Updated on 10.19.08

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Value of an Hour Edition

Trent Hamm

Here’s an interesting question: how much would you pay for an extra hour today? That hour could be during work. It could be after work. It could be an extra hour of sleep. An extra hour to do with whatever you like.

Now, what would you do during that hour that you bought? Sleep? Work on a big project? Goof off? Do something you’ve been meaning to get around to?

One final question. What are you doing with your time today that’s more important than what you would do with this hypothetical hour?

I find things like these really make me question my priorities.

Do You Ever Feel Embarrassed by Your Frugality? No. The people who spend all their time looking down their noses at you are wasting their own time and money. Why should I care? I think I’ll compare myself to them when they’re seventy and still working while I’m in my twentieth year of doing whatever I want. (@ one frugal girl)

Are You Living a Significant Life? This is more or less my goal every day. I make it … most of the time. (@ awake @ the wheel)

Thoughts on a Scooter-Based Lifestyle I give ’em credit for thinking outside the box, but why not go all-bicycle? (@ get rich slowly)

10 Ways to Improve Yourself While Broke These are excellent ways to improve yourself when you’re not broke, too. (@ dumb little man)

Fun Idea for Reducing Vacation Mementos Very fun and very cheap, too! I think I might do this on our next vacation with my son’s teddy bear. (@ unclutterer)

Should We All Just Stop Paying the Mortgage? It’s a great idea – for the first month. Then the economy collapses – hard. Anyway, I thought the rant was interesting. (@ wise bread)

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  1. Cory says:

    To be honest, I’m far more embarrassed by the results of my lack of frugality before this year. The debt expenses (most of which could have been avoided entirely) have left me with no emergency fund and no savings (short of my 401K.)

    The embarrassments come in the form of things like a deck on our new(ish) house that is warped and needs repairs that I can’t afford. Or a shed that needs some upkeep that I can’t manage at the moment. Or needing to keep our thermostat extra low when we have company because our LP tank is almost empty and we are still paying off the last fuel bill.

    Everything that causes me occasional embarassment isn’t due to being frugal. It’s due to not being frugal and not having funds available for the things that really are needed.

    Honestly, in most cases being frugal is transparent to the people not in our immediate household. Nobody bats an eye at the checkout when you buy two 46oz laundry detergent bottles instead of one 96oz (it saved about $1 last night btw.) Guests don’t know/care that we have CFLs all over (in fact that’s a source of pride for me.) Everybody in my circle of friends and co-workers thinks it’s cool we are raising chickens.

    So, no, I’m not embarrassed about frugality. It’s the mismanagement of my income for the past 20 years that embarrasses me.

  2. Curt says:

    I have spent the last hour reading personal financial blogs like this one … which has increased by financial knowledge resulting in an increase in personal wealth.

    Did you ever wonder just how much 1 hour of reading a personal finance blog is worth? If I read 1 hour/day and gain knowledge that savings me $2000/year. Then each hour I spend increasing my financial education is worth $2000/365 = $5.50.

  3. AD says:

    Sometimes I do. We live in a double-wide right now, though we could qualify for over $240,000 of house if we wanted one. But we’ve bought four acres on which we plan to build the perfect home, and not many people get to do that in their 20s. We want more than 20 percent paid down on the construction loan, too, so that hopefully when we have kids, I will have options other than returning to a 8-to-5 office job.

    Sometimes it can be embarassing, even though we’ve made our home very nice with new floors and such. But when I start feeling that way, I open up our “idea book” for our home, or I do some research on the next trip to Europe we’re planning. None of our friends are doing those sorts of things right now, so I just have to remember what WE value. We also live pretty far out, so it’s really only family that visits, and they aren’t judgemental, esp. my in-laws, who all grew up poor.

    Also, sometimes I feel like a brat for being embarrased. I mean, we have a home, even if it’s not my ideal home. I feel shallow that I even give it a thought, but you always hear jokes about trailers and mobile homes, and it’s hard to shut that out sometimes.

    What’s funny is that I usually hear these things from friends who are in horrible financial situations. My best friend ribbed me about the double-wide, but she and her two kids lived with her mom for years, and now she rents an apartment she can barely afford. My other friend jokes about our lack of cable (we honestly don’t want it) and now having a plasma tv, but his rented Mercedes got towed away, and he can’t even pay the minimums on his cards.

  4. AD says:

    “Not having a plasma,” not “now having.”

  5. Mule Skinner says:

    The scooter is part of a continuum of transport choices. It, too, has pros and cons. It is cheaper than a car and much easier to park, but not as safe and offers no protection from the elements. As I write this the temperature outside is 40F and it’s raining. The scooter is faster than a bicycle but (usually) more expensive and does not offer the benefits of exercise.

    When I was in college in Honolulu I had a scooter. It was great for getting up those mountainsides, while easy to park on campus. It seemed to rain every time I had a date, however, and my girl’s hair would get wrecked.

  6. Ryan McLean says:

    Good article mate. I also don’t care what people think of my frugality. When I’m living a cheap, frugal life, and the other people are up to their necks in debt, then they’ll be sorry for not being frugal.

  7. A says:

    Mule SKinner’s comment is really on target — there’s a continuum of transportation choices. If I could afford to live near where I worked, I would. (Of course, that would assume that I worked in only one place, as opposed to teaching classes in four separate locations.) Even if I lived near enough to work to bicycle, however, the hot humid Atlanta summers would preclude bike riding (and looking remotely professional at the end of the trip). Plus, the distances here are amazing, as they are in many Southern cities that largely exploded after the advent of the car. Having some form of motorized transportation is often critical here. Finally, there’s the issue of being able to buy in bulk, where appropriate. As you often say about frugality, there’s a range of financial choices, and people will make the ones that are best suited to them. Ditto scooters via bikes.

  8. Lucky says:

    Scooters and motorcycles are for those whom scooters and motorcycles are for. Those of us who prefer to live cage-free don’t mind a little extra risk and a little extra weather in order to have a whole lot more fun.

    I would gladly ride my bicycle to work, except it would be a two hour ride for me. Four hours of bicycling per day is a little too much. I do ride my bicycle to run errands, however.

  9. Brandon says:

    I constantly check the per/oz prices on everything at the supermarket. The other day I bought 3 20packs of beer instead of 2 30 packs because it was 7cents/beer cheaper.

  10. Johanna says:

    The stores I shop at don’t always display unit prices, but I used to have a little calculator keychain that I’d use to figure them out – I’d stand there in the aisle punching away on my calculator and looking like even more of a nerd than I usually do. Unfortunately, it broke, and I can’t find a place where I can get another one.

  11. K says:

    Johanna – does your cell phone have a calculator function? That’s what I use.

  12. “Here’s an interesting question: how much would you pay for an extra hour today?” – THIS, in my opinion, is a far more accurate measure of the value of your time, than earnings divided by # of hours worked.

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