Time Is Not Money

I was riding the New York City train yesterday and noticed an ad for a service like TaskRabbit that simply read “Time is Money”.

But it’s not. In fact, this is one of the biggest money myths in our world today and it’s holding so many people back.

Time Isn’t Money

time and workWhile time and money certainly share similarities they are by no means equals.

Time is energy. Money is a thing. But both are human inventions we embed with so much meaning. They each have power over our lives.

Time is simply the word we’ve given to this thing that moves each day that we can read on a clock and use to measure our lives and the world around us. It’s a benchmark.

But time is a word that we’ve given to this energy that pulls us all forward. Tracking it on a sundial or watch or computer clock was designed by humans.

As I’ve written about before, money is infinite but time is not. You can always go out and get a part-time job or start a side hustle, but you’ll never be able to get back this moment or this day. Equating the two I think diminishes the value of time in a way.

And it also undermines the simple idea through passive investing, through building passive income streams, which really is, I think the primary goal of personal finance.

Investing and Passive Income Disrupts Money/Time Relationship

We all know if you invest, whether it’s in real estate or stocks or bonds or businesses or whatever you invest in, the goal of investing is for your money to make money.

To make money without having to trade any of your time frees up your time to ultimately do things that are more important to you.

Just like most personal finances, the best investing strategy is by no means rocket science. It’s simple:

  1. Make as much money as you can
  2. Keep your expenses low
  3. Invest the difference
  4. The more you invest and the more frequently you invest the faster your money will compound and make you more money
  5. Sit back and earn money in your sleep. Boom, you are no longer trading your time for money.

Unfortunately, in our culture, we end up believing the time is money.

And so we also trade more of our time to make more money when in reality, if we use that time to do things that made us happier, to do things that we loved, we would lead happier lives. Or we manage our money poorly so we end up wasting our time.

More Money Isn’t Always Better Than Time

There are many people I know who are making good money now that are stressed out. They either don’t like the jobs or they feel like they’ve worked so hard for their careers that now they’ve made it to the top they feel like they have to try and stay there and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Just like the lost road warrior Dan I met last year. Dan had more money than he will ever need, but he keeps working while lamenting that “I wish I had more time to spend with my boys.” He went on:

“NOW THAT I’M MAKING SO MUCH MONEY, WHY WOULD I WANT TO STOP,” DAN SAID.

When in reality he could easily step off the more more more treadmill and spend more time with his kids. I’ve met many people over the past several years who say the exact same thing to me “I wish I had more time with my kids.”

Then when I tell them they could by moving to a smaller house or move outside of town and get rid of their two cars, and then take a part-time job, or just a reasonable 40 hour a week full-time job instead of an 80+ hour a week job then they could do it.

It’s almost always followed up with, “Well we don’t have enough money.” So they want time, but even though they are making money they don’t have any. I wish people valued their time more.

I don’t get it. So many people are asleep in their lives and end up making huge trade-offs for money.

I’ve met many people who could easily make a couple of shifts in their lives in order to have a life they would probably enjoy a lot more, but they would have to take a pay cut.

No one ever wants to take a pay cut.

Give Yourself Permission to Do Nothing, Not Chase Money

Time is not money when you need to rest and reset. I used to always fill my time trying to make money, but in retrospect, I should have also been scheduling a time for myself and actually prioritizing time for myself.

When I say time for myself, I mean simply to check in with my health and check-in with how I’m really doing. We all move so fast and we just keep moving faster.

It’s very difficult, especially in a weekend or a couple of weeks of vacation a year to actually stop and reset. It’s officially been a year since I left the corporate world and started my corporate detox.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is it truly takes an immense amount of time to decompress and de-stress after being in an incredibly stressful and intense environment. It truly has taken me almost an entire year to recover from burnout.

When you’re going 120 miles an hour, it takes a long time to slow down. I’m sure some people can. But, I never found that 10 minutes or 20 minutes of meditation a day or even just a long weekend would give me the rest I needed. It never quite reset me.

I always actually felt kind of more stressed or my mind just couldn’t settle down.

I remember being in Chicago and going on a weekend trip to Michigan. You know, a nice long weekend.

I was always hoping it would provide the space and time I needed to decompress and come back fresh on a Monday or Tuesday morning. But that rarely happened simply because my mind couldn’t stop.

Change the More Money Mindset

If we’re in a stressful environment, it’s often our minds are going to be stressful. Whether it’s through our job or our relationships, it’s like when you’re around stressful people, you feel stressed yourself.

If you’re around people, you probably feel a little bit calmer. And I always found it difficult for my mind to reset and go from 120 miles an hour to zero miles per hour.

And it’s taken me a year to really understand kind of the unwinding and giving myself time and space and giving myself time to exist in time to be in time and space with which to kind of open to the world is truly a privilege I’m very grateful for.

I’m thinking very hard about could I have gotten this space and time if I had taken off three months, during my intense know the corporate period, would have been enough for me?

I don’t think it would have been. I think we get so tightly wound and our minds move so fast it literally takes months and months to unwind and to relax into calm those reactions and those synapses.

We clearly are living in a world of burnout and it’s pushing our minds and it’s pushing our bodies to the Max.

Passion is Money

I am deeply passionate about finding ways in which to help people manage money and create a relationship with money and former relationship with money that allows them more time and space in their life.

And then once they get that time and space, what do you do with it? I’m passionate about both of those things and I myself am deeply in the discovery, a journey and the process and my life is a journey.

And of course, I’m experiencing new things. But as I create more time and space in my life, the things I’m able to see and amount of peace I’ve been able to create, I don’t think I would’ve been able to cultivate in such a high pressure a world I was previously living in.

And so that’s the challenge is how do you make money and use the money to live a life that you love. Also getting the time and space.

And maybe it is moving from full time to part-time job or moving to a different city, an in a less stressful job those are things I never did and I never considered.

I was just always on all the time. I’m sure and I admire people who have balance and balance in their life. I’ve always struggled with that.

Final Thoughts on Time is Not Money

And for me personally, I think a good place to start is to stop thinking about time as money and stopped talking about time is money because in reality that undermines the power of both really the power of money to make money for you.

Through passive income investing and other forms. The simple fact is when you say time is money, you’re quantifying time. You’re putting them on equal playing fields. When we know time is infinite.

You can’t get it back. If you lose money, you can always go try to find a way to make more money. You can pick up a side hustle, you can pick up a part-time job, you could go walk dogs, you could do anything after this moment is gone, you’re not to get it back.

So I hope this was helpful and let’s stop talking about time as money because they’re really two very different things. And let’s focus on both and use them to our best advantage.



Grant Sabatier

Creator of Millennial Money and Author of Financial Freedom (Penguin Random House). Dubbed "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to over $1 million in 5 years, reaching financial independence at age 30. Grant has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR, Money Magazine and many others. He uses Personal Capital to manage his money in 10 minutes a month.

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