Time versus money

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Let me state for the record that I’m all about saving a little money. I also love DIY stuff as long as it relates to some activity I enjoy and I’m confident I can’t purchase that DIY for less.

 

Social media like Facebook is ripe for blog content, and today’s post is no exception. I often come across questions like, “Does anyone use the Python water change system?” Typical answers are something like “Yes, they work great. But build your own and save a ton of money.” Really? Let’s break this down a little it. What follows operates under the assumption that you CAN afford to purchase a Python water change system. Not every one can (i.e., limited budget and higher priority expenses), and I understand that.

I don’t know about you, but in my book time is money. Though I don’t get paid by the hour in my job, I do have an hourly rate (i.e., what my salary equates to per hour in a typical work week). So even when I’m doing something like DIY, I have a monetary value that I set on my time.

Thus, whenever I’m about to undertake some kind of effort that I don’t do on a regular basis (i.e., not my occupational work, washing clothes, etc.), I look at the time it’s going to take me and compare that to what it would cost me to pay and have it done (service) or simply buy it (product). Sure, I can change out the faucet fixture in my sink, but after I factor in all the time it takes for me to go and purchase what I need to do it versus paying a plumber, it’s cheaper for me to pay the plumber. My time is worth something…and if it involves doing something I don’t enjoy, I’ll consider paying for the work versus doing it myself.

Now, back to the Python water change system. Yes, producing something similar may well cost less in parts than the actual Python system costs. But what about your time? If you spend an hour going to get what you need and another hour putting it all together, you’ve spent two hours on it. Unless you have nothing else better to do, you can’t convince me that it’s cheaper to actually build an equivalent Python system than it is to buy one when you factor in time.

A 25′ Python system costs ~$40 on Amazon. Unless you have all the pieces you need lying around somewhere, go try to buy 25′ of equivalent heavy duty hose that won’t kink, an inline ball valve, male and female connectors and a large plastic hose end for considerably less. Let’s assume you can do that for as little as $20 total. I don’t see that happening, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Now, let’s assume it takes you two hours total to purchase what you need and then assemble everything.

~$20 for parts. Two hours labor (travel time is included in the labor here). With a Python at $40, the cost difference in parts alone is ~$20. Now consider your two hours labor. That averages $10 an hour for the remaining $20. If your time is worth more than $10 an hour and you value your time, you lost money building your Python-like system. If your time is worth exactly $10 an hour, you’re even (assuming your Python version is as good or better than the real Python). If you make less than $10 an hour, you saved money but probably not much. If your time is worth nothing to you, then you saved ~$20. Of course all of this assumes that you don’t mind spending your time on such a DIY project.

Python makes a great product, and I don’t think they’re overpriced. So there is no way I would try to build my own because 1) I don’t have that much free time, 2) I would lose money when I factor in the value of my time, 3) Python’s system already does what I need as good or better than I could build an equivalent one.

To each his own, but we all only have so much time on earth. Would you rather just buy a Python or spend the two hours, which you’ll never get back, building something similar?

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