Friday, February 6, 2009

Time is Money

Were those five minutes of my time really worth the 20 cents?

Explanation: Last night I got a text message. It wasn't from someone I knew - it was some MP3 service sending me spam of some sort. I've never seen a text like that before. The details don't really matter. The important fact is that I have text messaging blocked on my phone... or at least I thought I did.

This is the kind of thing that really drives me nuts. I'm supposed to have text messages blocked. I clearly don't anymore. There's no way I'm going to let Verizon charge me 20 cents for a text message that I shouldn't have received in the first place. No way. Plus, this message might be the tip of the iceberg. I had to nip it in the bud, so I gave Verizon a call.

After five minutes on the phone with Verizon, we established that my block had been removed for some reason. The block has now been re-applied to my account. They were unsure if the 20 cents would be refunded to me automatically, so I have to check my next bill and let them know if the charge is still there (more time and effort) to make sure I'm not paying for a text message I didn't want in the first place.

From a sheer economic standpoint, this drives me insane. My time is money. Now, how much money one's time is worth is a different debate, but I like to base decisions on an amount that I think I could easily earn in an hour's time. The New Jersey minimum wage is currently $7.15, so that's a safe place to start. I like to think I bring a bit more to the table, so I generally assume $10 an hour. Certainly I could make more than that if I was working harder, but I feel like that's a wage I could pull in without really exerting myself too much.

Once you have a dollar value, decisions are easier. Do I pay the neighborhood guy $30 each time he mows my lawn? Well, I can mow my entire lawn in about an hour, so I can consider that as $10 worth of time. Is it worth paying $30 to preserve $10 worth of time? No way. I'll mow my own lawn.

Now, obviously some experiences have some intrinsic value (or lack thereof) that you have to include as well. Would I spend $30 for the neighborhood guy to spend an hour removing the poison ivy from my backyard? Sure I would. My time is worth $10, and not spending an hour handling poison ivy is worth much more than $20 to me.*

On the other side of the coin, I wouldn't pay the guy $5 to wash my car for an hour on a hot summer afternoon. Sure, my time is worth $10, but spending an hour in the cold mist of the hose is worth way more than the $5 I'd save by letting him do it.

Now, let's consider my phone call. I spent 5 minutes of my time in an effort to save 20 cents. That's an hourly savings of $2.40. My time is worth about $10 an hour. You do the math. Even worse is the fact that A) you just know they're going to screw up my bill anyway, so I have to keep an eye on it and B) when they do screw it up I'm going to have to spend ANOTHER 5 minutes on the phone with them. That takes me up to about 15 minutes of total effort, taking the hourly savings down to 80 cents an hour.

So, in short, I hate Verizon. And now I have the math to prove it!

*Plus, I have to add value for the pleasure of knowing that guy is going to be itching for the next two weeks. That'll teach him to up his rates!


Willie Y said...

You owe me 10.25 for the time I spent reading your post. The bill is in the mail.

Jeremy said...

You can try presenting your case to Verizon, but they've already shown that They Can't Do Math.

JCA said...

I just scrolled to the end of it looking for baby pictures.

JCA said...

For which your fans are still clamoring.