the “what’s your time worth” fallacy

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When I hear people rationalize spending money on services based upon the concept of “what’s your time worth”, I get a little defensive.

In a previous life I was also someone who would value ALL of my time based upon my HOURLY WAGES at my job.  It is easy to make this argument, but it doesn’t really hold water.

Let’s say that I make $50 per hour as an IT Contractor in a job and I spend $50 per week to have my lawn serviced.  I might say to myself, that I don’t want to spend an hour this weekend mowing my lawn and would rather have that time to go to the gym.  I have just traded 1 hour of gym time for $50.  I do recognize that I also get a manicured lawn included.  I have told myself that time at the gym is worth one hour of working my IT job.  While  going to the gym is highly enjoyable and beneficial to my health, it is hard to argue that an hour of gym time is worth paying $50.

The fallacy of the “what’s your time worth?” argument is based on the presumption that all time value is equal, and I do not believe that it is.  In the case of the IT worker, the time is worth $50 on Monday through Friday between 9AM and 5PM. Without a side hustle or other way to make money, the time outside of those hours might be worth $0 per hour.

So to say that I am worth $50 per hour for 24 hours per day in making my choices may lead me to make a poor decision.  

Think about this the next time you are using the time/money/value reasoning.  

Also recognize that mowing the lawn is also a pretty good workout in and of itself!

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it can always be better; it can always be worse

My son twisted his knee about 6 weeks ago.

He tried to stay active but it kept feeling worse.

After about a week, we took him to an orthopedist to look him over.

An MRI was ordered and a secondary referral was made for a rheumatologist to rule out some other symptoms that could have been caused by something like Lyme Disease.  Blood tests were taken and more doctors appointments were scheduled.

None of the symptoms were clear cut signs of typical injuries but all roads led us to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.  JIA is fancy terminology for joint swelling with no known cause.  It seems like it might be a type of auto immune disease, but many kids outgrow it.  It can be treated with anti-inflamatories, steroids, and if there is no improvement there are oral therapies which carry some risk of compromised immune systems.

As a layperson, I was calm with the diagnosis.  I have an attitude of “don’t worry until it is time to worry”.  My wife on the other hand who is a pediatrician has been running through every differential diagnosis and extrapolating each outcome in her mind.  It has been very exhausting for her to find balance between mother and physician.  I feel happier being less informed and taking the treating physicians words at face value.

As we were wrapping our most recent appointment for our son, my wife was on her electronic medical records system for her practice.  She noticed a new note for a patient with some unexplained weight loss.  As differential diagnoses were being worked through, the path led them to a mass in the chest.  She was heartbroken.  At a time when she was so upset about her own son, a patient family just learned that their world was turned upside down.

Her thoughts went to the family of the boy.  She knew what they were in for.  The fear of the unknown and the upcoming pain and discomfort made her reconsider our personal situation a bit.

While she was crestfallen that her patient was ill, she also was able to take a moment to reflect upon our own son and recognize that while things can always be better, they can also be worse.

 

surprise at the car dealership service center

My wife drives a leased car because she is able to get favorable tax treatment as a business owner.

One of the tires seems to have a slow leak and is holding air, but not enought for safe travel.  Another tire has a plug in it so I was anticipating replacing at least two of the tires.  This is painful on a leased car, but safety is important to me.

Being the frugal cheapskate that I am, I started to scour the internet for tire prices.

But then I had a change of heart.  I decided to call the dealership and have the tire looked at there.  Getting regular maintenance on a car at the dealership is not typically a wise financial decision.  Dealerships have historically high prices.  But having a leased car, I was hoping that I might get a discount because the car would have at least 2 new tires when we turn it in 6 months from now.

When I dropped the car off I was very surprised by the service advisor’s advice.  He said I could replace one tire even though the car was AWD.  He also said it would be worth trying to fix the tire.  I never expected the dealership to offer tire repair at all!.  The best part was that if the tire was able to be repaired, the cost would only be $25.

Sure this may be a few bucks more than the local garage, but it was very fair and reasonable pricing.

I write this post from the comfort of the wifi enabled waiting room as I enjoy a free coffee and muffin.  I know the extra cost of the repair pays for these free items, but the experience is worth it.

Regardless the outcome of my tire problems, I feel feel good that my decision to give the dealership a chance resulted in a positive experience.  I feel like I got great advice that balanced vehicle performance, cost, and safety.  I suppose that all of the competition in the auto repair space has encouraged dealerships to reel in price and become viable options for regular consumers like me.

swim team pickup and entitlement

My son is on a year round swim team.  He practices 4-5 times per week at the local facility.

The pool is part of a larger gym and has a parking lot that can hold about 200 cars.

Within the parking lot there are driveways and lanes for travel.  These lanes are restricted as fire lanes, and clearly marked no parking.

When I arrive to pick him up, there may only be 20 cars in the lot so it is pretty easy to find me.  I’ll walk up to meet him or I’ll text him, “left side near back”.  He’s never gotten lost.

Then there are about 20% of the parents to whom the “no parking” signs seemingly don’t apply.  They do what is easiest for them and their children, damn the rest.

They park on both sides of the fire lanes, typically right in front of the signs.  The cars block traffic and make driving to exit problematic and unsafe.

I don’t know the reasons that they flout the rules and disregard safety and common decency.

