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Value of Time

Pop Quiz Time. What is the most valuable commodity in the world? No, it’s not food nor water. It’s not air. All of these things can be bought. It’s not even money, the thing you can use to buy other things. No, it’s Time.  This post talks about the value of time.

Value of Time

Time is so valuable that several Tech millionaires have invested large portions of their fortunes to get more. For hundreds of years people have searched for the fountain of youth for the same reason. While your time on this earth is a bit longer these days than it was 100 years ago due to increases in life expectancy, time is still a finite resource.

Live Every Moment to It’s Fullest

What this means is you need to take advantage of every moment you have on this planet. Now you can interpret that last statement to mean multiple things. The most common version in society is You Only Live Once. We talked a bit about this a few weeks ago. Ultimately, yes you need to live your life to it’s fullest because tomorrow could be your last. However, conversely you still need to plan for the future so that your last breath is as great as the one you have now. It’s all a question of choosing what you value and dumping what you don’t. Doing so will allow you to enjoy every moment without wasting the opportunities that lie before you. The reality is no one gets to the end of their life and wishes they worked one more day or earned one more dollar. They wish they had more time to spend with their family and friends.

Another View of Time is Opportunity

Which brings us to the Value of Time as an opportunity. Opportunity in this context has multiple ramifications:

  • The Power of Compounding – The main reason money is of lower importance to time is that time buys money. I learned from a young age that money begets money. The more money you have, the more money you make. This is because by investing your money compounds, growing exponentially. The rule of 72 indicates that at the interest rate you invest your money at will double in 72 divided by that rate. So if you hit the average return of the market over time, 8%, then every 9 years your accounts are going to double. This means quickly your wealth will grow exponentially.
  • Time Used for Labor is the Easiest to Deploy – Much has been said about earning money via passive activity. This is ultimately a way of freeing up the precious commodity of time later in life by using the time you have more efficiently. However, to get there you still have to hustle with active labor up front. The simple reality is that the easiest way to start making money is to deploy your labor. This could be your career, a side hustle, or starting a company. In every case, putting in the effort up front can earn dividends in efficiency both in time and money later on. Education when executed correctly for example is just a form of making your time usage more efficient. So too are investing in passive forms of making money and increasing your savings. The more efficient you are the more time you will unlock from working.
  • Time Wasted By Debt – Wasted Time can also be viewed as a wasted opportunity. If you are in debt then (ignoring debt as levarage for a moment) you are in effect wasting time. Paying off the interest from a debt does nothing to free up time in the future. As such it is best to do whatever you can do to avoid going into debt. If you do fall into debt paying off the principle as soon as possible will limit the waste from the interest on debt.
  • Time Wasted by not Spending Your Money on What you Value – Wasting money buying things that do not really buy you happiness is another missed opportunity. This is why “Keeping Up with the Jones” is such a bad idea. If you spend all your time paying for that status symbol then it neither buys you time in the future nor makes you happy now. So you are losing by trading your precious commodity for what?
  • Time Wasted Attempting to Save Money – This is perhaps the most overlooked aspect.  Sometimes in looking for the best deal or trying to save money we sacrifice more time than the dollar saved.  This is the type I’m most susceptible to personally.  It’s hard not to get sucked into a few extra hours trying to save an extra 10 percent.  Still the value of time I give up for ten percent off say a new TV may be greater than the value of the TV its self.

So what does this all mean? It means that the path of highest return on your life leads through reducing your waste and maximizing the value of time. Avoiding debt, investing in your time usage efficiency (via building your career, education, etc), buying only whats of real value to you, saving for the future, and investing what you save will lead you to the highest valued life. They say money doesn’t buy happiness, well they are right, but it can sometimes be traded for time. And time does buy happiness, so perhaps in some ways so does money.

How do you maximize your time utilization?


  1. Making Your Money Matter
    Making Your Money Matter January 2, 2017

    Time is my biggest struggle right now-I have enough of everything else, but I’ve found in my stage of life (stay-at-home mom with young kids at home), that I am always fighting against time. I most appreciated the view on wasting time keeping up with others and on trying to save money. I’ve definitely learned lately to value my time in both these areas. Great post!

    • January 2, 2017

      MYMM, My wife is a stay at home mom as of recently so I can sympathize. She is currently struggling with finding the time to freelance given our youngest child’s sleep patterns recently changed. That being said as they get older there is a light of relative self sufficiency at the end of a long tunnel. We see glimmers of that light with the 4 year old… Thanks for adding your perspective.

  2. The Green Swan
    The Green Swan January 2, 2017

    Great message and well done on the post! Time is finite and it’s often on my mind as to how to maximize my time. Early retirement is the answer, but there’s a delicate balance right now with work and life, especially considering I have a young and growing family and I want to maximize my time with them as they grow up. No easy answer there. But time is precious!

