“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin
“Time is money,” but they have differences in our minds.
Asking someone, “How did you spend your time today?” is acceptable, while “How did you spend your money today?” is not. There are some exceptions, like on Amazon Prime Day.
Money and time are resources, but as time is finite, it is a more valuable resource. We can make more money, although we all differ in our abilities to do so. We can’t purchase money, but we may buy other people’s time for various services (e.g., help with doing household chores) to have more time to do other things we need to do.
There is income inequality, but we live by the same 24 hour day clock like everyone else.
While you think that those with an abundance of money can buy enough services to support them to free up time, that may not be so. An economist Daniel Hamermesh points out that the wealthy have time stress. In his book, “Spending Time: The Valuable Resource,” Hamermesh says higher earners work more because they feel rushed to make and spend money.
Time can be exchanged for money when we need others to listen to us, whether it is a life or business coach, psychologist, attorney, etc. How we spend our time with these professionals is up to us sometimes with little direction from them.
The Time And Money Relationship Is Visible In Our Financial Lives
1. Earning More
The time value of money is the notion that money can grow in value over a given period. When we deposit $100 cash into a savings account, we hope our money will grow according to the annual percentage yield (APY) of 2% and how often it compounds. The APY is the actual interest earned per year. We save more in the bank when interest rates are on the rise.
2. $5,000 today or $5,000 In Two Years
Given a choice between receiving $5,000 today or $5,000 in two years, you would likely choose $5,000 today. You can put the $5,000 to use now or invest it for more money. The only way those two amounts are valued equally is if you left the $5,000 in zero rate account today for two years.
3. Eighth Wonder of The World
Compound interest is one of the most powerful investing forces and fuels the urgency to set aside money early for your retirement. It simply means the addition of interest to the sum of a loan or deposit, or interest on interest. Your balance grows at an increasing rate. The compounding power plays an essential role in money in your personal savings plan, 529 Savings Plan, mortgages, and investment accounts.
4. Lump-Sum Or Annual Payments
Lottery winners, after the rush of adrenaline, have a choice to make regarding time and money. Most lotteries allow the winner to take a lump sum or an annuity. Most lottery winners will take the lump sum payment upfront. They want to have full access immediately rather than over several years.
Choosing the annuity may be better for tax implications than the lump sum. If you opt for sudden wealth, you may risk overspending. That is for another post, another day. We will get back to more examples of the time and money relationship.
5. Spend Time Working
Employers pay money for the time spent working at our jobs, whether hourly wages or annual salaries with overtime for longer hours.
When investing in bonds, you are technically lending money for a specific period to the issuer, who is the borrower. Most bonds pay a fixed amount of interest every six months to the investors and repay the face value. Over time moving towards its maturity, the bonds increase in value to become worth its face value.
7. Cars Depreciate In Value
Some of the financial value of what we purchase drops soon after our purchase, like cars. According to current depreciation rates and CARFAX, a new vehicle may drop by more than 20% after the first twelve months of ownership. Cars may lose as much as 10% of value in the first month.
8. You Cannot Replenish Time
Money is replaceable so long as you can continue to earn money by working, selling things, and investing. On the other hand, you can’t replace time. Renewable resources can be, but our time is gone.
9. Typical Lives Over Time
From birth through different life stages, we somewhat conform to doing certain things at about the same time. We are born, go through schools until college, age 22. Typically, we may begin our careers until we retire. The majority of us will retire after 60 years of age. In the years between our jobs, we have children, potentially divorce, and remarry again.
Please take a look at this great diagram that reflects our current civilization on one page. It is called the “Your Life In Weeks” post on the Wait but Why blog run by Tim Urban and Andrew Finn. Specifically, “The Life of A Typical American” highlights our journey in unison.
Time keeps moving by seconds, hours, and so on. Some of us are very productive with our time; some of us are more wasteful.
There is a line in “Unchained Melody” written by the Righteous Brothers:
“Time goes by so slowly and time can do so much…”
Time is finite; it is precious. Use it carefully. Let’s stop wasting our time and be more productive.
9 Tips For Being More Productive
1. Make A Reasonable To-Do List
Having goals for work and home sometimes merge, mostly if you work at home. It is probably a good idea to separate those goals with different to-do lists. I sometimes work on my list at time late in the evening before relaxing. Planning what I need to do often helps me relax and sleep better. The next day I have more motivation and energy to tackle my tasks.
Make sure your list is reasonable, or you will abandon it altogether. Although we sometimes do the easier things first, at least it gets you moving. Move to your more significant priorities. Often there are conflicts between work and home so find the right balance.
2. Get Things Done
For those who are prone to putting things off, tomorrow is always a better day. There are downsides to delaying financial decisions like paying bills, saving, and investing. Procrastination is stressful and costly.
