Time Is Money - What's Your Hourly Rate?

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You’ve heard the colloquialism that “Time is Money” right? Perhaps you agree, or perhaps you just scoff at the sentiment.

I, for one, have given this particular little proverb a good amount of though. So much so, that I usually work out how much something will “cost” me for my time before I get serious about diving into it.

See, I’m a DIY kinda guy, I like to work on my own cars, I like to build DIY versions of retail products, etc. But before I take something on I usually try to break down exactly what it’ll cost me both in time and money.

DIY R-Strap

For those of you who may not know, I fancy myself something of an amateur photographer, and I tend to carry my dSLR around with me a lot.

I discovered very quickly that the standard neck camera strap is just downright cumbersome, and it often flops in front of the lens at the most inopportune times.

I could throw it over my neck, and under one arm. But, I’m a bit of a big guy too so that just results in a strap that’s too short for me to get the camera to my eye.

As a result, when I discovered the BlackRapid R-Strap I instantly fell in love.

Of course, being the DIY guy I am, I immediately went looking for DIY instructions for it, and I found plenty without looking too hard.

Now comes the breakdown. An RS-4 (the model that seemed most appropriate for me) costs around $60 all things considered. Most of the DIY instructions show parts lists that add up to less than $10.

Sweet deal right?

Well, not exactly. See, I easily spent two hours looking at all of the different DIY plans and devising my own “best of” from those.

Then, since I didn’t have any of the parts on hand I’d have to go to a home improvement center for the hardware, and possibly a different store to get some nylon strapping or strap from an existing bag. Figure on another hour or so driving to and from, and wandering around.

Then, once I had all the materials together building my strap, testing, adjusting, rebuilding, and cleaning up could easily take another two hours.

Assuming that I don’t have to drive to any other stores to buy materials I forgot, or later decided that I need to improve my design I’ve already spent five hours.

$60 (Price of retail R-Strap) – $10 (Price of DIY parts) = $50 / 5hr = $10/hr

All told, I’d be paying myself $10/hr to build my own R-Strap. Then, what are the chances that I’d end up with a product that is better (or even as good) as the mass produced, tested, and redesigned product?

So.. Not better, not really cheaper..

I bought an RS-4 from a retailer.

Choosing how to spend

Sometimes, you can look at a task and realize that it’d cost you WAY less to pay someone for a particular product or service, but you still choose to do it yourself.

You do this usually for the non monetary benefits you receive.

Or, perhaps you could never hope to spare that much cash, but you’re willing and able to spend the time.

For me, working on cars is where I choose to spend the time, rather than the money.

Sure, most times I probably take two to three times longer to fix or modify my car than a professional would, and I know I earn more hourly than the shop would charge. But I get a sense of satisfaction in my work, the knowledge that it’s done “right”.

Besides, working with my hands is cathartic given that I sit on my duff behind a keyboard all day.

Mind you, there are times that I decide that the cost of time is too great to complete a project, and I’ll gladly pay a professional to take care of it. This is particularly the case for the cars which we depend upon for transportation.

Billable hours

The other thing to consider is. You can’t possibly bill for your every waking hour.

If you’ve got the time to spare, and you can’t monetize it, then you’re wasting a resource if you’re not doing something you enjoy (recreation) or being productive.

If you ask me, time is money in a very tangible way, so make sure you’re making the most of both.

Remember, if you’re going to spend more time on something that it’d be worth monetarily, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.