How to ‘Waste Money’ To Improve the Quality of Your Life (#181)

How to waste money

This episode is not going to deconstruct a world-class performer, per usual. This is a short, but very actionable and practical episode about the inner workings of my business.

I was asked recently how I choose my projects. I’ve riffed on this topic, and shared many thoughts on delegating tasks, future projects, and my current approach to start-ups.

I realized that the real question at the root of many of my decisions is: “How can I waste money to improve my quality of life?” This seems like a bad thing, but it is not. It is trading pennies for dollars.

I delve into this topic and much more. Please enjoy!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#181: How to ‘Waste Money’ To Improve the Quality of Your Life

Want to hear another podcast packed full of actionable tips that I use in my own life? — Listen to this short episode on the magic of mindfulness. In this episode, I discuss how to complain less, appreciate more, and live a better life (stream below or right-click here to download):

#122: The Magic of Mindfulness: Complain Less, Appreciate More, and Live a Better Life

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • How do I determine what to delegate versus what to do on my own? [06:02]
  • How do I know what is the most important task on my to-do list? [09:46]
  • Why I focus more on writing than investing. [11:02]
  • Time is a valuable — but also variable — currency. Can you afford distractions? [13:06]
  • Are you letting unnecessary tasks overwhelm you? Pare down and eliminate. [16:26]
  • I share the story about a time I wish I’d “wasted” $2,000. [17:09]
  • You can always make more money. You can’t create more time. [19:31]
  • The journaling exercise I use to dream up ways to “waste” income in order to improve my quality of life. [20:12]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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43 Replies to “How to ‘Waste Money’ To Improve the Quality of Your Life (#181)”

  1. Holy cow. Yes I needed to hear the bit about delegating work. It’s not about your time but attention, and you need to create space for creative work.

    I struggle as an “intrapreneur” because our contractors need so much hand holding.

    Thank you

    Btw – please do an in-between-isode about how to use Don’t Shoot the Dog methods to self train and self shape. I am reading it, and it’s endlessly fascinating, but I need more hand holding or examples

    1. I like Ben’s idea, an an in-between-isode about how to use Don’t Shoot the Dog methods to self train and self shape. I found the book fascinating but I need examples to replicate and connect to the ideas before I can modify them.

  2. The podcast starts automatically both on the website and also while in Feedly. It’s not a pleasant experience.

      1. It is not a matter if you want the sky to be purple, it’s just a comment on using late 90’s cheap marketing tricks… (according my humble opinion).

        I’d like to visit this page from my work in order to download this episode and BOOOM!!!! the whole office know that I’m not working! Perfect !!!

        I use to visit more than 10 top podcasts every week and all of them don’t use autoplay, and they don’t use it for a reason… think a little bit….

      2. Kiraz – don’t be an ass. Ovidiaconscu is right – it’s annoying to have the podcast autoplay. I like to read Tim’s blog and don’t need it automatically blasting the intro to his podcast. It’s unnecessary, and it’s a legitimate request to disable that behavior.

  3. I have wondered for awhile why so few (or none) of Tims guests nor Tim himself discuss the importance of core values in determining priorities and focus. I believe it was Covey who said that if a person lived their life and made their decisions based on their personal core values, that person is more likely to have a fulfilled or happy life. Further, I don’t remember anyone talking about how to discover one’s core values in the first place. I have been working on this for 26 years and have been able to retire comfortably because of it. I now teach it to others (for free) occasionally at a local university. Before doing this, I was like a dog in a meat factory, trying every new or attractive idea that might help me. That was fun, yet frustrating and a massive time waster.

    1. Olliroy, please elaborate. I’m interested.

      What are your core values? And, how exactly have they transformed you from being a dog in a meat factory?

      1. Peter – It took me about 3 years to discover that I have 11 core values, such as learning, community (meaning primarily give-back), spiritual, integrity, family, health, financial ftreedom, accomplishment plus 3 more. These are the only things that I focus on. In my 2 primary priority apps, Things task manager and Evernote, I only have 11 folders or categories. They correspond to my core values. I do not spen time on any activity or goal that falls outside those 11 caregories.

        That makes it easy to say “no”. These are not values that I’ve chosen or want. They are core values that are part of me and have been for a long time. There is a lot written about this and Covey may be the most helpful as a start. I’ve developed several exercises that helped me and now others discover my personal core values. This is not a business and I do not charge others.

        Also, although the core values that I listed above may seem easy to understand, each person would define them differently. Integrity might mean something different to you than it does to me. So written definitions matter for clarity.

        Ultimately I make no decisions nor take any action unless I feel/know that that decision or action is based upon one of my core values. I live my life based on those core values. However, re-evaluation is important since I might be wrong. Perhaps my judgement was clouded by what sounds good. After three years, I knew that the 11 were as accurate as I could make them

        Lastly, I had to prioritize them. Why? Because often I have to decide on which of two or more areas will I focus on today in a limited amount of time. Or perhaps a decision that I must make has two two choices and each one honors a different core value. I’m going to want to chose the path that honors the value that is more important to me.

