6 responses to “Weekend Journal — How Much Is Your Time Worth?”

  1. chris jones

    Once I took my car to a mechanic and the next day when I went to drive it, the brakes didn’t work and I found the brake fluid in a puddle on the driveway. After that I decided that I wasn’t afraid to work on my own car’s brakes, with care.

    When buying a car, if you choose one that you end up hating (e.g. one of mine smelled bad), it’ll annoy you every day. I’m not saying that means you need to spend a long time looking, but maybe it’s worth spending a bit more money to make sure it’s one you’ll enjoy.

  2. Charles J Gervasi

    Most consulting engineers bill at > $50/hr. Some with specialized knowledge bill at well over double that. If such an engineer has available work at that rate or has the ability to do work that will get him to that rate, it’s hard to think doing a job unrelated to your area of practice is worthwhile. It tends to make sense to have someone who does that job all day long do it while you focus on what you do all day long.

    This calculation should never justify laziness or even worse a bad attitude of certain jobs being beneath you.

    Regarding cars, I bought my current ’02 Mazda two years ago by laying 50 C-notes on the table. They accepted the deal immediately. I was surprised a large dealer would respond better to cash. I suspect the reason was most people have to get financing, and it’s hard to finance and 8-y/o car. The amazing thing is that the car required no work apart from brake replacement and regular schedule maintenance in the manual. I don’t know if I just lucked out in getting a reliable car for $5,000 or it’s just foolish to pay more if you’re just looking decent-looking reliable transportation.

    BTW, I’m looking to hire an electrician comMost consulting engineers bill at > $50/hr. Some with specialized knowledge bill at more than double that. If such an engineer has available work at that rate or has the ability to do work that will get him to that rate, it’s hard to think doing a job unrelated to your area of practice is worthwhile. It tends to make sense to have someone who does that job all day long do it while you focus on what you do all day long.

    This calculation should never justify laziness or even worse a bad attitude of certain jobs being beneath you.

    Regarding cars, I bought my current ’02 Mazda two years ago by laying 50 C-notes on the table. They accepted the deal immediately. I was surprised a large dealer would respond better to cash. I suspect the reason was most people have to get financing, and it’s hard to finance and 8-y/o car. The amazing thing is that the car required no work apart from brake replacement and regular schedule maintenance in the manual. I don’t know if I just lucked out in getting a reliable car for $5,000 or it’s just foolish to pay more if you’re just looking decent-looking reliable transportation.

    BTW, I’m looking to hire an electrician company next week to wire up about ten outlets and a set of panel mount switches and circuit breakers. I certainly don’t have any trouble doing it, but I know it would cut into billable projects.

    I am also trying to hire someone to help with some basic lab and admin tasks. I abhor any attitude of slacking or ordering someone else around, but I see no other way to help with more projects. This is a really tough issue for engineers. Thanks for the great post next week to wire up about ten outlets and a set of panel mount switches and circuit breakers. I certainly don’t have any trouble doing it, but I know it would cut into billable projects.

    I am also trying to hire someone to help with some basic lab and admin tasks. I abhor any attitude of slacking or ordering someone else around, but I see no other way to help with more projects. This is a really tough issue for engineers. Thanks for the great post.

  3. D S

    My wife and I got a housekeeper that cleans the place every two weeks. We never get irritated walking by that carpet that needed cleaning or pile of clothes in the corner. Its clean and we come home to a clean place.

    I tasked some menial tasks to friends with college students that needed extra cash. Ideas included backyard work, painting, weeding, organizing my record collection, sorting bolts by thread, organizing the tupperware, etc.. Well worth it.

    I can now focus on my top two priorities, my wife and my job.

  4. Charles J Gervasi

    I you both work 2500 hrs/yr, that’s 5000 hours worked /yr. $172/yr / 5000 hrs/year = $34.4 per hour.

  5. Porter

    Great post, Chris! You’re certainly right about the starting salaries, getting my first engineering position out of college, I averaged about 25k more a year than most of my old friends that received liberal arts or business degrees. At the same time though, engineers have a work load that, in my opinion, more than makes up for the higher amount that we’re payed. I can’t tell you how many potentially fun and memorable nights or weekends were lost because of the amount of work I had to play catch up on. But at the same time, I relish the fact that I’m on the cutting edge of my field, and I have the opportunity to work with some of the most brilliant minds in essentially developing the future. That, to me, is the real magic found in being an engineer.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

  6. ferd

    The engineer in me often wants to take on all household projects myself, since I can usually eventually figure them out. But I’ve learned that I might not figure the best solution or I may not have the skills to obtain the best results. Couple that with needing to buy limited-use tools. Then realize that I just do not have time to tackle all of these projects even when I want to. So I’ve learned to pick which projects I’ll do, and which to farm out. I pick projects that I enjoy, or projects where I’ve suffered others’ poor workmanship. I still try to figure solutions to farmed-out projects, and pay attention to how skilled professionals solve those problems.

    I can’t bill for all hours of every day, so I don’t analyze labor cost much. I decide based upon a project’s effort required for satisfactory results, expenses for tools if I must purchase or rent some, and a balance of time that my family expects from me.