How long did it take you to buy your lunch?

I don’t mean how long did it take you to walk or drive to a restaurant, wait in line, pay, eat, and come back to work.  I mean how much time did you spend working to pay for that $10 lunch you just ate?

Say you make $50,000 a year.  After tax that might be $37,500.  If you work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year that’s 2,080 hours year.  (I know this leaves out vacation and holidays, but I’m just estimating here anyway.

So, $37,500 divided by 2,080 hours is about $18 an hour after tax.  It takes you 1/18th or about 3.3 minutes to make $1 at your job.

That coffee you had this morning costs you 6 minutes.  You might spend 55 hours of every month working to pay your mortgage.  That new dress would be 5.5 hours.  If you buy a $20,000 car it will cost you about 1,000 hours of your life.  More if you take out a loan to buy it and pay interest.

Most of us don’t really get paid by the hour any more, but for some reason we’re still expected to stay in the office for 40 plus hours a week.  I was thinking about how much time I spend in the office the other day and how that related to the amount of money we make.

So, I did the math.  I figured out how much time I have to spend in my cubicle for one dollar based on a 40 hour work week.  It takes me about 3 minutes of cubicle time to make one dollar.

It can be pretty staggering to look at something in a store or online that I want to buy and think about how long it would take me to make enough money to afford it.  It’s even worse when you think about how much time you spend working just to afford the basics like rent, food, electricity, and heat.

Transportation is even worse.  Say you spend $50 on gas getting to and from work every week.  That’s about 2.5 hours a week spent working.  Then maybe $100 on car insurance in a month.  That’s another hour a week.  And don’t forget the $200 monthly car payment for another 2.5 hours a week.  That ends up being about 6 hours a week you spend at your desk working just so that you can spend 5 hours that week sitting in traffic waiting to get to and from work.

It can be depressing to think about this, but it really helps me keep my unnecessary spending to a minimum.  Sitting in a cubicle all day is obviously not something that I get very excited about so when I go to buy something I don’t need, I can think “wow, that cost me x number of minutes to buy that”.

Figure out your own number.  Write it down or save it in your phone.  Next time you go to buy that new TV or car figure out just what you are giving up to get it.

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