How Long To Earn It Exercise

One of the most effective ways for me to determine if I should buy something is asking myself, how many hours do I need to spend working to buy XYZ product? Do I want to work that long for XYZ item? We are bombarded every day with a constant barrage of advertising telling us about the latest gadget, car, clothes, house we must have to make our lives complete. We must remember this is a mirage and illusion to separate you from your hard earned money. There are ways to make your life “complete” without all the material trappings constantly being hawked. Let’s look at some common items and determine about how long we have to work to have that item: Let’s assume a person is making $40/hour. Let’s remove $10 for taxes and medical benefits and assume you get to keep and use $30 from each hour worked.


$20,000 car (plus $2,000 in taxes and fees), $22k. Most people finance a car and that will add several thousand in interest payments, so let’s assume $25k. It will take our fictional worker/consumer 833 hours to earn that car. Or about 20 straight weeks of work. Add another 2 weeks of work for the gas and maintenance each year. Keep in mind this is working every single day and every single hour for over 5 months would be spent paying for the car. No extra money for anything! That is almost half a year of your life!


$600 phone, plus $100/month, $1,800. It will take 60 hours of work to earn that phone.


Housing is a whopper! It takes a crazy amount of our lives to pay for expensive housing! $400,000 house, plus $100,000 in finance charges, plus $150,000 in taxes over 30 years. It will take 21,666 hours of work to earn that house. 541 weeks, or about 10 straight years of work where all that you paid for was the house.


The point of this exercise is to think about purchases in a different way. Think about them in terms of your time and how long it takes you to earn money. Everyone’s numbers will be a little different, but this may be great inspiration and mindset to reduce costs in areas where possible. It might make a person re think a purchase before making it. Is that new TV, computer, house, car worth all that time from your life? It might be, but better to ask the question in advance!

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