histories of stressed out children, who have migraines and other symptoms that are a clear sign of stress.

  7. Hi, Andréia. From what you’ve written, you seem to be an attentive, observant and caring mother who encourages her children’s interests and talents. An over-scheduled child (with never-ending lessons in one thing or another) might not necessarily be a happy child. You sound like you are creating many happy memories and learning moments for your children to look back upon.

    • Thank you so much for your comment and compliment Nicole V! I don’t feel so wonderful as you describe, and really I am constantly asking more of myself. However, I have to admit it a lot less stressful to let the kids do as they want with their own free time (drawing, playing, watching some tv, singing and dancing) at their own home, than enrolling them in endless classes all over town, with a schedule more rigid than a CEO, and me having no time because I am the driver. The way I do it, I just have to be here. Which allows me to see what they are doing, interact with them and get to know them really well now and not when they are teens. 😀 😀 😀

  8. Andreia- this was a great post. Thank you for sharing!

    Many years ago, my husband and I decided that I would stay home and raise the boys. We lived on one income. That meant that we never took big vacations, nor did the boys have sports or art lessons. They didn’t get the latest toys or even get cell phones till there was a need. Even then, they were basic phones.

    When they were little, we went on “adventures”. One year, we went on the ” great big Herbie hunt”. There was a Disney movie about a Volkswagen beetle car called Herbie. So, we would travel to various towns and visit stores looking through bins of Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars searching for “Herbie”. We’d find blue ones and green ones etc.

    My oldest son made a cardboard race track and they’d race them all around. It’s still one of the best memories my boys have. They didn’t feel deprived. I still have the cardboard race track in my basement. One of these days, I suppose I should take a picture of it and let it go. But it tells me that time is worth so much more than money. Memories are forever.

    Clear the “junk”. Keep the memories….

  9. Wow, what a great message! This is one of the main messages of Life in my opinion.

  10. A couple of years a go my kids (all young adults, two boys and a girl) and I spent the day making a bunch of goodies together for Christmas. It was so much fun just doing things together. We plan to be five hours away this Christmas at my parents and my oldest requested that we plan on making a couple of things (Chex mix and peanut brittle) while we’re there. I’m so glad they enjoy some of the simple things.

  11. It is so good to see a parent thinking the way you do. So many children today are almost never just home doing whatever they are interested in–instead they are killing time until they have to go to the next activity they are signed up for. How the mothers stand all that disruption, keeping an eye on the clock, etc. is beyond me. We raised four and we had no intention of ours spending all their time away from home. The few activities ours did were pretty much a waste of their time (and ours), and never lived up to any one’s expectations. After one season, one year, or whatever the time frame, not one of ours begged to continue. So I think they felt disillusioned, and yours probably would, too. Our paper shows 4 year olds all suited up in uniforms for football. Yeah, right, they are all going to be pro team players. And they understand the game, etc., etc.
    So be proud that you are giving yours your time and attention and that you are letting them bloom.

  12. I know I am way late to this conversation and I have had so many thoughts on this topic but I won’t share them all. In a nut shell, one of the reasons we have been living the lifestyle we have is so that there is more money for these activities. Our boys will be taking swim lessons this year at a swim center and my oldest will be put into soccer. We would also like our children to have a chance to do martial arts in a few years when they get older.
    Growing up in near-poverty with large families, my husband and I always wanted to do these things but it was simply out of the question. I am artistic and my husband is mechanically gifted so we get to hone those talents. My husband also was fortunate that his grandparents paid for piano lessons for him which enriched his life in his own way.
    I look at this as a situation that calls for delegation. I can teach drawing, painting, charcoal rendering etc as my kids grow up, part of our homeschooling anyway. My husband can teach mechanics here and there where age appropriate, and is beautifully fluent in Spanish so that is also a possibility. He also did ceramics and stained glass in high school, which he loved, and plans on beginning to teach them in a few years. He is fairly confident he can teach them string. For a couple of poor kids we sure have a nice little dose of culture.
    I agree that kids are way over scheduled. We want our boys to learn to swim but we don’t buy into the swim center’s line that they need to swim every week for years on end. Of course their regular clients are their bread and butter so they will try to sell that idea. If my sons don’t like soccer or martial arts we can conclude sessions to focus on something else, and they gained another experience for their time and our money will not be wasted (in theory).
    Our boys are both in the 95-100% and percentile for their age group, very tall, lean and muscular. My six- year-old is often mistaken for a third grader. He will likely he taller than me at 10 or 11, and I am fairly tall as far as averages go. Because of this people are always asking if we are going to put them into football (American football), and they look at us like we’re crazy when we say if that’s what they decide to pursue someday when they are old enough to make that call. They don’t need their parents deciding for them that they will be NFL stars and gearing everything in their lives toward that direction. And my husband and I actually dislike football because of the commercialism involved, but if one or both of them really want to do that we will support them.
    So, I think what I am trying to say is that we as their parents have the ability to give them a well-rounded upbringing, and here and there we may delegate the expertise to another party outside of the family and I think that’s okay. Thanks again, Andeia. I love your contributions here.