How Much Is Your Time Worth?

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

A friend of mine, who is a lawyer, left work early today to clean her house before her in-laws were coming into town. With her earnings in excess of $350 per hour, I frowned and asked why she didn’t simply hire a cleaning service. No, she said, I can’t do that. I can’t just waste money.

Waste money? Looking at it from a numbers perspective, here’s what happened. By leaving three hours early, she missed out on more than $600 worth of earnings. You can get a decent cleaning service around here for $15 per hour. So if my friend would have stayed at work instead of running home early, she would actually have saved $600-$45=$555. Hardly my idea of wasting money.

I know I’ve mentioned opportunity cost in this blog before, and this is an excellent example. How much is your time really worth? If you are a stay at home mom with no college education, chances are, it makes sense for you to clean your own house. But if you are a career woman making the big bucks, should you really spend five hours per week cleaning (or, for that matter, shopping for groceries), when you could spend that time at work?

When battling decisions like these, always consider the opportunity cost. If you weren’t at home scrubbing your bathroom floor, what would you be doing? What are you giving up in order to engage in your current activity? Then, lose that outdated yuppie guilt, and use a rational perspective. You’ll be surprised at the changes you’ll find yourself making.

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