Paying With Hours Of Your Life

What if you didn’t pay for things with money? Instead those items were paid for with the hours of your life?

Would you still buy it?

“When you buy something, you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of your life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing money can’t buy. Life only gets shorter, and it is pitiful to waste one’s life and freedom that way.”

José Mujica, Former President of Uruguay 

Is it worth being part of a consumerist polluting society when it costs you your freedom and the health of the environment?

The Average Wage

According to the ABS, the average Australian weekly wage is $1,604 or $83,408 for the year.

If we reduce that amount by income tax and the medicare levy, using the MoneySmart Income Tax Calculator, the average Australian is left with $1213 per week.

Then, if this every day Aussie works a 38 hour week, they are on an hourly rate of a little over $31 per hour.

Want that new iPhone X for $1,229 – then it will cost you 39 hours of your life.

The iPhone X will cost the average Australian 39 hours of their life.
iPhone X

Wouldn’t you rather spend that 39 hours with family and friends having experiences rather than material possessions?

In today’s world a smart phone is an integral part of modern life, but do you really need the latest model?

The True Cost of Things

Based on the average Australian wage example of $31 per hour, let’s have a look at the true cost of some other items.

Levis jeans at $129.95 will cost you over four hours of your life. Or, you could shop at an opportunity/thift shop and pick up a pair of jeans for $7.

How about a Gucci handbag for $2,000 – that’s 64 hours of your life.

Feeling like upgrading your TV. Perhaps a 65″ Samsung smart TV for $6995 is your current want. It will cost you 225 hours of your life – almost 6 weeks of work.

Considering buying Australia’s best selling vehicle, the Toyota HiLux? The SR5 model will cost you $59,263 – that’s 1,911 hours of your life, or 50 weeks of work. That’s almost a year of your working life gone to pay for a car. Would a decent second hand car get you from A to B just as well but at a fraction of the price?

What about an over-sized McMansion house and land package on the outskirts of Melbourne for $500,000. That’ll be 16,129 hours of your life, or 424 weeks, or over 8 years of your life. Does the house still seem a good deal?

What If I’m Not Average?

If you earn less than the average then buying possessions will cost you more hours of your life.

However, if your wages are above average then things will cost less hours, but are they still worth it?

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

David Henry Thoreau

The Next Step

Before you buy, consider:

  • Is it a want or a need
  • Do you really need to upgrade
  • Can you make do with what you already have
  • Do you need more stuff
  • Have you worked out how many hours of your life it will cost
  • Is it more important to you to own stuff, or to have experiences
  • Will buying this item help you to reach your goals

It could be a worthwhile exercise using the 752 Rule to see the result if you invest that money instead.

Buying less stuff, and saving and investing could help you reach financial sustainability – the point where work is optional.

When you look at what’s being posted on social media, it’s not photos of jeans, handbags, televisions or a person’s house and land package. It’s photos of experiences.

What will you choose?

Have you purchased something that you regret buying?