You know the saying that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes? There’s another pair of sure things in every life: time and money. They are two of the most precious commodities: the things we all want more of, or to make the most of.
Unlike death and taxes, your finances and time, if managed well, can elevate your quality of life significantly. Finding ways to make the most of these two resources can enhance how secure and enjoyable your days are.
Read on to understand the time-money relationship and how to make it work as well as possible. You’ll learn:
• What “time is money” actually means?
• What the relationship between money and time is?
• Tips for managing time and money as well as possible.
What Does ‘Time Is Money’ Actually Mean?
The phrase “time is money” means that a person can translate their available hours into money by getting paid to work. If you’re sitting around relaxing, for instance, you could instead be working and earning cash.
This saying can be further explained in terms of opportunity cost. Let’s say a person has an hour to spend. That person can choose to work for that hour or they can choose to do something that does not yield any income, like reading a book. The person who reads the book loses the opportunity to earn income for that hour. If the person can earn $50 an hour, the opportunity cost of choosing to read a book is $50. Thus, time is money.
Of course, it’s every person’s decision about how much they want to work versus enjoy their free time as they see fit. Some people are driven to work 60 or more a week; others, craving work-life balance or, say, taking care of children, work much less (if at all). They have chosen a different path.
What Is the Relationship Between Time and Money?
Balancing time and money can involve a trade-off. To make more money, some people spend more time on their careers and have less time for the other obligations and pleasures in life, whether that means spending time with family, relaxing, or pursuing hobbies and passion projects. Working long hours can mean less time to clean, shop, and otherwise handle chores. If one makes enough by working, they can perhaps delegate those duties and hire someone to handle them.
For example, a lawyer might be able to afford to pay a landscaper $50 an hour to do yard work while they earn $300 an hour working with a client. The lawyer nets $250 by doing so. If the lawyer does the yardwork and not the landscaper, the lawyer loses the $300 they could have earned doing legal work. Seen through a financial lens, it could be sensible to embrace strategies that maximize your earning power with the limited time you have. If, however, you are a person who earns less than a lawyer and/or you love to garden and care for your property, you might well decide to do the yard work yourself.
Recommended: What Is the Time Value of Money (TVM)?
Tips for Managing Time and Money
As you may see from the yard work example above, good time management is not just about working every waking hour. It’s about allocating time for tasks wisely and balancing work and personal lives. Otherwise, your health, mood, and personal relationships could suffer. Not every minute of your time should have a price tag on it.
Here are some time and money management tips to get you started.
You only have so many hours in a day to get things done, so prioritizing is critical. Work, picking children up from school or daycare, grocery shopping, and preparing food are daily and weekly priorities. So too are things like exercise, meditation, seeing loved ones, and doing whatever feeds your spirit, from rafting to reading. Plan your priorities daily, but typically no more than three or you could feel overwhelmed.
Writing Down Your Schedule
Your daily schedule is critical, but planning your time weekly and monthly can also keep you on-task and organized. More than that, it can help you visualize your available time and consolidate tasks so you can make your life more manageable. For example, can you combine one task with another? Can you go to the grocery store while your child is on a playdate, saving you a trip? Can you fit in a workout during your lunch hour? Organizing your time and life can make you much more efficient and reduce stress.
There are many calendar-keeping tools available, from cool journals to apps. Using alerts on your mobile phone can also help you keep track of the “musts” on your daily schedule.
Putting Time Limits on Tasks
Spending more time on enjoyable tasks and putting off the less palatable ones is human nature. But it’s also procrastination that can leave you short on time and stressed about deadlines at work and at home.
One good solution: Set time limits for activities and schedule them wisely. Tackle a difficult project when you have the most energy, such as first thing in the morning. Block off an hour or two. If you split up challenging tasks into manageable chunks, you won’t become overwhelmed. Just getting started and seeing some progress can motivate you to continue.
Focusing on One Task at a Time
Multitasking can be a fast track to inefficiency. Walking the dog and listening to a podcast is one thing, but trying to write a report while your child is doing homework (and asking for help), is another — and probably not efficient — one.
Given a quiet room and time to focus, you might knock out the report in an hour or two. Multitasking, on the other hand, can mean for many of us that nothing receives your full attention and is done well.
Removing Interruptions While Working
Social media, pop-up notifications, emails, phone calls, colleagues who want to chat on Slack, family members, and pets all can enrich and inspire your life, but when you are balancing time vs. money, face the facts. They pull you away from work and from being efficient. Find ways to eliminate interruptions, and you’ll likely accomplish more things, more quickly.
