Walden http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/2406/all en-US What You Pay in Time http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-pay-in-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-pay-in-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/pocket-watch.jpg" alt="Watch" title="watch" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You probably think about costs in terms of dollars (or whatever your local currency is). I suggest that you experiment with an alternative way of thinking &mdash; think about costs in terms of time: The time you spend earning the money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/track-your-spending-or-not">Track Your Spending. Or Not.</a>)</p> <p>There's a famous part in &quot;Walden&quot; where Thoreau argues that it's cheaper to walk than to take the train &mdash; if both people start from zero.</p> <p>Thoreau gets up and heads off walking toward your mutual destination. You, planning to take the train, first have to go to work and earn the money to buy a ticket. Given the wages and ticket prices at the time, it's almost a day's pay to buy the ticket, meaning that Thoreau had a good chance of getting there ahead of you, even though it will take him all day to walk.</p> <p>Plus, Thoreau gets to spend the day on a pleasant walk in the countryside, while you're spending the day working.</p> <p>Depending on what you earn and how much the ticket cost, the results might be different for you. But the point is that you ought to do the calculation.</p> <p>You ought to do the calculation for everything.</p> <p>Of course, things are more complicated than in Thoreau's day. He made a big point that having to buy new clothes to undertake some new enterprise was a danger sign &mdash; it would take days or weeks of labor just to get even for the cost of your new wardrobe. He would have been horrified at the idea that having a job meant that you had to buy a car &mdash; it takes weeks or months of labor to cover that cost. (And weeks more every year, to pay for registering, insuring, fueling, and maintaining the car.)</p> <p>He probably would have been horrified at the idea of income taxes, too.</p> <p>That's the calculation I want you do &mdash; for any expense, what is your all-in cost <em>in terms of time</em>. By &quot;all-in&quot; I mean for you to include not just the time you spend working. You also want to include both the time you spend supporting your work habit &mdash; your commute, the hours you spend sitting in a stupor after work because you're exhausted, the time you spend on vacation escaping from your work &mdash; plus the time you spend earning the things you only need to pay for because you're working &mdash; tools, clothes you buy because you need to &quot;look nice&quot; at work, your car, and so on.</p> <p>A lot of people have thought of making this calculation before me, of course. In particular, it's a central theme in the book &quot;Your Money or Your Life&quot; by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. (I wrote a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-your-money-or-your-life">review of the book</a> for Wise Bread.)</p> <p>The point is to make yourself a thoughtful consumer. It probably only takes you a few minutes to earn enough to buy a snack, if you do the calculation in terms of your gross pay.</p> <p>Instead, do the calculation the right way. Figure it in terms of your net pay, after taxes have been deducted. Figure it in terms of the hours you actually spend, including your commute.</p> <p>Only when you do the calculation correctly do you have the information you need to make an informed decision about whether this or that little indulgence is worth it, in terms of the minutes of your life you spend earning it.</p> <p>If you try to do the calculation for real, you'll run into borderline cases. Is it a work expense to hire a lawn service? If you work so many hours you don't have time to mow your own lawn, maybe it is. Is it a work expense to go to the hairstylist? If your boss insists that you look your best for customers, maybe it is. Is it a work expense to hire a tax accountant? If your taxes are more complex because of your job &mdash; or if you don't have time to do them yourself because of your job &mdash; maybe it is. No doubt part of your vacation is pleasure; it's not merely an escape from work.</p> <p>Don't get hung up on details like that. The goal isn't to come up with the one precisely true number. The initial goal is to be clear in your own mind about how much of your time is spent supporting your efforts to earn money &mdash; and how much of that money is spent just to enable you to spend your time that way.</p> <p>The deeper goal is to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-budget-is-not-a-constraint">align your spending with your values</a>.</p> <p>How many hours does it take to buy a week's worth of meals? If the answer is what you expected, you're all set. If the answer is a shock to you, then maybe your spending is not properly aligned with your values. Maybe you'd honor your own values better by eating out less. Maybe you'd honor your own values better by eating less expensive meat and more cheap rice and beans. On the other hand, maybe spending the extra hours commuting and working so your family can eat locally grown organic food is exactly in line with your values.</p> <p>I don't know. I <em>can't</em> know. Only you can figure these things out. I just want to provide this extra tool for figuring them out accurately &mdash; think about what you pay in terms of time.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-pay-in-time">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-your-time-worth">What Is Your Time Worth?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-mistakes-that-wont-hurt-your-credit-score">5 Financial Mistakes That Won&#039;t Hurt Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-self-destructive-habits-that-keep-you-in-debt">8 Self-Destructive Habits That Keep You in Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-millennial-money-habits-every-retiree-should-learn">6 Millennial Money Habits Every Retiree Should Learn</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-celebrities-with-shockingly-low-net-worths">6 Celebrities With Shockingly Low Net Worths</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance personal values time vs. money Walden Fri, 23 Nov 2012 11:24:30 +0000 Philip Brewer 955567 at http://www.wisebread.com Life Without Toiletpaper - Bum Deal? http://www.wisebread.com/life-without-toiletpaper-bum-deal <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/toiletpaper.jpg" alt=" " width="180" height="200" /></p> <p>How far would you go to save the world?</p> <p>Upon reading the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/garden/22impact.html?pagewanted=1&amp;_r=2">New York Times article</a> about the Beaven-Conlin household in Manhattan, I started to get a little queasy. The article delves a bit into the lives of a couple and their young daughter, yuppies who live affluent lives in New York City. They&#39;ve taken the idea behind <a href="http://sfcompact.blogspot.com/">The Compact</a>, and then taken it a LOT farther. They are trying to live for one year with absolute minimal impact on the environment.