Money or Time?

Quite a dilemma isn’t it.  We work hard to earn the money to give us the good things in life but then we don’t have the time to enjoy them because we are working too hard.  Bit of a chicken and egg scenario.

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When we think about what we are trading (or compromising) for money, time tends to be the first thing that pops into our head.  The 40hr working week that our forebears fought so hard to get seems to be a distant memory.

I received an email from a client at 11pm she was still in the office (she arrived at 7am) and would be back at 7am the following morning.  She has two children who she feels spend more time with the babysitter than they do with her.  But she is building her career in a profession that expects that kind of commitment.  Whilst she loves her work, she is really concerned about missing time with her children as well.  So why does she do it?  She feels she has no choice, she needs to provide for her family, and the hope of a large salary and less hours at some point in the future keeps her going.

This is a common story, not only from people on salaries, but business owners as well.  We seem to be prepared and feel we need to work long hours for some financial goal in the future.

So not only are we spending time that we will never get back to generate money.  There is also a huge cost to our relationships, not only our children, but our partners and friendships.

I have been mentoring a couple who have two young children, the husband works very long hours including most of the weekend, and his stay at home wife is feeling very unsupported in the relationship, and he feels he is missing out on time with the children.  This was a relationship heading for trouble.   Money is the most common relationship conflict, either you don’t have enough of it, or you never see your partner because they are never home because they are out earning it (or doing other things with it that don’t include you!), but that is a whole other story.

Issues like this aren’t easy to resolve, if he changes his career to work less hours, it means less income, and she will have to find a job and no longer be able to be home with the children, bit of a catch 22.  Fortunately we were able to find some middle ground, make some compromises and the relationship is back on track.

Then there are the ‘not so obvious’ things that we trade for money.

What about our health?  Stress, one of the most common work related illnesses, closely followed by back and other physical injuries, hearing loss and so on, are all being compromised for money.

My father was a policeman, a very stressful occupation, he was well on the pathway to a heart attack fortunately he was able to take early retirement due to a very good superannuation scheme.  Not everyone in similar situations is so lucky.

It’s not only the personal cost to us in terms of our health but it is also the cost to business in terms of lost productivity, the medical system who have to look after us, and of course once again our families.

Having more money will make us happy.  Sorry, but it’s a myth that money makes you happy.  Once you reach a certain point as the money line goes up, the happiness line stays the same (or can even go down).  This was discussed at length in the 2013 World Happiness Report.

So what does make us happy?  Relationships, OOPs aren’t they higher up the list of what we sacrifice for money?

This last one can take a bit of getting your head around.  We are trading wealth for money.  What do I mean by that?  Well, we have become spenders not savers, many of us are actually spending more than you earn.  If you look at the personal balance sheet of the average man in the street it doesn’t paint a pretty picture, the liabilities outweigh the assets.  Living from paycheck to paycheck is a common scenario.  We are busy spending everything (and more) rather than saving for later.

A reality check here, unless you were born into, or have won enough money to keep you in the lifestyle that you want for your entire life, we are all at some point in time going to have to make compromises and trade our time, relationships and many other things for money.

The point here is, quite often we don’t even realise that is what we are doing.

Becoming aware of what we are compromising and why is the important part; at least that way you are in control of the decision and the outcome.

So what are you trading, or compromising for money?

If you know the price you are paying, you can decide if you are prepared to pay it.

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6 thoughts on “Money or Time?

  1. I agree completely. It’s so difficult these days to have a career that allows for opportunity for advancement AND a good work-life balance. A lot of people are working too many hours to make money to buy things they don’t need and can’t even enjoy because they work so much.

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    • I appreciate your feedback, once you are on the treadmill, it can be difficult to get off it of your own accord. It tends to be circumstances (ie relationship breakdown, health issues) that force the change.

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  2. Work and life balance is always difficult. In both cases a balance sheet that prioritizes, important, urgent and a matrix of those is required as the demands on all aspects of our lives increases. Sometimes you need to stop and take stock and as you so rightly point out, there can be severe consequences if you don’t make the right decisions.

    I start each day thinking about gratitude. I don’t ever recall money being high on that topic. It is usually family, even though I am also guilty of putting more time into business and sometimes working harder on that, than family affairs.

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    • Hi Luigi,
      I also start the day with gratitude, it really sets the day up with a positive mindset.
      I think the important thing is to know when you are getting out of sync with other important aspects of life, like family and rest and then doing something about it.

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