Time for Money or Money for Time?

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 “Remember that time is money. He can earn ten shillings a day by his labour, and goes abroad or sits idle one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness…has really spent, or rather, thrown away, five shillings besides.” - Ben Franklin

Bill and Tim were best friends growing up in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. After graduating from high school, they both went to Stanford and graduated with finance degrees. Tim got a job as a Wall Street analyst, while Bill decided to return to Ohio to help his family run the family business.

They agreed to meet up the following summer in Maldives for an amazing diving adventure. But when summer finally rolled around they were too busy to do it.

A year later, Bill had the business running smoothly and was ready to go. “I’d love to go,” Tim said. “But I’m in the middle of our annual audit. Maybe next year.”

The following year, Tim couldn’t go because he just got a new “promotion” and had more responsibilities. The year after that, it was the “big” client. Of course this went on for several years. Finally at his wedding, Tim made a promise to himself that he would definitely do the Maldives trip “next year”. Ten months later, he and his wife had their first child.

Bill kept in touch and would sometimes send Tim some picture to tease him about the trip.

At their thirtieth high school reunion, Bill and Tim saw each other for the first time since their graduation from Stanford. Tim had become a very wealthy man and dressed the part. Meanwhile, Bill had lived a comfortable life.

That night Bill and Tim walk to the football stadium to talk, while their friends are dancing away to club music. Sitting on the bleachers, Bill asked “So what’s it like living rich everyday like you?” And Tim said “Well, I have the big house, two cars, expensive clothes; all the nice things. But my typical day starts when I wake up early in the morning and force myself to run. Because it’s the only time I have. The moment I start working I’ll be at it for ten to fourteen hours straight. It’s challenging. And I’m frustrated almost everyday.”

So Bill said “That sounds grueling. But at least you have all the nice things.” Tim smiled and asked “And how are things with you?” And Bill said “Well, I’m not as rich as you. Far from it. But in some ways my life is more comfortable than yours. I get up and meditate before taking my bike out for an hour or two. Then I have my light breakfast and do some reading. At one, I go to the office and stay there until about eight. After that I go home. I read or watch TV for a while then I go to bed.”

“You’re right,” said Tim. “That is much more comfortable. I’m jealous!”

“But that’s just half the fun.” Bill said "I ride my bike to get around. My wife and I have a small car but we only use it to take the kids to school and back. Our house needs to be renovated, but I don’t have the extra money to do it, so I’m doing small things here and there. We have a small retirement saving just enough for our well-being. We've saved some money for our kid's college tuition. But I think it’s only enough to cover their living expenses. Other than that, we’re enjoying our time.”

Time and money seems to be connected: we can spend our time earning money or we can spend our money enjoying our time.

The orthodontist can afford a month long vacation but doesn’t have the time to take it. Meanwhile, the school teacher has more than a month off every summer but can’t afford to take that kind of trip. Indeed, the more time you devote to making money, the more likely you’ll make. But what good can money do if you have no time left to enjoy it?

In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote:

Over the years, my own struggle with time/money quandary changed but did not abate. I often wandered…

Why is it that I’m still working sixty hours a week when I don’t need any more money?

Why do I find it so difficult to stop thinking about work when I’m with my friends and family?

Why is my week schedule jam-packed with work and hobby time? Why can’t I give myself half-a-day off without feeling guilty?

I still wondered whether I could have worked half the hours I worked in the past and made the same amount of money. I wonder what I could have gained in intimacy had I spent more time with my children. I wonder if my maniacal drive to become a more accomplished person affected my health.

What about you? Do you have the same questions? Ultimately, every responsible person must ask themselves: “How much time should I spend earning money? How much time should I spend with my family? How much time should I spend for myself?”

The truth is, if you’re not born rich, you must work to make money. How much time you devote to making money probably depends on how you feel about the financial well-being of your family. And whether you should leave this world a little better than when you found it.

Well, if you feel that way, you will almost certainly have to work long hours for years. And if you have bigger financial ambitions, the time will take longer. But if you learn to enjoy time you spend making money, your life will be more fulfilled. You will get much, even most of your happiness from the time you spend working.

How? Read on…The First Step to Optimize Your Happiness