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Money Tip: Calculate a Purchase in Terms of Hours Worked

As much as we all promise ourselves that we'll only buy things we absolutely cannot live without, sometimes in the heat of the shopping moment that mentality is substituted by one of like not love. I know there are some items in my wardrobe that fall in the camp of wish-I-never-bought-it, and perhaps that remorse could have been prevented by using this logic.

Salaries are tricky in getting us to think about our income in yearly or by-paycheck terms, but it may pay off to break down your salary (after taxes) in terms of hourly compensation. When you're holding up a cool sweater that you don't necessarily need, look at the price tag and compare it to the number of hours you worked to earn that sum. So, if you're eying a $150 sweater and earn the equivalent of $30 an hour, ask yourself if it's worth five hours of work.


Join The Conversation
thelorax thelorax 8 years
I do this too...but if I'm eyeing a cute pair of shoes, I tend to picture myself working those 5 hours while wearing it doesn't always work ;-)
jennythereader jennythereader 8 years
That's a trick my Dad taught me years ago. I don't always remember to do it, but it is helpful.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that's a good way to figure out if it's worth the purchase and for myself - i sometimes amertize it and figure out how much it'll cost with various levels of use. if i only use it 1x - then it costs $150, if i use it 2x then $75 etc etc. i have to then decide what my threshhold for pain is and go with that.
itsme3683 itsme3683 8 years
I do this! My rule for buying shoes is that for every hour I would have to work to buy the shoes, I have to be able to think of at least that many number of outfits I can wear it with, minus the number of shoes I already have in that color. I guess that sounds really ridiculous. So like, I make ten dollars an hour, and there were these amazing hot pink polka dot shoes that were $100, but since I couldn't possibly think of 10 things to wear with them, it was a no. And then when they went on sale to $50, they were mine =D If they were $100 black shoes, I could only spend up to $40 because I already have 6 pairs of black shoes. OK so maybe I am ridiculous, and mildly obsessed with shoes.
g1amourpuss g1amourpuss 8 years
Leave the damn sweater and give me the thirty bucks an hour! I'm thinking I need a raise now.
nv27 nv27 8 years
I've been doing this since my first job! Minimum wage doesnt go very far! The shipping this is a good idea from dienliv, I dont usually order online unless its free shipping.
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
Me too Jen.
jen1975 jen1975 8 years
I *wish* I earned $30/hr after taxes! (Or before....)
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
I always do this! Of course now that I'm saving for a big ticket item I try and ask myself if I would rather have this purchase or put the money towards my savings. I almost always pick savings, but it's getting really hard. I asked myself the other day if I could go without new shoes this year (I'm just talking basic everyday shoes, not anything fancy)! I'll have to look at my bank account after I finish paying my tuition bill and see how I feel then.
zcoral zcoral 8 years
I always do this! It has helped me SO much. I highly recommend it!
sonya-ina sonya-ina 8 years
When thinking about what I purchase in terms of how many hours of work it will cost me, it usually deters my purchase. It's actually very helpful if I'm trying to save money, but it's so hard not to splurge sometimes!
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 8 years
I really need to start doing this especially when I'm in UO or F21.
lizkiernan lizkiernan 8 years
I do that all the time! It's a little easier when I actually have the money I made from waitressing last night in my had. 'Did really work all night for that? Is this item worth all the time and stress I went through?' (usually the answer is no. I've become pretty good at saving that money!)
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