        Well that’s the tip of the iceberg but I hope it helps.

      2. I discovered my 11 personal core values such as learning, family, integrity, community (primarily give-back), health, financial freedom, spiritual, achievement, and 3 others. This process took about three years. I had to guard against selecting values that sounded good but really weren’t my core values.

        Core values are an intrinsic part of me. I don’t choose them. I discover them.

        How did I use them? I have two primary apps that I use to help me focus and achieve: Things task manager and Evernote. The only categories that I have in both apps are my 11 core values. So ever task or document gets filed under one if the core values. Therefore, it is easy to say no to any activity the falls outside those 11 core values. And we know from Steve Jobs how important the word “no” is.

        Also, that means I am looking at these values everyday and throughout the day. I can’t ignore them.

        Although the values listed above seem simple, I might define integrity different than you would. Therefore, I have written three-sentence definitions for each of the 11 values. I review those regularly.

        I also have put the 11 core values in a priority sequence based upon how important they are to me. There are times when a decision needs to be made which may have two more choices. Each might honor a different value. In other words, values come into conflict. I will then make the decision based upon the core value that I have already decided is more important to me ( i.e., family vs community).

        I have developed several tests which tell me whether or not one of 300-400 commonly known values are one of my core values. This has prevented me from climbing the ladder of success and finding it is placed against the wrong wall. No need to be like a dog in a meat factory, jumping at every attractive piece of meat. Thus greatly limits the possibility that I will chase every bright new idea, a real time waster.

        That’s just the top of the iceberg but I hope it helps.

      1. Nisab – I teach four 75-minute sessions. I only do this once every two years or so. It is a free class at a northern Califirnia university.

        Each session focuses on helping the class members discover their personal core values:

        1. From a list of about 365 values, pick those that resonate with you. Try to cull down that list to 20-50 values.

        2. Using several tests that I’ve developed or learned from others like Covey, cull down your list to 10-15. Continue to re-apply the tests for this smaller group. Use a dictionary if you’re confused between two or more similar values (i.e., integrity vs honesty).

        3. Write 3-5 sentence definitions of what each core value means to you. For example: Integrity

        I am honest, accountable, reliable.

        I conduct my affairs such that

        I am truthful

        I can be depended upon

        I am a man of my word

        I am worthy of trust

        Read these every day for awhile, then every week. Continue to edit them, if necessary, forever.

        4. Prioritize your core values using how important each is to you. For example, family may rank higher than community or financial freedom.

        Then integrate them into your DAILY life. For me, that means within my two key tools: Things task manager and Evernite file manager. Covey said that if a person makes decions based upon and lives his life according to his core values, he has a creditable claim to happiness or a fulfilled life. I’ve found that to be true after using my core values the last 26 years. There is no way that I can adequately describe the difference that this has made in my life.

        Hope that answers your question.

  4. Would love it if you could provide transcripts of the podcasts. For me, and maybe some others too, reading a transcript is quicker. And if I really like something I can copy/paste it to my own files for later reference.

  5. Does anyone remember an interview a whole back which featured a headline that had the word “busy” in it–I believe it was something along the lines of “if you’re busy this is a sign of disorganization”?? I’d love to revisit that one and can’t find it. If someone could share the link I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks a lot. Nickmayerart

  6. Excellent perspective. Hence, it explains why certain people fly private charter. “Time is money.”

    Favorite Quote “When you’ve reach a certain level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, don’t make decisions based on a survival mindset that has traveled with you from the sort of shelter-food basis.” – Tim Ferriss

  7. Thank you Tim. I started 30 days of Gratitude this year and I’m still going. There’s something awesome that happens when you send a thank you note to someone. I grounds me for some reason. Thanks for all that you do. Your guidance has helped me tremendously in becoming a better human being.

  8. Sorry for hijacking this blog post but your contact page said to comment here.

    Please. Please. Kill the auto-audio-on at the blog homepage.

    Aside from despising auto-firing content of all kinds in your case you’ve been my homepage for two years and I’ll have to change it if the dreadful sounds don’t stop.

    Love your stuff! Keep it coming!

  9. Love the info on delegation and procrastination. I don’t delegate enough and procrastinate often. Thanks again for the insight.

  10. Confession: I read Four Hour Workweek last year (Feb) and proceeded to waste thousands of dollars hiring people to support terrible/untested processes. I had to go back and redo everything. I like how you mentioned that you try to get baseline competent at whatever you plan to hire out for. That way you know what a task is worth, value-wise, you know if it will need to be tweaked and you know if it is even sustainable. I found that tasks where I was the main cog in a wheel of incompetence really didn’t run smoothly because I was really just testing and didn’t have a long-term plan to keep doing it. Formula is as follows: Research (what are other people doing) Hypothesis (will this give me the results I want?). Test (what factors contribute to doing it, pros and cons, ups and downs?) Evaluate (did it work?) then delegate if everything checks out.

    You really can’t delegate until you have really opted in, played with it yourself and made a very logical evaluation on if it is in your best interest to continue.

