Convert Consumption into Labor Study Guide

There are links between your health and your wealth that exist in your work life. People with health issues or who are overweight often have a more difficult time gettng hired and some may have trouble performing the duties of their job. A history of financial problems can limit job seekers if employers check credit histories as an applicant screening tool.

The objective of the Convert Consumption into Labor strategy is to help you learn how consumption can be balanced by labor. For a quick overview of this strategy, view the video.

This strategy is a useful activity for improving balance in your health and your wealth. You can calculate how much exercise (labor) you need to burn off a certain number of calories or how many hours of work you need to put in to make enough money to buy something that you want.

There are three ways to improve energy balance – eat fewer calories, increase physical activity, or a combination of both. By increasing your physical activity, you can increase your “calorie salary.” In other words, you can eat more calories without gaining weight.

The same is true with money. You can improve your financial balance by spending less, increasing income, or a combination of both.

The Work Off Extra Calories Worksheet can help you calculate the amount of time and effort it might take to burn off extra calories from some common foods and beverages.

The Matching Spending to Work Worksheet will help you convert your spending into labor by calculating the number of hours needed in after-tax earnings to buy something. If you are paid an hourly wage, the Matching Spending to Work Using Hourly Wage Worksheet may be more appropriate for you.

Questions to Ask Yourself

What did you learn from these activities?
What surprised you?
How could you use this information in the future?


Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Colorado counties cooperating. CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

Portions of this session were adapted and excerpted from the following book: O’Neill, B. and Ensle, K. (2006). Small Steps to Health and Wealth. Ithaca, NY: NRAES. Original workshop materials were prepared by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, and the University of Florida Extension. For additional informa tion about purchasing the Small Steps to Health and Wealth book, visit The project was supported by the Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Program of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant number 2011‐46100‐31139. Program Materials –September, 2013.

Updated Tuesday, August 05, 2014

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