How Much is Your Time Worth?

How Much is Your Time Worth?When I was young, my dad’s favorite line to get me to do something that he didn’t want to do was, “You’re young, your time isn’t worth as much as mine.”  And back then he was right, my time wasn’t worth much as a kid and my dad obviously thought his was.  As I grew older though, I started taking on more and more responsibilities and trying to fit in additional stuff on my plate.  In college, I worked a few odd jobs here and there, played intercollegiate volleyball and majored in aerospace engineering.  I was very busy but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Even after all that, I still felt like my time wasn’t that valuable though.  There weren’t a whole lot of things I could afford to pay people for so I just did them myself.  It also didn’t hurt that I was pretty good at managing my time.  I had to be in order to do all that and still succeed.  That doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot of things I didn’t want to do: I just didn’t have much of a choice.

In college, I didn’t have the money to pay someone to clean up after me or cook me dinner every night so I did those things myself.  In retrospect, I’m actually glad that I had to do all that work since it made me appreciate how tough it was.  By comparison, now that I’m working full time I think my life is actually a lot easier.  I sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, sometimes only doing around 4 hours of work and go home slightly mentally drained at the end of the day.  Other people are out working physically demanding or labor-intensive jobs for much less pay and much longer hours while I sit in a comfortable cubical for 8 hours a day.

Saving Money With a Cleaning Lady

The reason why I started thinking about this concept of ‘how much my time is worth’ is because I recently wrote an article about hiring a cleaning lady on my other blog.  I decided to hire a cleaning lady to come once a month and do some deep cleaning services since I absolutely abhor that type of stuff.  I was pretty shocked to find out though that nearly every cleaning lady I contacted wanted to charge me $40 an hour.  There was no way I could bring myself to pay someone the same amount that I make per hour to clean my house.

But it made me wonder, who are all these people hiring maids at $40 an hour and why do they think their time is so valuable? I make pretty decent money but I’m not going to pay someone $40/hour for a skill that takes absolutely no training and no real skills.  Anyone can clean a house really well if they put their mind to it and I don’t think I would pay a housecleaner more $40/hr no matter how much money I was making.

Finally Found Her

Eventually I ended up finding a referral service that only charged about $20 per hour and I thought I had found a pretty good deal.  But a lot of the comments were strangely in favor of not hiring a cleaning lady.  Here were a couple of my favorite comments from that article:

“I don’t care how much $ you make I personally think you ought to pick up after yourself. It keeps you humble and human.”

“Quite frankly, I have never considered a cleaning service or a cleaning lady (man). It strikes me as an incredible waste of money and more pretentious – some people like to be able to say they have someone that comes by and cleans their place – than anything.”

There were some other good ones but I think that’s enough for now.  A lot of personal finance blogs out there preach about saving money on this, spend less on that and basically how to cut every corner in order to save a few bucks.  I think those tips are all well and good but I also believe there are more important things to worry about.

No matter how rich(or how poor) you are, everyone still has the same number of hours in a day.  So if you don’t like cleaning and you can afford it why wouldn’t you pay someone to clean up after your shit?  That doesn’t mean they have to wipe your ass for you but it’s definitely possible to hire a cleaning lady and remain humble. I don’t have kids yet but when I do I’m going to make them pick up after themselves and once they become adults they can decide whether they want to hire a cleaning lady or not.  I understand some of the commenter’s sentiments but we’re not talking about hiring a maid or a butler here.  We’re talking about hiring someone to come once a month, or even once or twice a week and help you out around the house so that you can spend your limited free time doing other things.

Why Would I Want to Spend My Free Time Scrubbing Toilets?

Now that I’m working, I think it’s fair to put a price on my time.  I usually spend a few hours working online 5 or 6 days a week so that only leaves me a limited number of hours left in a day.  Now I could obviously spend that time scrubbing toilets and wiping down counters but there are so many more things that I would rather be doing.  I don’t mind paying someone to do those types of jobs for me since in return I can spend an hour with my fiancee, go for a bike ride or even just unwind and sit on the couch watching TV.  All of those things sound 100% better than giving my apartment a deep clean.

