Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why You Should Know Your Hourly Pay

squander bug vintage wartime posterI set a challenge yesterday asking you to calculate your hourly pay, after tax and other non-avoidable outgoings. What does that have to do with being green? It's all about consumerism and avoiding over-consumption. There's a letter in The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn that illustrates what I mean:
...I went into the boys' rooms and made lists of last year's gifts (those that were still around), writing down the cost of each and estimating the time each had been played with. Some (jigsaw puzzles and board games) proved to have been good buys. Unfortunately, in other cases, my estimates showed that my husband had worked more hours to pay for a toy than my children had played with it!

I love my kids to little bits. I love to give them gifts and make them happy. And I hate it when I have to tell them "No, I can't play with you/read to you/talk to you right now. I have to work" (I work from home). So it makes no sense to spend all those hours working to buy them gifts which give less pleasure than if I worked less and spent more time just being with them. I'm sure Ed feels the same.

There's another quote I'd like to share with you from an article I found via this week's Festival of Frugality. The author of the quote is describing his feelings about finally buying his dream car, a Mercedes convertible:
The good feeling doesn’t last. We get used to having the Mercedes.
It’s spectacular. It’s better than sex the first week.
It’s better than a meal at a great restaurant the second week.
It’s pretty damn good the third week.
And after that it’s just your car.

(from A Penny Closer)

If you haven't a clue what I'm talking about, if you find that your purchases give you enormous and lasting satisfaction, then I'm happy for you. But if what I've written strikes a chord then remember your hourly pay, and ask yourself before buying something - just how much pleasure is this going to give me? Is it really worth ten hours at work (or whatever)? Or could I spend this money better?

12 comments:

Z said...

When I was a child, I never spent more than half of the money I had (no one told me to do this, I had not much money and a frugal mind). I had to save twice as much as I needed - by the time I had done so, I usually didn't want it any more. I think I was a bit odd, actually.

Yellow said...

That was easier than I though, and I did it the 'cheat's way that you suggested. Mmmm. That's gotton me thinking. I only work 22.5 hours a week, and I often resent time spent there, even though I love my job. Mmmm! that has gotton me thinking, and I really didn't expect it would. Thank's for that, Mel.

donna said...

i'm going to try and employ this tactic mel when i get the urge to splash out, might be a good way to keep hubby on the straight and narrow- fingers crossed.
sorry off topic completely- how are you getting on with the bread slicer? i'm weighing up whether to get one.

Carol/PurpleDragon said...

Wow. Food for thought.

Melanie Rimmer said...

I'm glad you all found it thought-provoking. I know I did. I've got a lot more to say about this topic so I'm really glad to get your feedback.

Donna - I'm finding that the beautiful round boules I've been making don't fit in my little slicer so well, and also that my family want square sandwiches, not weird oval sandwiches. So now I'm shoppping for a large loaf tin to bake square bread that fits through the slicer. I'm keeping track of how much I'm spending on all this because it could easily get out of hand.

donna said...

families eh? do you think they'll be satisfied when they get the square sandwiches? i bet they'll manage to come up with a new criteria for you to meet! i'm sure my lot do it to stop me becoming complacent, they like to keep me on my toes.

Stonehead said...

Me? I reckon I earn about 75 pence an hour for a 100-hour week.

That's about what I bring in as a full-time dad, crofter, swineherd, cook, dishwasher, maid, handyman, plumber, carpenter, first aider, trike haulier, etc etc.

I have some "new" trousers now - passed on by my brother. I have a "new" livestock feed preparation station knocked together from a donated cupboard (or rather the remains of one). I have 25kg of jerusalem artichokes dug by a friend because I have a broken collar bone. And I have a couple of fine boys who helped repair our trike because I couldn't turn all the screws and nuts.

You can't buy any of that, because the material goods and the jobs done are only the smallest part of what I was actually given.

So, I wouldn't swap my 75 pence an hour for the theoretical £35 an hour I used to earn or any other amount.

Jill said...

Melanie, I just had to let you know that I have found your blog and I am having so much fun reading through it. I initially started at December 2008 and went back,but then I realised that I liked it so much that I needed to start at the begining of your story and work forward so that is what I am doing!

This posting struck a chord with me and I have "stolen" parts of it for my own blog at Multiply. I have credited you and put a link to your blog so I hope you don't mind.

Please feel free to take a look, this is the link:

http://jillys.multiply.com/journal/item/1463/Bean_Sprouts_for_all

If you are offended that I have posted "stolen" content please let me know and I will take it down.

I hope you have a great week, Jilly.

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