Money is Time

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

— Henry David Thoreau

We think of money as merely something that allows us to acquire something else. We have some money, we spend it, we get something in return — pleasure, status, something to cover our basic needs.

Yet when we approach a transaction, we never really ask ourselves where that money come from.

I mean, clearly, we know it came from an employer or from an investment, for example.

But we never really ask about where it originated. About why & how it came to be in our possession.

We know we signed some sort of employment contract in most cases. But we fail to recognise the core tenet of that contract: to be at an office for 8hrs per day, five days a week, ~50 weeks per year.

To, in essence, sacrifice our time in exchange for a wage.

And, therefore, when we spend money — when we do anything in fact, whether buying a new car or helping out a friend — we are not really spending money. We are spending time.

And each moment of each day, that time constitutes little chunks of our lives that we give away — and continue to give away — over time.

The old adage that “time is money” is, with such a conception, the reverse. More accurate to say “money is time”.

We buy a new car. Or a grandiose new house. We spend money purchasing it. We spend money doing it up. Maintaining it. Repairing that leak in the roof. Paying the right taxes on it. Etc. Etc.

The only case we seem to realise this unavoidable truth is in retirement.

We save money during our working life to spend our time freely in our later years, yet, ironically — and somewhat tragically — age leaves us unable to travel, to explore, to do all the things we wanted to do. Because we’ve already spent 60–70 years offering our time to somebody else.

How would your life be different if time were as precious to you as your finances? What if each decision you made were determined by how many chunks of life you would need to give away? How would your decision-making change?

We forget, much of the time, that life is short. That time is our only real asset. Use that time carefully.

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Henry Latham

Henry Latham

Founder, Prod MBA

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