Your time isn’t worth what you think it is

My time is worth more than this.

Consider how many times you’ve heard this justification. Consider how many times you’ve used it yourself. I know I’ve used it many times myself.

By outsourcing activities, we purchase two things in addition to the actual work done: we purchase skill (in theory) time. I make no claims to being a DIY king. I am constantly in awe of the skills others have managed to acquire. Attempting to acquire certain skills has left me humbled, and has often ended up costing me more money in the end. You should never be ashamed to purchase skill but consider whether you can acquire said skill yourself first. Know your limits, but many projects are inexpensive to bash your head against for a while, especially if you have a learned acquaintance to lean on. Professionals are super-human, they are normal folks just like you, and at one time did have their skillset either.

The purchase you should always question is the purchase of time. Outsourcing advocates will say “my time is worth $100/hour”. Maybe it’s true. But I highly doubt they can earn this hourly wage every conceivable free minute of every day. Even if they could, it wouldn’t be healthy.

Menial tasks aren’t beneath anyone. Line-drying laundry and washing dishes by hand takes more time than the modern appliance-assisted equivalents. We’ve always washed dished by hand, lacking a functional dishwasher, but even when we rebuild (‘remodel’ has a weirdly negative connotation for me) I’m not getting one. I started line-drying our laundry for the cost savings and extra life it lends clothes, but even when we have more money, I’m not going to “get” time back by spending money running a clothes dryer. These tasks are simple, ‘mindless’ tasks, but they’re the very sort of task that helps you practice mindfulness. I focus on the task at hand. My mind is emptied of thoughts. It’s meditative and refreshing. It’s a welcome part of my day, not a chore to get past.

Approach every task in your day like this. It’s not something you have to do to get to the real part of your day. It’s only something that cuts into your relaxation time if you let yourself think of it that way.

Doing things yourself doesn’t cost you any money in lost income, and purchasing time by paying someone else to do it is a false economy.

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7 Comments on “Your time isn’t worth what you think it is”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! Being with my SO has taught me a lot about being more DIY- one of the things that attracted me to him was the way he seemed able to fix almost anything around the house. We also line dry (indoors, no less!) and wash dishes by hand. I bake our bread, can and freeze vegetables, make all of our meals, pack our lunches, and mend our clothes/bedding. I love the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing things yourself, and I feel it has given me a feeling of ownership over my space much more than paying some stranger to come into my home (or buying loads of convenience goods). Plus it gives you the added bonus of collecting extra skills to fill your DIY toolbelt- and then those skills can be called on anytime in the future that you may need them, at no extra cost!

    • David says:

      What kind of luck have you had with freezing veggies? My grocery store recently had green beans on sale for only $0.69/lb. I was sorely tempted to stock up, but wasn’t sure what kind of success I’d have freezing in a conventional freezer. Plus, my freezer is “frost proof”, which tends to mean the frost builds up on the food (leading to freezer burn), not the walls.

  2. I think this is part of the whole overscheduling/overworking problem. People busify themselves with nonsense (too many lessons for their children, wasting time at work and then having to bring it home or stay later, etc.) and then they don’t have time to even slice up their own apples, let alone cook a real dinner.

    That said… Sorry, I will not allow you get between me and my dishwasher :-). We are happy together.

    • David says:

      I hate the residue dishwashers leave behind, especially on glasses. And it’s easier to have a small number of dishes and wash as they get dirty versus a large number and do a full load at the end of the day 🙂

      • To each his own! I already own plenty of dishes–most were wedding presents back in the day–and the dishwasher came with the place. But if I run out of, say, spoons or sippy cups, I wash something in the sink rather than run the dishwasher before it is PACKED. Because even though our utilities are “free,” Cascade isn’t!

  3. […] you do it, biking doesn’t save all that much money, especially if you’re someone who (incorrectly) puts a lost-income value on the increased time it takes to travel. Second, if you’re only […]

  4. […] are so many free options about. I’m not even a person to use the “time is money” argument. But YNAB has saved me time; more importantly, it’s provided a great deal of sanity when […]


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