Nothing Is Free - Everything Costs

2287335583_e566a357c0The average family spends 9.4 cents each minute. That’s right, everything; the wife and kids, the house and car, the dog and cats along with taxes and utilities all combined costs a grand total of nine cents a minute.

Just to save the slow pokes a few keystrokes we spend about $49,638 per year supporting our families and enjoying a few extra’s.

Advertisers have a unique ability to create the perception of free. We see commercials for free annual credit reports. We see placards at the grocery store that state “buy one get one free.”  Yet in reality the annual credit report comes with a monthly service charge for credit monitoring and the you don’t really get any products for free you just get two items each for half price.

It is said by some that nothing in life is free. Few of us really believe this. However few of us really consider the expenses we incur to simply exist. The average family spends nine cents every minute.

Some costs are obvious and front of mind. When you stop to fill your tank twice a week you may ponder the ever rising cost of gasoline. “What happened to the days you could get a gallon for under a dollar?” In comparison to the old days, today’s average of $2.70 per gallon seems like a lot, especially when you fill your eighteen gallon tank. Fifty dollars for a tank of gas is easy to get emotional about, its tangible and it is frequent enough that these costs remain in focus.

On the other end are the more intangible and infrequent expenses. Something like term life insurance would be a good example. What do you have to show for your purchase? All you have is some documents and peace of mind, its real value is not revealed until you have passed. You may cringe when you make that annual payment but for the other 364 days of the year you may rarely consider it. Your single payment is spread to cover you for the entire year.

The frugally minded make wonderful suggestions to live a more cost conscious life. For frugal family entertainment they might suggest a day at the park having a picnic. While this may be a more frugal choice than others, it can illustrate that life costs more than we think.

How much does it cost to go to the park for a picnic? Our first thought is that it is free. But we do have to pay for the food. You may argue that the food expense would exist regardless of where the meal is enjoyed. But a picnic requires some additional supplies and materiel. In addition, transportation to the picnic and back requires fuel and maintenance of the vehicle. With this example we see that our true cost of the picnic is not limited to what we eat or just the park.

What if, instead of a picnic, you decided to skip lunch and sit on your porch? Your costs would go down, but not completely away. When we say nothing in life is free, from a lean perspective we really mean nothing. Everything you do and every minute you spend has a cost associated with it. While it is sometimes difficult to calculate the exact value, expenses exist, regardless.

While sitting on your porch you may be spending less than you would on a picnic, but still spending you are. You’ve paid your rent or mortgage for the month, some of which is paying for the few minutes of time you sit on the porch. You’ve paid your utility bill so you can enjoy a porch light to read by and you have stocked your refrigerator so you may quench your thirst. Each of these have a cost associated with them.

Every moment of every day you are incurring expenses. We may only make one payment each month for our mortgage or utilities but the benefits of these are utilized continuously; 24/7. Can you control this expense? At nine cents a minute is it even worth it?

The answer is a resounding YES! In our house nine cents a minute covers 4 of us. Nine cents every minute for an hour costs five dollars and forty cents an hour. Each day our life costs us one-hundred and twenty-nine dollars. Each year, nine cents a minute totaled up costs just over $49,000!

Save just one cent, just one little penny each minute and you will have an extra $5,276 to invest into your future.

So tell me, what can you do to reduce expenses by just 1 cent per minute?

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photo by my dog sighs


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8 comments to Nothing Is Free – Everything Costs

  • wow..now i am scared to even get out of bed…but i guess if i stay there all day it’s still going to cost me…blah….

    what can i do to save a penny a minute:

    powerstrips–turn them off when item is not in use
    shorter showers mean the water heater runs less
    turn the burners on the stove off a few mins before the food is finished
    use the toaster oven instead of the big oven for smaller meals
    hang my clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer
    let my hair air-dry instead of using the blow-dryer
    turn the freezer/fridge down to an acceptable level where the food stays cold but it runs less
    tv off the tv when i am sure i am falling asleep
    use my computer on battery mode as much as possible
    put on a sweater when i get cold/open the windows when i get hot
    don’t leave my cell phone plugged in when it’s already charged

    there’s a few that come immediately to mind, but i know there are a million more ways to go…

  • Nothing is free indeed. That’s why I’m focused on making $5 bucks a minute, so that when I spend $1 buck a minute, I won’t feel so bad! :)
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..“The Happy Loser” Archetype By Clotaire Rapaille =-.

  • No such thing as a free lunch. My dad told me that when I was younger, but if I did get a “free” lunch I didn’t pay for, I thought it was truly without cost. I was wrong!

    Dad was right. If you get something for “free”, there is a cost – hidden, overt, delayed – however you want to put it, there’s a cost.

    This applies to saving money. Someone recently suggested to me that I drive an extra 2 miles to a store to get a baby care product for $1 less. Now, the time involved, with traffic, etc – would be more like 20 minutes more, incrementally. So $20 minutes to save $1 is like getting paid 3 cents per minute. Would I work for that amount? No. So why spend my “free” time (there’s that word again!) for it?

    Then there’s the cost of the time I have spent in typing this response, but we won’t go down that path :)

  • “Advertisers have a unique ability to create the perception of free. We see commercials for free annual credit reports.” What a keen observation. It is sad, we often know that we are being misled but allow the deception (or at least misdirection) to continue anyway. On some level, we want to go along for the ride.
    .-= Roshawn @ Watson Inc´s last blog ..7 Reasons for (and Against) Tracking Net Worth =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @Samurai – $5/min? More power to ya!

    @Squirrelers – I would argue the time you spent on the response was the most value-added use of your time today. As for the 2 miles to save a dollar… hmmmm 20minutes! Yikes.

    @Roshawn – Interesting perspective. You think its just easier for most of us to blow our money>

  • [...] Nothing is Free- Everything Costs @ Eliminate the Muda [...]

  • [...] Nothing Is Free: Everything Costs by Eliminate The Muda.  I never thought about the costs per minute.  Definitely something to think about next time you want to waste time and do nothing. [...]

  • [...] would be a little more than double, or about 3.3 million. This just means you will have to cut back on expenses that much more [...]

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