Yellow's Green

The Adventures of Money Blog.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Cost of Productive Time

Regarding my last post on the cost of making vs. buying a quilt somebody said: "Yeah, but how much time did you spend on making the quilt from scratch? Don't you have to account for the monetary value of your time when you do such calculations? I am not questioning your passion for quilting, but I am just skeptical about the math here."

You're absolutely right. However, when my time would have otherwise been spent sick in bed doing not much at all, I feel this *productive* time should not being given a negative calculation. If I had a job that paid money (vs. one that pays in sweet cuddles) and chosen to spend my time quilting instead of working, then a negative calculation for time spent would be appropriate.

Some people value time purely based on quantity. I prefer to value time qualitatively. If my time is spent productively, and enjoyably, then it's not worth my time to apply a "cost" to it. When we work to achieve money, money is not really the goal, is it? No! The goal is to earn enough money to cover the basics, and be allowed to enjoy. Not because we want to feel rich with money stocked away,but because money stocked away now should become a means to an end: enjoyment. It's why we save, why we invest, and why we refuse to work 20 hrs. a day for $1 an hour.

Also, if I applied a "spent" monetary value to the things I had to do, but don't get paid for, I would get depressed in my current career choice as a full-time mother. I get no money for what I do - and I don't love every bit of it. It's not worth it to dwell on money matters here. My choice to stay home is an investment in my child's future, and a safety net in case my husband finds himself in a situation where he can't work.

However, there are instances where time has a cost I would apply money factors to. A great example is the commute to work. Driving an hour to your job subtracts two hours from your day in a way that for most people is unproductive. (Some people manage to make their commute productive. Erik, for example, rides the Max and reads/studies during his. It's his enjoyable personal time.) The cost of a commute, both in time and gas, should be factored when figuring your actual salary, and included factors when making a career choice.

Other activities where time has a cost:
Standing in line
Waiting on hold during a phone call
Sitting through a boring lecture where you are learning nothing
Being bored at all
Excessive television/movie watching or video game playing. (I don't discount a need for some mindless relaxation.)

You get the idea.

In fact, this is the first full size quilt I've made, therefore it was an educational experience. Education is an investment. So, if I wanted to get really technical about it, I could say I saved even more than I did if I factored in investment value.


  • At 11/09/2006 5:43 AM, Anonymous ric said…

    time is definately money but sometimes you have more of one than the other and therefore one is worth much more than the other. Not so long ago I had a lot more time than money... these days every minute of my time is worth a great deal to me and I have enough money to buy myself a little time. I will pay a higher price at the grocery store because I don't have time to go to three different stores for different sales. It's all relative.

    Your quilt turned out very nicely... it was a fun thing to do... you've added value to the item with the touch of your hands. Definately worthwhile. If it was me that had wanted the quilt... for that price I'd have probably bought it even though I could easily take a day or two and make it.

    oh... and thanks for the plug!


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