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Friday, 7 April 2017

DTF: dollars to fun ratio

What is your DTF rule? Do you have a pretty loose DTF ratio? Or are you super tight when it comes to DTF?

No, I'm not talking about the Urban Dictionary definition, I mean the Dollars To Fun ratio.
As part of the Financial Independence and frugality movement, I think a lot about the value of my spending. Does buying the expensive name brand bread increase my happiness enough to justify the extra dollar on the price tag when compared to the sad floppy home brand stuff (Hint, it totally does).

There is a huge difference between cost and value. Cost is what you pay for it. Value is what you get from it. Put simply, a loaf of bread costs me $3.40. I value it because I'm hungry, and it goes well with soup. When it comes to the DTF ratio, I use it to consider whether the cost of something is worth the value I got out of it. Specifically, I use the DTF ratio to look at entertainment.

Before I stumbled across this whacko idea of retiring early, I would look at home much I earned per hour and I decided that I would pay about half that for an hours entertainment. I should probably clarify that this was back when I was living at home and I could afford to blow every dollar I made. This rule worked out great for me! Movies for $10 fit well within the DTF rule. I could buy a video game at $80 because it was easily going to consume every night for a few weeks. Gigs met the DTF rule because I had to listen to all the music before I went to the live show (yes, even factoring in the cost of the album, it was still DTF-approved).

Thankfully this hasn't come through to my adult life, but for many people it has. That motorbike I'll hardly ever ride is $2,000 but I make $100,000+ so it's DTF-approved. A yacht spends most of it's time tied up at the dock, but I'm rich so DTF. I've had a lousy day at work earning $30 an hour and these shoes are only $50 and so cute, DTF!!

Consumer spending has got to be the number one cause of debt in Western society. We are constantly advertised at and told we deserve bigger more expensive things. In my quest for FIRE I have tried to move away from this.

My ideal Dollars To Fun ratio is a mere $1 an hour. For $1 an hour I'm DTF.

Amazingly, a dollar an hour goes a really really long way. Mr. FIRE and I went fishing on the weekend. We spent $7 on bait and spent five hours down at the seashore. We would have had dinner from it but it turns out we need to learn to fillet properly, but my hens got a good feed of fish scraps!

A dollar an hour pays for most books of the Amazon Kindle store. Assuming you read them more than once, and don't buy books the day they are released. My favourite author has a new book out for $17.99, but the one she released last year is a mere $6.99. By employing the magic skill of waiting, I can have the book and still meet the DTF ratio.

Video games used to be my biggest wealth thief. A new release console game sells for around $80 to $100. Despite the hours of game play they swear they have, most games fizzle out for me around 20-30 hours, and then the cost of buying the console on top of that means that I don't buy or play as many games anymore. However I still play all my old games, some of which have over 200 hours play time across two or three different play through.

According to Steam my most played game is The Sims3 (I'm not proud of that) for 68 hours. I bought it for $12. On the other hand my library is full of pointless games that I paid a dollar or two for and only played for 10 minutes. Even worse is the collection of games I bought in a bundle and never touched. Frugal fail.

Of course, not everything can be bought for a dollar an hour. I love rock-climbing. I play roller derby. I've been wearing a True Grit wristband for years even though I've only been on two events (I should really take that off...) These things weren't even close to meeting the DTF rule. Rock climbing is about $5 an hour, plus gear costs. Derby is $80 a month for 24 hours worth of training. Rather than berate and guilt myself for these 'expensive' pleasures, I simply crowd out other expenses with low cost activities.

I might spend $80 a month on roller derby, but slacklining is free (apart from the initial purchase of the line). Fishing was $7 for two people for a few hours, hiking is free and if you know what you're doing both of them give you a chance to pick up a free dinner.

In my quest for financial independence, if the balance is right, I'm always DTF.

Thanks for letting me write a blog entirely devoted to DTF. I'm looking forward to the google traffic for this one! Leave a comment and let me know what you consider a fair price for entertainment.


  1. I'm really tight when it comes to DTF values these days especially when it comes to going out and entertainment. So much touted as a night out entertainment is not good value at all. For example, we went to what was touted as BBQ and beers night at the weekend. There was two choices of beer, neither of which was much good and at $9 for a plastic cup, not good value, and BBQ meat sandwiches for $15 each. An hour and 50 bucks later we left feeling totally ripped off. Unfortunately, it's not unusual these days which is why we just don't bother going out much these days. Ok, that's it, whinge over...

    1. Urgh, that's truly terrible! There is a local pub that brews their own beer in the back shed and they always have at least 4 homebrews on tap, plus they shop around microbreweries and have other obscure things to try. That's their regular business. I can't imagine an event about beer having less than 4 beers! Even then that's just covering the basics (Stout, Saizon, Sour, IPA, ...). I'd expect 2 of each kind, so 8 beers.

      You definitely got cheated there :( Come to Australia, I'll take you to my local! $50 will get you five pints, not sure how the wobble home will go though :D

  2. I am all about value spending. I love the concept of dollars to fun ratio :) I never thought about it like this but you are absolutely right. I want to maximize my happiness with the dollars that I spend. Fun article!!!

    1. Thanks MSM! I started out this concept for buying games on Steam (because I'm a sucker for a sale) and it's become a great baseline for looking at how happy my spending makes me. Although it almost justified spending $10 on a pure sequin dress at the second hand store, fun right? :D

  3. I do this regularly and have gotten to a point where I know how much I am willing to spend each week on activities and if I’ll enjoy them enough to pay the price. A good example is going to a movie theatre. Am I going because I really want to see this movie or because I’m bored/ looking for something to do? Can I get $12.50 tickets, or is someone suggesting a Saturday night movie with a premium price tag of $31?
    Funnily enough I’ve recently started doing this this with food! 'Is that cake worth the calories?' is a question I'll often ask myself, even if I have no idea how many calories are actually in it, I seem to question whether I will enjoy it enough to veer away from my somewhat healthy eating plan. This helps me to not feel guilty when the ratio is in my favour and it absolutely is worth it!

    1. Movies are the absolute worst! Like, where do they get off charging me through the nose for uncomfortable dirty seats, over priced popcorn and a drink so massive I need to pee halfway through the movie but I can't hit pause! Plus as I get older and grouchier I found myself disappointed by most movies, except Star Wars. That was great :)

      Also I know nothing about calories, but I know that if I ride 8 kms each way to work, then I'm going to eat whatever I want! :D


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