Time is Money. Every Minute of Every Day could be Billable.

Monday, January 4, 2010 , Posted by Johnny Fuery at 1:37 AM

Originally Published 2008-01-03 06:19:56

My mother likes to watch her pennies. She keeps her thermostat at 62. She uses the "fast wash" setting on her dishwasher and does a thorough pre-wash so that the half-time dishwashing cycle can handle the load.

She spends a significant amount of time doing this. I had to remind her the other day that time is money.

My mom is a teacher. She doesn't bring home a killing, and this is far better than when I was growing up, when a little help from Uncle Sam sometimes was needed to put food on the table. Scarcity of dollars trained her (and me) to be thrifty to a level that most Americans can't conceive of.

But I'm here to tell you that this isn't how to make money. You don't save money, you make it. Or, perhaps more accurately and less sound bite-ish, you must always be considering what economists call opportunity cost.

Let's suppose, for the sake of discussion, that I make $50 an hour (sorry, this ain't John Chow, I'm not sharing!). I went to the gym last night and played basketball for four hours. So, from a certain point of view, my workout last night cost me $200. Not including time in my vehicle to get there, the gas used on the way, or the membership costs associated with the facility. Those four hours were hours I could've been billing, and I wasn't. Talk about an expensive exercise regimen, eh?

So when my mom spends an extra 15 minutes of her time to save a few pennies in water and electricity, from a purely financial perspective, she's making somewhere in the neighborhood of one to three dollars per hour. Since, as a teacher in California, she makes somewhere around $20 an hour, that's not a sound business decision. She should spend the dollar in energy and work an extra hour every week, because she'll come out ahead.

Think about where you're spending your time. This is especially true of independent professionals, like me. Sorting my mail and doing my laundry is probably close to the absolute worse thing I could be doing with my time. Ditto with dishes and household chores. Now, if you happen to get some secondary benefit out of an activity (like basketball fulfills for me, cooking does for my cousin, and playing Windows solitaire does for good ol' Mom), then by all means, feel free.

Just remember to consider how much it's really costing you.

Comments

On 2008-01-04 08:04:36 Exercise Regimen said:
[...] Time is Money. Every Minute of Every Day could be Billable. [...]

On 2008-01-07 06:40:15 Electric guitars said:
Well, maybe you are right, I also have friends that optimize every penny but personally I think that making money is not into economy but in productivity and finding more ways of making them than making economy.

On 2008-01-10 12:44:24 Printed Circuit Boards said:
That's why I don't understand people who drive from Target to Walmart just to get 2 items that were cheaper at Walmart than Target. They feel good for saving $5-$10, but they've spent any extra 20 minutes in doing so.

On 2008-01-10 20:38:49 The Ghillie Man said:
I know people who live close to the state line that drive across state to get cheaper gas. Granted it saves them maybe $10-$15 now per fillup, but its an extra 20 miles roundtrip!

On 2008-01-15 18:54:02 Lynden Real Estate said:
Just think if we didn't have to sleep I loose 400 dollars a day just sleeping. I hope in the future they find out way so we don't have to sleep.

On 2008-01-15 20:47:04 Johnny Fuery said:
@Guitar Flame: I almost flagged you as spam (oops). Of course productivity is #1. That's also in econ 101 along with the concept of "opportunity cost". The point of this post is to remind that time is money and to make the best use of it. Definitely not exclusive from the idea that productivity is key. :-)

@Printed Circuit Boards: no$h!t. (lol)

@Ghillie Man: The only reason I'd cross state lines for personal fuel is to get around local limitations on ethanol sales. In 750ml increments, of course. :-D

@Lynden: I've thought this many times myself! Or, for that matter, given the requirement that we need to sleep for 25-33% of our lives, wouldn't it be cool if we could, say, take a 3-4 month hiatus and just sleep through the dreary months of the year? I always thought the bears had something going there...

Further to sleep replacement drugs, here's a recent article I ran into on the topic from Wired

On 2008-01-21 17:12:47 MLK Monday Musings: Phone Company Charges, Inflation Rises, and Mortgage Rates Fall » Really Smart Guy » GeekSpeak, Real Estate, Landlording, Technology, Business Ideas, Web Marketing » Blog Archive said:
[...] No, this isn’t an homage to Ms. Mary J. Blige, it’s an alternative to the phone company’s directory service. I started paying my own mobile phone bill last summer (off the corporate-sponsored plan, and yes, do I ever miss it), and have been struck by how many hidden charges there are. I’ve tried calling AT&T three times since my last billing cycle about some random $20 charge I don’t recognize, and have yet to get through. I imagine that’s one of their strategies, though, seeing as how at some point, it isn’t worth my time. [...]

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