Before you accept that new job offer or take that promotion, use this new app to find out how your purchasing power will change, and how it compares to the compensation in other professions.
If you’re looking for a new job or a raise, it’s important to know what the offered salary is worth in the real world. As I’ve written in previous columns, there are several web-based calculators available to show how your current salary compares to the median in various positions. But do you know how long it takes to buy the things you want, based on what you make?
The online shopping website Retale.com is attempting to answer this nagging question with a simple app called Salaries in Real-Time. By entering a salary figure, you can see instantly how much you’re earning — or will earn — with each passing second. The site also immediately calculates how long it will take you to buy certain products, starting with a simple hamburger (at $4.79) and increasing all the way up to a new house. Other products listed as benchmarks include high-end running shoes ($120); a 60-inch, flat-screen HDTV ($1,500); and a small luxury car ($33,950).
The app also includes a number of professions with which you can make side-by-side comparisons. For example, it takes a typical construction worker, with an average salary of $31,460, a full 19 minutes on the job to earn enough for a hamburger, nearly a full day to afford the running shoes, more than 12 days for the TV and more than a year to purchase the luxury car. Meanwhile, a typical lawyer, making about $94,000 per year, can purchase these items in about a third of the time.
Just for fun (or perhaps to rub it in, depending on your perspective), the app also includes some extraordinarily high earners, such as NBA star LeBron James ($23 million per year), a typical “top CEO” ($156 million) and Oprah Winfrey ($300 million). With these pay rates, FYI, LeBron can buy a pair of his namesake shoes every 39 seconds, the CEO can buy HDTVs roughly every minute and Orpah can buy a luxury car every 14 minutes — no wonder she was so good about giving them away!
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But back in the real world, I was humbled to find that it takes me a little over 11 minutes to buy a decent burger, about half a day to buy the shoes, a little over a week to buy the TV and more than seven months to buy the car.
One big flaw in the Retale calculator, however, was the cost of buying a house. The app uses a median cost of just $188,900 for a single-family house. This might be true of the national average, but it’s laughably low for residents in King County, who have seen median prices skyrocket to $500,000 this summer. So, if you decide to use this app to determine the local earning power you’ll get from a raise or a new job offer, you’d better multiply the housing costs by about 2.5 times to get a more accurate picture for the Puget Sound area.