Benjamin Spall

Our Only Real Currency

Time is our only real currency. Work out the value of your time and you’ve got it made.

Sure, you may have been hit by a few extra bills this month. You may have had an accidental shopping spree during those two hours you had free in the city—but this rule still applies.

Let’s say the bus home is $1.00, and the train home is $3.00. Riding the bus, it will take you approximately one hour to get home. If you choose to take the train, on the other hand, you will be home within twenty minutes.

What had you planned to do when you get home? Do you want to spend some quality time with your kids, work on an independent project, or simply wind-down and relax?

Sure, by taking the bus you’re saving $2.00, but by taking the train you’re saving forty minutes. How much is forty minutes worth to you?

People often try to rationalise small savings by quoting the amount you would save over a week, a month, or even further out. If you were to take the bus twice a day over a five-day work week you would save $20.00 over taking the train. In exchange for that $20.00, by taking the train you would save 6 hours and 40 minutes.

Over a one-month period you would save approximately $80.00 by taking the bus. In exchange for that $80.00, taking the train would save you 26 hours and 40 minutes. Or in other words, more than a day.

This is just an example—real prices and time frames have not been used, and for all I know your bus journey to and from work may be the most productive part of your day.

The rule still applies. What is your time worth to you? ∎

Benjamin Spall is the co-author of My Morning Routine (Portfolio/Penguin). He has written for outlets including the New York Times, New York Observer, Quartz, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.

How to Reference this Article

Spall, B. (2011, July 1). Our Only Real Currency. Retrieved from