Published on August 11th, 2014 | by Dan Walsh0
Time is Money is Time
“Is it worth it?”
That’s usually the question we ask ourselves before we buy something: Is it worth the price? Maybe it’s not a good deal. Maybe there’s a better deal somewhere else. Maybe we’d rather spend our money on something else entirely. Regardless of the situation or outcome, the question remains relatively the same: “Is it worth the money?”
What if that question changed? What if instead of asking in terms of cold hard cash, we used time as the currency?
“Is it worth my time?”
I recently started using a Chrome plugin that does exactly that. It converts the purchase price of online items into the amount of time it would take to earn that money. Dollars become minutes, and I’m forced to ask myself if what I’m about to buy justifies sacrificing a non-renewable portion of my life. It’s sounds pretty grim, but it has actually been a liberating experience.
The plugin is called Time is Money and it was built by Phaedrus Raznikov. I’ve been using it for over a month now and it has completely altered my purchasing decisions.
I expected to spend less money after using the app, but I’ve actually started spending more. I realized I wasn’t being frivolous with my money. I was being frivolous with my time. For example, I thought about purchasing a dishwasher for our old apartment for at least two years, but just couldn’t justify the cost. But even the most luxurious model would have only cost me about 10 hours. I would have saved that much time NOT doing dishes in less than a month. No wonder I feel like I have more time in our new apartment – it came with a dishwasher.
Spending money on things that save time has become a no brainer.
Spending money on books has also become easier. 12 minutes gets me 5 hours of knowledge and enjoyment. Surprisingly, the famously exorbitant San Francisco rent also seems like a better deal now. I spend about 30 hours a month renting an apartment that I use for at least 300 hours per month.
The real value of Time is Money is that it reminds me to confront decisions about my quality of life on a regular basis. It also had me wondering if maybe we’re better at judging the value of our time than we are at judging the value of a dollar.
I caught up with creator, Phaedrus Raznikov to talk about his inspiration for the plugin and his philosophy on money.
T&D: What inspired you to create Time is Money?
Phaedrus: I was about to drop fifty bucks on an Amazon order for stuff I didn’t really need when I realized: I’m gonna have to work almost five hours just to pay for this! For some reason thinking in terms of spending time, rather than money, curbed my sillier purchases. And then I thought it would be really cool (and thrifty) to see all prices as work-hours. That, and I just wanted to try building a Chrome extension because I’d never built one before and I thought it’d be fun.
T&D: How long did it take you to build the extension?
Phaedrus: It only took me a couple days. It’s fairly simple as far as extensions go; most of the work was figuring out how Chrome extensions function.
T&D: Did you face any challenges along the way, personal or otherwise? How did you get over them?
Phaedrus: Not really. I’d never built a Chrome extension before, but there’s a ton of documentation and Stack Overflow content to help newbies like me.
T&D: Since I started using the app, I’ve begun thinking about how much time something costs me. Not just now, but even in the future. I went to a four year university, but I’m still paying loans (and interest). In a way, going to college wasn’t just a four year commitment, it was a 14 year commitment. It’s a fundamental perspective shift.
How has your behavior changed from using the extension?
Phaedrus: I spend a lot less money!
T&D: Do you think Time and Money are the same thing?
Phaedrus: Are time and money the same thing? Yes. Money is just an agreed upon medium of exchange, and humans have been trading their time with each other for ages. Time is the most stable currency: no one can print or mine any more of it, so it’s not subject to inflation. It’s also the least abstracted from the value it represents: other modern currencies must be exchanged in a market for the goods and services you want, while time can be spent in isolation finding and building goods and performing services.
So time is a strange, special sort of money. But it’s still just money at the end of the day.
Get the plugin: Time is Money
Image credit: Tax Credits