The value of one's time

Kevin Brancato of Truck and Barter on the very unique value of every hour for every individual.

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As an independent

As an independent consultant, I get paid strictly by the hours I work, and in turn have found myself to value my time during the work week differently.

I almost always work an additional hour and call in an order to my favorite restaurant rather than go home to cook and clean.

I much prefer to pay a cleaning service than doing it myself. Not only do they do a better job, but I make more money writing code for my clients.

The problem as I see it, is that most people have very little value for their time. My mother used to drive all around town looking for the best price on a gallon of millk. Co-workers of mine will spend 2-3 hours a day in their cars just commuting.

Of course this model should only be applied to certain things. I won't pay someone to exercise for me or go to a concert in my place. But so often I see people wasting their time b/c they refuse to learn how to use an ATM, direct deposit, or simply using a cell phone. At the end of the day, it's their decisions but I laugh at my mom who complains there aren't enough hours in the day.

The problem as I see it, is

The problem as I see it, is that most people have very little value for their time.

I think Kevin's point is that you can't really say that. People have their own individual values for anything scarce used to achieve ends - means. Due to the nature of human life, time is always a means.

The value placed on any given quantity of the means called time is subjective to the individual and defined at the margin.

You might value an hour of freetime so much that you would rather exchange money with someone so that they clean your condo. That is because your freetime is limited by the amount of work you do.

However, for your Mom, she might work less hours overall than you and if so, she is willing to spend an hour looking for the best price for a gallon of milk, because the marginal value of the hour spent not shopping is lower for her than for you.

In other words, the value you place on an hour of freetime depends on how much freetime you have. The more freetime you have, the less you value it. That's what I mean when I say value is defined at the margin.

Further, the subjective nature of value implies that each individuals makes differing, unquantifiable, appraisals of their means. Even people who have the same amount of freetime place different values on an extra hour of freetime. That is because each of us is unique and has unique ends we seek.

I think part of Kevin's point was that others cannot tell you what you value, nor convert it into simple dollar figures.