how much is our time worth?


How much is our time worth? More specifically, how much is an hour of work worth? How many hours of our lives do we trade to afford the items we purchase? Do these items bring us happiness?

These are some of the questions we are going to analyze and answer in this post today.

You see, so many of us can hardly make ends meet, however, the latest model of the iPhone is in our hands. We drive brand new cars, play with the newest Playstation model, wear designer clothes and subscribe to services we don’t even use.

We complain about living from paycheck to paycheck, but, at the same time, we keep buying useless things without even noticing it.

We have become slaves to frenetic consumerism. We buy so much useless stuff without realizing that we are trading our lives for them.

When we buy an item, we should always ask ourselves, “What are we paying for it with”? 

We are used to thinking about exchanging money for our goods, but in reality, we pay for everything with our time, with our lives.

Think for a moment, every useless object you buy equals time you spent at work - unless you are an entrepreneur and have automated your business - and there is only one thing in this world that never comes back, that is TIME!

“Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time”. - Jim Rohn

What do you think would happen if instead of the price, the tags of the products showed the hours we have to spend at work to afford a particular item?

Since most people dislike what they do, I bet there would be a collapse of the great global markets. 

We would no longer spend carelessly, but mindfully. 


Let's say we have a net salary of $ 2,730 at the end of the month - which is the average monthly net salary in the US, with a minimum of $ 1,120.

Considering a month made up of 20 working days and that we don’t work more than 8 hours a day (a utopia for some), we get, $ 2,730/20 days = $ 136 per day.

If we divide $ 136 by 8 hours we get $ 17 per hour. For those who get the minimum salary, the hourly wage drops to $ 7.

By the way, the calculation to determine how much we receive for one hour of work is not complete.

Apart from the hours we physically spend at the workplace, how much time do we take away from our lives because of it? 

How much time do we spend going to and coming back from work, for instance? How long before do we have to wake up to get ready?

Once back home, are we ready to devote ourselves to something else or do we need to recover energy, or even worse, keep answering emails and planning for the days ahead?

Let's assume we're “lucky” and it takes us no more than 30 minutes to get to and from the workplace. 

It takes us 30 minutes to get ready in the morning and another 30 minutes to recover from the long and exhausting working day.

The hours we devote to work are no longer 8, but 10.

Hence, we should divide $ 136 (the amount we get per day) by 10 and not 8, which brings our hourly wage to $ 13 or $ 5 (if you get the minimum). 

I don’t want to dwell on this too much, but, what happens if in the calculation we considered also the money we need to spend to commute, the clothes that we have to buy because the dress code requires them, the coffee breaks, and all costs related to our jobs?

Our hourly wages would be even lower than $ 13 or $ 5. Ridiculous!


It seems we have accepted this devaluation of our time as the norm.

But, let’s keep it real, exchanging one's life for this hourly wage is like giving up a third of one's existence. 

Above all, if we do something we dislike and if we spend the money we earn carelessly. 

By agreeing to trade our time for so little, we end up having to work hard and struggle to be able to live according to Western standards.

In this way, we give up life itself!

Think for a moment, by working 40 or 50 hours a week and having one or at most two days off, how can we ever have enough time and energy to enjoy our lives?

“I don’t know anyone who said on their deathbed: ‘ I wish I’d spent more time at the office’”. - Peter Lynch

On the contrary, one of the five regrets of the dying is “to have worked so hard”.

In other words, to have spent more time at “the office”, instead of enjoying one’s life.


Now that you have realized how much you earn, and how much time of your life you trade every day, reflect on every object that surrounds you and that you have bought.

Start reflecting on what is really necessary for you and what you bought following a trend, and what was the reason behind your purchase.

Each of us needs to indulge in something, but this is not what brings us happiness. 

We don't have to buy items in order to fill our internal void. We must break this chain as we are imprisoned in a life that only makes us slaves to the pursuit of temporary satisfaction.

What we could do for instance is to invest our money and time in things that in the long run will result in personal growth and will not be thrown away as we do with obsolete objects.


It’s worrying the way most of us regard money. 

We see it as the final goal of our lives, not as a means. 

We don't realize that each of our notes represents the time we have traded to obtain them.

But this is not easy to take in, do you know why? 

Because from morning to evening commercial messages brainwash us, enticing us to spend, spend and spend. 

As a result, to work, work and work to afford the unnecessary stuff we feel the urge to buy.

You will never see an advertisement that tells you how precious your time is!

This would mean enticing people to be happy instead of becoming perfect consumers and squandering their money and time.

But you can rebel against all this, by opting for experiences instead of things, emotions rather than materialism. 

You can do this by choosing to spend your money wisely.

As a result, you would no longer waste your time, but you would convert it into quality time.

The time which makes you feel alive and generates unforgettable memories.


This is a cliché that you can often hear. 

But it’s not true, time is not money!

If you lose $ 50 you could regain it or find it on the street, but if you lose 10 hours of your life, no one will ever be able to give them back to you.

The entire work system is designed to steal time from people, as the more you work, the less you think and consequently, the more you consume. 

Descartes used to say: "Cogito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am".

The consumers preferred by our society are the non-thinking ones because they are the most manipulable and who don't care about having more time.

It is when you start buying useless things without even asking yourself the real reason for that particular purchase that you become a perfect consumer. 

You smoke a cigarette without realizing it, you buy a 70-inch TV because the 60-inch TV no longer satisfies you and you don't recognize the reason, and you end up buying things on autopilot. 

It becomes a bad habit, which leads to the loss of one of the most important things we own, i.e. our free will!

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back”. - Harvey MacKay


It’s high time you made better decisions about how you spend your time and money.

The paradox of possessions is that we assume that the happiness we get from buying something will last as long as the thing itself.

So, it seems intuitive that investing in something we can see, hear, and touch on a permanent basis provides the best value. But it’s not the case.

“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation”, says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for over two decades.

“We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

So, how should we spend our time and money?

In his 20-year study, Gilovich proved the importance of investing in experiences over things.

So, rather than buying the latest iPhone or getting into debt to buy a brand new car, make the most out of your time and money by doing what you are passionate about whether it is sports, reading, traveling,  learning new skills, or spending valuable time with your friends and family. 

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless, they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum of our experiences”.

So, each time you are tempted to squander your money buying something, remind yourself of how many hours you had to trade in your job to afford it.

On top of that, ask yourself how you can make the most out of your money and time to enhance them, instead of wasting them.


“The major key to your better future is you”. - Jim Rohn

So, choose mindfully!

More resources for YOU:

Christian Caliendo
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2 thoughts on “HOW MUCH IS OUR TIME WORTH?”

  1. Great thoughts!
    I go through the two questions before buying most of the things beyond food:
    Do I need it?
    Do I want it?

    You might guess the answers- but how would you know? You are not me after all… well yes – we are all similar on some level 🙂

    And I agree that time is far more valuable than money – once it’s lost, it’s lost. You can’t make it back.

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