Free time isn’t Free

Who among us doesn’t enjoy some quality free time?  Certainly all hands should be raised.  Personally, I live for free time.  I don’t like when things get to busy.  I don’t even keep a planner, not on my phone, notepad, or written on my hand.  If I can’t keep things straight using nothing but my noggin, then its time to cut back a bit and simplify.

Now that you think I’m lazy, let me tell you a bit about my free time.  First and foremost, I use this time to exercise, which to some may seem to be a pointless activity, but I consider it essential.  Would a teacher not read?  As a physical education teacher, how could I expect my students to accept any of my wisdom, without showing them that I take my own medicine.

I also use free time to play with my children.  The difference between having the time, and being rushed is monumental in this regard.  When I’m short for time, and the little guy wants to drive tractors around the living room, I hurry and complete all the plowing, much to his dismay as I never do it right.

“But dad, I wanted to plow.”

“Sorry son, the field is done, gotta go.”

This is no way to play, plus, he assigns me to manure duty whenever I don’t play right.  (FYI – manure duty is when “he fertilizes his pants” and then asks me to fix it).

Free time allows me to experience life at the pace of a two year old; we stop to look at bugs, we collect seeds, and take walks to see the fire engines whenever the siren blows.  It allows me to read him books without skipping pages.  We bang on things with hammers.

In my free time, I complete my honey do list at a pace that is agreeable, but still feels like work (maybe I should be busier after all).  I bring this up because I recently came across an article on NPR that talked about buying time.

Related:  I wrote about Time months ago, NPR should have contacted me!

Wonderful, I thought, I didn’t even know it was for sale.

As I read through the article, I found that I was instructed to pay for things like landscape service and a house cleaning crew.  At this point I checked to see if the article was originally published on April Fools Day, as normally I expect quality ideas from NPR.  Alas, the article was just rubbish.

I do my own landscaping, and this has served me well.  I’ve dug up the entire front yard in relentless pursuit of mushroom nutrients.  Every summer, large orange fungi would populate my front yard and while they would have been festive at Halloween, they were less then desirable in June and July, which is when they appeared.  They also jammed my mower, a classic 1950’s era reel mower handed down from my grandfather.

After consulting with the local groundhog population, it seemed these fungi were feeding off decaying tree roots resting beneath my soil.  As if I struck gold, I set to work with picks and shovels defoliating my entire yard.  I started in areas where the fungi appeared, but quickly and surprisingly found that the tree roots extended in all directions, as if they had at one point watered and supported an actual tree.  My project became distressingly large, soon the yard resembled a wallow, and local pigs were stopping by to roll around a bit.

Today, I’m happy to report the pigs are gone, the yard is free of fungi, and my wallet is intact.  I used muscle power, the determination of a prospector, and a shovel I already owned for this project.

Moving inside, I give much less effort and am much less successful, to the chagrin of my wife.  I’ve been known to use the toilet just after cleaning, violating some sort of clean toilet moratorium whose duration is unknown to me.  To avoid conflict, I mostly use a bucket in the garage.

I try to vacuum once per week, I do it well enough that there is always a little something left for next time.  Seriously though, I eat food my son drops on the floor, so how dirty could the house be?  I merely assume the role of the family dog.

My wife does an excellent job with the interior despite whatever she tells you, my behavior may appall a germaphobe but again my wallet is intact.  Time is not bought by frittering away your paycheck on simple do it yourself tasks.  If you don’t like lawn care, don’t live in a home with a lawn, and if you don’t want to clean your house don’t have pets, shower at the gym, and use the potty at work.

Time is bought through investing for the future.  Let’s say you are currently paying $50 each for lawn care and house cleaning per month.  That’s only $100 per month, or $1200 per year, this is money well spent you say.  Allowing for more beer consumption, sports watching, and adding pounds to your expanding waistline, all national pastimes to be sure.

How much does this really cost?

Well, if you were to invest the money in say your 401k and earn 7% annually it could be worth $17,302 after just 10 years, and if you continued to make this investment until the mortgage is paid off after 30 years, you would have $117,706.  I’d much rather have the large money pile although being that is wood based, I may have a re-occurrence of my fungi problem.  I’ll keep it in the bank as opposed to buried in the yard.

Which could you rather have, a free hour or two each month, or over $100,000 bucks?

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2 thoughts on “Free time isn’t Free

  1. I do think there could be some reasonable justification for paying someone to do things for you. I just haven’t found it yet. We really prefer to do things for ourselves. It stinks to pay someone to do something for you only to be left feeling like your standards would have been a bit higher. Okay then… gotta go… mow…. if the darn inter-web would just stop distracting me.

    1. PedalsforPennies

      I agree, there is a sense of satisfaction to completing something yourself. I did have to hire to have my tree removed, it was way beyond a do it yourself job!

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