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Op/Ed

Time is money: How to determine how much your free time is worth

Everyone has an idea how much they feel like they should paid while working, but what about when not working – in your free time?

Man reading book called _think and grow_ during free time

Time is money and side hustles to make ends meet or bump up retirement accounts or vacation savings are the new normal. Enter the Lifehacker article by Beth Skwarecki about calculating how much money your free time is worth.

Ideas about how to calculate the worth of your time aren’t new, but Skwarecki introduces the idea of surge pricing that takes into consideration something a lot of advice-givers in this area forget.

Often no amount of money is worth giving up the time you have. Other times, if it’s worth it, it’s going to be at a higher rate than your normal asking price.

Typical time-cost advice often follows that of James Clear that says to consider all the time you spend on making money. Make sure to include all the time, including commute and daycare drop-off. Divide your total income by the hours you counted to get your time worth.

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However, as Swarecki says, your free time is yours to use as you see fit. You earned it by working those paid hours. So, if you’re going to work those free-time hours, charge accordingly for your time.

That brings us to surge pricing. The more demand there is for something, the more you have to pay for it. Swarecki includes in the article how she calculates that price. However, she also says the sky is the limit here because you’re working in your free time, so it depends on you. And by “the sky is the limit,” it’s important to remember, sometimes that price is free. Every minute of our lives doesn’t have to have a price tag attached.

That said, in today’s gig economy, knowing your worth can be the difference between thriving and just getting by. Thriving is certainly the goal, but it’s important to know it’s not always the only goal, and knowing the difference is important to everyone figuring out the price of their time.

At the end of the article, Skarwecki makes what is probably the most important point, especially in this age where we calculate everything we do by dollars and cents: If every hour is money, she says, that equals burnout. And we’ve seen that in so many industries today.

When so many are working freelance jobs – sometimes multiple freelance jobs at once – it’s important to know what your time is worth and charge accordingly if you’re putting a price on your time. It’s also important to remember your free time is yours and you can price it, or not, how you choose.

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Mary Beth Lee retired from teaching in Texas this year after 28 years as a student media adviser. She spends her time these days reading, writing, fighting for public education and enjoying the empty nester life in Downtown Fort Worth.

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