Round-Up: Spousonomics, Simple Dollar and Your Minimum Wage

Lots of reading material this week! First, over at the Spousonomics blog (the website of the book by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson), I’m featured as part of the Writers in Love series. Paula calls 168 Hours “the most motivational book I’ve ever read” (awww….). In the interview, I talk about how my husband I make time for each other (sometimes) and split the housework. Bonus: my usual glamour author shot didn’t work with Paula’s blog template, so I just had the photo that accompanies this piece snapped in my living room on a day I hadn’t showered. Enjoy!

Next up: Over at The Simple Dollar, Trent posts a review of 168 Hours. The review is one of the reasons I love the internet. In a print (on dead tree) review, you’d never be able to post chapter abstracts due to limited space, but this is actually quite helpful to readers figuring out if they want to read a book. Instead of just telling the overall theme, you see if there are specific issues that chapters will address that you find pertinent. I wish more people did this. Anyway, Trent was very kind, summing up the book as such:

The idea that we’re under a “time crunch” is a myth. The real crisis all of us are under is more along the lines of misuse of time. We spend our time doing things that aren’t very high on our real personal priority list. It’s not just the time we waste doing unimportant stuff. It’s also the time we spend being productive towards ends that really don’t mean very much in our life.

Trent has grasped the key distinction. Frankly, I don’t think the real time suck in life is the fact that you played Angry Birds for an hour last night. The real time suck is if you’re in the wrong job, or if you’re telling yourself that parents just can’t do things like play the piano or write novels or actually have fun with their kids because it’s more important that they clean the house or pack lunches. So please tweet and FB share that link around!

As usual, I have two BNET posts up this week. It is actually possible I might cross 100,000 visits at that blog this month, so I’d appreciate your comments and FB “likes” on these posts as well. On Tuesday, I asked “What’s Your Minimum Wage?” Drawing on the Money Saving Mom’s post last fall on “Why I Don’t Make Homemade Tortillas,” I discussed the idea that time has an opportunity cost. When you do things yourself in order to save money, it’s important to look at how much time it takes you. If you’re saving $2/hour, this is way below the federal minimum wage. Which is fine if you love doing whatever it is. But if you’re trying to save money, you should actually save money. (A more provocative question: why do people who bill $100/hour wait in a 30-minute line on Ben & Jerry’s free cone day?)

Anyway, as usual, I heard from people who seem to think I misunderstand opportunity cost. They insist that people are only willing to pay them $40/hour between 8AM and 5PM, and hence their time outside the workday has no value. This reminds me that I need to be sure to explain the concept well in Plenty. It is intuitive to me since I work for myself and work by the project, so any given hour can be pretty clearly translated into extra cash if I wanted. I understand how people who have salaries and set hours might not see this as clearly. But, in short, if you could moonlight or freelance, if you could work overtime or a second job, if you could spend an hour figuring out how you’d ask for a raise, or a few evenings pondering how you’d score your next promotion, or even if you just value your leisure time because you work hard then yes, your time outside 8AM to 5PM has an opportunity cost as well. Saving $2/hour by making your own tortillas is not its highest value use.

Then on Thursday, I asked “What Makes A Company A Cool Place To Work?” Yet another survey has found that Google is the most awesome place ever. A full 25% of young professionals said it was their ideal employer. But this makes no sense. No where close to 25% of us are software engineers, and yes there are support and sales and management roles at Google, but not all of us do that either. If you’re a musician, architect, botanist, writer, or any of a host of other lines of work, Google is not going to be your ideal employer. What surveys like this one (which listed Google, Apple and Walt Disney as the top three employers) really constitute is a popularity contest. I’ve used products from all three companies this morning, as have many people. But name recognition does not, by itself, make some place the right employer for you.

Finally, a little creative writing:


Outside, winter sits like a cough that’s stayed too long.

Slush lingers past the ides of March and everywhere people grip their coats.

Inside, the boy snatches at drugstore Easter eggs.

At eye level, there and not for taking, she says to his screaming,

not for taking,

not yet.


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