How do we value our time?

February 8, 2013

I read this interesting article:

click here

to get an interesting slant on how we should (and should not) value our time.

To this, a friend replied:

“The gentleman evidently doesn’t understand economics. I’m not an economist myself, but economic theory states that the rational choice in any situation is the one that provides the most value. That naturally implies that you should have a clear understanding of the value attached to any action. That value varies from person to person – which is why my Dad would spend an hour extra in Madiwala market to save a few rupees per kg on vegetables than I would. My time is worth more to me than the 30-40 rupees that would be saved.

“Clearly, the author attaches more value to chopping wood than the cost of the firewood thus produced. But he’s wrong in saying we can’t or shouldn’t measure this value using money. Like it or not, money is our civilization’s measure of value. More accurately, whatever we measure value with becomes money. In this case, the author is willing to forgo revenue earning work in order to chop wood. Lets say he’d be able to earn $100 in that time. Therefore, the time spent chopping wood provides him with at least $100.01 worth of satisfaction. As a bonus,he also gets firewood – which just improves the value of the transaction. In economic terms, it’s an eminently sensible decision.”

I thought about this for a while, and then responded:

“And ne’er the twain shall meet….his point seems to be that we can’t keep attaching only monetary value to the things we do…and here we are, doing just that; the point of your response seems to be that it HAS to be reduced to money value. Why is he wrong, and why do you say you are right? How do you answer the question he poses (Once money, especially in the form of hourly wage, is used as the fundamental measure of the worth of activities, where do we stop?)>)? If I stop to cook, to sroll around a park, should I then say, I am using up time that I could be earning X rupees?

“However, I agree with you…” whatever we measure, or value with, becomes money.” However, I’d modify that….I’d say, currency, that is valid for that person. (It obviously cannot become a standard for economic transactions.) For something to become “money”, it would have to be universally applicable.

“I do feel that attaching monetary value to our time could lead to the problem of our not wanting to “waste” time…we tend to shave off the time we have to Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, or to Stand And Stare. These are important parts of the human need, and contribute to our sum total of happiness, and these bits of time cannot be monetised.”

What are YOUR thoughts on this? How should we value our time?

PS. I am wasting MONTHS of my life, looking at the sweet smile of my grandson, spending time with my grand-daughter, and alas, I can’t even place a monetary value on it, as I won’t be earning anything but peanuts in that time!

I actually think that moments such as the author’s wood-chopping time, or my melting-at-my-grandson’s feet time, ARE the important times, for which we work, so that we can earn enough money to support us through such moments…