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Time is worth more than money

Part of my Unwriting series.

Time is worth more than money. Sorry, that’s a cliché, let me rephrase. I think far too many of us chronically overvalue our money and undervalue our time.

This isn’t a new idea, of course, but it still makes me sad every time I see someone run all over town to save a few bucks on gas, resort to a spreadsheet to find the cheapest connecting flights, or break out in tears trying to expense a cab ride.

This definitely isn’t true for everyone. Many people struggle to make ends meet, working long hours to scrape together enough money to provide for their families. Others have far more free time than disposable income – teenagers, students, and pensioners, among others.

Still, many of us make a decent living and still undervalue our time. Sure, there are other factors. Willpower is easier said than done. So is being honest about our priorities. We pay lip service to exercise, relationships, and fulfilling hobbies, then end up working overtime or selling stuff from the garage on eBay.

We do get it right sometimes. We pay for house cleaners, child care, short hop plane flights, and shipping for things we buy online. We include our time in big life decisions: should I take that promotion if it means more work? Should one of us quit and take care of the kids full time? Should I keep working and retire later so I’ll have more savings?

We often get it wrong with smaller things. If you find a better deal and save $100 on that treadmill, but it takes five hours of comparison shopping and two more driving to the store and back, you “earned” $14/hour. Is your free time worth that little? Your job probably pays more, and you still wouldn’t have spent that chunk of your weekend working.

I’m painfully aware of how lucky I am that I can literally buy time, to a degree. My friends are in the same boat. And yet we do it so inconsistently, often paying in time and stress instead to save paltry sums here and there. It’s not worth it. We should loosen our purse strings and preserve our health, sanity, and the precious little time we do have.

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