The True Value of Time

Young couple sitting on bench

I woke up this morning wondering what value people place on their time. Is it based on what they get paid at their job or what the market says their services are worth?

Is it based on the value that they add to a situation, or is it based on the effort that is required of them. Or are they just arbitrarily pulling a number out of the air?

I was pretty convinced that, in general, we do not place a high enough value on our time. This led me to conduct a social media experiment.

I asked 13,377 people in a Facebook group I belong to a simple question.

How much is your time worth? $5, $10, $15, $20 maybe even $50 an hour? I am not talking about what you hope to charge for your services someday. I mean right now, if I wanted to buy one hour of your time today, what would it cost me? 

I had tons of comments. Many people said they would give me an hour of their time. Others said $30; some said $50 or $75. A few said $100 and up. Jason M. said, “About a grand.”

Some people asked what I wanted them to do. While others placed a higher value on certain hours because it was family time or their day off from work.

Some people that responded own service related businesses. They quoted me their hourly coaching rate, what it would cost me to teach my dog new tricks, and even what it would cost to train my horse. By the way, I don’t have a dog or a horse.

My favorite response came from Felecia C. She said, “It depends on what you want from me during the hour.” If I only wanted her to listen to me over a cup of coffee, it was not going to cost me a dime, but if I wanted her to haul rocks, she was going to charge me $100 an hour.

For the record, I wouldn’t even haul rocks for $100 an hour. I would hire 2 college kids and pocket the difference. That is called working smarter not harder, my friend.

Here is the thing about time…

Time is the most important resource we have. It is more important than money. Let me back that up!

If you have time, you can earn always money, but if you have money, you can’t buy more time. Therefore, this makes time more valuable than money. However, we seem to place a higher value on money.

What do I mean by this? Well let’s look at the evidence in this experiment. Several people were willing to give me their time. How many of them would have been willing to give me the cash?

I did not ask, but I can almost guarantee if I had asked everyone to send me a crisp $20 bill, I would have had only a few responses.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with placing a value on the work you are being asked to perform, but that is different than the value of your time. That is really the value of your efforts.

If you are a service provider, I encourage you to set the cost of your services based on what the market will allow, along with the value you are adding to your customer’s life. But, that is not really what this post was about. It is about the value of your time.

I believe most of us base the value of our time on what we make at our job. Of course, there are a slew of concerns there.

The biggest concern is you are probably not being paid what you are worth.

Let’s take this a step further. Let’s say you value your time at $25.00 per hour. Then everything you spend time on should have a value of $25 or more.

This means if you sit down and watch 2 hours of “How I Met Your Mother” you just spent the equivalent of $50.00. Was it worth it?

Now let’s talk about other things like cutting the grass. It has to be done, but if you can hire it done for $15 an hour and you can spend that hour earning $25, then doesn’t it make sense to hire it out?

Now, I realize we have to have down time, and we should give of our time, talents and money to those who are less fortunate. We just need to be mindful of the true cost of our actions as it relates to time.

For many years, I worked 60 plus hours a week, claiming that was what I had to do to keep my job. Turns out, that was all in my head. What do I have to show for it? Nothing!

I was so exhausted when I got home, I would park myself on the couch and spend the rest of the night “relaxing and unwinding” in front of the TV.

This This would happen every night after work, and then on the weekends, I would find something else to occupy my time. Had I placed a dollar value on my time back then, I bet I would have spent millions.

I always complained I did not have enough time in a week to get everything done, but I had the same number of hours as everyone else. It was how I chose to spend them that was the problem.

So let me end with this bit of encouragement…

If you are not currently writing a budget for your time (like you do for your money), I would encourage you to start doing that today. Spend every hour on paper on purpose before the week begins.

I help people manage their time and money. As a result, my clients get more out of life because they are better prepared for life.

If you have questions, you can reach out to me via Facebook or email me and ask for help. I am always willing to help.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “The True Value of Time

  1. Great post, really has me thinking. This is why I really enjoyed the movie “In Time” though it had lower ratings. So interesting to see time as income and the value our time really has.

    • Thanks Amy! I have focused on teaching people money management since 2012. I have recently expanded to teaching time management as it relates to our personal lives which is different from what corporate America teaches about time management. There foundation is to get more work from the employee. Mine is to focus more on the things that truly matter in our lives and live with intentional focus.

      How did you find this article if you don’t mind me asking?