In the past week I have spent a fairly large amount of money TWICE for the purpose of saving time and effort. Let me ask you a question – Do you know what your time is worth?
ClearerThinking.org has an interactive tool that walks through a series of questions that will paint a fairly clear picture of the value of your work and free time. (I have mentioned this tool in a previous post.) It is good to know what your time is worth in the office and the value you assign to your free time.
A lot of the examples on the site deal with saving money:
- Is it logical to drive 9 minutes further to save $2 on a tank of gas? If your free time is worth $30 an hour you would lose value (($30/60 min) * 9 min = $4.50) while trying to save money. Of course, your personal hobby might be saving money and it brings you great joy…factor that in.
- When researching an item, looking for a deal, or trying to save money…keep in mind the value of your time. Is it worth spending 3 hours (3 hours x $30 per hour = $90 of value) to research the best $20 alarm clock on the market?
I have found several instances in our home life where we are actually spending more money than we are saving. Printing a coupon in color on our home printer can cost about $0.20 to $0.30 in paper and ink. If the coupon is for $0.50 we have just reduced the value by half. Factor in the time it took to find and print the coupon and you might be in the negative once perceived value is included. Another factor is the number of coupons that get printed and don’t get used. It is very easy to do some very illogical things in an effort to save a buck.
I mentioned two expenditures I made in the past week to save time/effort. Let’s examine those:
In my side business of buying and selling, I scored a huge deal a few weeks ago. I was able to purchase some flat filing cabinets (for blueprints and maps) from a local municipality. Each 5-drawer unit is 52″w x 42″d x 18″h and weighs 300lbs. The lot in the auction was for 10 units….that is 3,000lbs. List price for each of the cabinets (per the manufacturer) is $2,757 per 5-drawer unit. I paid 1.3% of what they are worth at auction. My plan was to donate two of the units to our church for the new teacher workroom and then take the rest and sell them, BUT hauling them would be a factor.
Due to the size of the cabinets I would need to rent a truck ($100) and get some paid and unpaid volunteers to help with the effort ($100). Plus I would be lifting the cabinets, hauling two of them upstairs at our church building, and offloading the others at my storage area. It was a ‘no-brainer’ to get some quotes from moving companies. I contacted three companies and they were all in the same ballpark of pricing $250 to $275. The additional $50 to $75 to hire professionals fell well within my range of perceived value for my time, and that didn’t even factor in the potential for injury to myself or those working with me.
The movers were FAST! The entire job took just over two hours and the units were moved to the various locations without any damage. I suspect that I will be able to sell the remaining units for 20-25% of the list value which will more than cover the auction and moving costs, plus leave a solid profit for the venture.
The second expenditure is a bit more difficult to quantify. As a guy, I like tools. I have a storage cabinet and workbench that are full of them. Some of the more unique tools only get used a few times a year. But as most of us have found out, having the right tool can save a TON of time and frustration.
I have been a minister for over a decade and have never invested in any real Bible software. I have always been the type to think, “If I can’t dig it out of the Bible or do the research, then I don’t need it.” That attitude is akin to trying to break the bolt loose on a mower blade with a crow bar and a socket wrench when I have an impact hammer readily available. (Sorry if that illustration was lost on you…I change a lot of mower blades.) I bit the bullet and invested my own money in what has proven to be some really amazing Bible study software.
So far I am not realizing any time savings with the software because I am still learning and exploring all the features it has to offer. But I can tell you that the quality of my lessons, etc. has already increased as I have ready access to a vast library of commentaries, texts, and word studies. No longer do I have to grab books from the library in my office or down the hall. At the click of the button I have the same or similar resources available. I estimate the time savings to be at least 8-10 hours per month, which easily justifies the expense. Factor in the increased quality of my work, and you have a great value.
Final thoughts – Obviously this value estimation tool isn’t flawless. If you are retired or a stay at home parent then it probably won’t work for you. No matter your situation, it is good to think logically about what our time is worth, what we do in the name of saving money, and if there are tools or professional services that would be a good investment. It is always good to ask – Do you value your time?