Ping-Ko Chiu


Software Engineer,
Location Technologies @ Apple
pingkochiu [at]

11 June 2022

The price of my free time

by Ping-Ko Chiu

— Thinking about how much my free time is worth

This came up as I was debating whether I should pick a more expensive flight option that saves me time.

If I simply assume price of work time = price of free time, then the calculation is simple — salary/(total work time in a year). But I am salaried so I cant just clock in more hours to get paid more. It is not a straight equality. It takes additional upfront cost to find a side gig that pays. It also probably doesn’t pay as much as my primary job. When considered this way, my free time should probably be worth less than my work time.

But that is how much people are willing to pay me for my time. How much am I willing to be paid for my time? Suppose I could find a secondary job that pays me the same or more outside of my primary job, will I take it? Unless the pay is much more, I probably wont take it. Outside of the essentials like sleeping, eating, and etc, I probably spend more time working than when I’m not. Work can be stressful and tiring. I need time to recover and focus on other things in life. I also enjoy spending time on my other passions. This may change down the line, but, for now, I enjoy my free time and might even want more of it. So when considered in this way, my free time may be worth even more than my work time.

What if I use my vacation time at work to take a flight? The alternative is to save that vacation time to go on a getaway, to see my loved ones, or to explore the wilderness with friends. Each of these have a different value to me. My vacation pay is fixed regardless of what I do with it. So the opportunity cost of spending it on taking a longer flight is spending it on the other options. For me, I’d much rather spend that time with my loved ones on an adventure.

These reasons bring me to put a higher dollar value on my free time than my work time.

No, the cheaper flight is not worth it.

tags: Life