Last week, at the peak of Penn State undergrad move-in days, I found myself standing in line at a State College big box discount store, watching befuddled students and parents trying to figure out how to ring a giant plastic drawer unit through the self-checkout lane. I knew it was move-in and I knew the store would be insane. I had other options. And I went anyway. Why? Frugality.
I was in need of a new sleeping bag for a camping trip in the State Forest last weekend (a frugal woman’s vacation!). And I knew I had two options. I could go to the sporting goods store and pay more than I wanted to. Or I could go to the discount store, brave the move-in crowd, and save myself ten to twenty dollars. My time and my sanity are valuable to me. But in this situation, I would likely only have saved myself about ten minutes by going to the sporting goods store rather than the discount store. My time is definitely valuable. But “one dollar per minute” valuable? I don’t think so.
When you’re trying to weigh out the frugal option versus the convenient option, you should definitely factor in the value of your time. But be careful not to overvalue your time. A lot of times the frugal option makes a lot more sense. Besides…you wouldn’t want to miss out on the entertainment value of undergrads trying to run jumbo items through the self-check, would you?