How Much Time Will This Cost Me?

June 14, 2019

Calculate your own true hourly “wage” and use it to stop and think before your next purchase.

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I believe a happier life can be achieved through mindful money habits. It's not just about how much money you make; it's about how you use it!


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When you buy something, you're ultimately trading your time for it. So how much time are you willing to spend?
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Whenever you purchase something, you trade money for that item or experience. At that moment, the trade seems worth it (otherwise you would not purchase it). But have you ever considered what you are actually ultimately trading? Have you ever asked yourself “How much time will this cost me?”

For the vast majority of people, money represents time they traded in order to get paid. That part can be easy to forget. [If you’ve found a way to get paid for offering nothing, please shoot me a message and tell the world your secret].

Purchases happen in the present, right at the second you make them. You feel that part, and since there’s an immediate association the “price” we view in dollars.

However, you paid for that DOLLAR with TIME (by working to earn it).

If you’re spending money you actually have, you’re spending hours you’ve already worked. However, if you’re paying with debt you’re literally trading your future time for a purchase today. The bill will come due; it always needs to be paid.

In the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin they explain “Money is something we choose to trade our life energy for. Our life energy is our allotment of time here on earth, the precious life available to us. When we go to our jobs we are trading our life energy for money”.

So, how much time will this cost me?

It’s not as simple as you might think.

Say you make $20 an hour, and something costs $20. You might argue that it will take an hour to get that item. That’s one way of looking at it, but I would argue that’s not true for your life.

There are things you HAVE to buy. A roof over your head, groceries, utilities like heat/electricity. To be healthy and safe, you need them.

Let’s walk through a very simplified example.

Joe makes $20 an hour (let’s pretend that’s after taxes for simplicity). He works 40 hour weeks. Therefore in a month Joe makes $3200 ($20 x 40 hours x 4 weeks).

Joe’s rent costs $1000, food costs $400, and utilities are $150. His necessary bills come to $1550.

Therefore, out of the $3200 that Joe earns monthly he only actually has $1650 left to “choose” with. Divide that $1650 by Joe’s hours worked (160) and Joe makes $10.31 hourly that he actually has the ability to spend somewhere.

All of a sudden that $20 item actually costs Joe ~2 hours.

A $5 latte costs Joe ~30 minutes.

As always, I’m not suggesting that the item or latte aren’t worth trading that much of your life. It’s personal finance; the choice is yours. I’m just saying stop and decide for yourself whether they actually are.

Time is what we want most, but what we use the worst
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Calculate your own “true” hourly wage and use it to stop and think before your next purchase. How much time will this cost me?

If there’s one thing I hate wasting above all other things, it’s time.

You have no idea how much time you get. You may be able to calculate your salary and make guesses about your income, but you will never know how much time you have left.

Don’t waste your money on things that aren’t worth your life. That’s ultimately what you’re paying with after all.

For a list of all articles I’ve written click here

When you buy something, you're ultimately trading your time for it. How much time are you willing to spend?
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  1. […] I remember thinking that I viewed life so differently. I love the small things: Baking, getting outside with my dog, being active, lazy coffee mornings. What I wanted was time and fun, not more things. […]

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