Mar 6, 2009

What's Your Time Worth?

Lately I've been trying to put a price on my time. It's not that I'm charging my fiance a couple bucks an hour to spend time with me, or that I'm racking up huge debt with my television, it's that I've been attempting to wire my brain to think differently about time and money. There's the classic saying that "time is money". Well, great. But how much time, and for how much money?

Most of us are familiar with an hourly wage. We go to work for a certain number of hours, and get paid a certain dollar amount for each of those hours that we work. The price that we are paid is dependent on the job that we are required to do. For example, a highly skilled specialist would be paid a greater salary than a common labour position that did not require previous experience. In addition, a job that requires more effort would result in a higher wage than a career that simply necessitated showing up. But what happens at the end of the day, when we clock our final hours and return home? How much is that time outside of your employment worth to you?

I ask because I find myself having very conflicting ideas about time and money. On one hand, when I was unemployed and looking at minimum wage jobs, I scoffed at the amount of money that I would earn. I think of my time as being worth more than 8 dollars an hour. On the other hand, something within me is constantly striving for the best deal possible. That means that I feel the need to call six different locations looking for the best price on a DVD. All in all, I might save about $1.50. That work might have taken me about an hour. Yet for some reason that seems more "worth it" to me. Over the past few months as I've read different personal finance blogs, I've noticed some strange frugality tips out there for saving money. I could save money by learning how to brew my own beer, make my own laundry detergent, or wash and reuse my ziploc bags. Yet honestly, I just don't think that is worth my time. I would rather spend two dollars on new ziploc bags than go through the hassle of cleaning them.

I believe that there are two major dynamics going on here. The first is the availability of these finite resources. If a person has a lot of time on their hands, but little money, they may be more willing to spend time saving and earning what money they can. If a person has a lot of money, but little time, they don't mind paying more money, or paying other people to do the things they don't want to do. Neither of these are right or wrong, they are simply the facts of life. Each of us must decide what we have, and we would like to have, and reconcile the two.

The second major dynamic, and the point of this post, is the attitude that we have towards our money and our time. Again, there are many possibilities here. Some see time as a limited and precious resource; something to be treasured without regard for other materialistic annoyances. Therefore, they are more than willing to give up financial security or safety, as long as it doesn't continue to waste their time. Others see money as something that we must be responsible with, and therefore must not waste a penny more than we ought. I believe that the only wrong answer here would be ignorance. We ought to realize and accept where and how we are spending our time and our money. If we are not okay with where our money is going, or how we are spending our time, then of what point is life if you are upset with your own fundamentals?

What is your time worth? Is reading a few blog posts each week worth $100? As you wrestle with your own inner decision, take a few minutes to think about what you've spent your time and your money on over the last week. Are you happy with that? Do you wish your time was worth more? If you continue to read this blog, and do the things that I suggest you to do, I can promise you that I can save you around a hundred dollars by the end of this month. Some of them will take a bit more time, and a bit more effort, but by the end of the month, I will help you put $100 into a savings account for you. Now how about that. Is that worth it?

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  1. Great post. Its giving me a lot to think about as a small business owner. In my sort of position, its easy to forget that no one is paying me an hourly wage. In a way, my time is worth what I make it. I can act like every day is Saturday, and at the end of the month end up with a minimum wage type salary, or I can I put 8-10 intentional hours a day at my business and hopefully make a lot more. Emphasis on hopefully!