Monday, July 14, 2008

The Value of Your Time: Part 1

The Value of Your Time: Part 1

Based on Scholarly Warrior's comment found here, I've been thinking more about the cost of my time and how it should/shouldn't be applied when making your own food, doing your own repair, etc...

This post will focus on the time taken for the home made sandwich case versus the "convenient" case of buying premade food at a grocery store.

Case 1: DiY Sandwich Making
The total, upfront cost at the register would have been $9.22. From the time to enter the store, roam the aisles picking up bread, tomato, pickles, mustard, meat, standing in line and leaving, I think I spent 10-15 minutes. Assembly for two sandwiches, as I said in the previous post, took about 8-10 minutes. This gives a total time investment of 18-25 minutes.

Case 2: Convenience Food
The total, upfront cost at the register would have been $7.49. I estimate that from entering the store, grabbing the premade item(s), paying for them and exiting to be approximately 6-8 minutes depending on line-ups. This estimate seems reasonable.

The time investment in this Case 2 is clearly less than buying individual food items and assembling a sandwich on your own. However, things get interesting when we compare long term, repeated behaviours of eating convenience items to doing it yourself.

With the goods I purchased, I had an abundant of leftovers to make an additional two sandwiches. If I were to make those two additional sandwiches, the only time sink is construction, and, if made at the same time, would cost another 8-10 minutes. Thus total time for creation of 4 sandwiches, made two at a time would be 26-35 minutes. Total monetary cost is still $9.22. This gives a unit cost of 26.3-35.5 cents per minute. Note this does not include the value of my time (see part 2).

If I was at home and wanted to have a quick bite and decided I wanted a convenience food item, I have to pay the total cost in dollars and time of Case #2 every, single time. Thus if I did this four times, I would have to drive to the store and back (round trip time 12 minutes) and pay $7.49 along with 6-8 minutes in the store. Thus total monetary cost is $29.96 (excluding gas costs) and total time investment is [12 minutes*3 round trips] + [6-8 minutes*4 stops at the store] = 60-72 minutes. This gives a unit cost of 41.6-49.9 cents per minute.

In closing for Part 1, each individual case of the "convenience" items seems cheaper and more time effective, but if we look at the long term effects of going this route, it turns out to be more expensive.

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