What's Your Hourly Rate?

post by katydee · 2013-09-11T18:52:06.196Z · score: 6 (9 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 14 comments

Here's an interesting post about calculating the value of your free time and why it might not be as simple as some tend to think.


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comment by lincolnquirk · 2013-09-12T00:46:00.216Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh hello, this is mine. Thanks for submitting it.

comment by pinyaka · 2013-09-13T14:11:08.363Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you really planning to put medical emergencies on credit cards or file for bankruptcy?

ETA: The marginal individual tax rate in the US is fairly low when compared to other developed countries in Europe and Asia. Was that assessment important to your argument or was it a Blue vs Green thing?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-14T16:28:15.895Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The marginal individual tax rate in the US is fairly low when compared to other developed countries in Europe and Asia.

Also, fuel is much more expensive in Europe, further tipping the balance in favour of the nearer job over the better-paying job.

comment by shminux · 2013-09-11T19:09:54.986Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I was contracting at a decent hourly rate, I had to learn to calculate similar trade-offs: go buy groceries or order online, spend time picking quality produce or grab whatever quickly, drive to pick up a family member or call them a cab, etc.

When I went back to a salaried position, I had to unlearn the resulting habits, which is more painful.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-13T20:32:52.415Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have a very different model of financial planning than you do. I view spending money in exchange for time now as equivalent to spending future free time in exchange for present free time, as it increases the amount of time I will need to work until I can retire passively off of investment income. For me, retirement isn't some far out, dubious prospect, it's a very real thing that I have created a specific budgetary goal/timeline for. I can't generally trade free time for money in arbitrary quantities. I'm okay with trading time now for time later, because I don't think all free time should be valued equally. Free hours are worth more if I have more of them consecutively, don't have to go to work the next day, and when friends are available.

I think the value of free hours in general is much greater when I can elect to have a whole week of free hours, even if I don't truly stop working. Once one has retirement saved for, they truly can set their own hours, and if someone asks them to do otherwise, they retain the option to tell them to screw off. Not having a Sword of Damocles hanging over me is something I value highly.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-16T16:10:29.589Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm going to reply to my own post and expand on a couple more things. Let me know if it is considered better etiquette to edit even if it has been around for a few days.

The article just seems so...short sighted. Like, no doubt is trading money for time something we all do, but I don't think of it as virtuous or something to be sought out. I have a feeling most people err on the side of doing it too often, not too little.

One thing I think this article discounts is the idea that doing things instead paying to have them done often confers knowledge onto you that you wouldn't have otherwise. Sure, learning to change your own oil or fix up a porch seems boring and time consuming at first, and maybe it is worth paying if you'll only do it once, but then again, some of those things are things you could do over and over. The fifth oil change is pretty fast and you save all that time of bringing the car somewhere, being without it for awhile, and picking it up later. One can even use these skills in the future to trade time for money, if you are good enough at doing it. Your friend needs small-scale construction work and is willing to pay some amount? Cool, I can make some money doing something I already know how to do, hang out with my friend for the day, and get some practice in. (After all, you've retired on savings and have few commitments on any given day.) My friend also gets to hang out, will learn some things themselves, and won't overpay a contractor taking advantage of his ignorance. Cultivating such independence seems worthwhile in and of itself.

Given this, I think the tasks most worth trading money for time over are the ones that don't teach anything valuable, and tasks that take up a large amount of time and are easily parallelized. I hired people to move my furniture because I don't think I have much to learn about carrying heavy things, and they have lifting tools and a crew that I don't. Before I sold my car, I learned to change my own oil because I was tired of paying that tax every few thousand miles, figured I'd continue using it in the future, and didn't want to continue deflecting upsell attempts by the guys at the garage. I think it was worthwhile and even though I'd rather not own a car, if I do buy one I would continue learning small facets of maintenance that reduce my total lifetime hours thinking about my car, even at the expense of present free time.

For what it's worth I'd probably take the higher paying job and move closer to it. I realize I'm ignoring the purpose of the example there but I just thought I'd mention it.

comment by diegocaleiro · 2013-09-13T23:40:55.023Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Consider you may have less friends around when older than when younger. This happens to most people.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T04:07:47.954Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Should I be saving for retirement, though? A lot of people seem to recommend this. But it's unclear if this is a good idea, because I'm trading off against time now -- and it seems pretty likely that time now is more useful.

At first, I thought that saving for retirement is obviously a good idea, because you're probably going to retire at some point, and you're going to need money, and how else are you going to get it? Then I realized that I don't actually know why people retire. I mean, for physical work, it's pretty obvious (performing the same tasks becomes more difficult as you grow older), but what about mental work?

comment by somervta · 2013-09-15T09:41:19.275Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

you don't think mental abilities start degrading in old age?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T14:33:09.026Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Come to think of it, I really have no idea how that works. Assuming you don't get Alzheimer's or some similar disease, when do your mental faculties start to significantly decline, and how much?

comment by satt · 2013-09-15T21:31:50.359Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

when do your mental faculties start to significantly decline, and how much?

Faculties that feed into fluid intelligence decline a lot from around age 20. Faculties that feed into crystallized intelligence decline less, and the decline starts (on average) in one's 60s at the earliest. (Based on an old InquilineKea post here.)

comment by Metus · 2013-09-12T21:12:33.898Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like this kind of post.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T04:03:32.823Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And what kind of post is that? I haven't been able to think of one particular quality that this post seems to exemplify.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-15T13:01:57.600Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Making me think about a particular expression like "hourly rate" which is used as a basis in other thought experiments.