Time vs Money: A Deeper Insight for the Probing Mind in 2023

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Before we get down to comparing time vs money and decoding what holds more value, let’s pause and reflect on this.

Perhaps the way we see the problem is the problem itself. We’re asking the wrong question- knowing whether time is more important or money; is irrelevant without deeper insight.

Instead of viewing time vs money in their individual capacities as resources, understanding their interaction and striking harmony in their synergy is possibly our best bet.

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”- Stephen Covey.

Priority Changes for Different people

Time vs Money

If we were to focus on utilizing a resource, the intention behind it, the end goal, and most importantly, the synergy between the two might help us grasp the concept better.

See what holds more current value- time or money- can be viewed through different lenses for different people. Your current position in life, income, societal relationships, everything comes into play.

You can’t deny the power of money or the fleeting nature of time. And you don’t have to!

The value of a resource is in the meaning it provides to our life, how it fuels our purpose, and the life energy it costs. Mindfully navigating through life and using one to optimize the other is mastering the delicate dance that makes life worth living.

It is not as cut and dried as it appears on the surface level, and so adopting a mindful approach to scheduling our priorities can make all the difference!

Audit your Time vs Money: Is your intention in Alignment?

We tend to be relatively close-fisted when it comes to money, but the same principle doesn’t work or hold for time. The more you try to grasp time, akin to sand, the more it flows out of your hand, and this is because the real time value is intangible and incapable of being grasped.

This, in turn, prods us to get to the very root of why time vs money question poses to be a constant dilemma for most of us and how we can nip it right in the core instead of dealing with it at a symptomatic level.

Time vs Money Balance

A former monk turned motivational speaker, Jay Shetty is an advocate for living your life with a sense of purpose, Shetty proposes practical tips on authentically maneuvering your time vs money after defining your core set of values. 

He suggests maintaining a journal of how we are spending time and where we spend our money. Upon reflection, if these two align with our intention and the direction we wish to head in life, then we’re winning! If not, we might want to reconsider.

Note that ‘Intention’ here is the criteria, owing to the ‘value’ or ‘meaning’ it assigns to a resource. You might be trading time slogging away at your desk resentfully to earn money that might provide you with momentary joy.

Contrarily, the same time can be engaged in spending intentional time voluntarily doing charity work that enriches you more than just weighing the same time in monetary terms. 

Ultimately, what you take away is the actual ‘cost’ or ‘worth’ of your time value and/or money spent. You wear the pants when it comes to how you measure your and how you define success for yourself. Acknowledging this authority is pivotal to understanding the effect time vs money create.

Memento Mori: Reflecting on What Matters Most

Earning valuable time is more important than earning money

If you’re familiar with Stoic philosophy, you might have heard this phrase “Memento Mori” before. It’s not hard to guess what a person would wish for on their deathbed. Nobody wishes they had more money, but time seems to be a typical response. 

The Stoics valued money but knew that meditating on one’s mortality is the best way to have a content, happy life.

This mindfulness technique ensured holding yourself accountable for how you spend your time and whether money was an incentive to lead a more comfortable life or a facility that left you feeling more obsessed, enslaved, and miserable.

Considering this philosophy, we might want to rephrase the expression- ‘money can buy happiness’– with ‘money can buy happier time, giving us a more coherent idea of what makes a happy existence between time vs money.

Why Prioritizing Time creates better fulfilment than Saving Money

Time is bigger than Money

○ Time Confetti: 

Living in the future leaves fewer hours for personal freedom

This idea of “using money to buy happier time” brings us to the concept of “Time Poverty” (Whillans, 2019). This phenomenon is one that is most relevant to our current generation.

Harvard Business school professor and behavior scientist Ashley Whillans coined this term to discuss its crushing effects on our well-being and happiness, statistically overpowering even those caused by unemployment.

