How often do we hear the words, “I don’t have time for that.” I hear this excuse all the time from both friends and colleagues. Sure, in some cases it’s a valid excuse, but oftentimes it isn’t entirely accurate. We all know those people who always claim to be “so busy.”

Ironically, I’ve seen some of those same people who claim to be “so busy” miraculously finding the time to carelessly blow money right and left. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Perhaps they feel that because they work so hard and are “so busy, ” that they’ve somehow earned it? Perhaps, they’re not considering the consequences of their actions?

Most people don’t understand the concept: time = money.TIme Several years ago I watched the movie “In Time,” starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. It’s a great movie, you should check it out if you haven’t already.

The basic premise of the movie is that in the future, medicine has improved to the point where aging can be delayed infinitely. In this futuristic world, once you reach the age of 25, you never age another biological day the rest of your life. The only way that anyone ever dies is if they are killed in an accident, they are murdered, or they “run out of time.”

At the age of 25, your life “clock” begins and you are given 1 year to live. You can increase your time by working and earning more. There is a visibly ticking clock on everyone’s arm, clearly displaying Years-Months-Days-Seconds, a constant reminder of exactly how much time you have left.

2011_in_time_012Every time a worker completes a shift at work they earn “time” which is added to the ticker on their arm. Instead of paying for food, housing, transportation, and entertainment with money, they pay with time.

You want a cup of coffee? That’ll cost you 15 minutes.

New shirt? That’ll be 25 minutes.

You want a new car? We’re talking YEARS for that purchase.

This movie is intriguing because it clearly illustrates how we should be thinking about the money we make. So long as you work a traditional job where your earnings are tied to hours worked, the time you work equals the money you receive. Time IS money.

You shouldn’t look at that fancy meal as $50, but rather in minutes, or hours, of your life.

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I once worked with a guy who was probably making about $75k a year, definitely above average, but he wasn’t rollin’ in the dough either. He loved spending his money– eating at expensive restaurants, going to festivals, buying expensive clothes, etc. I was astounded one day when he took his spending to a whole new level and bought a brand new, custom, Audi Coupe.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a car lover myself, and his new car was sweet, but I couldn’t get over the fact that, after tax, this car would cost him more than he would make in an entire year! Sure, he could make car payments each month, but that wasn’t the problem.

The hard thing for me to comprehend is all the time it would take for him to pay off his car.  Is it worth working every single day for more than a year, just to pay for a car that will inherently be worth a fraction of the purchase price just years later?

If you’re a slave to an expensive car payment each month, that means you can’t use that money elsewhere. We’ve all heard the term “opportunity cost.” When you deploy your money in one area,  you can’t use it elsewhere. Instead of investing in the stock market, which will grow and work for you, you’re pumping money into a depreciating asset.

If you work 40 hours a week and have 3 weeks of vacation, that means you spend around 1,960 hours a year working. That is 261 working days! These are days you can’t spend at the beach, hiking, hanging out with family, or even binge-watch The Office (if that’s your thing). I think it’s pretty safe to say, no one would choose this time commitment to work if they weren’t getting paid.

Focus on value

Once you spend your money (and by extension, your time) on a purchase- you can’t get it back- it’s gone. So next time you reach for your wallet or click “Add to Cart,” pause for a moment to think about whether the thing you’re purchasing is giving you the appropriate value in return.

You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where all your time has run out and you’re left regretting how you spent it.

 

 

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