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How much is your time worth to you, how much is your space worth to you?

A few days ago I went to the store to finally buy an item I have been wanting to buy for quite a while now.

It was in fact my third time to the store in just as many weeks: the first to check it out and give it a go, the second to buy it only to find it was completely out of stock and they were waiting for the factory to produce more, and this final time to put in an order for one.

Except the shop seller as soon as he saw me came running over all excited, “We got some in, we got some in. We have two left, do you want one?”.

I don’t even need to type my answer lol, but as I stood waiting to pay, the conversation went like this:

- Do you have membership?

- No

- If you have membership we can give you $3 reduction

(Note: the purchase price was $189)

- Hmm… what do I need to give you for membership?

- Name, phone number, e-mail---

- (Thinking for a few seconds) It’s ok thanks. I just spent a week clearing out a backlog of emails and I’d rather not add to it

- ??? (Poor guy visibly not understanding a thing I was talking about)

A few moments later:

- Would you like a bag?

- Hmm--

As I hesitate, he automatically pulls out a huge paper bag, for an item which was significantly in the small size range.

I open my bag and motion inside

- You know what, I will just put it in my bag. I mean it’s a beautiful bag and all but I’m really trying to cut down on how much stuff I take. But thank you anyway.

- Ok ok (Poor guy still visibly not understanding a thing I am talking about)

I walked away delighted with my new purchase (I will introduce you to this wonderful new toy in the near future as it will be a key player in this journey), but also questioning myself if I’d been stupid for turning down ‘free money’ while also pleased with myself for doing just that.

Years back I had close friends who would go to extreme measures just to save a small amount of money, even opening bank accounts because they offered, perhaps, $100 to do so. I knew other people who would pick up every copper they found on the ground and in just a week could amass several dollars worth of coins.

Never pass a penny they say.

I choose to leave them for people who may need them more than me.

And then we have that other time-worn adage:

Time is money.

Somehow nobody ever questions that one lol.

I was watching a crazy video last week, and I’m pretty sure I turned it off half-way through, but it was one of those financial commentary videos on how much money people spend. In it the main person was repeatedly justifying their spending habits, such as ordering delivery or the like. Yes, it costs a lot more, but not having to cook saves way more time which can be spent working.

I’ll debate the whole productivity/ cook vs food delivery question later, but the whole concept of spending relatively high amounts of money to save time that could be spent working, this was the image swirling in my head as I walked away from the store.

What if space is money I asked myself.

I gave up the bag not just to reduce environmental impact and waste, but also to avoid having another item blocking up my already inadequate space quota.

As I read recently in Fumio Sasaki’s book on minimalism, we pay rent every month for a specific space area. If we have stacks of items we never use taking up 5% of the floor space, then it is as if we are saying we are paying that 5% of our rent just to have those things lying around.

And not just as a one off, on a repeated monthly basis.

Say it’s a pile of junk, or even better, bags we are given at stores. If our rent if $1000, that is the equivalent of paying $50 bucks a month just to put a roof over those bags. If our rent is $2000 then it becomes $100, etc etc.

Every single month.

But for me it was much more than just having yet another bag laying on my floor or stuffed behind a cupboard. In thinking space is money, I was more specifically thinking digital space.

That time it takes every single day to sift through the email box.

Even if I don’t open a single email and directly delete them once or twice a day, that is still several minutes of my time. Daily.

And if I just don’t bother to do that and leave them to pile up?

Let’s just say that was my prior non-strategy.

Until this summer when one day I decided to open my email on my laptop.

Yeah, was I in for a shock.

Apparently “Dr Google” can only count to 99, as on my gmail account on my phone it stops counting and just puts 99+ emails…

Opening my laptop that fated day and my mouth dropped open to see well over 30- if not 40-THOUSAND unread emails.

It was lockdown, and so I thought I’d just sit down for an hour or two and clear it out.

It took two solid weeks to sort and delete all those emails.

Every. Single. One.

Reaching a zero email inbox was a celebratory event, like a hoarder seeing their floor for the first time in years.

I just knew there was no way I was going to let it get like that ever again.

And then the final reason, somewhat unrelated but actually the bigger picture, and that we all need to be vigilant about how much data we put online or give to companies.

A simple email or phone number, is gold dust to a company, and they will not hesitate to fill our mind and our inbox with publicities and offers and all sorts of marketing strategies.

Saying no to extra money off that day was going completely against my instinctive nature, especially coming out of an extremely difficult year. I am not projecting this idea from a perspective of abundance, but that yes, I do need to keep a strict eye on every penny.

And it is from that perspective that I stand by the fact that not only time is money, but space is also money, be it our physical space, our environmental space, our emotional space, our mental space, our digital space and even our online space.

The question is, then, how much is your space worth to you?

RZ 2022 01 12

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