This will probably be controversial, and I know that a lot of people reading it won’t agree with me, but that’s okay. Not everything I think is universally accepted as truth, and I’m okay with that.
I often read things where people talk about how certain things aren’t worth their time. Things that I have done in the past (and continue to do), like take online surveys, selling items through eBay or Craigslist, even part time jobs. And I can understand that mentality, and know that it is probably true for some people.
But I contend that it isn’t true for as many people as one might think.
Valuing your time in a monetary way is a tricky proposition. It can’t be valued solely as “I make X amount per hour when I work at my normal job, so that is what my time is worth” unless what you do for work is something you can do anytime, anywhere, and whenever you want to earn money. Then, if you want to earn extra money – work more at your job, and earn more money. For me, tutoring is sort of like this. I can’t work all the time, but I can check to see if there are students waiting and pick up floating hours if I am available and students are available. It isn’t completely free-form, so I don’t look at it as a guaranteed rate per hour I can earn whenever I choose, but it is more flexible than many things.
But my spouse, for example – he works when he works and he earns a salary. If he works 40 hours a week or 60 hours a week, he earns the same salary. Although he earns a good amount per hour for his 40 hour work week, he can’t expand that at will for more pay.
So what is my time worth? What is my spouse’s time worth? If we want to earn extra money, do we turn down opportunities because the rate of return is too low? I do not want to give the impression that I think you should be earning money every hour. We need time for family, to relax, to have fun! But if you want to earn money, should you meet the rate of return of your “regular” job or should you value your time lower than that?
For me, it depends on how important earning extra money is to you and what your options are. Do I do things that earn me below minimum wage per hour? Yes, I do – although as I have developed other sources of income more fully, I don’t do them as often. But I have taken online surveys for years, averaging probably a few dollars an hour (if that), but for me it worked. Because I filled time that I didn’t have any other available income source with taking a few surveys. I’ve also spent more money than the return I got on listing items for sale and selling them. But besides the decluttering of my house, it provided money to me that I wouldn’t otherwise be taking in. I’m not replacing time I could be earning $10 a hour with opportunities that earn $4 an hour – I’m replacing time I would be earning $0 an hour. If all I was going to do with that hour is sit on my behind and watch some TV, and I’d rather earn a little money, I am okay with it truly being a little money.
Now, do I recommend a person structure their entire income around opportunities that pay less than minimum wage? No, of course not. But depending on your options, a few dollars for an hour of work might help you make a little more progress on your financial goals than you were making before you started exploring that option. And if that doesn’t sound palatable to you – become an entrepreneur and develop sources that meet your expectations.