Instead Of Thinking Time Is Money Think Money Is Time

For my entire life, I’ve heard this one: Time is money! However, most of the people who say this haven’t yet figured out how to fully sell out their time.  That means that for them, time could potentially be money, but in the end…it’s just time.  

This misguided view causes us to be impatient, utilitarian in our relationships and stern this those who don’t operate at our pace or ‘waste our time’ on calls or in meetings.  Again, the assumption we errantly take in this approach is that our time is fully committed for cash, and others barge in for it, taking points off the board. 

A few weeks ago a sage business person I know offered a counter-perspective that really hit home with me.  Money is time.  It takes time to make it, and while money can be found, made or borrowed – time cannot.  Every day, you look in the mirror and realize that you are getting older, slower and more likely out of step with up and coming generations.  At some point your body or mind will start to slip, and unlike the flu, you will never get better. 

I know that’s morbid, but it’s also pretty realistic.  If it took you a year to save $10,000, then spending it in the wrong place costs you a precious year of your life to replace.  If you haven’t noticed, it’s harder in 2012 to make up lost money than it was in 2005, and might get even more difficult in the future.  

For me, here’s my takeaway: Money is a precious resource I’ve sacraficed time for.  Time away from my loved ones.  Time I’ll never get back.  Money is a reflection of it, not what it bears.  I will be judicious in how I spend or invest it.  I will look for passive income streams where ever I can, so that I can stretch time instead of gringing it out with active income that requires my present capabilities.  I will teach others to think of money that way also, be they individuals or companies.  (As a startup founder, it’s clear that if you run out of money, you don’t have any more time to find traction, it’s literally your life-cycle.) 

The next time I eyeball that $500 gadget or a fancy car, I’ll look at my watch and calculate how much time it will ultimately cost me.  And that may change my mind.