    Also, the bit about switching tasks is very important! I call it “cognitive load” and have started telling people “Sorry I didn’t get back to you, my cognitive load has been too great this week.” People get that for some reason, more than excuses.

    I only allow myself three tasks per day: Correspondence, Shipping, Big Project.

    Correspondence is human to human interaction, emails, chatting with customers, calling friends, etc. Shipping is getting the work out. Big projects are picked on a weekly basis with a deadline at midnight on Sunday. I do not switch projects mid week. I do not go over my time limit for correspondence (1 hour) I do not fail to ship.

    Thanks, I love these episodes where you talk at us. Do more. Thanks.

  11. To further reinforce your point that time is a variable resource – this 20 minute podcast was a far greater value to me than many 2 hour ones. Sometimes awesome things come in small packages.

  12. I won’t get into the why’s but i currently I’m relatively low on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But this podcast reminds me of something my grandmother Flora, used to say: “We are too poor to buy cheap shoes.” This was from a woman who became a beautician after forging gun turrets during the war, and perhaps these words were lost on me until the a (temporary) poverty has entered my life as my marriage ended. Her statement is a great example of how to “waste” money to improve your life. She was of course talking about how over the long run, over the long run, replacing cheap shoes over and over again meant that the life cycle cost of durable shoes much better. But she also walked or waited for the bus to and from work, and worked on her feet all day and I could see how the short term savings on a pair of ill fitting shoes could cost her in fatigue or even client service. Much like your anecdote about not wanting to pay for business class.

    Thanks Tim for helping me make the connection. I’m in the process of taking my exams to be a licensed architect (5 down -2 to go) but have been struggling to justify the expense of meals out over the last 6 months, or possibly shelling out a bit for a dishwasher or laundry service in my final crunch. This edition of the show reminded me that conserving some of the time, energy and headspace is more valuable than the monetary cost of delegating that labour. Especially, when I’m the only one who can do the studying required.

    My only argument, is that you don’t have to have $5000/ month of disposable or even discretionary income to put this principle into place. Rather its a matter of taking the whole process in view … didn’t everyone’s grandmother warn them not to be “penny wise and pound foolish”?

  13. I think one of the best expenses to improve the quality of life is traveling. You don’t have to stay in the nicest places because that’s not the experience that your soul needs. I believe traveling really connects you with the world an opens your eyes to different cultures. I life is too short not to travel, staying in your own state/city is like having a house and never leaving your bedroom. Find a way to make travel happen in your life.

    1. I’d like to add: Be careful who you choose travel with. I accepted a travel invitation to spend 6 weeks in Central America with a friend of a friend. I lasted four weeks, after tiring of the infantile behavior and expectation of the person I had agreed to travel with. I assumed we were both responsible adults (at 55 years old). She turned out to be a child in need of a mommy. I bolted.

      Seeing Central America was awesome though, and I fell in love with Belize. I plan to return.

      Japan in November!

  14. Great stuff as always Tim. And not to look a gifted horse in the mouth or anything, but I’d echo a suggestion from poster “firebird” below of considering written transcripts of the podcast. I know, I know, a ton more work and hassle, but I dunno, maybe charge for them as an option. I would be willing to pay to have the transcripts in front of me, and certainly pay nicely if they were annotated or underlined with what you thought were the salient points of the chat or excerpts that you really liked. Not sure if I’m the only would who would part with cash for this but who knows, maybe another income stream lies waiting within your work, and it could well be a win-win for all.

    Carl Kruse

  15. Dear Timothy,

    Many thanks for your free thinking podcast with little gems, as always i found it most interesting.

    My today list is now being refashioned to take account of your genius.

    Warmest Regards

    Jason Palmer

    Mad poet

  16. Delegation to recognised experts not only reduces your culpability in law, it makes you look sane to outside eyes.

  17. This was a fantastic and enjoyable episode, Tim, thank you!

    If you ever release a 4-Hour Work Week 2.0, I think this episode is something that can be expanded upon, dissected and integrated through the book.

  18. This is a fantastically actionable episode. I paused it midstream and made my dream list. The next day started to source options. A week later I have 6 significant items outsourced, all weekly items that I was already batching for efficiency. Now I have more time for my uninterrupted maker’s schedule. Thanks Tim!

  19. My mind kept coming back to this podcast for weeks now, and I shared it with some mentees. The question: am I investing enough in myself?

    Thanks Tim, love the tweenisodes…


  20. 2 white food that you have not covered in your book: tofu and tempe (Indonesian typical food).

    Please let me (and the world) know your thoughts about them. Do they suit the slow carb diet?

    Thanks a lot!

  21. Generally, I don’t leave comments or write to people I do not know. I didn’t listen to this actual podcast, though I have listened to several others. I am reading, “Tools of Titans,” which I find both thought-provoking and frustrating because how can I possibly implement all of these things in my life. So, this is merely a way to leave you a compliment.

    Hopefully, we all strive to make a mark in this world, leave it better, be kind etc. You’ve certainly made your mark. You’re work, taken to heart, encourages and motivates, captivates and impresses. Your work makes the world better. Thank you.