The most valuable thing your money can buy
Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy time.
We all know that money can’t buy happiness. If you’re unhappy before you make a lot of money then extra cash isn’t going to suddenly change your outlook on life. I have written in the past about people who win lotto, and the fact that many of them end up losing their fortunes. They’re not used to being financially responsible and they think that coming into a large amount of money means never having to think about it again, which, of course, isn’t true.
The more money you have, the more responsible and cautious you need to be with it. It’s hard work being financially responsible and some lotto winners have even said that the money ended up making them more miserable. It’s not hard to imagine is it?
So we know that money can’t buy happiness. But what can it buy?
Well, something much more valuable: time. A recent study published in the US medical journal PNAS found that people who buy time by paying someone else to complete household tasks are more satisfied with life. This was just as true for middle-class earners as it was for high-net-worth individuals.
Here is why you should start using your money to buy time, or invest in time capital, as it is known:
1. You'll stress less
When you’re time-poor, it’s easy to feel stressed about your long to-do list. Insomnia is a big problem these days and I’d bet that most insomniacs have too much to do rather than too little. Rather than using your money to buy things that will comfort you for a short period of time, you can buy your own time back by outsourcing as much work as you can. Even if it means you’re able to claim back a just an hour or two a day by hiring someone else to run your errands, it will be worth it because you’ll be less stressed as a result.
2. You'll have fewer regrets
John Lennon once famously said that “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”. It’s true. The thing is, you need to make sure your life isn’t all about making other plans, that there is time to reflect on and enjoy a life that you’re passionate about.
If you work really hard to earn a lot of money and then never have time to enjoy that money, then what is the point? You don’t want to regret working so hard that you never had time to enjoy whatever it was you were working so hard for. So what should you do? Keep working hard and doing what you love, but buy extra time by outsourcing any chores that take up your downtime.
3. You'll appreciate time
Most of us waste time. It’s only human. We get distracted or lazy, or we remain indecisive about what we want to do and so end up doing nothing. We vow to go for a run on the weekend, but we end up stuck to the couch telling ourselves we’ll go tomorrow until tomorrow becomes next week.
But when you buy time, you’re less likely to waste it. You know how valuable (and expensive) it is, so you make the most of that hour or two that you have to yourself or with your loved ones. It ends up being time well spent.
4. You'll have more energy
Caffeine is the drug of choice for most of us each morning, but there is a better way to get energy. And that’s by doing nothing. If you never get the chance to switch off and zone out, to refuel the tank, then you will crash and burn.
Your time away from work is just as important as your time at work. People think that they’re two very different worlds, but they’re far from it. They both influence each other. In order to be successful, I’m talking long-term sustained success, you’re going to need time to recharge.
5. You won't resent obligations
We’re all being pulled in a million different ways these days. There are so many demands on our time, from work to family to social obligations. But if you buy yourself some time to do whatever you like, then the various obligations won’t seem like chores. You’ll be more readily available to others because you’ve made sure, first and foremost, that you were available to yourself.
Time isn’t valued enough in our society. Most people are working hard for money’s sake alone, even though we know that it won’t make us happy without a well-balanced life to ground it in. No one asks each other if they’re getting enough time, or if they’ve bought any great time lately. Can you imagine that?
We need to start prioritizing time, and if the only way we can get more of it is to buy it then that’s what we should be doing. It’s a worthy investment to make.
Michael Yardney is a director of Metropole Property Strategists, which creates wealth for its clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He is a best-selling author and one of Australia's leading experts in wealth creation through property, and he writes the Property Update blog.