Case Study 2: The 20-Hour Pair of Jeans

Would you work 20 hours to get a pair of jeans? I asked this question to one of the young adults I was working with at a runaway shelter. Many years ago, I was working on my master’s degree in mental health counseling psychology. I worked with the kids who were in the addictions management program, and some of the kids with anger issues. So one of the kids I was talking to this day was tell me his troubles how he didn’t have enough money to get some cool stuff for his girlfriend and then have some fun outside as well. And so I asked him said, Well, tell me something. You got some nice new jeans there. I see. Yeah. I said, Did you use your five finger those that meant do Did you steal them? Say No, no, Mr. Wade? I hadn’t seen them. Okay, so are there any sales going on? No, Mr. Wade? Okay. How much do those jeans cost? jeans cost? $100. Okay, how much do you make per hour? I think the number was somewhere around six and a half $7. Now, whatever it was, this is quite a few years back but 20 years ago. Okay, well how much do you actually make after tax? And we figured that it was about $5. Again, I’m rounding it to make life simple here. So I said okay, so if you make $5 an hour, how many hours does it take you to get $100 pair of jeans? Oh man, Mr. Wade today Yeah, you just worked 20 hours dude, it took your entire week just to get your one pair of jeans. You had no money to take your girl out. You had no money to buy other cool stuff all this for this pair of jeans that you didn’t even really want in the first place set. It heard him talking about the jeans before how he didn’t really liked the jeans. He thought they were kind of a cool he wasn’t sure, but is kind of almost on a dare. Like you can’t afford those. He’s all I can afford those jeans. So okay, so basically, you just spent 20 hours your life on something. You really don’t care about that much. You got no money to get roses for your girl. You got nothing else going on. And all of that is because you weren’t clear about what you most wanted. So what I want you to think about is What are your $20 pair of jeans? Not your dollars, but the hours? What are the things you’re buying, costing you in time. And so this is one of the things that I was able to make a connection with years ago, as I was studying so many different authors, everybody from Henry David Thoreau, the dude who went to Walden, and just live deliberately in the woods, and reading books, like die broke and live rich, and some of the other books I read, and just trying to get a sense of, Okay, what is it that I’m really trying to do? And how much time is it takes so as an entrepreneur, if I can make a certain amount of money, I simply need to make enough money to afford my lifestyle. Once I can afford my lifestyle for the month, I don’t need to work anymore. But every purchase I make, that I don’t really need, means I usually have to work more time. Now if you’ve got truckloads of money doesn’t matter, you then cool, but a lot of us we say Okay, wait Make a certain amount of income per month. So after that, I’ve got to really hustle for stuff. And in addition to that most people is small business owners or entrepreneurs, or even employees. Usually there’s a certain amount of money that we can make pretty easily either if you’re an employee, maybe it’s the amount you already get paid. It’s your salary versus let’s say, sales commissions. If you’re an entrepreneur, maybe it’s sort of your steady or business that you know, you can bring in a certain amount. And then after that, you really have to hustle. So it might only take you 20 hours a week to maintain your your steady business income if you’re a solopreneur, or an entrepreneur, or small business owner. But if you go a lot above that, that now you really have to start hustling and working way extra hours. So when you look at any sort of expense when I look at a car payment, I don’t see let’s say it’s a $500 car payment. I don’t see $500 I see a certain number of hours. So when I used to make $25 an hour, I $500 car payment as 20 hours of my time. Now, depending on what you make, it might not matter if you make $500 an hour, you might say, Wait, that’s an hour of my time for my car. No problem. It all depends where you’re at. But the question becomes, do you really want to invest that amount of time, and you start realizing very quickly, that you do have a limited amount of time, there’s only a certain number of hours available to simply live. And in addition to that, if you’re operating a certain level of income, a fixed type income, or an income, that doesn’t change very much, once you go beyond your expenditures, once you go beyond what you’re making, now you’re building up debt, and that debt is earning interest. And sometime in the future, it’s going to steal time from you. So in all of this, I want you to just start considering when you’re looking at that purchase that you’re not sure about making, how many hours is it going to take you to earn that and do you really want it and if you start thinking about this with every purchase you make, especially the big ones, the house, the car, you know, it’s so easy to get so caught up in Oh, I want this and this is the greatest car and this and that. But as somebody who routinely keeps cars for usually at least 10 years, I can tell you, the sexiest thing about a car, to me is no payment is awesome when it’s working, and there’s no payments. And of course, it’s kept nice and it’s kept clean. But no payments are awesome. And so in all of that, I encourage you to look at your expenses and see what it’s costing you in time. And each one of your expenses if you let’s say use Quicken or one of those software’s to track where you invest your money. Look at those, and don’t just look at my expenses cost me this amount. Look at it, is it worth it? If you make $10 an hour after taxes, and that DVR feature costs you $10 Okay, well that’s an hour of your time. If those premium cable channels cost you nothing $50 that’s five more hours your time. If you go to happy hour, and you get three drinks for 30 bucks, that’s three hours, your time just to get those three drinks. Now I’m sorry if that creates a buzzkill for you that might just take away all the effects of the three drinks. But overall, just look at when you’re making a purchase doesn’t represent what you want to invest your time in. So people say, you know, time is money, well, diverse money is time. And so making sure that especially when you commit to longer contracts, such as home, or loans or car loans, that you’re getting involved in something you really want to commit to, versus saying, you know what, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll rent it for a little bit. Maybe I’ll try it and see if I really like it. Or maybe I’ll get a lease of a car at a small amount. See, if I really liked it. Maybe I’ll rent that car. I thought I want to drive this certain car, maybe rented for a weekend. And even if it costs a little bit for the weekend. I’ll see Do I really like this car that much. I’m willing to invest this much all the time. Just have that. So I hope this serves you hope you start seeing things can I do to matrix Neo? When you start seeing things I hope when you see things not only do you see the price tag, but you also see the time tag. What is it going to cost you to afford the things that you most want?