Saturday, May 20, 2006

Your Money: Never Mind the Clip-On Ties, Geek Squad Can Fix Your PC

From The NEW YORK TIMES: Economists say industrialized societies are spending less on the basics of life — food, clothing and shelter — and more on leisure pursuits. Indeed, Robert Fogel, the Nobel-winning economics professor from the University of Chicago, has gone so far as to predict that by 2040 it will take the average American household only 300 hours of work a year to supply its basic needs.

As leisure time becomes more valued, Americans are loath to give it up. We spend money to get more of it. How much we are willing to spend depends on what we make as well as a more intuitive process of how we measure what our leisure time is worth.

The results from two online calculators that determine what your time is worth may surprise you. Try or

First, your hourly rate may be lower than you think. For instance, someone making $70,000 a year, but who puts in 50 hours a week and commutes an hour each way, may discover the hourly rate is not $33, but about half that.

So does that mean you hire a handyman only when he costs less than $16 an hour? It's more complicated than that. With only about 12 hours of true leisure time a day, each precious hour is bought with more than 5 hours of work. According to the calculator, each hour of spare time would then be worth about $85.

How an economist measures the value of leisure time is inexact because do-it-yourselfers sometimes have a stronger motivation than saving money. They enjoy the process. Because seeking joy is less understood than seeking money, economists are still struggling to decide whether growing tomatoes or making drapes is rational

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