The Marginal Utility of Time

I had dinner with a very dear friend last night. He had recently received a $264,000 job offer from a tech company up the street, but turned it down after receiving an even better offer elsewhere.

OH MY GOD, I said. Is that what people are making in the Bay Area these days??

You could easily land something similar, he said. I could recommend you for the position I turned down. You just have to promise not to quit your job again after four months. That would make me look bad.

Damn. I had to think about it pretty hard. When I was at Intel, I was working over 50 hours a week for less than half that salary. Adjust for taxes, benefits, and vacation time, and I’d estimate that I was pocketing at most $45 for each hour of work.

Chump change. The decision to quit was easy, because I derive more than $45 worth of enjoyment value for each hour that I spend to myself.

But just how much more? Now that I’m unemployed, it’s especially hard to compare the marginal utility of my time against the value of previous hours.

The job comes with free food, he said. (He knows me so well.)

If the job didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have to pay someone $264,000 a year to do it.

No, thank you, I said. My time is still worth more than that. I think.

Besides, golden handcuffs are very difficult to shed.
Golden handcuffs