Everyone knows the saying that “time is money”. The idea has been around for ages, but it was Ben Franklin who wrote it in this form in his “Advice to a Young Tradesman”. Why then shouldn’t we take the advice of the man on the One-hundred dollar bill?
Because he omits a very basic, very simple question… Why do we care about money or time?
The main problem with the saying is that it is not advice for the vast majority of us. It’s advice for a business owner, a tradesman. The sole purpose of a business is to make money. If a company is not profitable, it ultimately fails. And for a company, wasted time means that either goods or services are not being provided to as many customers as possible, or that unnecessary wages are being paid to workers. Wasted time is a throttle for a business’s cash in-flow and a leak for its cash out-flow.
However, unless you are Mitt Romney, you wouldn’t call a corporation a person. The average Joe/plain Jane is not out to make as much money as they can. We work for a living. Five or six days a week, we wake up, go to work, and convert our time to money. Most of this don’t do this because we want to. In fact, most of us hate our jobs… We would rather be at home with our loved ones, playing a game, watching a movie, reading a book, but we must work to earn enough money to get by.
We need to buy things that will sustain us, food, shelter, etc. Once we achieve the basest level of human existence, we are able to buy things that we want a-la-Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For us, time we spend at work is converted into money so that we can do the things that we really want to do. Money is just the intermediary, it’s just a tool that we used to convert our time into the things that we really need or want. But what happens if you don’t want to work? What if you want to retire? If money is the intermediary tool, it becomes obvious. We spend time in our jobs today so that tomorrow we can live a carefree life. Conversely, every time we spend money, we must delay our retirement.
Some of us may love our jobs and our jobs may even define a few of us. But ultimately, what’s important for us is the time we spend doing what we love. And for most of us, money is just the tool that allows us to do it.