The funny thing I have noticed about the parking situation is that is seems to have a socio-economic appearance to it.

The Volkswagens, Hondas, Fords are all rule followers and park in the assigned spots in the lot.

The Range Rovers, Audi, and BMW all typically the ones parking illegally.

Is this a significant observation?  

I think yes.

Why do “wealthy” feel entitled to do what they will?

Are they so self absorbed that it doesn’t even register that they putting their needs above others?  Or is it more sinister that they simply don’t care?

Regardless of the outcome, I make a point to teach my son and anyone else in the carpool what it means to be a citizen of the world.  Don’t put yourself on a pedestal and understand that society works better when we respect each other.

 

tech overload

I am back from a two week technology hiatus.

I am not a Luddite and I appreciate and enjoy technology, but I started feeling anxious every time I passed a reminder of how much technology has infiltrated my life.

It all started when my wife bought a couple of new kitchen gadgets around Christmas time.

The addition of a digital George Foreman Grill and a fancy new Instapot triggered me.

I already had a nice Foreman grill and a trusty crock pot.  They were rudimentary and they worked.  They didn’t require instructions and Youtube videos to learn how to use them.  You plugged them in and came back when the food was ready.

The new kitchen gear felt like a combination of gadetry and science project.

I was getting frustrated by it.

I had a tangle of charging wires on my kitchen counter.

I had a PC in the living room.

Both kids had Chromebooks on their bedroom desks.

My wife’s work laptop was on the bedroom dresser.

The whole family was typically head down in their iPhones.

Even my wife’s reading was on Kindle or iPad at bedtime.

Wireless headphones needed charging.

Battery backup chargers were needed when tech device batteries ran out.

Lightning cables and USB cables were scattered around the house.

I have no expectation of trying to reel everyone in at the moment.  I can only work on my own head.

I sold an old iPad and Kindle.

I deleted some social media apps from my phone.

I bought some paper books to read.

I do 5 pushups every time I feel that reflex to check my phone for no reason at all.

I watch a lot less news and don’t feel the need to try to be an expert on transient topics. As @altucher says, today’s news is the rough draft of history.

It is hard to believe how much technology has become a part of our daily lives.  But like most good things, moderation is key for me.  

When I started to feel overwhelmed by it all I know it was time to step back and take a look at my own habits and patterns.

As an aspiring minimalist, I strive for less.

This includes technology devices as well as technology usage.

In 2018 I need to become more mindful, present, and focused on meaningful activities.

This process is the first step in that direction.

how I made $250 in 5 minutes

I am a meticulous bill payer.  My credit score hovers around 820 and I take personal pride in never owing anyone any money.  So imagine my surprise when I missed the 3PM payment window on my substantial credit card balance last month!

I was angry at myself for being careless.  I don’t like to do the automated payment because I have to shift money around some times in order to pay the balance.  I didn’t call the card company for a reversal because there was some sort of odd integrity in which I held myself accountable for the lapse in carefulness.

I learned my lesson and I made sure to double check my payment date in the following cycle.  Imagine my horror when I got an email from Mint.com stating that I was charged a finance fee again!  This can’t be right.  I know I paid before the 3PM cutoff and when I checked the payment history the company seemed to agree that my payment looked good.

I was pleasantly surprised when the customer service representative (CSR) mentioned something about last month’s fee.  Without any prompting she said she would look into the fees and see if she could back them both out.  When the CSR returned to the line, she told me that she reversed over $250 worth of finance fees and I did not even have to ask for it.

Kudos to Chase for extending some quality customer service to a long time customer with a typically excellent payment history.

If you are a good customer you should use that to your advantage when dealing with these types of issues.  By keeping me happy, Chase may have lost $250 today but they will reap rewards long into the future.

smother them with positivity

I coach a couple of soccer teams and have learned a lot about leadership over the past few years.

My older team are a bunch of high schoolers.  Most are in 9th grade and a couple in 10th.  I can be myself with them more so than the younger kids.  I don’t curse on purpose but if one slips out, I am not worried about getting an email from an angry parent.  They are skilled and understand the game and at this point in their careers, my coaching is more guiding them back to what they already know rather than teaching them something new.  I think of myself as the bumpers on a kids bowling alley.  I really enjoy the time I spend with this group as they share stories about their day while we stretch before practice.

My other team is a bunch of 13 year olds who are testing limits and challenging authority constantly.  I used to get mad at them and felt like too much of my time was going into correcting behavior as well as playing mistakes.  I was spending too much time on fixing problems instead of celebrating successes.

This year I finally learned that constant correction creates an environment in which everyone is riding at the red line all of the time.  I was ready to pounce on problems which caused stress to the children; even to those who were not involved.

As I began to mellow out while still maintaining order, I saw improvements in behavior.  I saw attitudes improving an the soccer itself also improved.

Maybe shouldn’t have taken 10 years to learn how to become a better coach but, all of the lessons learned along the way brought me to this point where I am content.

Negativity on a team starts at the top.  Be sure to focus on the positives especially during a season when there might not be a lot to celebrate.  Focus on individual plays and players who are exceeding their previous abilities and contributing to the team.

Encourage players to support each other when mistakes are made and you will see player confidence grow.

The definition of failure as a parent or coach is when a player makes a mistake and looks to the sideline in anticipation of the commentary.

When we smother the kids with kindness we will build better teammates, players, and young adults.