This is kind of driving me nuts. I can’t help but think of anything I spend money on as the equilvalent horurs’ worth of work I’d have to do to pay for them - so something like a $20 t-shirt makes me think, “man, this is two hours of work.”
At first, that seems like a good attitude - being conscious of the true cost of goods. But it’s driving me nuts, because I don’t think ANYTHING is worth the work, even necessitites. Did I really work an entire half-hour just for this hamburger? That seems insane!
Is this a logically sound way to think about the whole thing?
Up until the point where you apply it to your girlfriend, sure
Otherwise you’ll get all, like ‘Hey, I bought you this necklace which is 10 hours of my working time’ which could get her to thinking that she’s worth a lot more than 10 lousy hours, and the next thing you know you’re looking down the barrel of ‘it’s a month’s salary that lasts a lifetime’.
(In case it’s not clear, I’m joking. Don’t flame me.)
Seriously though, I occasionally do the same thing, and I find it makes life very depressing. So generally, I try not to think about it too much.
I’ve actually been doing this for a long time now… not that I’m currently employed, but when I was… and it really affected my purchasing habits.
I’m to the point now where I hardly buy ANYthing, because doing the effort/reward calculations shows that it’s really not worth the trouble.
Then again, I’ll still buy that half-hour hamburger. For some things, a third variable needs to be included: Desire.
If I want something in particular badly enough, even though it’s not technically ‘worth’ the ‘effort’, it still gets bought.
Sure, (at minimum wage) I just spent seven hours of work (which I’m not getting anyway) on a video game… but it’s a fun game, and I’ll spend much more than seven hours playing it (more time not earning money to pay for the game), so it wins. Barely. Geez, that IS depressing isn’t it? :eek:
I found it extremely useful when I was really poor. It was a more a “are you willing to work 5 hours for that??” Now that I made 2x to 3x the money, I don’t use it as much except for when I am trying to decide if I should buy something or not. I will look at the frivolous item I want, think of how many hours I had to work for it and then decide if I still want it.
It also makes me proud of how hard I’ve worked for the money I’ve earned. I have only a high school degree and I’ve worked my wage up from minimum to almost 3x that in less than two years. (that may not seem like much, but i am extremely limited in the places i can work) I paid for a dinner a month ago for me and a friend that cost $40. It was rather nice to sit there and think “Two years ago, I would have had to work an entire day to pay for this, but now I just have to work one shift and I have it plus extra.”
It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who does this!
And then I go it one better by, as another poster said, thinking of how many hours of enjoyment I’ll get out of it.
Well, let’s see, this novel is 7.99, but at the rate I have time to read, I’ll probably get a few weekends worth of reading and vegging out of it. Yeah, this rice and bourbon chicken is 6.99, but I it usually lasts for 2 more meals or snacks after the initial one, so really that’s 7 divided by 3, so it’s a good meal deal.
So, there are two variables to things I buy, how many hours I had to work to buy it, and how many hours it will provide as a 'return" so to speak. Clothing? Well, good work clothing is much more expensive than a guilty pleasure “bad” novel, but the return is much, much higher.
IMnsHO, it’s perfectly normal, I even did it when I was doing freelance for 90-200 an hour
Although I’m past the minimum wage slave portion of my life, I still do it sometimes, particularly with entertainment (if this movie costs me 20 minutes of salary, am I at least going to get 20 minutes of real entertainment from it?).
It’s also a handy guide for comparing different items, and a snappy comeback to “When I was your age, soda pop cost a nickel.”
Maybe I look at this a little differently, but for the most part, I enjoy my job so I don’t feel a need to compare the value of a particular good with time worked. On the other hand, I do sometimes use hours worked to justify more expensive things that I really have a strong desire to buy. I’ll think to myself…well this item is worth 1 day of work and that’s nothing so why not go ahead and buy it?
I only use this thought process on expensive, frivilous items. Ex: Madden 2005 costs $50 when it came out in August. I can now get it for about $20. However because of the amount of time I have played it between then and now it was worth it (to me) in terms of value. The fact that I’m a grown man playing video games is a whole 'nother thread.
That’s basically the whole premise behind the book, Your Money or your Life. (It’s a great book by the way.) I think it’s a pretty good attitude because you really stop and think about your expenditures and what’s really important to you: free time or more stuff.
Sure. That’s certainly what I did when my financial situation was a lot tighter than it is today, i.e., when I was living from paycheck to paycheck. Now since I can put most of my net income into savings or investments, there is not as direct a connection between potential purchases and work effort. Now I tend to compare a potential purchase with purchases of similar items. For example, suppose I normally spend about $50 for a nice dinner out for two. I’m now considering a new restaurant, so I check its menu, and see that a comparable dinner would cost me $100. So I have to decide if the food or experience at the new place is going to be worth twice as much as I’d normally spend.
I do this too, always have, even when working during University Vacations. If your restaurant lunch costs half a days wages you quickly start packing sandwiches instead. Mind you when your pay gets to a sertain point it can be easy to waste money. When I played Magic the Gathering, a booster pack cost only a few minutes work, so I ended up buying lots of booster packs.
There’s a story about Nelson Bunker Hunt doing what might be called the inverse of this. He was quite fond off cigars, and of course could readily afford the best. But he gave them up suddenly one day: it seems he worked out what the value to him was of the time it took to smoke one - it came to $15,000.
I hate to tell you this but you’re both underestimating labor cost. If you want to look at labor dollars then you should really look at disposable income dollars per hour.
Example: you work 40 hrs a week at $10/hr and end up with $50 after taxes and living expenses. This is your disposable income. Divide the $50 by the 40 hrs worked and you are actually working at the rate of $1.25/hr for lifestyle purchases. :eek: :eek: :eek:
I think it’s a perfectly valid way of looking at things and, whats more, an economically rational one. IMHO, too many people either underestimate the worth of their labour and end up accumulating too much stuff and not enough time. It becomes even more apparent when you accumulate the purchases over a period of time. If you grab a starbucks $4 coffee every morning, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, thats $1000 or about two weeks wages after tax in a middle class job. By not drinking coffee in the morning, you could about double your vacation time.
I think the concept of seeing prices in terms of after-tax hourly labor cost is helpful, although I don’t use it much. But what I’ve sometimes wondered about is the mirror image of that: Do people who work at jobs where they bill by the hour (lawyers particularly, but also mechanics, plumbers, etc.) have trouble taking time off, or even enjoying hobbies, because they are able to calculate exactly how much it’s costing them not to work? If a lawyer billing $400 an hour (I know he doesn’t keep it all, but still) spends a morning playing golf or an evening at his kid’s school play, does he hear a little bell going “ka-ching, ka-ching”?