</p> <p>Their toddler wears organic cotton diapers. The family eats all organic food, grown within a 250-mile radius of the city. They bake their own bread, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and don&#39;t buy much outside of groceries.</p> <p>That sounds responsible, right? Then it gets better. They don&#39;t use toilet paper (the details of how they avoid this are not pretty, and no, they did not have the good sense to invest in a bidet). They compost INSIDE their apartment. They use no spices but have made an exception for salt, which they apparently think of as an indulgence in baking rather than something that <a href="http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/1997/797_salt.html">humans need in order to survive</a>.</p> <p>I think that the idea behind what the Beaven-Conlin family is trying is wonderful. And even though we all agree that we should use less, buy less, and pollute less, how many of us really <strong>do much of anything to accomplish this</strong>? </p> <p class="blockquote">The dishwasher is off, along with the microwave, the coffee machine and the food processor. Planes, trains, automobiles and that elevator are out, but the family is still doing laundry in the washing machines in the basement of the building. And they have not had the heart to take away the vacuum from their cleaning lady, who comes weekly (this week they took away her paper towels).</p> <p>I consider myself an environmentalist, but I just ate a sandwich out of a styrofoam container and then threw it away, because you can&#39;t recycle styrofoam in Seattle and I got tired of hauling bags of it to my parents&#39; place across the mountains for recycling. </p> <p>I drive 20 miles to work, because my job is located quite far from the job that I had when I bought my home (telecommuting is not an option with this firm, and taking the bus would take me close to 2.5 hours each way). If there is anyone who eats food grown farther from where they live, I don&#39;t know who it could be. I have a ridiculous appetite for tropical fruit and exotic spices.</p> <p>In the NY Times article, Colin Beaven states that the experiment that his family is trying is &quot;also very urban. It’s a critical twist in the old wilderness adage: Leave only footprints, take only photographs. But how do you translate that into Manhattan?&quot;</p> <p>Well, I&#39;d argue that that&#39;s easier in Manhattan than a lot of other places. Because Manhattan is rife with foodies, you can find farmers markets open year-round. You can buy organic milk in reusable glass bottles. There aren&#39;t many places in the five boroughs that you can&#39;t walk or bike to. I used to live in Brooklyn and work in Chelsea, and I would walk from dinner with friends in Midtown back home. It took a while (and wasn&#39;t always voluntary; sometimes I&#39;d run out of money and not be able to get subway fair), but it was very doable. Come to think of it, I never went to Staten Island, so maybe you can&#39;t get there by bike or on foot.</p> <p>People who live outside of large metropolitan areas with stellar public transportation (you know, normal people who can&#39;t afford huge apartments, or even studios, in swanky downtown areas) don&#39;t have the luxury of riding their Razor scooters to work. Not only would that be impossible, but they&#39;d probably get their butts kicked by their work buddies. Hell, my neighbors are very swishy, and I think they&#39;d probably call me a sissy if I broke out a Razor scooter and started scooting around Seattle.</p> <p>Now, the No Impact Family is not saying that everyone else has to live like this, and they are obviously trying it as an experiment. I think these kinds of revolutionary try-it-and-see experiments are brilliant, and I certainly applaud their efforts, even if I think the lifestyle might be too extreme for many of us (I am NOT making my own vinegar, thank you).</p> <p>Also, I think some of the moves are a little odd. For instance, <em>Ms. Conlin takes her lunch to work every day in a mason jar</em>. </p> <p>A mason jar. </p> <p>What&#39;s wrong with Tupperware? Yes, it&#39;s plastic, but it&#39;s not like you throw it out. A mason jar is heavy and awkward and breakable. I love using mason jars for preserves and pickles, but it&#39;s not up there on my list of potential lunchboxes. Why stop at a mason jar? Why not just put your lunch in a soapstone box that you carved yourself and tie it up in leather than you tanned out of from Central Park squirrel hides? Think of the shoulder muscles you&#39;d develop!</p> <p>Also, she gave up coffee. Well, that&#39;s just plain sick. I mean, if you don&#39;t want to go to Starbucks or even an independent coffeshop every day, that&#39;s fine. But there&#39;s nothing wrong with a French press. It&#39;s French! The French love suffering (or is that Russians?), so it totally fits in with the lifestyle.</p> <p>There was a telling little bit of the story that got me thinking, though:</p> <p class="blockquote">Ms. Conlin... did describe, in loving detail, a serious shopping binge that predated No Impact and made the whole thing doable, she said. “It was my last hurrah,” she explained. It included two pairs of calf-high Chloe boots (one of which was paid for, she said, with her mother’s bingo winnings) and added up to two weeks’ salary, after taxes and her 401(k) contribution. </p> <p>What? You know, maybe these people really need to try this. I don&#39;t know how much Conlin makes at Business Week, because she could be an intern, but I&#39;m guessing from her apartment location and her good taste in boots that that was pretty much a $3000 shopping spree. That&#39;s a guess, yes, but still. Two weeks salary? Doesn&#39;t something like that sort of defeat the purpose of no impact living?</p> <p>Perhaps I&#39;m being too touchy on the subject because I realize that if I used one-tenth of the discipline that this family is showing, I could make a major impact on my life, but by golly, I hate the stairs. </p> <p>And bidets are really, really pricey. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/life-without-toiletpaper-bum-deal">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/opting-out-of-the-money-economy">Opting out of the money economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet">8 Things We Keep Buying That Are Killing the Planet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/only-celebrate-a-few-select-birthdays">Only Celebrate A Few Select Birthdays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green">11 Ways the Government Pays You to Live Green</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle An Incovenient Truth compost environment no impact reduce reuse recycle The Compact toilet paper Walden waste Thu, 22 Mar 2007 19:53:53 +0000 Andrea Karim 384 at http://www.wisebread.com