This is the ninth part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of Your Money or Your Life. Want to know more?
If the “real hourly wage” calculation earlier in the book wasn’t tangible enough for you, this portion of the book makes it incredibly tangible.
In that earlier example, I used a straw man that makes $12.50 an hour over a 40 hour workweek. However, when you actually look at that person’s life, that person actually makes $7.06 an hour over a workweek just under 60 hours.
What’s the point? Let’s say that person has a taste for video games and picks up a new game for his Wii for $50. On the surface, that person will say, “Well, I worked 4 hours at $12.50 an hour to earn the money, so I’m trading four hours of my life for the game.” In reality, though, the trade is much more painful. Given the person’s true wage at $7.06 an hour, that video game actually cost him more than 7 hours of his life.
It gets scarier when you look at a truly big purchase. Let’s say our straw man buys a car for $10,000. To own that car, he must give away 1,416 hours of his life. Every time he fills up his 12 gallon tank at $2.70 a gallon, he trades four and a half hours of his life for the gas.
What about a trip to Vegas? He goes on a weekend trip with some pals and burns $2,000. Just to pay for that weekend of fun, he loses 283 hours of his life.
When you start thinking of things in terms of the hours of your life wasted to pay for them (using that real hourly wage you calculated earlier), a lot of consumer goods start to seem like a real waste of money. Was that one weekend in Vegas worth seven weeks’ worth of eight hour work days?
Try doing this in your own life. Figure up your true hourly wage, then take the cost of one of the most frivolous things in your house and divide it by that wage. That’s how many hours of your life you spent paying for that item. Go through several items like this and ask yourself is that item really worth all of those lost hours working?
I know for me it isn’t, and that simple fact has become a life-changer in terms of my relationship with my money.
Tomorrow, we’ll dig into the fourth chapter, entitled “How Much Is Enough? The Nature of Fulfillment.” This is a very thought-provoking chapter, so we’re going to start off slow, surprisingly slow. We’ll read the fourth chapter up until the “Question 1” heading, which appears on pages 109 through 112 in my paperback version of the book.