Despite having time for leisure more than ever today, our constant interaction with technology, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and failure to draw boundaries when it comes to our time has seriously ‘fragmented on our leisurely time’. Ashley lists two reasons for this:

  • Prioritizing earning money more than we should
  • Saying YES to several things; fooling ourselves into believing that our future self will have more time than our present self

○ Funding Time:

Why Saving Time supersedes the belief to Save Money

Living in the future not only makes us less mindful of the present moment but also affects our current productivity levels, increases stress, and can cause severe burnout ultimately.

By overcommitting our future time and thinking we will have the energy to take on everything later somehow, we do ourselves a major disservice.

Instead, she suggests we capitalize on our joy by being in the present and feeling more in control of our lives. A strategic way of doing so is by “funding time”. Buying time has been linked to greater life and career satisfaction, better relationships, social networking, and fulfilment.

When it comes to your money, you need to ask yourself this question. What will bring you greater happiness? A material purchase, or the ability to gift yourself more time? 

A conscious mindset shift from our obsession with money to our intention with our time can be a deal-breaker for most of us faced by the dilemma of time vs money!

○ Opportunity Cost Neglect: 

More money can come at the cost of neglecting better opportunities and growth

People who value time over money are more likely to make career choices based on inherently motivated reasons because they ‘WANT TO’, as opposed to them having ‘HAD TO’.

What this means is that by choosing to do work that genuinely fulfils them instead of slogging away at their desk all day- they create more enriching opportunities for themselves on their own terms.

This subsequently leads to them experiencing better job satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and greater meaning in life- both at an individual and societal level.

In exploring the Time vs Money question, we tend to forget money is concrete and time is abstract. We often don’t promptly realize that the decision to spend our time doing a task we dislike for monetary gain comes at the direct cost of missing out on the opportunity to do something else that we would’ve genuinely enjoyed.

For example- Spending one hour of our time doing work that we’re disinterested in comes at the cost of foregoing the ability to do something that we would thoroughly enjoy engaging in. This is what forsaking opportunity cost means.

Therefore, it helps to remind ourselves that the future will be just as hectic as today, and using this money to buy happier time can make us overall more efficient in our work, produce better output, help us have authority over how we wish to spend our time, and also promote being mindful in all of this. 

What better way to carpe diem! It’s a win-win situation, if anything.

○ Happiness Dollars: 

The notion of prioritizing valuable time as opposed to just making more money

Lastly, Ashley’s research narrows in on a more informed way of successful decision-making. She proposes using the concept of “Happiness Dollars”, which substitutes contemplating the ‘monetary value of our time’ with the ‘monetary value of our happiness’. 

This can be viewed as the income equivalent of the happiness we experience from making a time-related choice. It encourages us to opt for things that will create time for activities that will enrich us in all areas of life. This includes spending extra time savoring meals, engaging in voluntary work that fertilizes our mind and spirit, and outsourcing work that we do not consider worthy of our time and energy. 

This kind of mental attitude helps root a healthy foundation for effective and sustainable time vs money management. Every action we take and its repercussion branches out and loops back to our mental prosperity. Keeping this notion in mind, making worthwhile choices and decisions becomes easier.

“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy, we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Time Is Money > Time vs Money

Time is Money

In the time vs money debate, a counterintuitive approach of spending money to save more time is also upheld by investor and entrepreneur Naval Ravikanth (Waschenfelder, 2020). He claims that “one does not get rich by spending their time to save money, but in fact by saving their time to make money.”

How does one achieve this? He suggests adopting a personal economic value for our time. How much do you rate your time monetarily and subsequently- your worth? It all stems from viewing time as our most valued resource. Furthermore, Ravikanth advises setting an hourly rate for yourself. 

The logic behind this is that setting a fixed rate to how we spend each hour of our time is the benchmark for deciding whether we profited from or squandered on our time usage. If valued below the cost of that stipulated time, any activity performed in that duration is a loss.

