When you think of saving money, what comes to mind? For me, it’s cars, houses, boats, clothes and vacations that first come to mind. Saving is usually thought of as a temporary piling up of cash in order to purchase some good or service that’s believed to make our life better. That’s what its all about, right? We want to make our life better and quite often, we believe that things can do that for us. On closing day of our home purchase, we get to walk through that door a home owner. I bet that feels pretty cool. When we pick our friends up in our new car, gosh that’s a fun time, and our friends love it too. They like it when we are able to buy the nice things in life. After all, that’s what we’re doing it all for, right?
Life Isn’t About Buying Nice Things
Wrong. Life isn’t about buying nice things with our money. It’s about the experience; the journey. So, buy experiences then, right? Sort of. Sure, vacations are great. They allow us to experience new things and see new places. Traveling is a pretty awesome thing and spending that time with our family and friends is what makes it as great as it is.
Do we save for vacations? Of course we do. But one thing we usually don’t save for is time. Time is what allows us to have experiences. That time we spend with our family and friends is valuable and most likely the best part of our trips and vacations, yet we don’t think of it that way. We think of being on that cruise or tropical island as being the experience. But it’s the time and the experience with those we’re with that’s really valuable to us. So, why don’t we save for time with those people we care about?
How Much Time Can You Spend with People You Care About?
Here’s an interesting question to ponder: How much time can you afford to spend with those who mean the most to you, right now? Why do I ask right now? Because right now is all we have. Right now is our life. No, not 10 or 20 years from now, but right now. Today is the day we have. Tomorrow, we’re not guaranteed. So again, I ask, how much time can you afford to spend with your family and friends? Is it less than you want to? I bet it is for most all of us.
So, why are you saving for a new house, new car or a vacation to the Bahamas when you aren’t even able to spend enough time with your friends and family? When I talk about saving money to buy time, I mean buying yourself the ability to take time off from your busy life and spend it where it really matters. The unfortunate part of the way our society works is even if you do have the money to spend more time with others, sometimes those around you won’t let you.
Take my life a month ago for instance. I had plenty of savings after saving half my income for several years. I could have taken time off to travel or to spend time with those I care about. I even proposed to my boss that I cut my time commitment at work. He said no. That left me with a choice to make.
That’s how it will go, quite often. Living in a world where giving only 40 hours of attention each week to your employer probably isn’t even enough, it’s tough to set yourself up to have more time, even if you have the money saved. But just because others around us tell us we can’t have our own time back, that doesn’t mean we have to listen.
Is It Really Worth the Money?
I didn’t. I decided my time was more important than the money. You have the ability to make that decision when you have saved money with your time in mind. Time is all we have. I would encourage you to not prioritize things like a house, a car, new furniture or a tropical vacation over the precious time you have in your life. Your life is more important than those things. At the end of your life, as you’re laying there on your death bed, what are you going to wish you had done more of? I bet it’s spending more of your time with those you care about. I bet you won’t wish you dedicated more time and attention at the office so you were able to buy that lake house that you never bought.
Things are just things. Why are they put up on such a pedestal in this society? I challenge you to take a look at what you’re saving for. Is it material goods focused? Or is it for time and experiences? How does it really feel to have your time and energy controlled by other people? I bet it doesn’t feel good. I’ve been there and it was a tough place to be.
Saving money is about more than preparing to buy new things. It’s also about preparing to live your life the way you want to live it. We can’t afford to spend last year’s income, or even last week’s income for that matter on things. We have to get out of that mindset. If we don’t we’ll find ourselves dying (because we all are) and looking back without having spent our time where it really mattered to us. That would be so sad. Don’t let it happen to you. I’m not going to let it happen to me.