Call for Contributions: Implied Marginal Value of Time from Good/​Services

If you buy a good or ser­vice with the hope that do­ing so will save you time, then do­ing so cre­ates a lower bound on the marginal value of your time. For ex­am­ple, if you ex­pect that filing your taxes by hand will take 5 hours, and filing your taxes with a tax-prepa­ra­tion soft­ware like Tur­boTax will take you 1 hour, and this soft­ware costs $50, and you are neu­tral be­tween filing taxes by hand or by soft­ware, then the you should buy the soft­ware if and only if you value the marginal unit of your time at or above .

Ra­tion­al­ists do these kinds of calcu­la­tions all the time, but as far as I can tell, they aren’t writ­ten down. This is bad, be­cause a) ev­ery­one has to redo the math and b) com­ing up with ways to save time is hard. I just cre­ated a spread­sheet where I’m go­ing to put all of the value-of-time re­sults I com­pute from now on, and would ap­pre­ci­ate it if oth­ers con­tributed to this sheet. Ideally, we’d get the sheet to the point where when­ever the value of your time changes, you sort the time­savers by that value, and then you can start/​stop buy­ing most of the eas­ily available time­savers for the new value.