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What’s Your Hour Worth?

We're thrilled to present this smart LearnVest story here on Savvy!

Forget the whole “time is money” thing. The key isn’t that time can generate money, but the other way around—time is our most important (but limited) resource, and money can be a means to gain more of it. We face these decisions all the time: is it worthwhile to spend an hour surfing the internet for a discount code in order to save $10? Should you hire someone to clean your place, or do it yourself?

It Depends

Figuring out what your time is worth isn’t about what you are worth as a person, and how much you make at work is just the starting point. We’ve created a calculator to help you estimate that magic number — whatever it is — so that you have a gauge to keep in mind when you’re making decisions on the fly.

How Did You Get This Number?

If you don’t have a lot of disposable income, your time “value” goes down because you are better served saving money. If you have less time, your time value is higher than if you have a lot to spare. Finally, your current priorities matter. All these factors weigh into our algorithm. (These calculations are based on working a 40-hour week, 50 weeks a year. If your hours differ greatly and you would like us to crunch your hourly value, email us your stats).

Find out how knowing your hourly value helps you make daily financial decisions after the break.

Ways to Apply This

Say that your free time is worth roughly $12 per hour: If that taxi ride will cost about $10 and save you an hour compared to taking the subway, then it might be the right call. If it’s going to cost you $20, maybe you should think again. Use this to help you figure out:

  • Whether you should order in or cook
  • Whether you should hire someone to clean, organize, fix things, or do it yourself
  • Whether time spent on the phone with customer service to save $X is worth it
  • Whether you should take the travel time to return something to the store
  • Whether money saved for a flight with a layover is worth the extra time traveling

This calculator is just a rough guide, so obviously your budget comes first — and the enjoyment you get from some of these activities (like cooking or DIY) should factor in. But it can be useful to start thinking of your time as the most precious commodity of all…and weighing it with as much value as you do your dollars.

How does your time value compute? How do your choices compare? Share your thoughts with us!

Image Source: Thinkstock
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