    Thanks for the great post!

    • January 2, 2017

      It’s definitely a struggle, I try to keep in mind what my parents once told me, “enjoy your kids youth now as you’ll miss it when its gone.”

  3. Go Finance Yourself!
    Go Finance Yourself! January 2, 2017

    I struggle with this. I’m prewired to always be thinking of the future. It makes me a good planner and saver, but I’m not as good as living in the moment and enjoying every day. It’s a difficult balance to achieve. Those that live in the moment are typically more impulsive and spontaneous, and thus poor planners and savers. I know I will never be an impulsive person, but I would like to strike a better balance between living in the moment and always thinking of the future. My greatest fear is reaching the end of my life and realizing I didn’t enjoy enough of the journey.

    • January 2, 2017

      It’s definitely something I have to actively work at as well. Your right though, at the end of life you won’t be looking back at the time spent planning except for perhaps the opportunities your experiencing then. So it is a balance.

  4. Josh
    Josh January 2, 2017

    One of my older co-workers once told me when I first graduated college that “Opportunity is wasted on the youth.” Now that I’ve been in the workforce for 9 years now (& turned 30) I can understand what he means now. There are several things I would have done differently in my 20s if I could again.

    Mainly learning or pursuing different skills had I known I would have changed career fields after getting married and having a family, instead of partying or watching tv during my free time.

    • January 2, 2017

      There are definitely wasted opportunities in all our pasts. Then again without those mistakes you wouldn’t have the learnings that now propel you forward. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Mustard Seed Money
    Mustard Seed Money January 2, 2017

    I think I am still trying to figure out the right balance on spending time. I definitely think when I was younger I took it for granted and didn’t hustle enough with money. Now that I’m older I find that I’m hustling more to create income which is cutting into spending time with family. On top of that since I don’t love my job right now I feel like I am trading precious time doing something I don’t love. Hopefully it pays off in the long run though.

    Anyway great thought provoking post!!!

  6. Apathy Ends
    Apathy Ends January 3, 2017

    Good stuff FTF – “Time Wasted Attempting to Save Money” I was thinking about this while my in-laws were watching extreme couponing the other day……Why not work for the 20 hours it takes you to figure out how to get 300 free deodorant sticks and actually buy things you will use!

    • January 3, 2017

      I can’t say I’ve watched that particular show, but that is really the type of thing I had in mind. Its an easy trap to fall into.

  7. Jim @ Route To Retire
    Jim @ Route To Retire January 3, 2017

    I’ve noticed when I was younger, I valued money more than time. Now, I seem to value time a lot more. I’m only 41, but I imagine I’ll appreciate time even more as the years go on.

    One example is the rental properties I have started to acquire. Although I could probably manage them myself and result in a lot more cash flow every month, I prefer not to. I have a property management company that handles everything for me. Although not perfect, I would rather not spend my time on the properties and accept less money.

    Great post!!

    — Jim

    • January 3, 2017

      A great example for sure. As I get older and spend more time with my family it definitely becomes more valuable. Thanks for adding your perspective.

  8. FinanciaLibre
    FinanciaLibre January 3, 2017

    The time issue is so tricky – as you rightly point out time, money, etc. all have to work together to provide harmony in life. And when that’s achieved, you’re en route to the “highest quality life” attainable…which is a pretty good thing to shoot for. But, man, it can be hard to get the mix right!

    Thanks for the nice read, FTF.

  9. Linda at Brooklyn Bread
    Linda at Brooklyn Bread January 10, 2017

    Trying to find more time is just the running theme of my life. I’m sure most people would say this. And I definitely find myself chasing my tail looking to save money, trying to find the best price on something silly, instead of just doing less, shopping less and freeing up more time. I always say, there is no greater gift for me than canceled plans – whether for work or my personal life – that boon of hours, freed up and unaccounted for…there is nothing better!

    • January 10, 2017

      There never does seem like there’s enough time in the day, especially with kids.

  10. Steven Goodwin @ MyFamilyOnABudget
    Steven Goodwin @ MyFamilyOnABudget January 10, 2017

    This article rocks! So true on so many levels! So glad you shared it over on the RSFF! Great read bud! Shared!

  11. Leo T. Ly @
    Leo T. Ly @ January 18, 2017

    It’s very true that it’s hard to buy more time. I used to be online a lot- playing games. I mean I had fun and enjoyed it, but looking back, I could of use that time to improve myself and learn new things. Now that I know time is so precious, I try to use it as efficiently as I can. Hopefully, I can use my time more wisely going forward. Thanks for the great post and sharing.

    • January 18, 2017

      I’ve found I’m cool with the times I goof off and play games so long as it’s in moderation. Did you stop completely or just try to limit it?

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