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新解“时间就是金钱”

本文属阅读资料
What's your time worth? $20 an hour? Maybe $100?

When it comes to finances, people usually know the value of their savings and investments. And, after checking Zillow three times a week, they have an idea of the value of their homes. But all too often, they haven't put a price on their time and labor.

They should. It's far more useful, and it can help you save a lot of money.

Over the past couple of decades, as stocks and home prices climbed to the sky, many of us got in the habit of paying others to do jobs that we once did ourselves. Sometimes it was sensible: In a booming economy, it can be smart to focus on making money and pay others to do the chores. But just as often people were simply lazy, happy to swap some money to save time.

Now the economy has lost a wheel. Millions of Americans are unemployed and underemployed. One way to boost our income is to take back many of the chores we outsourced to others.

Do the math.

If you make a sandwich at home instead of buying one at work, it may take you five minutes in the kitchen and save you $6.

Is it worth it? That depends on how you value your time. To pocket $6 from five minutes' work is the equivalent of earning $72 an hour. And the savings are free of tax.

That's a good wage. Yet judging by the local sandwich shops in any downtown area, lots of people would rather buy.

Should you sign up for a store credit card just to save 10% on your first day's purchases? It may take an hour -- including time on hold -- to get, pay off and eventually cancel the card. If you're spending $200, the savings may not be worth it. But if you're spending $1,000, they might be. Where's the cut-off point?

How about driving 20 minutes extra to get to the cheaper supermarket? If your time is worth $50 an hour after tax, you'll have to save about $17 to make it worth your while.

Clipping coupons is often associated with little old ladies buying cat food. But if 10 minutes' work saves $10 on groceries, that's $60 an hour after tax.

Should you take your family out for an $80 meal instead of making one at home? That depends on what your time is worth to you.

Obviously there is no magic number. The answer varies for everybody. But at least do the math. If you convert every potential opportunity into an hourly wage, it makes the trade-off clear. And of course money saved is tax-free.

The recession is doing funny things with the price of time.

Technically it's risen in value. Although hardly anyone seems to have noticed, the government's latest figures show that hourly wages in real terms -- which had pretty much stagnated for decades -- have just jumped to their highest levels since the 1970s. You can thank cheaper prices in the stores, as well as higher pay.

Yet time is actually getting less valuable.

People, after all, have more of it: One worker in six is either unemployed or underemployed, and those still in jobs are working fewer hours, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And most people value cash savings more, so they are more willing to spend a little extra time to save a few more dollars.

A world of Facebook, reality TV shows and endless business meetings hardly values time very highly. As Robin Williams once observed on Mork & Mindy, 'Earthlings kill time.'

The good news: Converting time to cash is one of the easiest ways to boost your savings. It helps to do the math.

你的时间价值几许?每小时20美元?或许100美元?

说到财务状况,人们通常知道手里的存款和投资的价值。在每周三次上Zillow网站查看房地产信息之后,他们对自己房子的价值也会有个概念。不过人们常常不清楚自己的时间和劳动值多少钱。

他们应当知道的。这样做要有用的多,能帮你省一大笔钱。

几十年来,随着股价和房价一路狂飙,我们很多人养成了习惯,付钱让别人帮我们做事。有时这样做是明智的:在蓬勃发展的经济形势下,把精力放到赚钱上、付钱让别人做其他的杂事,这可能是聪明的做法。不过很多时候人们只是太懒,喜欢花钱买时间。

如今经济陷入低迷,数百万美国人失业或是没有充分就业。增加收入的一个方法就是重新捡起我们“外包”给别人的杂事。

让我们算一笔帐。

如果你在家做三明治,而不是在工作的地方买一个,你可能要在厨房里花上5分钟,但却可以省下6美元。

这样做值得吗?这取决于你如何给自己的时间估价。五分钟的工作省下6美元,相当于每小时挣72美元。而且省下的钱还不用交税。

这样的工资可是不错。不过,从各城区三明治店的生意状况看,很多人还是宁愿花钱买。

你应该申请一张店里的信用卡、以便第一次购物就能节省10%吗?你可能要花一小时才能拿到(包括等候的时间)、付帐、并最终取消这张信用卡。如果你消费200美元,省下的钱可能不值得你申请一张信用卡。不过如果你消费1,000美元,可能就值得了。界线在哪儿呢?

那多开20分钟的车到较便宜的一家超市去采买值不值得呢?如果你的时间值每小时50美元(税后),你在购物上要节省大约17美元才值得多跑这段路。

收集折扣券常常让人想到是买猫粮的小老太太们做的事。不过,如果10分钟的工作能在买菜上省下10美元,就相当于每小时60美元(税后)。

你应该把全家人带去饭馆吃上一顿80美元的大餐,而不是在家自己做一顿吗?这取决于时间对你有多重要。

在这个问题上显然没有定则。答案因人而异。不过你至少要算一算帐。如果你把每个潜在的机会都换算成小时工资,是否值得花时间省钱就一目了然了。当然,省下的钱还不用交税。

衰退令时间的身价出现了有趣的变化。

理论上讲,时间升值了。尽管似乎没有人注意到这点,但政府新出炉的数据显示,几十年来都几乎纹丝未动的实际小时工资最近升到了70年代以来最高水平。你要感谢物价的下降和收入的上升才是。

不过,实际上时间正在贬值。

毕竟,人有的是时间:据美国劳工统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)的数据,每六个工人中就有一个失业或是没有充分就业,那些还在上班的人工作时间也在减少。

此外,大部分人更加看重现金储蓄,所以他们更愿意多花一点儿时间,多省一点儿钱。

在充斥着Facebook、电视真人秀和无休止的商业会议的世界中,人们并不太看重时间。正如罗宾•威廉斯(Robin Williams)在情景喜剧《Mork & Mindy》中所说的:俗人消磨时间。

好消息是,把时间换算成现金是促进省钱的最简单方法之一。算算帐会大有帮助。
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