The Value of Time and Money

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.

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes

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!

Looking for something else to read? Check out our post on dreamlines! Or just about dreams in general.

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