The old money/time adage goes if you have one, you don’t have the other. The money vs. time issue is one felt strongly about by many and can be debated for hours. I’ve seen a couple interesting and fresh takes on this seemingly-tired arguement recently, both on the New York Times Freakonomics blog and at DNTO, the CDC radio show.
At the Freaknomics blog, Daniel Hamermesh summarizes a paper that recently came out about money and well-being. (It’s clever title: “Stressed Out On Four Continents: TIme Crunch Or Yuppie Kvetch?” The title is really all the creativity academics can have with a paper so might as well make it fun!) The major findings of the paper include that while American salaries have tripled since the 1950s, life expectancy has only increased by 10%. The reason is that higher wage workers are spending more time working and that additional wealth means taking more time to spend it (those goods don’t acquire themselves!). If you want to read the whole paper, there is a link at the bottom of the post to it.
In related news, DNTO recently did an episode about outsorcing. Mostly, it was writers and contributors to the show experimenting with outsourcing everything from traditional chores like childcare and housework to non-traditional ones like arguing with their spouses and managing their love lives. I was surprised to find that the host of the show Sook-Yin was able to have a piece written that roughly takes up 3 minutes of the show for $20. As someone looking to make an eventual income from writing, I’ve calculated that I have to make roughly $50 an hour during my billable hours to maintain my standard living, meaning pay all my bills and buy myself health insurance. And those who know me know my lifestyle is far from extravagant. Yikes.
While it was sobering to know I couldn’t compete in the global market, it was nice to see in the end the contributors realizing what they were missing in their lives by outsourcing things like reading to their kids. It made me realize how valuable my time is, even whan I am at the grocery store or paying bills.
While I’ve sometimes felt like a slacker for not climbing some kind of corporate ladder by now, these findings from Freakonomics and DNTO are encouraging. Maybe I’ve been subconciously avoiding doing the corporate thing for the very reasons of not wanting to be stressed out or lose my leisure time. And even if I was able to outsource the time I spend doing the dishes or answering my email, I know I’d be missing out on some subtlties that really do enrich my life.
In the time or money debate, now more than ever, I’m picking time. What about you?
Photo: I’d pick relaxing over an extra few bucks any day of the week. Photo taken by my friend Brad.