If you have an urgent task and work at home, consider going to a coffee shop or a library where you might have more peace. If colleagues at work are a problem, ask to use a conference room temporarily to get your work done or say you are on deadline and pull back from chat apps and email alerts. To avoid technology distractions, try putting your phone away in a drawer so that it is out of sight and out of mind while working.
Creating a Realistic Budget
When it comes to the financial aspect of money vs. time, budgeting can really optimize your efforts to wrangle your funds. A budget helps you account for your income, expenses, and savings so there are fewer surprises and so you hit your goals. Many people, in fact, believe that being disciplined with money or more accountable for it is a major key to wealth.
Making a budget typically involves looking at your monthly after-tax income, including keeping track of money from side hustles and the like. Then, you will subtract the cost of your monthly necessities (housing, food, medical care), as well as debt, and then allocate what’s left to spending and saving. This process should reveal if you are living within your means, or are you spending more than you earn?
If your expenses exceed your income, look for ways to cut back on spending, such as eating out less, biking to work instead of driving or calling an Uber, or perhaps consolidating high-interest credit card debt with a lower-interest personal loan. The ultimate goal is to create a budget that you can live with and with room to save for long-term goals, like the down payment for a house or for retirement.
Finding Ways to Invest Your Money
A reasonable goal for long-term financial planning is to set aside 10% of your income and invest it. You can educate yourself with books, podcasts, websites, and apps to, say, learn the pros and cons of stocks vs. bonds. A professional financial advisor can also help you to find the best vehicles to build wealth. For example, a 401(k), a diversified portfolio of stocks and mutual funds, or a passion like watch investing or whiskey investing can all play a role in your investing.
Remember, however, the golden rule for investments, though, since they are not covered by the FDIC, or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: Only invest what you can afford to lose.
Using Time for Yourself Wisely
Work-life balance is increasingly a goal for Americans, and a number of companies are experimenting with four-day workweeks as one path to achieving this.
Overwork and burnout are real dangers for those who Incessantly strive to capitalize financially. It’s definitely wise to schedule time for yourself. It can be as simple as meditating, spending time with family, working out, volunteering, or pursuing a hobby. Spending time on things that bring you joy can spur you to be your best when you are working, too.
Automating Your Bills and Payments
Automating your monthly bills can be a win-win. Paying bills on time is the biggest single contributor (at 35%) to your credit score, and taking care of those charges before they accrue late fees also makes good money sense.
What’s more, in terms of the time vs. money equation, setting up automated bill payments will also free up some space in your schedule. Your bills will be paid on time each month, without you having to click around websites or write checks and buy stamps to mail them. It will take a few minutes of work up front, but the task is then much easier.
Watching Your Spending
Remember that budget you diligently prepared? Stick to it by following the 30-day spending rule. Wait 30 days before purchasing an item to avoid overspending and racking up debt. If you do spend too much, you’ll pay unnecessary fees on overdrafts or credit card interest payments.
There’s little doubt that time and money are two valuable but limited resources. Making the most of each requires some smart strategies, such as budgeting, scheduling, reducing overspending, and finding work-life balance. But by respecting the value of time and money — and managing them well, you’ll likely enjoy a better quality of life, today and in the future.
Want to have more time and watch your money grow faster? With a SoFi bank account, that’s totally possible. We’re an online bank, so we provide a quick and convenient way to manage your finances 24/7. And sign up for our Checking and Savings with direct deposit, and you’ll earn a whopping 1.80% APY, pay no account fees, and have access to a network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs.
Is time worth more than money?
The answer to this question is subjective. To a person who is terminally ill, time is clearly the most precious commodity; they might rather have less money and more time. In another scenario, someone might say money matters more. They might be willing to work every free minute for years to ensure they have a high-paying career, even if they don’t have much free time to enjoy the luxurious life they lead.
Is it worse to waste my time or money?
Neither wasting time nor money is a great idea, though many of us of course do so from time to time. A better approach can be to minimize the waste and balance your life so you have both enough time and money. This often requires prioritizing, planning, and budgeting.
What are the benefits of managing time and money wisely?
A key benefit of managing time and money wisely is better quality of life. Effective time and money management will make all aspects of your life easier because you gain peace of mind and may stress less about your money and your schedule. You can take control of two very important variables.
Photo credit: iStock/busracavus
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