Budgeting Our Time



Budgeting our timeMe: There is not enough time in the day!
Charlotte (age 7): You can just go buy some more.
Me: Oh yeah, where can I buy time?
Charlotte: Target, duh. And I would buy the large pack if I were you. 

Everyone talks about budgeting money, but why don’t we talk about budgeting our time?

Living Expenses

Each month I know I need a certain amount of money for living expenses, i.e., necessities: bills, taxes, groceries, gas, Netflix subscription (definitely a necessity). I pay those things first and then use my remaining money for other purchases.

Why don’t we do that with our time?

What are my necessities this month — my daughters’ chorus show, a doctor’s appointment, a work trip, a parent-teacher conference. Well, rather than pull out my mobile banking app, why not pull out my monthly planner and treat it like a checkbook (do people still use checkbooks?).

I have 24 hours to spend each day; 8 of those (hopefully) are used for sleeping, so that leaves me with 16 hours left to “spend.” By blocking off time for the necessities, I make sure I am taking care of what is important first before running out of hours.


Unlike money, if we run out of time, we cannot just charge time on our credit card.

Wouldn’t that be cool (and maybe a bit dangerous)? You get to the end of the day, and you realize you have 10 more emails to respond to, lunches to make, laundry to do, and you are two weeks behind on The Bachelor. No problem. I will just “borrow” 5 hours to get it all done.

But you know what? Although there is no “Time Amex,” you can still “owe” time. How about your best friend’s birthday that you had to miss because you were on that work trip? I bet you told her, “I owe you dinner. I will make it up to you.” Well, guess what, now you find yourself with time debt. Hopefully, the interest rate is low, but the longer you wait to pay that time back, the more it nags at you. Luckily you have your time checkbook (your planner), and you can go ahead and plan for that dinner with your friend for next week.

Debt paid off.

Emergency Fund

One very common budgeting strategy is to always have an emergency fund. Experts usually say you should have six months of living expenses saved up if you lose your job or have an unexpected health issue.

Or possibly a global pandemic…

Clearly, you cannot save up six months of time.

However, one way to prepare for that emergency is to set aside a certain amount of time each week that you leave free. Block it off in your planner.

This gives you room for things to go wrong the rest of the week. You didn’t get to the post office, you forgot the milk at the grocery store, your daughter neglected to tell you that it is her turn to bring snacks to the soccer game.

Now let’s say things go great, and you have nothing left on your to-do list. Use that time to do something for yourself (think manicure, nap, take a walk), or maybe even use that free time for things you know you have to do the next week.


A great way to use your money wisely is to invest it. You spend money to buy stocks, bonds, or real estate that will, in turn, make you more money. You invest in your 401(k), which will provide you with more money when you retire.

Unfortunately, as we all know, you can’t make more time (even with the best Wall Street hedge fund). However, you can invest your time wisely. Just like with money, give time to things that will produce good dividends.

Spend your time on things that will make you happy.

Spend your time on things that will make you successful.

Spend your time on things that will make your life and community better.

Do not invest your precious time in things that bring you negativity, anxiety, or self-doubt.Those are bad investments.

My advice to you is to spend a little of your day (I promise you can afford it) to develop your time budget. Prioritize your necessities, assess your time debt (that reminds me, I owe my Mom a phone call), plan for your emergency time fund, and look hard at where you are investing your time.

Time is a precious and limited resource, so don’t waste it.

But in case you do need more, maybe it is on sale at Target?

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Robin Zimmern is originally from Boston, MA arriving in Pensacola in 2008 via Nashville and Birmingham. Since moving to the south, Robin has embraced her inner "y’all," learned to wear pearls, eat grits, and knows the words to every Garth Brooks’ song. Robin is a proud girl mom to two precocious, creative and sassy girls: Emma (9) and Charlotte (6). They keep her on her toes in their never-ending desire to become YouTube stars, survive on a diet of pizza and chicken nuggets, and always trying to have the last word. Robin received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Vanderbilt University, and her specialist degree from the University of West Florida. Robin serves as the director of development at the University of West Florida. In Robin’s spare time (is that a thing?), she is a passionate community volunteer. Robin sits on several local boards, including the Pensacola Little Theatre, Manna, Junior League of Pensacola, Fiesta Pensacola, Valerie's House and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.


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