Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Money versus time taken to earn it: I think I have finally 'got' it

It is a reasonably common piece of personal finance advice that it helps to think of money in terms of how long it would take you to earn the price of an item or experience that you are considering buying.

I've read this tip often, and made some use of it, but found it of limited use when I had a full-time job. It was an intellectual rather than emotional understanding. I had to go to work exactly as much anyway, regardless of how much I spent, I had some spare money, and buying the treat made me feel - albeit very temporarily - better about life and about my job.

Now, though, partly because I have just read 'Your Money or Your Life', which I will write about more later, and partly because I'm now dependent primarily on my husband's self-employed income, this suddenly makes a lot more sense. It has really come home to me that for each say £100 spent, this equates to a unit of his time that could either be saved, or used to buy time off for him at some later date.

If I spent say £10 a week on sweets, coffees and the like, which would not be at all difficult, it would take him more than a day a year of hard work to earn the money to pay for my treats. That really horrified me, as it feels like a terrible use of J's time and energy - I think I have now 'got' this concept. I'm not saying I'll never buy a coffee or packet of sweets again, but I hope I will only do so where I really want to, and as a treat, rather than as a habit.

Correction: it would actually take well over 2 days for J to earn the money for my treats, at this rate. (I knew this really, but somehow could not compute!)

1 comment:

  1. That's a good way to think, but don't forget about yourself -- it's not just about income. If you are not earning much at the moment, then I presume you are mostly at home doing cooking, housework, reorganising etc. or else trying to develop an income. I.e., you too are spending time on home support activities, in which case you should factor it in to your calculations and enjoy your treats (not too many sweets, though). -SG