Quite a dilemma isn’t it. We work hard to earn the money to give us the good things in life but then we don’t have the time to enjoy them because we are working too hard. Bit of a chicken and egg scenario.
When we think about what we are trading (or compromising) for money, time tends to be the first thing that pops into our head. The 40hr working week that our forebears fought so hard to get seems to be a distant memory.
Last week I received an email from a client with the time stamp of 11pm, she was still in the office; she arrived at 7am and would be back at 7am the following morning. She has two children who spend more time with the babysitter than they do with her. But she is building her career in a profession that expects that kind of commitment.
While she loves her work, she is really concerned about missing time with her children. So why does she do it? She feels she has no choice, she needs to provide for her family and the hope of a large salary and less hours at some point in the future keeps her going.
This is a common story, not only from people on salaries, but business owners as well. We seem to be prepared and feel we need to work long hours for some financial goal in the future.
In using our time to chase financial reward, time that we will never get back, we not only run the big risk of damaging relationships with our family and friends but also missing out on our children’s young development years.
That leads me to the question; Can you use Money to buy time?
In theory it is possible use money to buy time. But according to Elizabeth Dunn in her book Happy Money, “research suggests that wealthier people tend to spend more of their time on activities associated with relatively high levels of tension and stress, such as shopping, working and commuting.”
With rising levels of income over the last 40 years, you would think it is easier to use money to buy time. If you want to be serious about it. You need to learn strategies that change money decisions into time decisions.
Everyone I talk to is saying things like, “I keep running out of time” or, “there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.” There are lots of ways we can use money to buy time, for example, outsource most household chores like cleaning, lawn mowing and even cooking. We can do the same in our business by outsourcing our book keeping, social media and other tasks.
You can buy faster, smarter appliances that do chores much more quickly than you can do yourself. Even with all these options available to us, we are still feeling time poor. Why?
It has a lot to do with our financial prosperity. Feeling like time is valuable is enough to make it seem scarce. Rising income makes time relatively more valuable.
That doesn’t mean you should race out and buy all the labour-saving devices you can. Research has shown that products designed to be more time efficient, may make us feel more impatient. Get more specific; products that reduce the worst minutes of our day, can give us a happiness boost.
Not surprisingly, we view time and money differently. This is also why is isn’t as easy as we think to use money to buy time. If money is feeling a bit tight this week, we tend to assume that it will feel that way for a week or two or maybe even a month from now.
But we don’t see time like that. Our day today maybe full on with so much to do and not enough time to do it all. But this time next week the calendar looks clear, so we will be less inclined to use money to buy time. But as we all know, by the time next week rolls around, that day will be filled up as well.
If you want to turn your money decisions into time decisions, try this exercise next time you are out shopping for new sofa, for example. No doubt you will sit on lots of different sofas, and of course the more expensive they get the more comfortable they feel, the extra price tag for extra comfort seems like a great trade off.
Ask yourself will the extra comfort alter how you spend your time? You could say that you will spend more time relaxing with a good book, or using time to catch up with friends at home now you have something super comfortable to sit on.
Now get more specific. Think about this time next week. So, if you are out shopping on a Saturday think about next Saturday. How will buying a more expensive sofa today effect you next Saturday? Will you really be enjoying time with a good book?
Thinking along these lines can help you make a less biased choice about how much a more expensive sofa will impact on our time.
When we see time as money, it can make it more difficult for us to relax and enjoy the pleasures of daily life. So, think more carefully about how you spend your time and your money, and how you can use money to buy time more effectively.
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