Thank goodness for the folks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, who continually offer up fascinating bits of information. Back in September, they released the results of a survey of how Americans used their time in 2003. Here are some of their findings:
- "On the days that they worked, employed men worked about an hour more than employed women -- 8.0 versus 7.1 hours." Women are more likely to work part-time, and that accounts for much of the difference.
- "Employed adult women (18 years and over) spent about an hour more per day than employed adult men doing household activities and caring for household members." (Just an hour? Learn why Mom's work is worth more than we think.)
- "On days that they worked, about 1 in 5 employed persons did some or all of their work at home." Self-employed people were far more likely to work from home than wage and salary workers were (51% vs. 16%).
- "Adults in households without children spent about 1.4 hours more per day engaged in leisure and sports activities than those with children." (If this makes you think that you don't want to have children, trade notes with others on our Choosing Not to Have Kids discussion board.)
- "On an 'average day' in 2003, persons in the U.S. age 15 and over slept about 8.6 hours, spent 5.1 hours doing leisure and sports activities, worked for 3.7 hours, and spent 1.8 hours doing household activities. The remaining 4.8 hours were spent in a variety of other activities, including eating and drinking, attending school, and shopping."
- "Twenty percent of men reported doing housework -- such as cleaning or doing laundry -- compared with 55% of women. About 35% of men did food preparation or cleanup versus 66% of women." These numbers confirm that we're still far from being a society in which household work is split 50-50 between the sexes.
What this report drove home to me was the (admittedly obvious) point that our time each day is very limited. It also brought up the economic concept of "opportunity cost," which refers to the alternatives that we pass up when we choose to do something. In other words, we may want to spend more time with our children, but to do so will cost us time we would have spent elsewhere, such as working or shopping or cooking.
Given all of that, what could be more useful than time-savers? Here are some you'll find in Fooldom:
- Our Get Organized! discussion board is where folks trade tips on how to get their lives and homes in order. You needn't spend 20 minutes each morning looking for your keys and glasses.
- Our Retire Early Home Page discussion board can help you get on track to retiring sooner than you expected.
Our investing newsletters (with their impressive track records) can help you save time researching stocks -- they serve up several recommendations each month. You can still research our analysts' picks further, but they will have already done a lot of initial winnowing for you. (Take a free trial and you'll be able to access long lists of our recommended stocks.)
- Our TMF Money Advisor service offers inexpensive and personalized financial planning advice. Why spend months trying to get around to dealing with tax, insurance, college-savings, and retirement matters and then weeks doing research and trying to make the right decisions? Instead, you might save time and trouble by tapping the expertise of someone who deals with this stuff for a living. (Try it for free.) Feel free to find another advisor, though -- here are some tips.
- Our mutual fund guidance can also save you a lot of investing time. Forgo carefully picking stocks or funds and opt for a simple low-cost index fund. Keep adding to it over the decades, and you'll roughly match the market's return. An S&P 500 index fund will have you instantly invested in the likes of Avon
(NYSE:AVP), Mattel (NYSE:MAT), Reebok (NYSE:RBK), and Boeing (NYSE:BA). If you want to aim for better-than-market-average returns, plunk your moolah into some managed mutual funds -- just select carefully, as the majority underperform the market. We can help you here, too -- grab a free trial of our Champion Funds newsletter, and you'll see a long list of recommended funds with track records well above average.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.