Time and Money: Are the two actually that different?

We spend time and money everyday. At the start of each day we have a stockpile of them, but towards the end of the day this stockpile is drained up silently. We are left with a few spare change and several hours in our inventory. Although both of these resources will inevitability be consumed, the mentality that goes into spending them is fundamentally different. We think about spending money twice but don’t think about spending time, but the truth is both resources are actually quite similar. I will compare time and money in terms of their quantitative nature, varying availability and perceived value.

Time and money are measured quantitatively. Time is measured based on a set of universally agreed numerical values and units such as seconds, minutes, hours and days; Money is measured based on a unit of account which is generally a country’s issued currency such as dollars, pounds and euros. These quantitative forms of measurement are objective and constant resulting in quantifiable control on the amount of time or money spent.

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We often forget we have control over time because we have a tendency to over focus on tangible quantifiables like cash notes and salary paycheck, rarely do we calculate how time we spend on doing an activity. A good metaphor to describe how we treat time is driving to a destination without calculating the amount of fuel required for the journey. The driving represents the activity we are doing, while the fuel represents the limited time we have. A solution to this forgetfulness is to use planners and watches to keep track of time. Therefore, time and money can be effectively controlled through the use of technology.

Time and money have varying availability. While our money earning power will increase over time, the time we have will keep decreasing. There is no limit to how much we can earn, but there is certainly a limit to how much time we use. The limited availability of time seems to make time more valuable. However, this not the case as the two are actually codependent. Money is earned by spending time; time is earned by spending money.

According to Roger Oprandi Jr., a certified financial planner (senior vice president of Vega & Oprandi Wealth Partners), saving money earlier for retirement will lead to an earlier and more comfortable retirement. This is seen in his quote, “The statistics are overwhelmingly in favor of starting sooner, but you must invest that money age-appropriately.” Therefore, the limited availability of time doesn’t make it more valuable than money, because their codependent relationship shows both are of equal value.

Time and money have different perceived values. Some prefer a long and mundane life, while others prefer a short and comfortable life. It is impossible to objectively compare which one is more valuable: The gifts and luxuries we indulge in versus the time we spend with our loved ones. Our preference for time or money is based on our subjectively perceived values of time and money and which one will bring us the greatest happiness. Yet, time and money are positively correlated. One earns you the other. The more money you earn, the more time you will have. Vice versa. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there is a wide gap between the poor and the rich in terms of life expectancy.

This is seen in their statistics published in 2014, “men from the most deprived 10 per cent of the population have an average life expectancy of just 73.4 years, compared with 82.7 years on average for those in the least deprived 10 per cent – a gap of more than nine years.” Consequently, the value of time and money should not be determined through perceived value, but determined through their positive correlation which implies their equal value.

To conclude, time and money are very similar in term of their quantitative nature, varying availability and different perceived values. Both time and money can be quantifiably controlled through the use of technology, are codependent despite varying availability and are positively correlated despite different perceived values. Since time and money are fundamentally similar in nature, we should abandon the mentality that we should value money over time because time is equally as valuable as money. Therefore, we must guard against the loss of time like we guard against the loss of money.

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