The relationship between time and money is fascinating. Time is a sequence of events. Wealth (money) is what we mine or grow, manufacturing it into useful products. It takes time (a sequence of events) to mine, grow, manufacture, and distribute wealth. And thus, money is directly proportional to time. If you want money (or wealth), you (or someone) will trade time to get it. This is the law of the harvest.
We all have 24 hours in a day and finite life spans. Given a certain earning rate, we will earn a fixed amount of money in our lives. It’s scary to think that the money we are earning now needs to cover present, intermediate, and long-term needs. Yet, we don’t know how long our lives will be and how much money we will need. And we like to have the finer things in life. So, it’s a no-brainer that we want more money. Sadly, many families and our government are living as if they could escape the consequences of the law of the harvest. Money, representing future wealth, allows us to do that. And that creates debt. Robbing tomorrow to pay for today. What does the time-money equation say will be the likely response to debt? Work more. Give up more present time. Debt robs free time.
Is it possible to have more money and more free time? Well, yes, to an extent. It is mostly an efficiency thing. I never said money equals time, just that they are proportional.
I like to call these efficiency solutions time-money mediators. A mediator is one that reconciles differences between disputants. In this case, free time and money are at odds. I would define time-money mediators as things which increase wealth while reducing the free time required to do so. You’ll notice they are not quick fixes and are in the realm of self discipline.
For example, one mediator is to change our earnings rate by getting a college degree. In this case, a little time spent results in a lot more fixed money. You won’t work more, yet you’ll have more money. Other mediators reduce the money required to live. Don’t pay interest. Don’t waste. Live within your means. Wealth is a relative thing. It means having enough for your needs. These mediators assure that you’ll have enough wealth without having to work more than usual.
Where does couponing fall? Is it a time-money mediator? I’ll give the typical engineering answer. It depends. You will spend time acquiring, clipping, sorting, shopping, and redeeming to convert those coupons into money (or living within your means). That is a sequence of events. That is time. You may be working for minimum wage or less in your couponing. If only we could increase the savings from our couponing efforts, or reduce the amount of time it takes to realize the coupon savings, we may be at the CEO level of remuneration for our efforts. I would say that anything that increases savings while decreasing time spent is a couponing mediator.
My favorite mediator is organization. Organization theory tells us that full and beneficial organization is achieved when all items in a set are visible at once. When some items block others from view, time must be spent to discover the hidden items. Consider:
Sarah’s son wants to watch a DVD and asks her help to locate it. She knows it’s in the pile of DVDs on his bedroom floor. The title is not found after scanning the top layer of the pile. The top layer is obviously blocking the next layer so the pile is shuffled. The search begins anew with the same results. After 20 minutes of utilizing the process of search->shuffle->find->no->repeat, the title is found. Sarah works alongside her son to gather all the titles and place them in a DVD rack on the closet door. Now, she asks the son to find a title. He scans the rack and finds it within a minute. Why? Because when the DVD’s are fully organized, all titles can be seen equally. You don’t have to move any to see what is under them. Time savings is the big payoff of organization. A little effort to organize initially saves time continuously thereafter.
My point is that the more layers of organization you add to your couponing, the less time it will take, and you will increase your savings because you’ll use more coupons and less will expire.
What are called coupon organizers really cover the spectrum of how much organization they provide you. An envelope filled with coupons is at the lower end of organization. Why? Imagine going into the cereal section. You know you have some coupons for cereal. You look into your envelope and don’t see them. You shuffle thru a stack of 100 coupons, repeatedly moving one to see another. This takes a lot of time, and you repeat it in every section of the store. You just spent a lot of time to save your money. The next tier of coupon organizers typically divide the store up into sections and provide you with tabs. That’s good. At a glance, you can see all the store sections in your binder. When you enter the cereal aisle, you can quickly find the corresponding tab in your organizer. But, most of the beautiful organizers (I like to call them coupon holders) available have you lump all of your coupons together in a pocket in a store section. So, you still have to shuffle your cereal coupons to find the ones you want, and you will repeat that in every store section. Coupon organizers that offer the reward of full and beneficial organization apply the “at a glance” principle at every level. They let you see all of the store section tabs equally. And, once inside a store section, they allow you to see all coupons at a glance. No shuffling. You turn in to the store cereal section. You readily find the cereal tab in your organizer and turn to it. Inside that section, you see every coupon you have for cereal at a glance. No shuffling. And now you are earning CEO wages for your couponing time.
Coupon organizers, offering full and beneficial organization in the form of “at a glance” capability typically use baseball trading card holders for the coupons and are built by the users following plans published on the web. Some examples can be seen at tipnut.com or momsaves.com. Or, commercial sites such as Mrs. A’s Coupon Organizer sell kits and complete organizers with the “at a glance” features.
Don’t settle for minimum wage couponing. Coupon at the CEO level by taking advantage of the organization time-money mediator.
Submitted by Hotcouponworld member spacestout
spacestout got into couponing when his wife’s request for “one more child” turned into identical triplets.