How to Have More Time and Money

The numbers of what we spend money on can be a bit of an eye-opener.

Disclosure: This article is not intended to be financial advice and information should be taken as educational only. Read the disclaimer.

We've all been there.

The end of the month rolls around, and we're left wondering where our time and money disappeared to.

It's almost like playing a never-ending game of chase, trying to keep up with life's demands while also wanting a bit more breathing room—both in our schedules and our wallets.

It's not just about wanting that extra pair of shoes or that holiday package to Bali.

It's deeper than that.

The modern world has us running in circles, and amidst skyrocketing living costs and the sneaky creep of inflation, finding a balance between managing the present and securing our future becomes a tightrope walk.

But what if I told you that a potential solution has been hiding in plain sight?

Something you can do (for free) that will save us both time and money.

And it's available to you right now.

Brace yourself: it's about spending less.

The Real Cost of Discretionary Spending

The numbers of what we spend money on can be a bit of an eye-opener.

I was reading a recent report that CommBank iQ released in May 2023.

Called the “Cost of Living Insights Report“.

It explains how Australians are spending nearly half, 49% of their spending on discretionary items.

The items we have “discretion” to spend on when we like.

Not the basics like housing, but stuff like eating out, apparel, and, well, things we might not truly need.

Let’s break down the dollars of where the report found we were spending on the non-essentials:

  • Eating out & food delivery: $315
  • General retail: $236
  • Travel and accommodation: $234
  • Household goods: $223
  • Other: $135
  • Apparel: $110
  • Leisure: $102
  • Retail services: $58

There's no shame in treating ourselves.

But when non-essential costs start to overshadow essential ones, it’s crucial to stop and ponder.

Is our money going where we genuinely want it?

Can it work harder for us elsewhere, like in investments, savings, or for that rainy day fund?

The rising cost of living is no joke.

Every trip to the grocery store feels a tad more expensive than the last.

Utility bills seem to have a life of their own.

And let’s not even start on property.

Understanding our spending patterns isn't a mere exercise—it's a crucial step towards securing our financial future.

Because every dollar we redirect from non-essentials could be a dollar that shields us from the unpredictability of inflation and the ever-increasing expenses that life throws our way.

More than dollars

While the dollar figures alone were worth highlighting, there's another dimension to consider.

Here's where things get interesting.

By investing our money in non-essentials, we're also investing significant time.

Think about the hours spent online shopping, or the days dedicated to organizing and decluttering items we rarely use.

If we're dishing out hundreds on things like eating out, apparel, and those miscellaneous retail splurges, we're not just spending money.

We're also spending time—time browsing, choosing, buying, and then eventually organizing or even decluttering.

I don't know about you but I've currently got at least 6 tabs open in my phone with things I want to buy – a pair of pants, a boardgame, some kind of software I reckon is a good idea.

Then I go to Amazon and I have 12 things saved in my cart.

Now that I've thought about it without even spend a dollar I've put so much time into just thinking about stuff to buy.

Reports suggest that, in the US, the average person dedicated 22 minutes a day to shopping in 2019.

That's 133 hours a year!

That’s still a lot of hours that could be redirected.

Reframing Our Spending Choices

Shop less.

It sounds deceptively simple, but it's potent.

Every purchase is a choice—a decision about allocating resources.

And if we were to reframe these decisions, what possibilities could open up?

Imagine the compound effect of saving just a fraction of our discretionary spends.

That’s not just immediate savings but potential future gains if those funds are smartly invested.

Or think of it this way:

What dreams or goals could be realized with those funds?

Perhaps it's a long-desired family holiday, or maybe it’s getting that side gig off the ground.

Additionally, it’s not just about the money.

It’s also about the peace of mind that comes with less clutter, fewer choices, and a simpler, more focused lifestyle.

And when we start valuing experiences over possessions, the real richness of life starts unfolding.

We can invest in skills, adventures, relationships—stuff that doesn’t come with a price tag or need dusting every week.

When we start thinking of our spending not as isolated acts but as part of a broader narrative of our life's goals and dreams, we unlock a powerful tool.

And with this tool, we’re not just saving money.

We’re carving out the future we want, one conscious choice at a time.

Alternatives to Spending: Making the Most of Your Time and Savings

I'm talking to myself here as much as you, but if you're not browsing for that next pair of pants during a lunch break or scrolling through sales on curtains on the couch in the evening, what could you be doing instead?

If you've kept a few extra dollars in your pocket, where should they ideally go?

I've considered some alternatives that I know would be more valuable in the long run:

  • Upskill and Educate: Instead of window shopping online, why not window shop for knowledge? Take a few minutes to dive into a topic you're passionate about or curious about. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, or even YouTube are filled with courses and tutorials on practically everything. And speaking of courses, if you’ve been curious about investing, there's a wealth of resources online, including some fantastic courses on investing in shares. (Hint, hint!)
  • Creative Endeavours: Use those spare moments to ignite your creativity. I'm a massive fan of note taking. Whenever a thought comes into my head I jot it down, sketch, or even begin writing an article like this for you. When you channel your energy creatively, not only do you grow mentally, but you might also stumble upon potential income streams (which is what I've done with DadInvestor).
  • Active Breaks: Instead of browsing online stores, take a short walk, do a quick workout, or practice some desk yoga. It’s a healthier alternative and gives a much-needed break for the mind and body.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: That 10-15 minutes spent adding items to your cart can be redirected to a short meditation or deep-breathing session. It's an excellent way to reset, especially during a hectic workday.
  • Invest in Your Financial Future: With the money saved, you've got a prime opportunity. Instead of letting it sit in a regular savings account, why not explore the world of investing? For many, investing can seem like a labyrinth. But it's simpler than most think. Start with a basic investment book or a beginner's course. Understand the market basics, the principles of compound interest, and the different avenues available to you.
  • Plant a Seed – Literally: Remember, money isn’t the only thing you can invest. Invest time in your garden. The rewards, both in terms of produce and peace of mind, can be plentiful.

Everyone wants more (but more of what?)

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it's easy to get caught up in the cycle of mindless spending, where we trade our hard-earned money for fleeting pleasures.

However, by understanding the nature of discretionary spending and being more intentional about our financial decisions, we can unlock a world of benefits.

From a healthier bank balance to more enriching experiences and the peace of mind that comes with financial clarity, the rewards are immense.

Remember, every dollar saved and every hour reclaimed is an opportunity – to learn, to grow, and to invest in a richer, more fulfilling future.

Whether it's diving into the realm of investing or simply enjoying more moments with loved ones, the choice is yours.

Let's make it count.

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Tim Ellis, creator of, helps people confidently invest and manage their money. Inspired by his own experiences, Tim is passionate about creating a financially secure future for his family and sharing his personal finance knowledge with others.

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