Thursday, April 26, 2012

Opportunity Cost - a micro economics concept.

This year I am working through economics with my elder son for his Cambridge course. It is a little stretching for my brain to grapple with the new ideas and language, but we are jumping in with both feet and finding it quite enjoyable.

During my high school years two of my favourite subjects were needlework and home economics. I had hoped to find the easier route to the other girls who were doing science and maths, but instead I found something I loved.
Condensed milk cookies repeated frequently by hungry teens
As much as I loved these subjects, I wish I could say that I left school knowing how to cook, but, sadly, I didn’t. I only learnt to cook properly as a young mum. I did take my sewing skills into grown up life though. I was thinking about the subject name “home economics” today while waiting at my children’s music lessons. These days, It is becoming increasingly difficult to be live life without being economical. I am glad that I understand the economics of running a home, and even after 20 yrs of running a home, I am learning more and more how to be frugal with my money and my time. In fact, I think that is has been in the last 4 years that I have learnt the most.

So, back to Cambridge economics: A concept we were studying this week was one called “Opportunity Cost”. This is defined as “the cost of passing up the next best choice when making a decision” in layman’s terms.
My recipe book collection
Opportunity cost functions on a macro scale in world economics and governments have to make these decisions all the time: spending money on new Mercedes or housing the poor, paying school teachers or having a party! (Sorry, a bit of a political soap box there!).

In my micro world of economics – my home – I have two main areas to focus on – TIME and MONEY. I want to throw out into cyberspace some thoughts on time. These thoughts were crawling around in my mind while I was away and I need to give them voice. Time can never be played over again. Once the time that it takes to write this blog post is over, I can never get it back. I have sacrificed something else to write the blog post because I felt that this was where I wanted to invest my time. I can hear my children giggling in the next room as they watch Top Gear with their Dad, I have missed out. (Luckily I don’t like Jeremy Clarkson’s humour!) So this is an easy sacrifice to make.

I have been looking at time guzzlers in my small world. Take FaceBook for example. I have had two profiles there for the past 3 months as I was committed to shepherding a group of special ladies in an early morning challenge. It was a wonderful time with them, but the opportunity cost was less time for my quiet time in the mornings as it took time to check in with them all. It was a time cost I was prepared to pay for that season. That FB profile is now deleted and the time once again available to use for Bible study and prayer.
Knitting started this week. Waffle weave dischlothes.
I have 3 websites and another co-owned one. This all equates to lots of time spent online as they are an income generator and contribute to our family finances so I need to count the cost of spending time on them to make sure that links are not broken, content is updated and that subscribers get their quarterly newsletters. Then comes blogger – if there is one thing I love doing online it is putting up a blog post. It quick, easy and is an online diary for me and anyone who cares to read the ramblings of my very ordinary life. But it is again time spent on one thing when the cost comes at the expense of something else.

Household snag list needing attention...groan.
Next I was asking myself, if I didn’t have my websites, I didn’t blog and I didn’t have the Simple Green Living FB group, how would I spend my time? I also asked, do these things actually take THAT much time anyway? Over the last week I have been watching how I spend my time here so that I do not miss the best opportunity for something that is just good.

The best opportunities are spending more time with my Heavenly Father, spending time with my children, shepherding their precious vulnerable hearts, spending time (albeit in the evenings) with Superman, picking up my winter habit of knitting, spending more time making more nutritious foods and decluttering my overflowing cupboards…scratch that house... dealing with the household snag list that I have been ignorning for...uum...years! Luckily, Winter seemed to arrive today with torrents of rain, so gardening will slow remarkably but there is always something to be done in the garden.
Woodpile to be chopped and moved inside for toasty fires
As you can see, if you have managed to read this far, I have many open ended questions as I am still sorting things out in my head. I do however keep coming back to one scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:11 "So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do." Economics and the Bible dovetail…I need to make sure that my choices in my home enable me to “live a life worthy of His call.”


Lois Evensen said...

Sorting what has to be done from what you enjoy doing is an important task. Of course, when you can enjoy what has to be done, that's the best. :)

Cat said...

This topic has been on my mind often lately as I strive to make some changes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.