Cracking Retirement - Time Frugal

Time Frugal

Time Frugal or to put it another way – Frugality of Time. What an interesting and thought provoking statement. I can’t take the credit for it. The term came from a Voluntary Simplicity post.

We generally consider the word frugal to relate to being careful with money, and my 1982 version of the Oxford Concise Dictionary says it can also relate to food. However, there is no reason why it cannot also be applied to time.

While I would say we live simply, we are not necessarily frugal. We could spend a lot more, but we choose not to. We have more than enough money to put food on the table and keep ourselves warm and clothed. I can’t say that we deny ourselves anything, but somewhere along the way we ceased to ‘want’ things. I can’t decide exactly when it was. It probably dates from about 2010 when we had to get some work done on our house, and we realised just how much ‘stuff’ we had. All the floors in our house needed to be replaced, so all our cupboards had to be emptied, bookshelves (all 7 of them, each 6ft tall) cleared. Everything had to go to the loft or the garage, which was a big challenge. We gave a huge amount of stuff away. Since then, we have felt little need to bring more stuff in. However when we do buy something, we buy what we consider is best value, not necessarily the cheapest, but rarely the most expensive! So careful rather than frugal.

Are We Time Frugal?

Do we use our time as wisely as we use our money?

Do we spend our time the way we spend our money, on things that we want to do, that give us pleasure, or do we spend it on things that we find a chore and that we no longer enjoy?

Is our diary full of things that occupy us, rather than things we want to do?

Do we waste our time in the same way that we used to waste money?

A very interesting challenge – we are probably 8 out of 10.

Being mainly retired we are no longer at the daily beck and call of our employer. Our time is our own to spend as we want. (My husband still works part-time, but in his own time, doing the work he wants to do – no admin!)

Good uses of our time

  • I spend my time blogging, doing metal work (jewellery and larger copper creations). I enjoy the challenge of blogging, and I adore metal work.
  • I attend a lapidary club once or twice a week, which has the double benefit of meeting and talking to different people, and doing something I enjoy
  • My husband and I do the necessary amount of housework – our house is clean and tidy, there is never more than a few days washing backlog, but it is not a major use of our time. I think we hit the right level. Neither of us likes an untidy house, but we don’t clean and tidy for the sake of it.
  • I am a voluntary governor / trustee for a charity which takes on average 1 day a month. I enjoy it because it is good for my brain, I meet different people, think about different things, but once it starts feeling like a chore, it is time to review it. It was 2-3 days a month which was starting to feel a bit much, so I cut it down a few months ago.
  • Both separately and together, we meet friends for lunch, dinner, coffee etc.
  • My husband is good at making time to go the gym, I am less good at finding the time to go for a walk. I like going to the gym for a swim, but I don’t like having to pace myself around other swimmers, so I only like going when it is quiet. I do Pilates once a week.
  • We travel a lot, particularly Slow Travel and enjoy just about every minute we are away – everything is new and interesting. It makes us look at our surroundings. It keeps us very much ‘present’. When we are at home treading our normal paths, we are not so alert and aware.
  • If the sun is shining, we are often to be found sitting in the sun reading a book. While this might seem a poor use of time, our book topics are wide and varied, it is relaxing and we enjoy it!
  • We have a small garden which is easy to keep. (which is just as well, given the amount we travel!)
  • I am learning Spanish, so I usually do 1 hour each day on the PC, and attend an evening class 1 night a week.

Poor uses of our time

  • In the winter evenings, particularly, we often spend a couple of hours watching TV, sometimes with a glass of wine in hand.
  • I find myself volunteering to do things I don’t always enjoy, so I am becoming more careful about what I offer to do.
  • I play silly games on the iPad, my husband plays a lot of patience on the PC. I can lose hours on Facebook and Pinterest.
  • In the winter we get up too late. Over the last  month, it has not even started to get daylight at 9am, so we generally sleep later. I refuse to use an alarm clock now we are retired, but it will be better when we start waking naturally again at 7:30 in a few weeks time.

Options for Improvement

  • If we don’t collapse in a chair at 8pm, we neither eat snacks nor have the wine. So I am consciously trying to replace that habit, but it is work in progress…. In the summer it is a lot easier, we will often go for a walk, potter in the garden, or I do some metal work etc
  • I have stepped down from my club committee because if there is a job to be done, I will always volunteer for it. Not being on the committee, means I am not so quick to take things on.
  • I am now setting myself a time limit on playing on the ipad, social media etc. However the social media is a bit of a balance because I do a lot more than I used to, to publicise my blog.
  • The biggest change I can make is Get Up Earlier! With no immediate demands on my time, I can let the morning drift. If I aim to be up, showered and dressed by 8am, then I would give me another hour in my day.


I think it is important for everyone, whether you are frugal with your money or not, that you consider being frugal with your time. I cant remember where I first read it, but I’ve seen it quoted a few times recently – you are supposed to be the sum of the 5 people you spend most time with. So if they are negative, time wasting people, their bad habits will rub off on you.

It is easier to make some small changes and create new habits, than make big changes that are overwhelming, so in my case it is one step at a time. Doing more of the things I enjoy, and less of the things that are essentially a waste of that valuable commodity – time.

What are your views? What are your time-wasters?

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Cracking Retirement - Time Frugal



  1. Nice article, and excellent notes. I find that we can often spend significant time in a wasteful manner, in front of TV or computer, without doing anything worthwhile. I think it is one of the real tragic items in life right now. I like your goals/solutions, and I’ll try to use them myself in the new year.

    To the woodshop!

    Mr. 39 Months

    1. Hi Kevin
      I agree – we need to cut down on ‘wasted time’. It is so easy to waste the hours. However with a bit of effort, hopefully we will all get the benefit

  2. I was shocked when I calculated how long I spent on Facebook alone! Sometimes the mindless activities really add up!


    1. Hi Sam
      Those hours really do add up, we could be doing something useful with our time instead. Mindless is the right word for them.


  3. Great challenge, to be frugal with our time. As a life-long multitasker I frequently find myself over-committed (and yes, I’m also retired.) So I need to learn to be frugal with my commitments too! <a href=" Share Your World. “>

    1. Hi Shirley

      It is all too easy to volunteer for things and then find your free time has vanished. Evenn though technically we have all teh time in the world when we are retired. We don’t!


  4. This is an interesting concept and you are perfectly right. One can buy more food or earn more money but there is a limit on time. Once it runs out that’s it. So I have to say I agree – it’s more important to be frugal with time. Thanks for pointing it out!

    1. I hadn’t really thought about the concept before I wrote this post, but it is so true. Why are we all so careless with our time?
      We support people who take our time and give nothing back. We can ‘throw’ money at a problem, but ultimately time is a finite resource.

      However, once we start thinking this way, it makes us so much more aware!

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