Here’s the thing. You know how much money you have at any point in time. However, you never know how much time you have left. It could be days or decades.
The combination of money and time comprise the most important financial formula for your life. This amalgam also provides an excellent example between things you can control (money) and things you can’t (time).
You Can’t Save Time
Money and time aren’t interchangeable although we often behave like they are. We can’t save segments of time like we can save our spare change in a piggy bank.
All of your saving and investing for the future can’t override Father Time.
The illusion of control over time is just that…an illusion.
Not long ago, I spoke with a friend who had experienced a tragedy in his personal life. He said his perspective toward the remainder of his life had definitely changed for the better because of what he had lived through. He said he knew now how little control he had over how much or how little time he had left.
A Satisfying and Successful Life
Health and wealth are part of life but they aren’t the totality life. Life is larger.
Ultimately, to have a satisfying and successful life, you have to become somewhat comfortable understanding that you can’t know precisely what will happen tomorrow or the next day.
So, what’s more important, time? Or money? We are constantly making choices that reflect which we value more.
Connections and Choices
While we may be blissfully unaware of some of our micro-decisions, research shows that the personal connection to either time or money tends to govern these choices.
In a research paper published a few years ago, The Time vs. Money Effect, Professors Cassie Mogilner (Wharton) and Jennifer Aaker (Stanford), dissected the psychological aspects of consumer choices between time and money. They conclude that our decisions around time and money largely depend on a real or imagined personal connection.
One of the examples of products seeking to make a personal connection with time or money is the slogan “It’s Miller Time”. This advertising slogan by Miller Beer dates back to the 1970s but has been brought back into use several different times as recently as 2019. The tag line helps connect beer drinkers to the ephemeral end of the day when it’s time to relax.
Reality-Based Financial Planning
Understanding how time and money intersect is at the very core of reality-based financial planning. We often remind clients that plans for how much money you need and for how long are simply educated guesses.
The challenge everyone is faced with, including you and me, is preparing financially for a future that is ultimately unknowable. That’s what makes financial planning so necessary and invaluable.
Our advice is to focus fully on what is knowable and controllable, your saving/investing, and behavior. Start there.