Budget Time Like Budgeting Money For Savings, Bills, and Guilt-Free Spending

Budget Time Like Budgeting Money For Savings, Bills, and Guilt-Free Spending
Photo by Sonja Langford / Unsplash

There is a common saying that "time is money." From my understanding, the phrase is about how time is valuable, and you should invest your time to build skillsets that will help you make money. It also means that one should be more productive and efficient so you can make more money from the time you spend.

Recently, I started to ask myself if time is money and if I budget my money a certain way, I will also start budgeting my time that way.

On the day that I get paid, I have a habit of splitting my money into three buckets:

  1. Savings
  2. Bills
  3. Guilt-free fun spending

I started similarly looking at my time. I receive a time paycheck of 1,440 minutes every day I am still living. With that time paycheck, I start allocating it to work on my personal goals (savings) and work/responsibilities (bills) first before I assign the remaining time to relaxing/socializing (fun spending).

When budgeting money, you generally want enough to cover your bills and save towards your goals before allocating funds to fun spending. If you are not mindful of how you plan on spending your money, you might overspend on fun spending and not have enough for your bills and/or your saving goals.

When budgeting time, people will generally have time set aside for their working hours (bills), and after that, they spend the rest of their time mindlessly relaxing and playing video games or other activities (fun spending), making no time allocation for working towards goals (savings). This time allocation may be enjoyable in the short term but may rob you of bigger goals someone would like to achieve in the long term. For example, incorporating a new habit, building an additional income source, or learning a new skill set.

Example of Time Allocation Order

As of writing this blog post, my current general guide for how I allocate my time during weekdays is as follows:

  1. Before work, I work on personal goals, such as learning new things, creating things, and, on some days, gym workouts. (Savings)
  2. Work my hours for work. (Bills)
  3. After work, I eat dinner, go to social events, play video games, run errands, cycle with friends, or do other activities (Fun Spending)

I don't follow this every weekday like I don't budget my money how I would like every paycheck, but it is a general guide I strive for. Sometimes, we feel lazy or are going through obstacles in life that may deviate us from the guide.

Some activities may feel like "fun spending" and a "savings goal" activity. That makes following through with it easier. An example of this for me is cycling with friends.

The order you choose to spend your time is up to what you think is best for you. I find that, like money, once I start spending my "fun spending" time, I find it hard to be mindful to stop and not "overspend," which will result in cutting back on "savings goals" time.

An example is after work, I feel tired and want to relax, so I eat dinner and play a video game or watch videos on YouTube.

There is a good chance that I will do that for the rest of the night, causing me to drop my plans to work towards my personal goals for that day. You might be different and have more discipline to easily stop your "fun spending" time and switch over to either "bills" or "saving goals" time consistently. If so, kudos to you.

That is why I prefer to work on personal goals in the morning, go to work, and then, after work, relax until I go to bed. This order of how I spend my time makes it so that after work, if I decide to binge-watch Netflix shows/movies, play video games, or go to a social event, then I can do so knowing that I was able to work towards my goals and completed my hours for work.


Budgeting my time, similar to how I budget the money when I get paid, makes it easier to visualize how I allocate my time and in the order I prefer. Instead of getting paid every two weeks, I get paid in time each day I am still living.

Experiment with the order in which you wish to spend your daily time paycheck. It could be in sequential order, such as savings, bills, fun spending, or some other order. You could mix it throughout the day.

Be mindful of how you spend your daily time paycheck so that you can enjoy today, cover your responsibilities, and save towards your bigger long-term goals.