On my way home from work today, I noticed the corner gas station seemed awfully busy. Busy enough that cars were lined out into the street, which is pretty unusual in a small town with 8 gas stations. Why so busy? I’m going to guess that the $1.08/litre price might have had something to do with it. One more gas station was priced similarly, while the other 6 gas stations were priced around $1.18/litre. I glanced at my fuel gauge (half-full) and then looked over at the unmoving line, backing further up into the street. By the time the stoplight changed, I decided it wasn’t worth my time to get in line and wait for the cheaper gas.
What is my time worth? How do I judge when something is worth it and when something isn’t? With the cheap gas, I figured I would be waiting at least half an hour to get to a pump, I’d be idling my car, I still had half a tank of fuel, and I would be late for a steak supper at my parents. Those costs, at least in my mind, were greater than the prospective savings on cheap gas, so I decided not to wait in line.
I could simply quantify the value of my time using my salary rate or charge rate. It’s easy and it’s based on an hourly time frame. My boss has often remarked to me that this is how he determines what is worth his time and what isn’t. For example, he lives close to the border with the States, and for him, it isn’t worth his time to go over the border for cheaper groceries and gas. He would rather save time but spend a little more to buy gas and groceries in Ontario. His decision though (according to him) is based solely on his charge time.
For me though, the value of time can’t simply be quantified. There’s a strong qualitative component to the value of my time – my desire to get to my parents and have a steak dinner influenced my decision not to wait for cheap gas, just as an example. I would say that the situation influences the value of time: am I already waiting, do I have to go somewhere, am I going out of my way, how badly do I need or want something, even what’s the weather doing can influence how much value I put on my time.
The value of my time is a moving target, highly variable, but something I can calculate almost instantaneously (without even a calculator!) in most situations. What influences the value you put on time?
Have a good ‘un