Want to Save Money? Try Saving Time

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Your Time Is Money

Your Time Is Money

I really hate our kitchen faucet. My wife installed it a few months ago (she’s the “handyman” of our relationship), but unfortunately the product design turned out to be faulty. The faucet drips, the hose is jerky, it never fully turns off or delivers enough water pressure to get our pots and pans clean on the first try, and in general it annoys the heck out of me on multiple occasions each day. (If my wife is the “handyman” of the house, then I’m the chief busboy and dishwasher.)

I complain about this faucet several times per week. Finally my wife told me that if I want a new kitchen faucet, I have to replace it myself. And I said, “No way! I’d rather spend $150 to have a plumber install it.” And my wife said, “That’s ridiculous! You should save the money and do it yourself!”

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With all due respect to my wife, whom I love very much, I believe I am right on this one.

Here’s why:

Most people do not value their own time enough.

People end up spending hours and hours of precious, valuable leisure time doing horrible home improvement projects and home maintenance tasks that they don’t know how to do and can’t get right, ultimately squandering time that is worth more than the money they allegedly “saved.”

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Here’s an example: Back to my hated kitchen faucet, if I’m going to replace that faucet myself, it’s going to take me five hours (at least). And I’ll probably have to make at least two trips to the hardware store to buy the right tools, plumber’s tape and accessories. I’ll probably skin my knuckles and/or bump my head and/or drop something heavy on my foot multiple times. I’ll spend a whole Saturday afternoon doing this project, which I’ve never done before and will never want to do again, and by the end of it I’ll probably be so injured and demoralized that I won’t want to do anything else for the rest of the weekend.

(I’m exaggerating, but not by much – I really am pathetic and helpless when it comes to home maintenance projects.)

So for me, I’d much rather pay $150 to have a professional install the kitchen faucet. Is that ridiculous? Well, to me it isn’t. Because my time is worth more than $30 an hour. I could work for five hours, doing something I actually enjoy like writing articles for Quizzle, and make more money than I would have “saved” by subjecting myself to five hours of dirty, frustrating, injurious labor. I’d happily write a check to the faucet installer and spend the rest of my day watching football.

Chances are, there are lots of annoying tasks around the house that it would make more sense to pay someone else to do.  It all depends on how much your time is worth.

How much is your time worth?

Take your annual salary and divide by 2,236.

(The average employed person works 8.6 hours per weekday, which equates to 2,236 hours per year. So your annual income divided by 2,236 hours tells you the approximate hourly value of your time.)

So if you make $50,000 a year, your time is worth $22.36 per hour. Would you rather spend three hours cleaning the gutters (another of my least-favorite home maintenance chores), or would you rather hire some guys to do the work for $50? You would save yourself roughly $17, not to mention the annoyance of cleaning the gutters. Is it worth it to you to spend five hours raking leaves and mowing the lawn or could you hire a neighborhood kid to do the job for $25?

The savings are magnified when you consider your total household income. If you and your wife earn a combined income of $90,000 a year, then that means the time you both spend working on a home improvement project is worth about $40 per hour. Is it worth it for the two of you to spend 10 hours painting a bedroom, or could you hire a painter to do it for a few hundred bucks? It’s up to you. Sometimes people get satisfaction in doing the work themselves, but don’t think you’re “saving money” by doing the work yourself, because chances are, you’re not.

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Value your time. Sometimes your time is worth even more than money.

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