Time or Money? – Hina Shaukat

Hina Shaukat
Time or Money Hina Shaukat

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Couple of months ago I decided to take a break from my full-time career to slow down, focus on other priorities and figure out how to start a small consultancy firm of my own.

When I started to spend more time at home, I noticed things more. I realized how my sofas in the living room where the kids eat, play and fight, had food stains on it — a fact I had no time to pay attention to while I was still part of the 9–6 clan.

After some thought, I decided that I will let the casual living area be the family room where kids can jump on the stained sofas and continue to do whatever they want, whereas I will focus on making a new formal living area in the room which is currently being used as a store room by the family.

This existing store room has proved to be very helpful for all of us since the last few years, as we use it to keep the other part of the house clean and tidy. We hide our dirty laundry (literally) in this place, unfolded clean laundry is tossed in the old playpen here, the ironing table is placed here, kids’ old toys are discarded to this area until a decision is made about them and old cycling gear and tool boxes have also found their way to this place.

So this is pretty much like an unused garage for our family.

I decided to change this modus operandi. Thus started my search for a new sofa set, some nice chairs, rug, tables — the works! Doing the rounds at different furniture stores made me realize that everything is so bloody expensive! The last big home décor item that I had purchased was 10 years ago when we got married and got our first sofa set. Inflation had really done its work well during the last 10 years.

Everything I saw at the stores, I looked at the price tag in terms of my last drawn salary. So I would look at a 3-seater and think to myself, “wow, I could get two of these every month from the salary I used to get”.

In reality, what did I actually get from that big fat cheque I got in my bank every month? Nothing. That’s true. I didn’t get anything. Because I didn’t have time to get anything.

With a stressful job that often required me to work late hours and forever coordinate with my husband and mom regarding who will pick the kids from school and drop them to the daycare and then pick them at the daycare at closing time and keep them until I could finally call it a day at work. In all of this, I didn’t have time to splurge on luxuries. Yes, I had the money for it but no time or energy to enjoy spending it.

All my actual spending was done for absolutely necessary items mostly purchased online. So every time I realized that my kids had grown out of their clothes or I needed a new pair of pants, I would simply go to one of my trusted online stores and order whatever I needed without comparing prices or waiting for deals. I knew I was paying more than I would if I could just find some time to go to a physical store and check their sale items. But who had that time? Not me.

So earlier when I could afford to hire an interior designer to decorate my new living room with just 2-months of my salary, I didn’t have any motivation to do that then. For 4-years we let an extra room in the house get used as a store room because I didn’t have time to think or work on getting it in order. I tried to convince myself a few times to try and decorate that side of the house but then I reasoned, what for? How many times in a month will I actually go and sit there? Our socializing is normally restricted to meeting friends for dinner or coffee or taking the kids to the park over the weekend!

And now, when I have the time to think about house décor, luxury items, branded stuff, I didn’t have the extra cash to do that. With one-income coming in the house, I had to look at the price tags for everything, very carefully before I decided to pick it up.

This is a change I had anticipated at the time of careful thinking about whether it would make sense for me or not, to give up my career in favor of more time to enjoy my growing kids. Everything comes at a cost and I knew I would have to let go of a lot of money to be able to do the things that I want to do. The choice is always between Time or Money.

I was lucky that I could choose time because I knew that if we managed well, our household could run on one-income, but it couldn’t be a happy household if we hardly get time to spend with each other.

The final thought that made me go for more time in my life was that if this extra money in my bank account is not giving me happiness, then surely the absence of it cannot give me any sorrow either. And after trying it out, I can confirm my hypothesis as true — there is no sorrow with less money and more time.

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