Would you like to have more money and work less? I”m sure most people would, even despite a few displaying bravado of how much they are driven to work for work’s sake. The reality, I think, is that much of this work is based on the need to work.
Here’s a simple way to work less: spend less
I think it’s one of those common sense principles that gets lost in the noise of personal finance blogs, books, shows, etc. If you don’t want to work forever, spend less money. Additionally, keeping your baseline, “steady state” expense level low can really make a big difference over time.
A while ago, I wrote a post on how time is money, where we discussed the topic of how long we actually work in order to buy things. In looking at it, I think that this concept can be revisited and used to consider how much less we would have to work if we don’t buy something.
Let’s take an example of somebody earning a salary of, say, $60,000 a year. If you divide this salary by a standard full-time calendar of 2000 working hours, you’re at $30 per hour. Taking this effective hourly salary calculation, what if this person had the opportunity to take a deluxe vacation that would cost $3,000. Or, he had an alternative of taking a more modest, no frills vacation for $600. Both would be relaxing, but the expensive one would entail high end hotels, fancy meals, etc. The difference in costs would be $2,400 dollars – or 80 hours of work.
Thus, the high end vacation would cost an extra 2 weeks of work. Makes me consider the notion of a vacation – which is supposed to recharge us – actually creating more work!
The concept is not just about vacations, obviously. The idea is that incremental expenses cost incremental work. Want to go out to eat for dinner and drinks? If the person in the example above dropped $35 on that, as opposed to a simple $5 meal at home, it would cost an extra hour of work. Want to buy a $100 pair of jeans, as opposed to a $40 pair of jeans? That’s an extra 2 hours of work. Clearly, these choices can add up.
With bigger expenses, the impact is greater. Want to buy a house that’s $90,000 more than an alternative, good enough home? Well, you’re going to work away an extra 1.5 years of life at the income levels noted above.
When taken together, our spending decisions contribute to our need to work longer. If we ask ourselves the question of “How much work would I save by choosing the less expensive alternative”, it might help us with our quest to make smart purchasing decisions. It’s a question that’s an easy way to help us save money and work less.
My Questions for You
What do you think of the concept of figuring out how much work could be saved by making cost-conscious purchasing decisions?
Do you ever think about not wanting to need to work forever (as opposed to working because you choose to)?