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Time is Money: Using dollars per hour to waste less time


I earned so much money in so little time 2 years ago.

When I was studying in Japan, I was given the chance to be a dancing instructor to some Japanese kids in Gunma.

These kids were studying ballet, and for ballet, they need perfect form to do their graceful moves.

I, however, was more of the Jazz Hip-Hop kind of guy: my movements were fluid, freeform, and basically the opposite of what they do.

It was hard to communicate, and they weren’t used to my kind of performing. It was fun though! They learned a lot 🙂 and I did too, esp. with my Japanese!

As it was a job, the teacher at the time who was helping me paid me a huge amount: 8000 Yen for a 2-hour dance class! That’s like, RM300 in 2 hours (I’m Malaysian, gotta use them RMs). That’s a lot of money (for me at least).

So was it worth it?

Yes, yes it was.

I was teaching something I love, the kids had fun, and it was all awesome!

And, being the greedy guy that I am, I got money.

How is this relevant to us now? The lesson here is:

The quality of time you spend earning money can be measured in dollars per hour.

Why bother about time?

You’re young. You have a job. You have some money, just enough.

Maybe it’s not enough, you want more. You’re considering an extra side income. You want to save up for something.

The reasons might differ.

Here’s something to think about: Do you want more time?

I might have mentioned this before in a previous article: Investing not only provides more money, It gives you more time!

That is, it gives your time back to be more precise. How?

By thinking of your time as $/hour, you will start to realize how valuable your time is as you spend it.


Let’s take a Malaysian example (Using RM currency from here on, but you can swap it with any currency you want):

Average graduate salary: RM2500 a month.

In 30 days, including weekends, which consist of:

30 x 24 = 720 hours

RM 2500 / 720 = RM3.47 / hour.

The average graduate spends their time earning RM3.47 per hour.

That doesn’t sound like much, right? I can find that in my pocket. Every hour, I get only enough to fill my pocket. It’s pocket change.

Here’s another example:

Take a RM12 coffee. A graduate buys that coffee. He/she drinks it. Awesome.

The graduate has just spent around 3.5 hours of their life to buy a RM12 coffee.

It blew my mind. I could spend 3.5 hours in meetings, doing write-ups, sleeping, eating (I eat a lot)Did I work (eat) hard for 3.5 hours, just to get one cup of coffee?

That’s a lot of time used just to buy one cup.

It’s a delicious amount of time though.

So what?

Let’s stick with this example. Say you buy this coffee every weekday before work.

If you keep buying your coffee, say for example one cup every weekday, you spend:

(3.5 hours) x (5 cups) = 17.5 approximate hours a week buying 5 coffees.


That means 17.5 hours of your life in the office: doing your job, going to meetings, talking to your boss, etc. just so you can get coffee to survive the day, every weekday.

One whole day awake, for 5 coffees. Let that sink in.

Now is a good time to reflect on your purchasing habits: What do you always eat? What do you always buy? Do you go on a shopping spree all the time?

Was it worth it?

I’m bamboozled! What should I do?

It’s quite a mind-blowing thing to assess all your purchases this way.

For example, I used to buy coffee all the time in the morning with a double shot before I come to the office. After finding out that I spend around that many hours for each coffee, I had to stop to think.

I valued my time more.

I needed to take action: I had to find a way to make my coffees ‘time-affordable’.

Here are some alternatives:

  1. If you buy the coffee 3 times a week instead, you save RM24, the equivalent of 7 of your work hours. This can be used for other things!
  2. If you don’t buy your weekday coffee in the first place, you save RM60 aka. 17.5 hours of your work life, which can then be used to spend on way more things! You might suffer during work though. Not everybody can function without coffee (aka. moi).

It’s important to do this often. Once you know how much time it takes to buy something, you can improve it!

Weekends count too!

There’s a reason why I included weekends in the calculation: you can still earn money in the weekend!

Have a side gig? Great! Your RM/hour is higher then.

Do you have stocks you’re earning money from? Awesome!

Free time outside of work hours? Go and volunteer, or even better, freelance! When you volunteer, you might get more opportunities to find work 🙂

There’s bound to be someone who’s in need of your skills.

On that note, here’s a suggestion:

If you find a way to invest in your income, you can spend fewer hours for the same price! If you find ways to earn money beyond your main job, your RM/hour will increase and you will spend less time on your things!

We all love money, so how do you do no. 3? Invest! Set aside your wealth, make your money work for you & and you’ll see that your RM/Hour will increase!

Reminder: Money, Study, Time

Remember the initial 3 points in the other article? Money, study, time. This is the time aspect:

Is your time worth that much to you?

Knowing how much time you spend just to buy simple things like petrol and food is very important.

Why? Because true freedom is getting loads of money without working so hard for it. 

I don’t want to work hard. I want to work smart.

If I work smart, I can spend less time to earn more.

I want to spend my time better.

I want you to do the same.

Do you have a goal for RM/Hour? What will you do to achieve it? Share your ideas with us below, maybe you can help others achieve the same 🙂