Sunday, 6 April 2014

Time Vs Money

Something that I spend a lot of time thinking about these days is the intertwined relationship between time, money and quality of life. 

Our employers pay us 'money' in return for the 'time' we invest, and that payment is both for the time we have invested now ('in real time') and in gaining unique skills (i.e. education). We then use this payment to buy things for ourselves, giving other people the value of our time in return for the products of theirs. It's enough to make your head spin.

Here's an interesting new twist that occurred to me: if you divided your salary by your time worked, you could put an equivalent price in minutes (for example) for the total cost of any item you'd like to buy. For example ... a coffee, that will be 11 minutes of your life, sir. That dress? Why, that will be five hours ma'am. A house? Just sign on the dotted line, and hand over the keys to your soul.

The 'interesting' (or sad) part of course is that because we all earn different salaries, the very same items cost relatively less of richer people's lives than they do for poorer people. What's a year for a poor person might be worth two weeks of a rich person's life, given the salary differential.

I know I've dedicated 2014 to good financial sense ... I've ticked all the big items off the list that I need, so now I'm just left with the never-ending list of things I want. I don't think anybody EVER gets to the end of that second list because the goal-posts keep shifting; and if we're honest about it, the first list is extremely small and measured more in emotions than money.

No matter how careful a financial planner you are, however, you'll never budget for all of life's little hiccups, and we always rely on that one line item which can never reflect on any spreadsheet: hope. If it wasn't for that, you could be handed a financial statement when you turn 16, reflecting your likely expenses and value at retirement for every variable. As such, I'm STILL betting on winning the lottery at some point.

Because retirement is where the link between time and money becomes painfully evident, isn't it? When you're right at the end of your life with money left-over, or at the end of your money with life left-over. *sighs* I really think that schools should be teaching kids retirement planning as a mandatory course - at least if you know the financial impact of all your decisions, you'll have a feeling of ownership over every regret.

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