Seeing Purchases as Hours of Work

Since I started teaching online for $5 a lesson, I’ve found myself weighing up purchases based on how many lessons I have to teach.

Take, for example, a single cup of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. That would cost me half a lesson (15 minutes), which is certainly worth it!

Some real examples

Looking through my orders on Amazon this year, here’s how much time I’ve spent working for each item:

  • A cleaning sponge for our floor tiles – nearly 2 lessons (one hour)
  • Insect repellent – 2 lessons (one hour)
  • Kindle book: Millionaire Teacher – nearly 4 lessons (two hours)
  • Performance thumbsticks for my Xbox controller – 4 lessons (two hours)
  • 2 boxes of blank cards for classroom games – 8 lessons (four hours)
  • A full set of printer ink – 17 lessons (8.5 hours)
  • A Mobile Monitor for teaching online – 37 lessons (18.5 hours)
  • AfterShokz OpenComm headset for teaching online 40 lessons (20 hours)

I have to laugh at the last two. I taught all those lessons just to pay for the equipment to teach all those lessons!


But it really does open my eyes. I only do these online lessons for two hours a day, so that printer ink is almost a week’s worth of lessons.

Armed with this newfound understanding of how much time things cost, I’m being extra careful not to be wasteful. Perhaps the most significant change is how I’ve turned my daily “cheese on toast” into a toasted cheese sandwich. The latter only requires cheese on one slice of bread instead of two. It may sound trivial, but cheese costs two English lessons a week!

Side note

I hope this post doesn’t come across as me complaining about my wage, because I’m not. I’m actually really grateful to be able to do this mostly enjoyable job from the comfort of home and at times of my choosing. I’m also not struggling financially as teaching online is just to supplement my main income, and I’d still eat cheese on toast if I were rich. 🙂

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

2 thoughts on “Seeing Purchases as Hours of Work

  1. Another great post! I like how you are relating the cost of things to the work you do. It’s thoughtful. One thing I might add for consideration is, taxes… For example, if you early $1000, you should remember that a certain amount is going back to the government. Maybe directly, or indirectly… You really need to think about this if your taxes aren’t taken before receiving your earnings.
    In Canada, our income tax rate is pretty high and so it’s safe bet to say it’s at least 30%. Maybe even higher if you are a big shot… So anyway, just something to keep in mind and ruin your day. Your welcome!

    1. That’s a very good point! I should take a deep dive into my taxes to see what value I get in return for them. Maybe I can spin them into a positive use of my time, lol.

Comments are closed.