Screenshot from Sunset Riders with subtitle of Bury Me with My Money

Time is Money


I wrote this a few years ago in a tumblr post. 2011 I believe. I'm republishing it here with some minor edits.

You’ve all probably heard the old adage: Time is money. Some people usually follow it up with a “Spend it Wisely!” I’ve read this saying as time is precious like money, so don’t squander it or waste it. Lately, I’ve come to believe this is a poor and incomplete way of looking at it.

I’ve gained a new perspective on this 'equiponderant' saying. It’s not particularly balanced. Time is not directly equal to money. Time is more powerful than money (t>$). While money can be earned and replicated with investment, time is fixed; it comes and goes and waits for no one. And when you run out of time, no amount of money can get you extra. Also, just because you have time doesn’t mean you have money. You have to use your time to earn your money.

So, how is time money? Time isn’t money; Time can be money. Time is potential money and likewise money is potential time. And when you look at it like that, you gain a new perspective on life. We all have 24 hours in a day and those hours are spent on various activities like work, play, sleep, etc. So in effect (if you work 40 hours a week), about one-fifth of your time is money. Is the rest squandered? No, in fact sleeping, eating and playing are way more important than work for your well-being. Earning money at the cost of other activities can actually reduce your time in the long run by hampering your health.

As with anything, it’s contextual or all about application/situation. If you need more money, you can spend more time working. You can also get a higher paying job but those require more skill and experience (earned with time, of course) and can be more stressful (damaging your health). Another option is to have your other activities earn money secondarily. I doubt anyone will pay you to eat or sleep but your play can be molded into something fun that earns money or could earn money.

On the flip side, if you need more time in a day for other activities, you can use money to hire someone else’s time to get it done for you. You can pay for premier services to skip waiting in lines, buy an MMO game character to dodge hours of grinding or eat out to avoid cooking. You can save some time with money. Conversely, you can save some money by sacrificing time. You can hunt for coupons, use cheaper or free public facilities or wait for sales.

So, whenever faced with a task, I ask myself - is this worth the time or money? Should I wait one hour at the Costco gas station to save 20c a gallon? That one hour could be spent on something more useful (like uploading this post -haha!). Or do I the need the $2 saved to build up to another purchase? Or can that one hour be used to earn more than $2? Should I take on a more stressful job that pays more? Should I accept a promotion which requires me to take more work home? Should I wait for Thanksgiving to buy new tools for work? Should I buy a tech book today or wait for it in the county library tomorrow? It goes on and on.

Time is money; applying this proverb with the above perspective can help you with decision making, streamline your life and make you as efficient as you can be.