Economics of the movie In Time

In Time Poster

If you haven’t seen the movie In Time (2011) before, I would highly recommend it. What I really loved is their literal interpretation of how time is money and is a form of currency in this alternate world. So, to quickly summarize the movie, everything is paid by and for in time. You work to gain hours and minutes and you pay for things in hours and minutes.

I always love figuring out the math and economics behind these movies just to make sense of it all. When Will is gifted 116 years, exactly how much is that worth in the real world? When his mom can’t afford the bus, how much is that worth?

Although we’ll never know those exact numbers, there are tons of clues as to how much time is really worth to real life.


So for a quick background if you haven’t seen the movie before, after the age of 25, everyone gets 1 free year (or 525,600 minutes) and the clock starts counting down from there. You stop aging at 25 but once you run out of time, you “time out” or die. Everything is paid for in time. A cup of coffee is 4 minutes and a bus ride is 30.

In Time Arm
Right when Will turned 25, his clock started counting down. The format in the arm is YYYY-WW-DD-HH-MM-SS.

How much is time worth in money?

So how much is time really worth? I created a simple table showing some of the time currencies that were used. Based on that, I believe that a minute worth $0.05 is the most reasonable amount.

In $ Amounts
Dayton1MinutesGirl begging$0.05
Dayton1.65Minutes99 Second Shop$0.08
Dayton4MinutesCup of Coffee$0.20
Dayton30MinutesLunch from Mom$1.50
Dayton60Minutes6 Pack of Beer$3.00
Unknown120MinutesBus ride to Dayton$6.00
Dayton360MinutesWill's shift (net)$18.00
Dayton2880MinutesDesperately pawns her jewerly$144.00
Dayton60969600Minutes116 Year Gift from Henry Hamilton$3,048,480.00
Dayton5256000Minutes10 Year Gift from Will to Borel$262,800.00
All525600MinutesEveryone get's 1 year after 25$26,280.00
All525600MinutesCross Time Zone$26,280.00
New Greenwich86400MinutesStandard night hotel room$4,320.00
New Greenwich95760MinutesFancy breakfast$4,788.00
New Greenwich525600MinutesNon-Member Casino Fee$26,280.00
New Greenwich31010400MinutesFancy car$1,550,520.00
New Greenwich131400000MinutesAfter moderate gambling at casino$6,570,000.00
New Greenwich578160000MinutesAfter winning big at the casino$28,908,000.00

Dayton Girl asking for time: 1 Minute or $0.05

Dayton Girl
A young Dayton girl asks for a minute ($0.05) and Will generously gives her 5 ($0.25).

6-Pack of Beer: $3 & 99-Second Shop: $0.08

In Time Billboard
A 6-Pack of Brevit beer costs an expensive $3! Perhaps tax on alcohol is horrendously large. However, right beside it, the 99-second shop (which is equal to $0.08) is alot more reasonably priced.

Coffee Menu

Coffee Prices
Coffee: $0.20
Coffee Plus: $0.30
Coffee X: $0.40
Black Tea: $0.19
Energy 16 oz: $0.32
Energy 21 oz: $0.45
Again, those are pretty reasonable prices especially when a six pack is $3!

Will’s Workshift: 6 Hours (net) or $18

In Time Work
The top picture shows his clock right after his mom gives him 30 minutes for a nice lunch. The bottom picture is his clock after he claims his time and didn’t meet this week’s quota. I am assuming an additional hour which is spend on lunch, coffee, perhaps other minor things. He basically earned $18 for his shift, which is very low. However, it is reasonable considering Dayton is supposed to be today’s real world ghetto. Had he met the quota, there would probably be a slight bonus to put him over $20.

Bus Ride to Dayton: 2 Hours or $6

Bus Ride Dayton
This does seem like an expensive bus ride given all the prices so far. However, Rachel Salas did mention that it would have been a 2 hour walk. That distance is roughly 10 KM or over 6 miles. It is reasonable if she had to cross time zones. The only thing I’m at gripes with is that she actually had to travel to pay off her debt. Perhaps it was an under-the-table loan to loan sharks or gangs?

Henry Hamilton: 116 Years or $3 million

In Time Henry Hamilton
Now this guy is absolutely loaded in Dayton! People there were barely getting by working for $20 and he comes strolling around with $3 million outside his pocket’s, literally!

Gift to good friend: 10 Years or $262,000

In Time Will's Gift to Borel
As you can see, Will is a very generous man. Without hesitation, he gives his good friend $262,000 from his good fortunes.

Time Zone to New Greenwich: 1 Year or $26,000

In Time Border Zone
No wonder it is near impossible for an average Dayton resident to cross borders! People barely earn $20 a day and they are asked for fork over $26,000 cross zones!

Hotel Room: 2 Months or $4,300

Standard Hotel Room New Greenwich
Immediately, you see how inflated prices are in New Greenwich. $4,300 for a standard room for a night in a nice hotel. Still, it is possible he is paying full door price in a almost booked out night.

Breakfast: 9.5 Weeks or $4,800

In Time Breakfast
Of the whole movie, this is the only issue I have. When a hotel costs $4,300 and morning breakfast ran him almost 5 grand? Again, it does show 2 Champagne glasses…perhaps he order 2 rounds of Ace of Spades?

Casino Entrance Fee: 1 Year or $26,000

In Time Casino Entrance Fee
Again, this casino is definitely not for your average person when an entrance fee runs you over $26 grand! It is probably the equivalent of an ultra high roller casino somewhere in Macao.

Luxury Car: 59 Years or $1,500,000

Luxury Car
This car is equivalent in price to a Bugatti Veyron…

Casino Networth: 250 Years or $6,570,000

Casino Networth
After some sessions of poker, presumably, he manages to convert his $3 million to a hefty sum of $6.5 million.

Casino Big Payout: 1100 Years or $28,900,000

In Time Casino Bet
Now this is what you’ve all been looking for. At the casino he risks his entire stake (including his life) against Philippe. In the end, he beats him with a straight and wins 1100 Years. That amounts to almost $30 million! Now we are talking about money!


All in all, it was a very enjoyable movie. Most of the prices made sense with the exception of that ultra luxury breakfast…The price analysis definitely did put things into better perspective.

Again, if you haven’t seen the movie, I would definitely recommend it!

One thought on “

Economics of the movie In Time”

  1. One thing you could do with this currency system is to work as hard as you can for some years and spend as little time as possible.
    You will have an extreme amount of time with you, after that you go to some jungle and live there for the rest of your life.
    Life on a jungle sucks and is hard, but there is another thing that sucks alot and its called dying.

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