Money and Markets

The real cost in SA of a cappuccino – as measured in the hours you have to work to pay for it

Business Insider SA
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  • At a salary of R25,000 per month, it would have cost you four hours to buy a cappuccino on every working day of February.
  • Designer jeans come to seven hours, and a nice house costs six years.
  • Thinking of expenses in those kind of terms could make for better spending decisions, says the Actuarial Society of South Africa.
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Time is money, and money is stuff, so stuff is, in a sense, time.

And if you think about stuff in terms of time, you may make better decisions on how to spend it, says Costa Economou, convenor of the retirement matters committee of the Actuarial Society of South Africa.

Economou calculated the time-value of a range of things, from monthly rent to pizza, in order to illustrate one way to think of expenses.

In those terms, a cappuccino every working day comes to four hours a month – time you could be spending in a different way, or maybe not.

"If that daily cappuccino is what you need to make you more productive and you are willing to sacrifice the time, have that cup a day. But make an informed decision," said Economou, in a statement from the society.

If you earn R25,000 per month, here is what you pay in time for various items, according to Economou's calculations.

A 3-bedroom house: six years

If you buy a R1.8 million house and pay for it over 20 years, at a decent interest rate of 9.75%, you will work 12,096 hours to make the monthly repayments – with the total cost you pay reaching R4.1 million.

A cheap car: 210 working days

A R250,000 car, paid over 60 months at a 13% interest rate will cost you a little under R350,000 in the end, says Economou. That is 1,680 hours of your time.

A high-end cellphone: 12.5 days

Based on the price of an iPhone 11 – at R15,000 – you will put in an even 100 working hours to pay for it.

Renting a house: 7 days a month

If your monthly rent is R8,500, then 57 hours a month goes towards paying for it.

A smart TV: 6 days

A R7,000 TV will set you back 47 hours, or 5.875 working days, to be precise.

A high-end cellphone contract: 1 day a month

If you are paying R1,150 per month for a iPhone 11 with a decent-sized data allocation attached, that is 8 hours a month.

Designer jeans: 7 hours

A R1,000 pair of brand-name jeans is worth seven hours, or 7/8ths of a working day.

A nice dinner out: 4.7 hours

Assuming your family of four dine out for R175 per head, you will work slightly over half a working day to pay for it.

A cappuccino every working day: 4 hours per month

At R28 each, you would have worked four hours in February to afford a cappuccino on each of the 20 working days in the month

Takeaway pizza: just under an hour

A R135 pizza is worth 54 minutes of your time.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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