The High Cost of Things

I guess I have to start off with an apology. I really haven’t had much time to dedicate to my blog as of late and sadly, it has gone a bit dormant. When I realized that it had been almost 3 weeks since I wrote last I felt kind of sad. I have enjoyed blogging immensely. It has been such a nice way to connect with my friends and family, and it’s nice to be journaling again, but with my new job, it’s simply been too difficult to make it a priority. I am working for a software company which allows me the flexibility to work from home, and the work is the kind that can be picked away at here and there, and it is also paid out hourly. This means, though, that every hour I spend working on my blog is an hour I could have been paid. So that brings us to the point of today’s topic: money and its equivalent in time.

Years ago someone gave me sage advice to help curb the urge to spend. It’s maybe the best financial advice I ever received! They told me to look at every item in a store, not by the dollar value on the price tag, but by how many hours of your life you would have had to have worked to pay for it. This was like a light bulb going off for me. I make a decent wage, but I value my time off and so when you start looking at items as costing you hours in your day it’s amazing how much less you want to buy something. A new pair of shoes that costs $150 doesn’t seem too bad until you realize that’s more than a half day’s work (or for someone on minimum wage, almost 2 entire days) and that doesn’t take into account deductions! Would I have rather had the morning off to spend with my family and friends or the new pair of shoes? And then if you start looking at fancy, designer brands you realize how much less you care about them. It’s one thing to shell out a half days work for a pair of reasonably priced, good quality shoes that you can wear for a couple of years. It’s an entirely different beast to shell out a week’s salary on a pair of beaded designer pumps that you can wear once or twice before they go out of style. I know with certainty how much I value a week of vacation. WAY MORE THAN A PAIR OF SHOES!!!!

If you break it down further, it’s kind of like when you’re doing price comparisons in the grocery store.  I’m sure most people know that there’s small print on the price tag that tells you how much you spend per unit. For example you’re comparing a 900g bag of pasta to a 400g bag and it tells you the price per gram. Well, I start to think about everything in terms of the price (measured by hours of my life I have to spend at work) per amount of use. So those $150 shoes that I’ll wear every day for two years only cost me about 20 cents per wear, which is negligible in terms of hours at work(especially if I need the shoes). The crazy expensive shoes that you wear twice (We’ll look at the most expensive shoes I’ve ever seen as an example. These were $300 per shoe. Seriously….who knew you could buy a single shoe, but it’s true! I’m sure that somewhere out there even more expensive shoes exist)  are now $300 per wear (or 1-2 days of work without deductions!). Considering those shoes will probably only stay on your feet for an hour or two, the shoes cost more money per hour than some lawyers do!

Looking at buying things this way has really added perspective. $25 for a new toy for Finlay or take an hour off to spend time with him? Spend $200 on an ipod or take the day off? I’d love the ipod, but how much am I going to use it anyway? How much would I like to have more time off to be with Finlay, or my husband, or my friends?! It all comes down to priorities. I think as a whole, people definitely need to ask themselves every time they buy something, “Do I really need this?” “Is this worth as much or more than the time it takes to earn the money to pay for this?” One rule of thumb that I wish I followed more is to walk away from every purchase, no matter how badly you want it or think you need it. Go home, mull it over and if the next day you still think it’s worth it, then go buy it.

As a vet, I would see people constantly refusing treatment for their pets because it was too expensive, but they were driving Hummers, or carrying Coach bags, or had beautifully manicured gel nails. Thank goodness in Canada we don’t have to pay for our own or our children’s health care. I shudder to think about what things people would put ahead of health.  “Nah Doc, I don’t really need my pinky finger, but reattach my thumb, I use it for texting on my iphone and I’m locked into a 3 year contract.” Anyway, as usual, I digress. On that note, I have come full circle. While blogging may not make me any money, it is something I enjoy, and so perhaps instead of spending frivolously on an ipod, I’ll work a little less and spend a little more time doing the things I enjoy. Because, after all, “the most important things in life aren’t things.” So, hopefully I’ll see you back here sooner, rather than later.

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