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Comparing the value of time with the value of money

Comparing the amount of time I spend thinking about what to do with my time with the amount of time I spend thinking about what to do with my money, it seems I’m more willing to put time into trying something out than I’m willing to out in money. Or at least I can more easily think of things to put my time into than things to put my money into.

No doubt this reflects my interests to some extent: I like to spend my time reading, writing, travelling, cooking, programming, and so on, whereas I’m not especially interested in shopping and my house is already fitted out with pretty much every material thing that I want. And maybe I’m a bit of a cheapskate.

I also have to spend my time in one way or other: if I have an hour with nothing to do, I can’t put it in the bank, so I might as well work on a novel that might never be published, or practise an instrument at which I’ll never be good enough to entertain anyone, or tweak a web site that no one reads. Whereas money can wait in a bank account until just the right idea comes along.

A friend in Singapore, who worked a job that gave her lot of money but left her without very much time, once mentioned how this affected the decisions she made: if she wanted something carted to the other side of Singapore, for example, she would just pay someone to do it so as to minimise the amount of time she spent on the job. Whereas I tend to do such things myself (even though I’m hardly poor) because I have the time to do so.

I do spend money rather than time in my own way: I buy meat and vegetables rather than growing and killing my own food; I buy computers and software rather than building my own from first principles; and I ride trains and buses rather than walking great distances. This year I have in fact had rather less time and rather more money than I did a year ago, thanks to the increased number of hours that I work at Western Sydney University. But evidently my ambition remains to have as much time as possible to do things myself rather than money to have someone else do them for me.

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