Here’s a new way of thinking about your expenses!
Saw this comment on our post about the 10 things people don’t expect in early retirement, and been stewing on it all morning since…
From commenter DS:
I created what I call the ‘Buck an Hour Rule’. Basically entertainment should never cost more than $1/hour of your income. That new video game for $70 should return no less than 70 hours of actual entertainment. A $60/month cable TV bill equates to 60 friggin hours in front of the boob-toob – practically a whole WEEK dedicated to watching TV (insanity!).
Not everything fits $1/hour (car, etc), but you CAN calculate the cost/hour and see that $600/month for that nice car you drive 3 hours/day is not a good way to spend your hard earned cash.
Such an interesting way to assess things! A bit arbitrary and perhaps simplistic, but sometimes it’s random ideas like these that go on to spark new habits for us. I still haven’t forgotten about Cait Flanders’ Adventure Tuesdays we blogged about 3 weeks ago! It always helps to bat around new thoughts when we come across them…
And even more fun – putting them to the test to see what happens ;)
Pulled up my recent transactions to see how I’d fair, and it wasn’t pretty, haha…
- Netflix @ $10.99 — Pass! We definitely get at least 11 hours of entertainment from this between our family movies and our kids’ 1-show/day allowance when they behave… (75% of the time)
- Gas @ $42.19 — Fail… But this is more of a “need” than “entertainment” (and definitely don’t have plans on giving up the car anytime soon!)
- Cell phone @ $30.70 — Pass! I don’t talk on it for 30 hours/mo, but I’d imagine if you include all the email checking and social posting and everything else done on a phone it all adds up? Though less faster when you opt out of Facebook on it (good riddance!).
- Coffee @ $2.19 — Fail. And it doesn’t matter what you say to me – every penny is worth it :)
- Old currency notes for my collection @ $250.00 — Fail. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt AND I research them a good bit after they come into my possession, but I certainly don’t spend 250 hours on them… Though I can re-sell them at any point and recoup most of the money when I’m through!
- Book @ $12.38 — Pass! Books will always provide more value in the long run than they cost. PROVIDED YOU OPEN THEM UP AND READ THEM!!
- Subscription to my hometown newspaper @ $3.95 — Fail. This is both a pity and a petty expense ;) Pity because I desperately want to support my hometown and all things PRINT!! But petty because I don’t read it as much as I want to… And it’s also an *online* subscription, so ironically I’m not even supporting the printing arm of it, haha… (but I am the company as a whole!)
- Monthly donation to local historical society @ $20.00 — Fail. But a decision where the ROI is more intrinsic than extrinsic :)
So a few passes in there, but a whole lot more fails, haha.. Good thing this is more of a suggestion than anything else! And also, not everything above exactly falls under “entertainment” either, but I wanted to play along and see how it felt (overall good, but I’m definitely going to be thinking about this more!!)
How would you do if YOU went back and looked at your spending??? Do you like this rule, or implement any others that work well for you?
Here are some previous ideas we’ve covered that can help you save/think more too:
The “Stranger” Test — When you’re about to purchase something, imagine a stranger holding the item in one hand, and the cash equivalent in the other. Which one would you choose?
The “Urgency” Test — Whenever you’re debating on picking up a new shirt/shoes/etc, ask yourself: “Would I wear this out of the dressing room right now if I could?” If the answer is yes, buy it if the price is right, but if you hesitate – put it down and run! This also works for buying books (would you want to stop and read this right this second?), buying art (would you swap this painting for another on your wall as soon as you got home?) or even choosing dates (would you rush to show him/her off to all your friends the second you had the chance? ;))
The Decluttering Test — This one’s more for deciding on whether to get rid of something vs buying it, but it’s still a pretty good one: whenever you’re deciding if you should keep something around or not, ask yourself if you’d go out and *buy it all over again* if you didn’t already own it right now. If the answer is yes, keep it around! If it’s a hard no, it’s time to finally let it go.
Again, some of these tricks might work better than others (or not at all!), but it’s about testing things out for yourself until you finally find the habits that stick.
Try implementing one or two of these over the week and then come back and let us know how it went! Worst case you learn a little more about yourself!
No dollar bills were killed in the making of this post… Though some had to be humpty dumpty’d back together again :)
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!