Can you believe I decided to make a six-part series doing a deep dive into these questions? On one hand, I know I have a tendency to gloss over things that are obvious in my own mind. These “deep dives” force me to extrapolate on my meaning and intention behind each of these questions. And quite frankly, I’m a little surprised, but I don’t feel too repetitive. Each of these questions we are asking ourselves has so many layers and approaches to thinking about your purchases, that even over halfway through the deep dive, I still am unpacking more elements as I think about each of these questions.
If you’re looking for an overview or the previous posts, look no further:
This leads us to our fourth question: How many hours would it take to buy this item?
I find this question changes in meaning for me, depending on my rate of pay. When I was in high school, making $8.25/hour at Target, this was a question that came up for me in every little purchase. That fast-fashion skirt that cost $13? That means working for almost two hours at my miserable job. The two-hour movie costs an additional two hours of my life in soul-sucking interactions with (frequently) rude people.
That led to a personal “movie index” to evaluate items, especially entertainment items. If a concert costs $30, then would I feel I’d received two movies worth of enjoyment from that concert?
This question needs to be approached on a very personal level. But at the end of the day, it’s about how you value your time and how your time contributes to your purchases. I’m always surprised when I catalog my waking hours and realize how many of them are spent at the office or going to the office or coming home from the office. Asking myself how many hours of my time it would take to buy something forces me to see the purchase as a trade off–not just a transaction between my bank account and the seller. It’s a trade off of my time.
The flip side of this is people who make more money. The more your hourly rate works out to, the easier it is to say “Well, it’s only one hour of work.” And suddenly those smaller purchases can add up quickly. That’s why I say this is a personal question that has to be tied to your values and your goals.
Do you ask yourself this question or a similar one when determining if you should purchase an item? How does it work for you?