Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Choosing Family Over Money (Literally "Buying Time")

Best selling author Brene Brown recounts a time* when she and her husband wrote down all of their goals for the upcoming year.  Many of their goals required more money and more work.  Then they decided to write down their deeper desires for family and relationships, discovering that many of their relational desires were in conflict with more money and more work.  In fact, they decided they needed to work less, meaning more time for family but less money for their original goal list.

Brown's story remained tucked away in the back of my mind for several years.  The pressure to make more money in order to have the things our family wants runs parallel with our deeper desires to have more time with one another, outside friends, and more rest.  I certainly can identify with the tension between money and time that Brown and her husband experience.

This past summer, Sara and I took the risk to work less, cultivating more time for family, friends, and rest.  I had been offered to teach two classes at one college and two classes at another college, thus totaling four classes.  The commute time was going to take away a lot of desires for family, friends, and rest.  We decided it would be best for me to teach only three classes at one college instead of four classes at two colleges.  This reduced commute time considerably, opening up an additional ten or more hours per week.

In the past, I would have seen this move as a loss of money, which is certainly true in a technical sense.  However, as I pondered our decision, I realized that I was literally using my money to "buy time".  Abstractly, money is a form of power, and we can use our power to buy "products" or "services", or we can use our power to "buy time".  While "loosing money" can feel dis-empowering, "buying time" can feel empowering, stimulating a sense of ownership, power, and decision making.

Of course, because of my position as a college instructor, I have a certain privilege of making a decent amount of money per class that others might not have in the jobs that they have.  I am completely aware of this privilege.  Nevertheless, whatever our situation in life, if we do have the opportunity to "buy time" for our family, friends, and rest, we can opt to "buy time" instead of "goods" and "services".**

Our budget is very tight right now, but I am thankful for the time we have bought by giving up a class, figuring things out financially along the way.

Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash

*I can't remember which book or podcast this came from, but it was probably The Gifts of Imperfection or Daring Greatly.

**For those who are in a completely difficult financial situation, working three minimum wage paying jobs, my course of action might not be possible, and I never want anyone to feel shame or condemnation for things that are sometimes out of their control.  Maybe there are only little things that can be done in some situations.  For more help with budgeting, Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University might be helpful.  Be aware that it does have a Christian flavor to the course, which might not be your thing, but the budgeting principles and debt reduction techniques are very powerful.