Day 202 How much hard work does this item cost.

I found this clever shopping deterrent strategy when reading my comments yesterday and I thought I would share it with you.

Here is what Jacquie, who was inspired by Gogol’s buy it back approach, had to say…

Along the same lines as Gogol, if I am thinking of buying something new, I use an ‘earning money’ analogy.
I use a basic hourly rate and say to myself “If I had to work for (how ever many hours to earn the cost of the item) and at the end all I was given was this item – do I like it enough or want it badly enough to do that? Often the answer is no.

I can now use the same formula for uncluttering along with Gogol’s idea – if I had to buy it back from the pawn shop with that many hours work, would I? I don’t think I would for much of my stuff.

I must admit I run this scenario through my head occasionally too. Especially when it comes to paying for a service that I can just as easily with a bit of effort do myself. Why pay someone $20 an hour to do your ironing if you only earn $16 an hour in your day job. You would be better off cutting your work back by a couple of hours and do your own ironing.

Maybe we should also think about the paltry some of money paid to the sweat shop workers who make most of the stuff we clutter up our lives with while they are barely about to put a meal on their plates. I suppose the flip side to that is that then they won’t have a job at all, but maybe just maybe if enough of us stopped messing up the world with all this consumerism we might just change the world and the general focus may turn to something more productive. Who knows?


A piece of Australian History sold on eBay for $15.50
Australian Army Collar Badge $15.50

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. This one ties in with my feelings when I wish I had back all the money I’d spent on the stuff I’ve gotten rid of!!!!!

    Stops me cold every time I get a case of the “buys.”

    • Hi Meg,
      that is the beauty of the decluttering process. The lessons you learn about waste and the effect that has on the world around us and your bank balance soon cures you of shopping.

  2. Funny, I was just talking to my boyfriend about this the other day!! I almost always figure out how many minutes of work it’d take me to buy the item. This easily knocks out the smaller items like soda, which takes me approx. 15 minutes to earn, when I could just wait until I get home and drink amazing water for free. I used to buy graphic novels and finally stopped because it’d take me an hour and a half of boring, hot labor which I hate to earn one volume. Then it’d only give me one hour of entertainment. It’s actually fun to figure out if things are worth it or not by looking at it this way.

    • Hi Ginger,
      I suppose it would seem particularly expensive if you have a really crappy job. I must admit I have days at my job where 2 seconds would be more than I would be prepared to sacrifice for just about anything. I am not sure why I am still there I seem to be suffering from a comfort trap situation when it comes to working at the moment. You know how it goes, “better the devil you know…”. I need to follow some of the great advice from Tiny Buddha and the like and move on to something new and exciting.

  3. Have you read Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin? They discuss counting hours of your life that you would have to give to purchase something. Similar premise.

  4. Love Your Money or Your Life. Excellent suggestion Willow.

  5. Very interesting idea. will try it out the next time I have the sudden urge to buy something.

  6. My mother always looks at the price of an item and divides it by theoretical uses. For example, the first time she wears a t-shirt, it costs her $12. The second time, it costs her $6 for each wearing. This puts the price in perspective. If you bought a dress for several hundred dollars and wore it just once, that wouldn’t be logical (or a good use of your money).

    • Hi Jude,
      good theory. I like to look at things that way myself. Don’t you just love the things you own that you paid very little for but have stood the test of time and have been used over and over and over. That is good value for money.

  7. Thank you for the link Colleen!! I have never been to that blog before. I’m in the process of finding something new and exciting but it’s going to take me about 3 more years to reach it. Encouragement is good, haha.

    • Hi Ginger.
      I am actually going through a process with a career consultant at the moment. I have filled in questionaires to determine my personality profile to fit me with the kinds of jobs that best suit me. I really would like to know what I want to be when I grow up, at 45 years old it is about time I did.

      I wish you luck in whatever you follow and hope it leads to something wonderful for you.

  8. I’ve read Your Money or Your Life too, and it does really make you think. I’ve often used this same tactic too to get myself not to buy something. Since reading that book, I have always taken my hourly rate after taxes, subtracted gas costs, and then divided by hours work + commute time (another 10 hrs per wk) to get what I really make per hour. Now, if I also subtract off day care costs for my toddler (which I just did) it gives a whole different meaning to what something costs. I think I might be ill.

    • Hi Donna,
      I bet you are starting to wonder why you are going to work in the first place right about now. It really is an eye opener isn’t it. Those exact calculations are the reason I quit the work force and stayed home to raise my own kids. I started working again part time off and on once they were in school. Luckily for me I don’t need to work but the extra cash is always good. I love the freedom one has to speak their mind about certain issues at work when one doesn’t need the job. I remember when I realised that freedom and I have been thankful for it ever since.

  9. I do the “what will it cost me”, but I do it it a bit different. I ask how much time at Disney World will buying this item cost me and my family.

    We try to go to Disney every year and it has been a lot easier since I started to look at it in this way.

    • Hi Dave,
      I don’t believe we have heard from you before so welcome to my blog. I like your Disney World Currency, your family must really like going there each year. My family went to Disneyland a couple of times when we lived on the West Coast and my husband was the biggest fan. If you met my husband you would scratch your head in wonder believe me.