The Cost of Your Life

There’s an incredibly-common adage in the business world that states that time equals money.  In their context, the phrase means that any time wasted costs the company profits.  In my own life, though, I’ve found that the reverse is actually true: money equals time.

Not to get philosophical here (because I’m pretty much incapable), but time is the most previous resource we each have.  Countless motivational speakers have told us over the years that we’re only allotted 24 hours each day (Or 1440 minutes…adding up to 525,600 minutes in a year…and now I will be singing RENT for the rest of the day), so we should use them to the fullest.  However, as adults, we are surrounded by tasks that demand our attention and, therefore, our time.  Putting aside our jobs, which suck up most of our waking hours, there’s housework, grocery shopping, yard work, and, if you have kids, the never-ending needs of your children.

Out of that list, yard work is the worst for me.  I CANNOT STAND IT!  I have a decent-sized yard, so just a basic mow, even with the lawn tractor to handle the open patches, could easily eat up three hours of my life.  Three hours every week.  Maybe I can push it to 10 days when it’s not growing as fast.  Add that up over the growing season (Approximately 30 weeks), and there’s 5400 minutes gone.  That’s just over 1% of my year, which doesn’t sound like much, I guess, but there are so many other things that I could be doing with my time.  Not to mention, I HATE IT!!!

Because of that, it’s so very worth it to me to pay someone to mow my yard.  If I wanted to, I could always just say that I’m doing it to support a local small business, which is true, but in reality I don’t want to take the time to mow my yard.  Could I?  Sure.  Will I?  Hell no.  Not when I can give someone else money to do it. 

I don’t mind, vacuuming and such, but, if I hated that more than I hated yard work, I could hire a cleaning service.  And if I had more money, I could hire people for both.  As my income grows, I can give more and more of these tasks to others.  I could get a nanny (Although, really my kids are too old for that at this point), a personal chef, and a personal assistant to run all of my errands.

The simple fact is that with enough money you can avoid doing pretty much anything that you don’t want to do and get that time back for your own ends.  This is why we have the phrase “idle rich.”  These people have so much money that they, in effect, have nothing but time.  They don’t need a job for their income, and they can hire a veritable army to do everything from cleaning their houses to buying their clothes.

But this leads us to another adage, money can’t buy happiness.  Ok.  Sure.  You can be the richest person on Earth and be exceptionally lonely (Especially if you suspect that everyone in your life is only close to you because of your cash).  And wealth can’t protect you from clinical depression.  Money alone can’t make you happy, but it can certainly clear away many of the obstacles to happiness.  Financial worries are one of the biggest stresses we deal with in our society, and according to THIS ARTICLE, they can also be one of the biggest predictors of divorce. 

So while I’ll accept money can’t buy happiness, I do have to wonder if, in our current society, happiness is possible without money.  Can you truly be “poor but happy” if you’re spending every waking moment concerned about finances? 

Or possibly there’s a difference between “happy” and “worry-free.”  I know that I’m not worry-free, but I have to admit that every time I see my lawn being mowed by someone other than me, I am happy.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter