Reclaiming Your Time: What Is It Worth, Beyond the Hourly Rate

Reclaiming Your Time: What Is It Worth, Beyond the Hourly Rate
Photo by Djim Loic / Unsplash

Did you know that the average person in the United States works around 34.4 hours weekly? After breaks and lunches, this equates to 1,788.8 hours over a year, assuming a standard of 52 working weeks. For many, this is the reality of their livelihood, often tied to an hourly rate set by employers. But have you ever stopped to think about what your time is worth?

A Tale of Two States: Comparing Hourly Wages

Following my journey, you'll know I relocated from Utah to Missouri early in 2021. While Utah's minimum wage matches the federal minimum of $7.25, Missouri offers a slightly higher rate at $11.25. I've seen teenagers in Missouri secure jobs paying between $14-$15 per hour.

Take my teenager, for example. During the summer in Missouri, she earns $481.60 per week ($14 x 34.4 hours), which results in a yearly income of $25,043.20. You can use this simple calculation to understand your potential earnings:

(Hourly Rate) x 34.4 hrs = Weekly Pay

(Weekly Pay) x 52 weeks = Yearly Income

Rethinking Time, Work, and Value

Despite these calculations, the picture is not complete. What if you're putting in overtime to bump up your income? That's where our conversation takes a turn. Your manager may ask you to give up more of your irreplaceable time for $14 an hour before taxes.

Growing up in a single-parent household, I understand the necessity of making ends meet. But there are other ways to invest your time. I often think about how much I would have appreciated more time with my mother and how rewarding it is to actively participate in my kids' lives, like coaching my child's soccer team or attending their basketball games.

A Lesson in Entrepreneurship

I fully acknowledge that I speak from a position of privilege after navigating my career over the last nine years to a situation where I can put more value on my time. Still, anyone can reclaim control over their time and determine their worth. It just takes a plan and a strong work ethic. You pay the price early to get the reward later. I'll share my experience with my teenage daughter to illustrate this.

In her sixth-grade year, I bought my daughter a bracelet-making set and challenged her to see if she could sell her creations to her friends. After two weeks, her friends were buying and requesting her bracelets. The experience taught her an invaluable lesson about valuing her work and time.

Fast forward to her teenage years, she came to me seeking permission to quit her job. I reminded her that it was her life and choice, and any ripple effects were hers to navigate. The next day, she quit and proposed an idea to start making and selling bracelets again.

An Alternative Business Plan

We decided she would make bracelets using her existing materials and sell them door-to-door. Pricing would range from $4 - $8. To match her former weekly income of $481.60, she would need to sell between 60 and 120 bracelets, depending on the price.

It might seem daunting, but she found it feasible and empowering with dedication and time management. She now has control over her earnings and her time, which has given her the freedom to attend her siblings' sporting events and be an active member of our family's daily life.

Conclusion: Embrace Your Worth

This method might not guarantee overnight riches, but it provides a different perspective on valuing time. Whether your passion lies in painting, knitting, cooking, or writing, the principle remains: determine your time's worth and use it to your advantage.

Remember, every moment you spend working is a moment of your life that you can't reclaim. Ensure it's worth it, not just in monetary terms but also in satisfaction, happiness, and balance.