True Value of Time

The other thing that comes into this equation though is how do you value your time?  If I have to work for 4 hours to pay for 2 hours of cleaning than I’m making a pretty big sacrifice by hiring a cleaning lady.  But even if that were the case, it’s perfectly acceptable to still hire a cleaning lady if you want to, it’s a personal choice.  But you have to acknowledge and accept that you’re making a huge sacrifice in doing so.  You’ll probably have to cut back in other areas of your spending – it’s all about moderation and finding a balance that works for you.

It’s easy to get caught up with saving money and spending less but there are times when it makes sense to pay someone to help you out.  If you don’t get much joy or satisfaction out of doing a particular task then it’s perfectly acceptable to pay someone else to do it.  For most of us, there’s usually a financial barrier though that prevents us from paying everyone to do all the things we don’t want to do.

It’s tough to put a dollars and cents value on your time since that number is going to be different for everyone.  So what it really comes down to is a personal choice.  For some of us, it’s not worth it to hire a house cleaner but for people like me it is(up until a certain point).  And others(like the commenters above) probably wouldn’t hire a house cleaner no matter how much money they make.  No one group is better than the other since at the end of the day it’s up to you to decide how much your time is worth.

Readers, what do you think about how much your time is worth?  Are you like me and would rather have less money but more free time or do you like doing everything yourself(even if it’s a task or chore that you hate doing)?

-Harry @ Four Hour Work Day

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I'm Mr. 4HWD, I started this site because I think everyone should be able to work at a job they enjoy and still have time to do all the fun stuff. I don't want to retire early, I want to work four hours a day on the things I love for the rest of my life.

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  1. says

    I agree that sometimes your time is more valuable and finding assistance isn’t a weakness or a sign of entitlement. I have never hired a cleaner personally, but if I could afford it and it was in my budget, I would be willing to invest in one.

    Here, the going rate is about $20-30 an hour. I have friends who do this as a side gig and make a decent amount of money on it. You can also try looking for a cleaner on depending on where you live.
    Michelle @fitisthenewpoor recently posted…Online Dating on a DimeMy Profile

  2. says

    Sometimes I look around at a messy house and think about how nice it would be to one day have somebody to clean, but it’s not really for me. I get outsourcing unpleasant tasks to spend time on more valuable things but cleaning doesn’t take that much time for us if we do it in bite sized chunks and we are the ones making the mess.
    Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter recently posted…US Presidents and Personal FinanceMy Profile

    • says

      Yea I think the cleaning example is definitely a personal choice. Slight tangent, but from working online the one thing I’ve realized is you have to be willing to let other people work for/with you if you want to grow. One person can only do so much and I try to outsource a lot of the repetitive or more manual type tasks.

    • says

      That makes sense, I’m always on the lookout to see how I can make my life more efficient and sometimes there’s an opportunity cost to doing certain tasks. If I can make $50/hr writing, and only pay someone $30/hr to clean, would I rather write for an hour or clean for an hour? I’ll take the former :)

  3. says

    I will at some stage in the future hire a cleaner once every two weeks to do the bigger jobs like cleaning the bathroom, washing the sheets and cleaning the windows. I can pick up after myself everyday, but if I can save 3 hours on a weekend, then I think it’s worth it, as long as the price is within reason.

    I am like you, time is worth more than money, although in order to be that way you definitely need to earn a comfortable income.
    Cara Brett recently posted…Japan, Credit Cards and Travel InsuranceMy Profile

    • says

      That’s a good way to look at it Cara. Time is definitely worth more than money but you do need to make enough to be able to afford to pay people for those types of things.

    • says

      I am very cheap by nature, so if I think it’s a good investment that should be saying something haha. But we have our cleaning crew come once every 6 weeks for ~1.5 hours(2 people) and pay them $70 plus a $10 tip. I like doing things myself but there’s not much value added by cleaning IMO so I outsource it :)

    • says

      Yea that’s pretty much how I am. All the regular stuff is pretty easy and I don’t mind it one bit. But I do like having someone come in and take care of the tough stuff.

    • says

      Hi George, I agree – outsourcing works in multiple ways. I have moved towards a more big picture role when it comes to my online businesses. I still write a majority of the articles but I’m learning to let go, find/acquire/retain good talent and so forth.

      I haven’t found as many things to outsource around the house though as I like cooking, gardening, fixing stuff(small to large diy projects), walking the dog, etc. About the only thing I don’t like doing is cleaning and that’s why my cleaning lady is coming tomorrow!


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