Blowing Through Money

Blowing through money

blowing moneyThree Thrifty Guys is usually all about getting bang for your buck, but for this 4th of July season I wanted to take a light-hearted look at going for the quickest bang for the most buck.

And speaking of bang, an average firework at the local stand near my house is $.50 per pop. When you light these patriotic explosions, you get to see the fiery beauty for about 1.3 seconds (don’t worry, I timed it). So 50 cents per 1.3 seconds yields a unit rate of 38 cents/sec, or $22.8 dollars/min (don’t worry, I’m math teacher). That’s a pretty efficient way to see money spent! But is it the most efficient?

I looked at some other activities and purchases to compare.

Grilling out

An American staple. Any true patriot knows that the smell of the charcoal and seasoned meat is worth every penny, but how quickly is money fizzling away on decks and patios across the country? My grill for this Independence Day will feature 4 hamburger patties, slices of cheese, with buns and condiments on the side awaiting use. For the calculations, let’s estimate 2 lb of hamburger for $7.00 total, cheese at $1, buns for another $1.50, and condiment packets on loan from a local fast food joint. Allowing 10 minutes for the grilling, 5 minutes for the savoring, and 10 minutes for the devouring means I’m seeing $9.50 be scarfed down in 25 minutes. I guess $0.38/min is a considerably slower and tastier drain on the wallet.

Buying a new car

I saw plenty of July 4th blowout car sales – maybe Uncle Sam really does need me to head over to the dealership! If they hooked me for a $20,000 car that I was able to drive for 10 years, am I getting a quick bang for my buck? If I include $250 per month for gas and maintenance, I’m spending $.0095/min, or almost 1 cent each minute for the 10 years I own the car.


I was cordially invited to the local casino for the holiday by an advertisement…where bad odds and addictive psychology meet! Let’s put $20 on the line with an all-in bet and see how lucky we are. A poker hand would last about 2 minutes – so $10/min is a pretty prolific rate of burning cash if the luck is sour. A bad choice on the roulette table blows through money even faster – $20 in 20 seconds, which is the time it takes for the ball to spin around, providing an ironic visual representation of money going down a drain. That’s $60/min…and we have a new winner!! Or loser, I guess.

Rocking out at a concert

Born in the USA will be blaring over my sound system on repeat all day, as it should be yours. What’s the blow-through rate if I suddenly got the urge to buy tickets to see Bruce Springsteen in concert? I’ll conservatively say $90 for the ticket and 2.5 hours of screaming my lungs out. The blow through rate comes out to be $.60/min.

Taking in a ball game

Baseball – still America’s pastime. I was at a major league ballpark recently and definitely felt the cash sliding through my fingertips at an alarming rate. Just how fast? $0.31/min to be exact. That’s for parking, ticket, and the world’s most overpriced hotdog and beer at the concession stand.   

What activities did I miss? Can you think of any others where the bang is quick and the bucks are gone?

 Read how Matthew and his family save on their cell phone bills and healthcare.

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  1. Family and friends. People try to “buy” love and friendship or they feel compelled to show off by buying houses, cars, clothes, and items. As Will Rogers used to say, “They are spending money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.”

    • Good thoughts Noor. We do it all the time, don’t we?

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