What gives your time worth?

It’s a bit of a truism that time is money.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff about paying for “extra time” by hiring out the work you don’t need to do and stuff about activities like watching tv are time and money wasting but I won’t bore you with a rehash of that.

I used to take advantage of every possible earning hour by doing something that might or would bring in the extra cash. But there’s only so many earning opportunities, and frankly I don’t need to spend every waking hour trying to scrape in every single penny. This is a luxury I’ll gladly enjoy.

So the equation’s different for me.  It’s not a cash value I assign to the time that I would normally be “off”, it’s the energy and satisfaction return on investment.

(Of course, even as fatigued as I get some days, that Puritan work ethic I subscribe to suggests that sleeping my weekends away is not “worth” it but who said I was great at theoretical maths anyway?)

That got me thinking about how we choose to spend our non-work time.

Money over time choices

choosing the labor: In a very direct time-to-savings thing – PiC participates in a hobby that requires membership in an organization. Part of the membership requirement is a set number of required volunteer hours per year. If those hours are not fulfilled, the organization charges you per hour up to a max of, say, $300.

I suppose “required volunteer hours” becomes oxymoronic: required =/= volunteer, so much.  But PiC refuses to budget for that charge, insisting that he’ll be darned if he pays $300 that he doesn’t have to. Here’s the fun part: he’s allowed to claim hours that non-members log with him. So guess who gets roped into the choice to do “volunteer” hours?

As the best wife evar, though, I don’t complain. :)   He picks things we can do where, for the most part,  I get much-needed sun and he can do most of the work if I’m not really up to it. By our powers combined, we can knock off nearly all the required hours in a day or two.

result: six to ten hours of labor, lots of tired afterward depending on how long we’re on our feet. But those hours are spent doing “recreational” stuff together and equal 1 very grateful spouse.

choosing being “boring”: On tired days, or even just after a really rough week, I can spend my weekend reading, futzing around on the internet and watching tv. NCIS marathons FTW!

I’ve slowly collected a tiny collection of DVDs I cherish to keep me company when I’m having long days alone. FIREFLY FOREVER. <3

result: very little going out. There are times I actively refuse to think of reasons to go out, instead of stay in. Perhaps excessively so. But I am quite entertained. Cheap, cheap date. And indoctrinating PiC in my favorite pop culture. Discovering that PiC actually has a favorite Firefly episode now = priceless.

choosing DIY instead of relying on the professionals: I love trying to cook things at home when the dish becomes a favorite. Also, some maintenance I’d just rather do myself. Likewise, PiC insists on doing some hobby related repairs.

result: lots of cursing, scaring the dog into the furniture and exile, burning of hair stove-top, breaking of tools to save anything from $12-35 at a time. Yields entertainment, the occasional sense of accomplishment or embarrassment: “how long did that take???” We’re not horrible at DIY, but the screw-ups are most memorable.

Time over money choices

choosing to eat out: because eating is good. But sometimes, food is just not worth scraping ourselves off the sofa, bed, or ground to spend a couple hours in the kitchen. Or we just really have to do that other thing.

result: supporting our favorite restaurants, retaining some sanity, discovering new delicious restaurants. Unless they’re not.

choosing professional massages: need I explain?

result: happier body, saner spouse.

choosing a Costco run: instead of going to four different stores to shop sales and coupons.

result: trading the thrill of the bargain hunt and occasionally losing PiC in the morass of Costco on a weekend for less variety in the foodstuffs and fewer stops. And not spending time couponclipping. (Which I actually enjoyed when time wasn’t so precious.)

choosing travel: Much as I hate leaving my precious Doggle behind, and avoid extraneous exertion ;D travel for work or pleasure is always a bit of a learning experience and an opportunity to eat delicious food.

result: Experience and things, I say, each in moderation.

choosing professionals instead of DIY: Most car repairs are now beyond me. In Southern California, there was more room and friends to help test repair notions out. Without a driveway and with fewer tools at our disposal, to the mechanic!

result: Possibly more airtight repairs, more reading up on what a car really needs to avoid unnecessary work, fewer oil stains.

The Choices Not Yet Made

Entirely outside of work and lifestyle stuff that directly relates to money, I still want to volunteer my time to causes I believe in:

I haven’t figured out how to fit in a regular volunteer gig though. They all want some specific time commitment that may be more than I can actually handle right now.

Ultimately, no real issues with how we’re doing things right now with the exception of needing to figure out how to fit in something good. It feels important and perhaps worthy of trading money for time to make that happen.

Are you happy with the choices you’re making right now?

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5 thoughts on “What gives your time worth?

  1. I was just thinking about the value of time when I was moving all my *stuff* around in my ‘sewing’ room (but I don’t actually sew that much). I’m gradually beginning to look at *stuff* differently than I used to. I’m wondering if it’s the best use of my time to be its caretaker / mover / duster / catalog-er / searcher. I’m always annoyed when I discover that I’ve bought something I already owned…

  2. I try not to sweat the small stuff anymore. I remember buying a large pack of Bounty at Costco, and the very next week it went on sale. I was upset over the $5 and thought about going back to the store and returning it and repurchasing it. But hubby talked me out of it saying that I should invest my time more wisely.

    So nowadays, if the price discrepancy is under $20 I will choose time over money. But if it is over $20 then I will chose money over time.

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  4. I chose once supermarket run too, even if the small market is cheaper, going to five stalls, getting change for five people, etc isn’t worth my time. I am also happy to pay to things I could screw up and make worse, like a heater or fridge repair, the rest I try to do myself.

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