As Thanksgiving Approaches Think About This

As Thanksgiving Approaches Think About This

Thanksgiving is that time of the year where people get together to say thanks. Personally, I got a lot of things to be thankful for: a healthy family, friends, work and for having the opportunity to wake up to enjoy a new day. But as Thanksgiving approaches think about this …why should we be thankful for just one day during the year? why not be thankful every single day? Probably we tend to take things for granted but I consider every day on this planet as a gift. As such we should be respectful of the time we are being given and above all be thankful for it.

Now, the other side of Thanksgiving is the crazy amount of food and the intense consumerism we see all around us. Whether you’re all-in on the shopping madness or not, most folks get excited about the so-called great deals (some can be) and the rush/anxiety that builds as Black Friday gets closer.

While this excitement may appeal to a lot of people, I do believe it’s important to at least recognize you can do some serious damage to your financial plan if you don’t control your urges during the holidays.

Sorry but I have no advice for you

I enjoy reading blogs from other personal finance bloggers and it shouldn’t be a surprise to see recent posts that talk about suggestions and tips about how to handle yourself during Thanksgiving. Some of those suggestions include:

  • Plan, plan, and plan.
  • Determine what’s important, aka … priorities.
  • Create a budget and stick to it.
  • Avoid buying anything without a coupon.
  • Do not bring your kids along.
  • Compare prices.
  • Watch the circulars.
  • Shop early to get the best deals.
  • Don’t let others influence you, stick to the items on your list.
  • Stay away from the store and buy online

Now, my message is a little bit different. I’m not gonna tell you to follow the things mentioned above because at the end of the day you’re an adult and as such, you’re responsible for your own decisions and actions. Even If I dare to try, you’ll probably say “thanks but no thanks”. I see no point in spending time and effort in sharing all these tips if at the end of the day you’ll do whatever the hell you want. It’s your money at the end of the day right?.

But what about context?

Like I said, I’m not going to waste my time telling you what you should or not do, instead, I will share my thoughts around “context”. If I had a top 10 of my favorite words this one would rank really high. Often I find myself overutilizing this word but why would I do that? because without context you will always be in presence of uncertainty, assumptions, misunderstanding and unintended consequences.

The context I’m presenting today is nothing new to the personal finance space; however, I find it particularly relevant to this holiday.

So without further ado here it is …


Oh, what a shocking surprise!. Before you say anything let me provide more context … funny right? here I am overutilizing my favorite word but I hope that’s Ok 🙂

Time is a finite resource and as such should be considered a commodity. After all, we trade time for something in return right?. Whether, it’s money, experiences or happiness it all boils down to time trading. So as you put your plan together for Thanksgiving (I hope you consider having one) let’s connect Thanksgiving shopping with time. We will also take it one step further and connect it to working time. If you’ve reached FI then congrats but for those of us that are still employed this should resonate.

How much is your time worth?

Let me walk you through the math and some of the assumptions I made. First, I estimated the total number of networking hours in 2017 accounting for holidays, 2 weeks of paid time off, and a 40 hour work week (or 8 hours per day for 5 days a week). The second step was to take that number and calculate the value of time ($/hr) based on different annual salaries (netted to account for different tax brackets). The third and final step was to estimate, based on different buckets of hourly rates, the amount of time you’d be trading as a result of your total expenditure during the holidays.

Month Days Hours
Jan-17 21 168
Feb-17 19 152
Mar-17 23 184
Apr-17 20 160
May-17 22 176
Jun-17 22 176
Jul-17 20 160
Aug-17 23 184
Sep-17 21 168
Oct-17 20 160
Nov-17 21 168
Dec-17 20 160
Total (hours) 2016
Paid Time Off (hours) 80
Final (hours) 1936

For the sake of simplicity, the graph below shows what you’re worth in hours as a function of your annual gross salary. If you’re paying yourself first that’s great; however, you will be making less money on an hourly basis. Forget about that for now and just use the charts below to understand the key message.

As Thanksgiving Approaches Think About This

Did not assume deductions for Paying Yourself First (401(k), HSA, FSA, etc)

If we use the graph below and follow the horizontal line representing one week of your time (40 hours) you’ll notice it only takes $800 to trade 1 week of your working time for stuff you bought on Thanksgiving. As your hourly rate decreases or increases the amount will obviously adjust accordingly:

$/hr $
20 800
30 1200
50 2000
80 3200
100 4000
150 4800

As Thanksgiving Approaches Think About This

How much time am I willing to trade on Thanksgiving?

As I think about how to answer this question I can’t avoid remembering Justin Timberlake’s movie “In Time“. If you haven’t seen it don’t worry you’re not missing much; however, the plot is relevant to the fact that time is money and as such gets to be traded as the one and only commodity. Below is a clip from the movie.

Now, going back to the main question … what am I doing this Thanksgiving?. Instead of saying what I will do I prefer saying what I will not be doing and that is trading a week’s worths of my time. My wife and I have been talking about a couple of things we would like to get and happened to be reasonably priced. Based on that I expect to be trading around 6-8 hours.

Final Thoughts

  • We’re adults so no point in me trying to influence your behavior during Thanksgiving.
  • There are good suggestions out there on how to control yourself with all the madness of Black Friday; however, the choice is yours.
  • One thing I will say is time is your biggest asset and as such, it deserves your attention.
  • If you have a plan to get stuff during the holiday at least do the math and estimate the # of hours, weeks or years (I hope not) you will be trading this Thursday-Friday.

So are you aware of how much your time is worth? Are you willing to trade a high number of hours during the holidays?


    1. Thanks Jose, glad you enjoyed the read. One additional thing I will say is this perspective goes beyond thanksgiving it essentially extends to every financial decision we make on our path to FI. Thanks and enjoy the holidays!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *