Personal Finance 

Exchanging Time for Money, Stupid Expenses, and Failure

The talk of middle class has come up a lot lately, in part because there’s no clear definition of middle class, but Lazy Man shared his thoughts this week on the topic and I thought this quote was a gem: “… unless you love what you do exchanging time for money is a losing proposition.” I think that many of us grew up in situations where money wasn’t abundant and saw education and a job as a way to more money. Whether it was brilliant parenting or actual fact, I grew up thinking we didn’t have much money (books were my toys) but we still considered ourselves “middle class” be we didn’t go hungry, we didn’t struggle to pay bills, and we were otherwise living comfortable and happy lives by any standards. As a result, I saw a job, which was attained through strong academic performance, as the way ensure I could provide for my family. The point of getting a job was to earn money, survive, and then thrive. In my jobs, I was exchanging time for money for something that I enjoyed but can’t say I loved. Now I am exchanging time for money for something I do love and I think I’m much happier because of it. (The italicized sentences in the paragraph were ones that were originally accidentally deleted in the editing process when I first published this post)

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 General, Personal Finance 

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

Ever wonder how much an hour of your time is worth? We grapple with this question all the time without really quantifying it more than we realize. Is it worth driving the extra two minutes to save five cents a gallon on gas? Which flight to pick, the cheaper one or the shorter one with no layovers? While we probably have a mental concept of how much an hour is worth to us ($10? $20? $200?), wouldn’t it be useful to get something tied in with our current salary?

I found this little tool, MSN’s Time Value Calculator, which takes your salary, how much you work (and travel as a result of work), subtracts all your typical expenses and crunches out a number that is your “worth.” The result is basically how much take-home-pay per hour you are getting from your job. What that means is if you could turn that hour into work, then you would earn an additional scratch.

Where it starts to get dangerous is when it starts to tell you how you can use this little tool. It says that if you can hire someone to do something for you at a cost less than what it would be for you to do it (based on your salary), you should hire them if you have the cash sitting around in your mattress. If instead of doing that chore I could generate income at the rate the calculator states, working overtime or a second job, then it would make sense to hire someone because I earn more than I would pay. (You need to do 10 hours of chores a week, if you can pay someone to do it for $6/hr and then earn money on the side at $12/hr, then you’ve earned yourself $60) But is that realistic? Mostly likely not for the vast majority of people.

Summary: It was a fun little calculator to use but I wouldn’t base any decisions solely on the numbers that it produced because I value my free time more than how much the calculator says its worth (probably on the order of two or three times more). But it gives you an idea of how much you’re being paid at work after taxes and typical expenses.

So how much are you worth? 🙂

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