Most of us recall what Ben Franklin told us in his Almanack. “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” In various forms, that proverb actually preceded Old Ben by about 300 years. The fact that we still quote it today tells us that it still has some truth to it. But why?
At times in my life, I have been an early riser, as I am now, and I have been a night owl, as I was when I briefly managed some local bands. Sometimes, I was both, as when I would go to shows all night and then grab a 3:30 am breakfast at a diner even though I had an 8 am class a few hours later. Based on experience, I know that I always feel better when I am paying heed to Mr. Franklin’s adage and getting up early. I also know that I save money and can be more productive merely by getting up before everyone else I know. You can feel better, save money and enjoy greater productivity, too, especially if you consider:
Meals at Home
Early risers have more time in the morning before work. Instead of rushing out the door to get to your job, as an early riser you can enjoy a home-cooked breakfast and brew your own coffee. You can also consider packing your own lunch for the office. Moreover, if you get to work early, you can probably ensure that you usually get to leave your office on time and can get home for dinner, rather than grab a less satisfying meal on the way home.
Less Commuting Costs
If you leave for work early, you can avoid most of the traffic congestion that you would encounter during the morning rush. This puts less wear and tear on your car and gives you better gas mileage. Of course, it also makes for a better commuting experience for you.
Also, if you are not required to put in any overtime, your boss may send you home early, thus allowing you to miss the evening commute. When I was a just out of college, I worked as a paralegal for a large utility company in Boston. I got to work every day at 6am and generally worked until 6pm. On Fridays, my boss always told me at lunch time that I could get an early start on my weekend. I loved that and would quickly head out the door for a quick ride home.
As I mentioned above, by getting to work at 6 am, I was able to get 3 hours of overtime before any of my colleagues had gotten into the office. I routinely got 16 to 20 hours of overtime every week even though I left the office at the same time each night as everyone else. All of my peers – there were about 18 of us – envied my ability to get overtime but they could not get themselves out of bed, so I remained the only beneficiary for the two years that I worked there.
Better Physical Health
In talking to people at the gym, I often hear that if they do not get out of bed to work out before breakfast, they know they will never get to the gym that day. By rising early, you are much more likely to fall into a routine of going to the gym, going for a run, going for a bike ride or taking a swim. If you are consistent with your exercise, your body will repay you with a longer, healthier life that requires fewer trips to the doctor.
Better Mental Health
If you get out of bed early, you are less likely to find yourself rushing to get ready for work and then rushing to work. When you get to work, you will not be in a frenzied state that requires an hour of decompression. You will get more accomplished and you will not find your heart racing all the time. Just as it is important to take care of our bodies, we also need to preserve peace of mind or risk another host of stress related maladies.
Black Friday and Other Sales
The day after Thanksgiving, America’s malls will open early and for the intrepid shopper, sales galore will be available. Early morning sales happen on other days of the year as well. A shopper who scouts the sales circulars and who plans their shopping route can enjoy great savings by getting to the mall at 5 am or 6 am on these special sales days.
Read the Paper
I read three newspapers every morning – The Wall Street Journal for financial news, The Financial Times for world news and the Orlando Sentinel for local news. I do not take a lot of time to read the papers because I know that I will also read the on-line versions of the Journal and FT every day at work. I do spend a lot of time reading the Sentinel, however, because I know that I can find a lot of money saving coupons and sales announcements if I read every page. If I left the newspapers to the end of the night, I know I would check only the Sentinel’s inserts and would miss everything in the body of the paper. By giving myself an extra 15 minutes in the morning, I save at least $100 per week by using information that I find in my local paper.
Few Entertainment Costs
My wife and I both get up early each day. I am usually out of bed between 4:30 am and 5:00 am and bring my wife her morning coffee by 5:30am. After trips to the gym and breakfast, we both sit down to work (since we both work from home). We do have the luxury of not needing to spend time commuting and we both get to enjoy three meals a day with each other. At the end of the day, even though we may have been in the house for 9 or 10 hours, neither of us really has any desire to go out for the evening. Our bodies are telling us that an evening in is preferable so we have a quiet dinner and read or watch a movie that we got from the library or recorded on our DVR.
When we were younger (not that we are ancient by any definition at this point), we went out every night of the week at times, and it cost us a fortune. We also slept until 9 am every day so we were not ready to shut down for the evening at 8 pm or even 10 pm. (Our first date was a dinner at midnight after work one night.) By getting up early, we cured ourselves of the need to constantly pursue entertainment at night.
Early Bird Specials
I am not sure that any place actually uses the term “early bird special” anymore, but that is what the discounts were called when I was a kid. The math is simple, since most people go out to eat late and go to the movies late, early diners or filmgoers get a discount as an incentive to get them to go out. My wife and I do still go out from time to time. We are frugal – not shut-ins.
When we do go out, we enjoy ourselves a lot, but we pay less than most people pay because we are usually getting an early bird discount. All forms of entertainment that we enjoy – dining out, going to the movies, going to a theatrical production – offer some form of discount for early dining or seeing an early showing. It does not matter to us that we are eating dinner at 5 in the afternoon because we would do that anyway. It does not matter to us that we are seeing a matinee at the cinema because the movie is just as good. It does not matter to us, but it does save us money.
Lower Electric Bills
By getting up early, we use natural light more often than we use electric lights. Our lights stay off for most of the day and that helps to keep our electric bills down.
Are you a “morning person” or a “night owl”? Have you ever considered why? Why do you follow the sleep cycle that you follow? How does your daily routine contribute to savings?
Image courtesy of jek in the box