Monday, September 19, 2011
What If You Could Buy Time?
What if you could buy time? What if there was a store, like a Wal-Mart, that sold time in blocks...like 1-year increments? Would you purchase it? Time is the most interesting commodity of all, in that you can buy it but you can't purchase it. What do I mean by that? Well you can buy it...you can buy time by retiring early and exchanging future earnings for free time. You can't purchase it, because nobody has the power to sell it to you. This is an interesting phenomenon that is constantly on my mind.
I DO plan to buy time. I plan on retiring at 40 years old, and by doing so I'll be giving up over $1 million in future earnings in exchange for the time I have on this Earth to be given to me to do with what I want. I make a little over $40,000 per year right now. If my earnings were to stay static (unlikely due to inflation), that would be $1 million, before any gains in investments, over 25 years. I use 25 years because most people use 65 years old as a retirement age for relative comparisons. It's actually likely that I'm giving up a lot more than just $1 million for 25 years of my time.
What if you could purchase 10 years of time for $400,000? Would you buy it? Would you save up your pennies, scrimp and save and go down to the store and proudly exchange your money for time? I bet most people would. After all, you only live once. Once your time is up, and your eyes close for the last time there is nothing else you can do. There are no more sunrises or sunsets. No more first dates. No more late-night phone calls with a lover or a friend. You'll never smell a freshly baked apple pie or get together with family for holidays. When you are out of time, that's it. You only get one ride on the merry-go-round of life, and I plan to maximize every minute of that single ticket.
Even though I bet most people would gladly pay $400,000 for 10 years of time, people usually seem to do the exact opposite. Instead of saving up their money for more free time, they usually exchange their time for money and more "stuff". They work overtime, get second jobs and continually update their resumes in hopes for increased earnings. For what? It seems it's usually for a vacation house, a newer vehicle, a new granite counter top or weekly trips to trendy restaurants. I'm not judging these decisions as bad. If that's what you want to do with your money, that's fine. I don't think it's a bad decision. I would just like to know if you truly would purchase time if it were for sale? If your answer to that question is yes, then you are probably not serving yourself well by continuing to work to earn and earn to spend.
Time is hard to put a value on. I understand that. We can place value on material objects like a house or a car. Time, however, is given to us for an undetermined period. We don't know how long we have on this planet. I believe that most people naturally become unrealistically optimistic when they think of how long they are going to live. After all, who wants to think they are going to pass away at 45 years old? That's extremely depressing. But, with all the obstacles facing one in life like car accidents, cancer, disease, etc...it's difficult to automatically assume one would live until they are 80+ years old. My plans are made on the assumption that I will not live to old age. If I do, that's fantastic! If I don't, I won't have any regrets. I'm covered either way.
So, back to the question at hand...it is possible to buy time, and I plan to buy as much of it as I can. I'll be giving up a lot of money in exchange for it. I'm OK with that. My portfolio will not be as large as it could be if I worked until I'm 65. I won't have a big house or a shiny new car every three years. I'll likely be unable to fund expensive shopping trips to the local mega-mall. What will I gain instead? Freedom. Freedom to pursue my dreams and desires. I'll be able to stop and smell the roses anytime I'd like. I'll be able to spend an afternoon on a hammock in the shade reading a book, or lounging on a sandy beach listening to the waves approach my feet. I can spend summers in the north where my family resides, watching nieces and nephews grow up...and then spend winters in Florida where the sun eternally shines. When the alarm clock would usually be blaring and waking me up...I'll still be sleeping. I'll be waking up a few hours later, eating a late morning breakfast, managing my portfolio before going out for a nice jog and getting in a workout.
What if you could buy time? Well, you can. The real question is: will you?
I leave you with a quote by Paul Tsongas: "Nobody on his deathbed ever said, ""I wish I had spent more time at the office.""
Thanks for reading.