Which would you rather have, more money or more time?
Most of us have heard the old line: “Time is money.” Many trace that saying to an old essay by Benjamin Franklin. It may have originated even sooner. It’s meant to remind us of the monetary cost of laziness. Since we get paid to work, should we minimize our non-working hours? When we do, we lose less of our money to other pursuits.
Over time our thinking has evolved. Today, fewer people think about time and money in the same way that they did in the past. Experiences matter. Which do you find more important, more money or more time?
Millionaires vs. Billionaires
A couple of years ago, a guest on Tim Ferriss’ podcast discussed the difference between millionaires and billionaires. In an issue of Anthony Pompliano’s newsletter, The Pomp Letter, he shared insights from that podcast. He spoke about a concept that I wasn’t familiar with before. In the newsletter, he talked about the idea of “time billionaires.” This concept was used to explain the difference between millionaires and billionaires. It put things in terms of time. For example, a million seconds equates to about 11 days. It takes about 31 years for a billion seconds to pass by.
If given the choice, would you rather have $1 billion with little time left to spend it, or $1 million with 31 years left to spend it. The choice gets a lot easier when you frame it like that, doesn’t it?
When we’re young, we often focus our time on trying to make more money. Things change as we age. We spend much of our money trying to turn back time. We may lament the times we chose working or making money over spending time with those we care about. In the end, our loved ones are more likely to remember the things we did with them rather than the money we spent or the things we gave them.
More Money or More Time – Which Do You Choose?
Have you had to make choices where you had to decide between more money or more time? If you did, which did you choose?
I’m always trying to get better at finding the right balance when choosing between more money or more time. According to research cited in this article, below a certain level of income, seeking more money represents a sensible way to pursue happiness. Beyond that, working harder simply to have more money to buy things becomes pointless.
While our natural impulse may be to buy stuff, we can benefit from investing in improving our closest relationships by sharing experiences and freeing up our time. That allows us to spend more time with those closest to us.
More Money or More Time – An Example
I know I still don’t always make the right choice when choosing more money or more time. But sometimes I do. One example that often comes to mind came shortly after my family and I moved from New Jersey to Maryland in 2003.
At that time, we had three kids. Our oldest son was five. Our middle son was not yet two. We also had a baby boy who was eight months old. (Our daughter was born nearly three years later.) When we bought our house, I bought a lawn tractor from the original owner. For me, the highlight of cutting the grass was that our two older boys would sit on the tractor with me when I used it. But even though I would spend at least three hours cutting the grass, I still wouldn’t be finished. The grass would be cut, but I wouldn’t get to finish taking care of the trim. Not long after we moved in, the person who cut some other lawns in our neighborhood offered to cut ours for $45.
This was a classic more money or more time situation. I knew that due to better equipment, it wouldn’t take him three hours to cut our lawn. But letting someone else cut the grass would save me at least three hours a week. That was only $15 an hour. The choice was easy. I decided my time was worth more than $15 an hour. I’d rather have the three hours than the $45. That left me with more family time.
The next spring, I sold our tractor to someone else. The person who bought it said, “I can understand why you’re selling it. It’s too small for your yard.” Regardless, I know it was a good decision. I’m glad I chose more time over more money.
Striking a balance
When choosing between more money or more time, you must strike the right balance. Consider these suggestions if you get out of balance:
- Remember to put your phone down – or even better turn it off. We live in a connected world. Give your brain a break. Spend time interacting with family and friends.
- Say no. We can’t manage it all. If it’s not essential or doesn’t add value to your life, don’t be afraid to say, “no.”
- Take care of your health. Our health matters. Exercise can help reduce stress. I find this one particularly important. It helps me navigate difficult stock markets like the one we’re experiencing in 2022. I wake up early every weekday and exercise first thing in the morning. With the spring weather, I’m also trying to work in a walk to help recharge my batteries during the day. It’s even better when I can get my oldest son to go with me. He’s helping me with Apprise. It gives us both a chance to catch up, get some fresh air, and recharge.
- Don’t neglect your relationships. Relationships matter. Set aside time for family and friends. Make sure to connect with and pay attention to those you care about.
- Have some fun. They say laughter is the best medicine. Find time to laugh, joke, or play. I always enjoy our family game nights. I often find the interaction and banter while we play more meaningful than the games themselves.
Some of the above suggestions are harder than others. We may not do them all the time. But even doing them on occasion can help.
In life, balance matters. What can we do to improve our work-life balance? Remembering that we can choose more time over more money can help a great deal.
As our children get older and our responsibilities at work and at home grow, we have less free time. Many of us can manage some of the tasks that a financial advisor helps with. These factors can contribute to the decision to hire a financial advisor. To manage your own finances, you should have the Knowledge, Interest, and Time (collectively, “KIT”). A lack of time often serves as the deciding factor for many that choose to hire an advisor.
Another important factor relates to the change in the applicable rules that applies as we switch from asset accumulation to asset decumulation. When that happens, the rules change. Working with someone more familiar with those rules can help.
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