There’s a saying that goes something like this, “there are only two guarantees in life: death… and taxes.” So we all have a finite number of days before we go. In this post, I wanted to dig into how we should value our time. Then I’ll share ways that I have gotten more out of my time.
Your money or your time
One of my favorite books to go back to and re-read is Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin. I believe it actually sparked a lot of the financial independence movement. There are tons of great tidbits in there but there’s a brief section about time that I especially wanted to talk about.
If we think about an hourly job, we can say “I make $30 an hour.” That’s perfectly normal and fair.
This statement can be a little deceiving though. Vicki Robin pushes the hard truth. How much money did we give to Uncle Sam (taxes) before it got into our bank account? Probably something like a third of our money actually. So yeah, we make $30 an hour but it’s realistically more like $20.
So what if we had to drive to work? The average commute in America is 26.1 minutes, almost 5 hours a week. Now what about the mornings we spend getting ready? Suit & tie, make-up, hair, showering, coffee, breakfast, and so on. Obviously, no one does all of that but it’s easy to assume that most people do some of those.
Alright, so a salaried employee is expected to work the normal 9-5, or just 40 hours a week. But if you sum up all the time needed to get ready and commute back and forth, it might actually sound like an 8-6. We might think we’re making $30 an hour but for each hour we put in, it’s actually closer to $16 an hour. Crazy, right?
How is it that I value my time?
This is the main reason why I stayed in Richmond and never moved back to up DC. For the five years I’ve been working here, my commute has never been over 15 minutes (except for a three-month span after I changed jobs).
Currently it’s only 6 minutes. And currently, I have no crazy dress-code that requires me to wear some sort of uniform. I eat yogurt and granola for breakfast at the office to save time. I also skip a trip to Starbucks by just using the coffee machines at work.
Of course there are higher paying salaries in the Northern Virginia and DC area but at what cost? I know friends that drive over 90 minutes a day for work. What are they giving up in that time? Is there anything you can do with an extra 90 minutes a day?
- Sleep a full 7-8 hours
- Go to a gym and do a full workout
- Prep food for the entire week
- Take your dog to the park
- Learn a new language (if you’re consistent)
Think of time as a commodity. We trade it for money. But maybe we should learn to value our time a little more. I struggle with it a lot too. At the grocery store, there are snipped and pre-washed green beans. Is it worth paying twice as much to save 10 minutes of my time?
I can move to an area with the worst traffic in the country to get a 20% pay bump but is it worth giving up going to the gym, spending time with my girlfriend, and home-cooked meals?
In another post, I’ll talk about why it’s more effective to just spend less money than the work harder/more. Thanks for reading!