The Actual Price of Things

“Seize the time, Meribor. Live now;
make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.”
Picard in Star Trek TNG: “The Inner Light”

Money seems to be a limiting factor in many endeavors. “If only I had the money …” is a frequent uttering that stifles creative projects. But actually, it’s not so much the money, it’s the time that is limiting people. Most people — well, those who have a job — exchange their time for money. Sure, there are usually skills involved, or muscle power, but basically a job exchanges time for money. Even if people live of investments, they exchange their time for the money they get by waiting for the dividends or interest rates.

And this “how much does something cost me in time spend” is actually a very interesting perspective to take. Think of the last object you bought — well, the last one that did cost “real money”. Now calculate how much you make in an hour, and divide the price for the object though the money you make in an hour.


That’s the price you paid for it in work hours.

Given that you cannot work for hours and hours without sleep, hygiene and other things (the “life” part in the “work-life-balance” ;-)), you can also calculate how much you make in a day, and use that amount.

It’s a crude formula, which does not take into account that you cannot work to earn money forever, and you really don’t know how much time you have left. But it puts a different price tag on the things you see and might want to own — and whether you really want to spend that much work-time (hours) or life-time (days) for it.

(BTW, if you plan on doing a task you do not get paid for, you can calculate how long it takes you to do the task — and have a look at that amount of time.)