Instead, take small steps and get things done. It feels good to do so.
Related Post: 11 Ways To Avoid Costly Procrastination
3. Eat Healthy And Exercise
Having the right frame of mind is often helped by eating healthy, exercising, and remaining positive. Being fit helps to enjoy more of life longer. I have been eating far more healthy in recent years but should do more exercise.
I admit that I could do better with making more time for myself. I enjoy being outdoors, especially taking a long walk in our neighborhood. I am trying to carve out more time in the beautiful outdoors. I know this sounds like an excuse, but I recently spotted a bear and its cubs nearby. I have gotten more cautious about my evening walks and will be finding a new location.
I spend a lot of time teaching and writing and need move more. A fit and healthy body accompany a clear mind and increased stamina.
4. Reduce Screen Time
The average American spends more than 11 hours per day on their screens. However, not all of that time is wasteful. We watch shows, read, listen, play video games, and interact with others. Our phones, notably iPhones, come with screen-tracking, so it is easy for us to see how we spend our time with our devices.
On average, we spend nearly two hours on 5-6 social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitch. That equates to 5 years four months, just behind the seven years eight months we spend on watching TV according to Mediakix.
5. Learn A New Skill
Challenge yourself to learn new skills. Sometimes it is intimidating to learn something new at first. Learning can be frustrating and may raise some doubts in your mind. The harder the craft, however, the greater the reward. Just dive in and enjoy the experience.
Throughout my life, I have always looked to eliminate a weakness by learning something new. One of the significant demands of being an analyst is being a public speaker. I was never going to find success in my chosen career unless I tackled my fear and lack of skills.
I joined Toastmasters with a friend for about a year. It was an exhilarating experience! I am not a great speaker, but I came a long way since then.
I am a lifelong learner and will learn different things even as I am slow to adapt to new skills. Cooking is one area I thought beyond my reach, but thankfully, I have used videos to develop more abilities, although I am far from skilled. The Instant Pot is my weapon of choice for saving timing when cooking at home, which saves money.
So in a sense, time=money=instant pot!
To learn more about something that interests you, read books, watch YouTube videos, and take classes. My teens spend an awful lot of time being unproductive on their phones and Xbox.
I was pleasantly surprised last week when my son Tyler started speaking Chinese at the dinner table. He told us he found that he uses (www.Duolingo.com) at school to help him in Spanish. He started Chinese in recent months and now moving into Chinese characters, which he finds difficult. He enjoys it and recommends it for any language.
6. Stay Focused
I generally have a good attention span when I know what I need to accomplish. In the past, I was successful in tuning out everything around me. I studied for the law exams and bar primarily in Starbucks. I was motivated, and I had headphones. I turned them up.
When you have a lot of work to do, consider turning off your notifications. It is sometimes is a battle not to look at your phone to see how stocks are trading and what others are making for a joint dinner. You can catch up later. Stay focused.
7. Spend More Time With Friends and Family
My family is my best friend, and many of my friends are like family. I have very little family and only on my father’s side. My mom was the only survivor of a large family except for my uncle, who did not have children. So I often didn’t distinguish between family and friends.
Henry David Thoreau said, “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” Spend time with meaningful people and they often become good friends. Make time to be with your friends part of your productive day. Lose those people who are negative sources of energy and don’t add much value.
In my fortunate experience, I have found the redeeming value of many friends, and so in that regard, I am wealthy.
8. Have A Shopping Plan
When you shop with a plan, you are more targeted about your needs and wants. I always make a list for grocery shopping. I also target what I items in each store I plan to visit rather than meander down aisles.
Without a list or a goal, you may succumb to impulsive shopping. Retailers want you to be impulsive about your spending. They want you to buy in the spur of the moment when you are feeling good and possibly with friends. If you tend to buy too many things on these trips, make sure you know the return policy. Consider leaving your credit cards home and using cash or go to be with your friends.
9. Avoid Comparison To Others
It is very natural for us to compare ourselves to others. It may instill inspiration in us to see our peers excel. However, most of the time, that is not the case. It is an innately human emotion to look at others from the time we recognize differences in our siblings and friends.
It takes time and energy away from us to make comparisons that are often unfair. It may also be robbing us of money when we spend money to catch up to our friends and what they have.
We are comparing the worst in ourselves to the best of others. You are unique with different experiences. Embrace yourself. You are better than you think.
Related Post: 9 Ways To Avoid Lifestyle Inflation
Time, money, and productivity are interrelated. It is up to us to try to accomplish more with the time we have. Time is precious. Let us use it wisely by structuring our free time better. Be conscious of when you are wasting time and seize that moment for getting a small task done. Read, learn, do stretches, or prepare a new recipe for your family.
Thank you for reading!
How do you become more productive? Please share what works for you. We would love to hear from you, and others can benefit from your thoughts!
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.