Making More Time

Everybody wants more hours in a day, but unfortunately, in our world, 24 hours is the limit. But the secret to having more time for yourself is simple: spend it wisely. Most people are familiar with a discretionary budget: the dollars you can spend after you pay all your bills. But how about discretionary time? How do you want to live this chapter of your life? Tied to the chores that “have to be done” (or paid for), or socializing, adventuring, and staying active with your “discretionary” time?

Active adults are defining themselves by their quality of life, not by the extravagance of their lifestyles. You’ve probably heard the term “downsizing” and thought of moving to a smaller home, but smart active adults are downsizing other things as well: responsibilities, possessions, spending. Having fewer things to maintain, clean and pay for translates into freedom for you. After all, what benefit is a huge house if you have to spend hours cleaning it, or pay someone else to do it for you?

Low-maintenance communities are perfect for forward-thinking adults. Consider some of the things you enjoy: visiting with family and friends, reading and other recreational activities. Sounds like a great way to spend the day, doesn’t it? But because life has a way of keeping you busy, chores such as cutting the grass, washing the windows or cleaning the gutters need to be done on a regular basis. Imagine life in a low-maintenance community: this work will still get done…but by someone else! You’ll be on the back nine instead of raking leaves.

You may have considered this, and indeed you may have paid help to maintain your home and other responsibilities. So how would living in an Active Adult community change the equation? Ever hear the expression “Cheaper by the dozen?” The secret is in pooling Home Owners Association (HOA) fees to hire the best available people to maintain the entire community.

Here’s an exercise to try:

  1. Ask an Active Adult Realtor(R) to find the annual HOA fees in your preferred community, or make an estimate.
  2. Review your expenses and time spent on things such as yard maintenance and landscaping, exterior painting, roof repairs – the list goes on. One look around your local home improvement store will tell you that a tremendous amount of time and money is spent in these areas by almost all homeowners.
  3. Consider the difference. For the monthly HOA fee, all these tasks will be done for you. When most people compare the actual cost and time versus the HOA fees, they realize they will have much more discretionary time and often much more discretionary income. If you are thorough and honest in estimating your actual costs and time in #2 above, it is a safe bet that you will see a bargain.

What are you going to do with your newfound freedom? Many active adults take the opportunity to travel. When someone else is taking care of your home, it’s easy to take an extended trip to see the grandchildren. Your grass will still be watered and mowed – all you have to do is lock the door and leave.

Your friends may think you’ve discovered the secret to adding hours in the day, but go ahead and tell them the truth: you’ve reordered your priorities. You’ve earned this time to focus on the things that are important to you.