This means that our future self will be spending all that extra money on tasks that are unworthy of our time and abstain from doing things that we are genuinely passionate about.

Mindful Approach: Conscious Awareness is key to Success

Master your mind; master your life

In their bestselling book- ‘Ikigai’ (The Japanese Secret to a long and happy life), authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles uncover the nucleus of prosperous, happy and wealthy communities across the globe.

The power of utilizing the potential of our mind and sharpening our mental faculties is imperative when it comes to mastering our time, money, and everything else. 

At ‘Wealthful Mind’, we champion the same philosophy- Master the mind; master your life.” By failing to synergize any resource usage with our purpose and long-term goals, we set ourselves up for disappointment and unhappiness. 

In using up all our time preparing incessantly for the future or viewing time as more dispensable than money- we neglect the value of living in the present. As a result, by the time that ‘so-called future’ arrives, we end up losing most of our life energy, our mental competence, and of course, years of potential fun. 

Investing time in sharpening the mind = Investing Time to make money

Invest time to make money

Prioritizing our mental wellbeing by engaging in ‘mental gymnastics’ like new skill learning and conscious living, we can ensure more sustainable use of our money and time.

In the book ‘Ikigai’, the people of the Okinawa island of Japan hold the crown for the longest life expectancy in the world. 

By utilizing their time to build skills like community-living, health, and interdependence, they constantly choose to be wealthy overall, not just in financial terms.

This also creates room for ‘authentic living’ as it helps them buy or save ‘happier time’ for themselves to do the things that bring them genuine joy and meaning. Their ‘Ikigai’ or ‘reason for being’.

○ Proactive > Reactive

Why an insightful perspective can help you save both money and time:

Internationally respected author and organizational consultant- Stephen Covey amassed great admiration worldwide for his impactful book- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey, 1989).

He, too, recommends using any asset with a clear end goal in mind. Whether it be with time or money, the key to effective decision-making is being aware of your own priorities and aim in life.  

He claims that the problem lies in the fact that “too many people focus on what is urgent, and not enough on what is important.” Note that what is urgent and what is important has a vast difference.

It is our responsibility to schedule our priorities and not just prioritize what is on our schedule. To save time is to save money, and to use the money to buy more time, is in fact, the key to making more money. It is essential that we comprehend this synergistic relationship between time and money. 

The Conclusion in a Nutshell:

The real challenge lies not in managing time or saving money but in managing ourselves first. A conscious shift in mindset is indeed central to our growth and overall wellness.

If our actions are in order with our values, and our choices are made from a place of awareness- then our perception of time vs money will go on to take a whole new meaning.

Acknowledging the fact that the sole authority of our happiness lies in our own hands, we are driven to make decisions that will help equip us to root ourselves in the present, broaden the vistas of our mental prowess, and fulfil us in a more sustainable manner.

By deconditioning the mind of preconceived priorities, we empower ourselves to shape our lives with higher, intrinsic consciousness and live our lives with a more holistic approach to ultimately help us successfully navigate the challenge of achieving an optimum work-life balance.

Often, countless practical strategies fail to give as much food for thought as simple wisdom can:

The Industrialist was horrified to find the fisherman lying beside his boat, smoking a pipe. 

“Why aren’t you fishing?” asked the industrialist.
“Because I’ve caught enough fish for the day.” fisherman replied.
“Well, why don’t you catch some more?”
“What would I do with them?”
“Earn more money. Then you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. That would bring you money to buy nylon nets, so more fish, so more money. Soon you would have enough to buy two boats, even a fleet of boats; then, you could be rich like me.”
“What would I do then?” 
“Then you could sit back and enjoy life.”
“What do you think I’m doing now?”

– Excerpt from “Timeless Simplicity” by John Lane.

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Suranya is an writer, lifestyle designer, and nature enthusiast. She is passionate about life, and everything it has to offer. She shares musings on philosophical insights, popular psychology, and holistic wellness.
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