Results, Experiment #1: $1 = 5 Minutes

For seven days I put a limit on my spending habits.  I could only buy something if I was willing to wait 5 minutes for every dollar the purchase would cost.  Spending on groceries was exempt from this restriction.  How would my spending habits be impacted?

The Short Story

I definitely like this.  I’m going to keep doing it.  I think I’m pretty deliberate about big purchases, but small purchases I can sometimes be impulsive.  The biggest change I noticed was eating out and ordering in less.  I like to cook, but when I’m tired after work I don’t feel like it.  Forcing myself to wait gives me time to get home and de-stress, then I do feel like cooking.

Also, people say that time is money, but I think it’s the other way around.  Money is time.  We only have money because we spent time out of our lives earning it.  It only makes sense to take some time to reflect on whether money is being spent wisely.  Putting a hard requirement of five minutes for every dollar is an easy way to focus attention on spending and help adhere to a budget.

The Long Story

Here’s how my week went:


I decided to get dinner at Panda Express.  I figured it would cost about $10 so I waited at least 50 minutes from the time the idea came in my head.  Wasn’t really tempted with money other than that.


I left work at about 8:30 pm.  I didn’t feel like cooking dinner since it was late.  I had lunch meat and cereal at home.  Usually this situation would result in my laziness taking over and me grabbing fast food or take out on the way home.  But fast food isn’t fast anymore.  Anything I get is going to cost around eight to ten dollars.  That’s a wait of 40 to 50 minutes before I can order it.  Instead, I went to the grocery store and got food for dinner, breakfast stuff for later, and buns and brats for tomorrow.


As I was getting ready for work, I knew I was still kind of hungry, but didn’t want a full meal.  I also knew I would want something to drink while I was teaching.  I decided I wanted a small milkshake and coke from McDonalds.  I thought the two of those together would cost about 4 bucks, so I needed to wait 20 minutes.  The drive to work was twenty, so I drove and hit the McDonalds at work.  I still wanted the shake and drink so I got em.

I thought about buying a drawing app as I was lying in bed messing with my iPad.  It cost about $7.  I set an alarm for 35 min later.  When the alarm went off I didn’t want the app anymore and I was really sleepy.  Went to sleep, the next morning I woke up and still haven’t bought the app.


Bought a haircut and a coffee for the girl who cuts my hair.  The appointment was made weeks in advance so I think that counts as appropriate waiting time.

I still wanted that app.  I set another timer for 35 minutes and went about my day.  At the end of the time my mind hadn’t changed, so I bought it.  I also saw another app that looked cool that only cost a dollar.  Usually I would have just bought it.  Today, I waited five minutes and didn’t want it anymore.


Leaving work today I wanted to pick up pizza on the way home so bad, but I couldn’t stand the idea of waiting long enough for it to be legal.  I went to the grocery store instead and bought ingredients.  Then I went home and made chicken teriyaki stir fry.  It was delicious and the leftovers lasted for two more meals.


Had a great show tonight.  Wanted to get a beer afterward with CG.  We went across the street to San Diego Beer Company.  I totally forgot about the experiment and spent 6 bucks without waiting.


Went to the bar again after the show.  Once again, I bought beers and food without waiting for the time to pass.  I need to figure our how to make this work with hanging out with friends at the bar.

1 thought on “Results, Experiment #1: $1 = 5 Minutes

  1. Maybe you just need to have a ‘slush’ fund (cash only) set aside for entertainment for the weekends. When the cash is exhausted, be it Saturday or Sunday, it’s time to go home.

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