Everything Costs Something

Published by Thriving Erin on


Everything costs something. Whether it’s time, money, emotional health, or relationships, we’re constantly choosing one over the other. When we choose to be unaware of the decisions we make we will always be a victim, things will always happen to us, we’ll never be in control.


There are so many different types of costs. There may be a financial cost, a time cost, an emotional cost, an opportunity cost, or a relational cost. Is one more significant than the other? We often compare ourselves to others based on their financial costs (look what they bought!), but we don’t recognize or validate the other costs they are paying.


I’ve had friends express their jealousy at how much my husband and I travel while the next day questioning why we live in such a small apartment or drive such old vehicles. We value travel and we’re willing to pay for it. However, paying significantly more money just to have more space to live in isn’t worth it for us. Maybe one day our priorities will change, maybe we’ll have kids, maybe we’ll get a dog, or maybe we’ll just be older and want more space. If that’s the case, it may be worth the money to pay for a larger place, but to pretend it’s not a choice is just silly. We could afford either one, but we can’t afford both, it’s a decision we’ve chosen to make.


Much of our society centers on financial costs so it is the easiest cost for us to understand and measure. But are you ignoring the other costs? What is your time worth to you? How do you measure it and quantify its value? It’s great to say, “I value my time,” but can you define that? If your boss offered you $8 to stay an extra hour at work, would you take it? How about $15? $30? $100? What if it’s Friday afternoon? In this scenario, the value we put on our time has two components, the money we receive and the thing we’re giving up. What are you missing out on during that extra hour? Why is that hour more valuable on a Friday than on a Tuesday? Everything costs something and only when we accept that can we make the best choice.


If you pay more to live closer to work with a shorter commute so that you have more time at home, what are you doing with that time. If you use that time to sit in front of the tv are you being responsible with the choice you’ve made? If someone wasted as much of your time as you do, would you put up with that?


For some, time with family is the most important thing in their life and they will willingly pay any cost for that. This may mean missing out on opportunities at work to spend time with their kids, it may mean making less money by never signing up for overtime, it may mean spending less time with friends to spend more time with their spouse. All of these things are choices and when we recognize that, when we’ve weighed the cost beforehand, when it lines up with what’s actually important to us, the cost is easier to pay.


If we want to be intentional to thrive, to take control of our lives, the first step is taking responsibility for the decisions we’re making.  Do you know what’s important to you? If you do, are the choices you’re making and the costs you’re choosing to pay in line with that?


There may be things you feel like you’re missing out on in life, things you never have time for. If so, chances are that thing became the cost for something else. Figure out what both are and decide which of the two is more valuable to you. Once you’re aware of the cost you’re paying and have made a conscious choice, it makes the sacrifice much easier. This is something we need to do ourselves. Nobody can tell us what we value (though they will definitely try to tell you what you should value) and what is most important. Make sure you’re only paying what you’re willing to live without.




Categories: Musings


Steven Thompson · May 14, 2019 at 6:01 pm

Thank you for a very thoughtful piece- this stood out to me-here may be things you feel like you’re missing out on in life, things you never have time for. If so, chances are that thing became the cost for something else. Figure out what both are and decide which of the two is more valuable to you. – Decision making is hard especially when you are face with options that are beneficial, I think you could even turn this article into a worksheet or mini course on making decisions. Thanks!

Kelli Mohr · May 13, 2019 at 10:32 pm

Hi Erin,

Thank you for this nicely thought out article. I like how you used many examples to emphasize your point. I like to think I vote with my dollars. I may say I want to travel but if I’m constantly spending my money to go to brunch with friends, then maybe I really value time with my friends and fancy brunches. I won’t really know until I follow that money trail.

I love how you emphasize other’s imposing their values on you. That is such the case in life, you should be doing this or that. I think it’s hard for people to not get sucked into what the people around them are doing.

You’re right about how we spend our time and if it’s responsible. And is it even worse if we’re spending our time doing something we hate? Is it okay to spend some of our time on guilty pleasures? What’s the right balance?

Is there an exercise we can do to help us use or time and money wisely and in alignment with our values? I’d love to see / do something like that!

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